I'm from Iowa but have been to Calgary twice in the past 11 months, with a third trip coming up in August (trying to move there!). i have my masters in business analytics, am a desktop certified professional and run the Des Moines TUG. I'd love for other Calgarians to chime in, but will provide my thoughts.
New Orleans will be my fourth conference. It's an amazing experience because you get access to so many experts. You can customize your conference schedule to whatever you need - there is a good mix of hands on training (from beginner to jedi), customer presentations, Tableau presentations, and don't forget you can sign up for Tableau doctor sessions to even get 1:1 time with an expert to help you with YOUR data. Yes you can do some of this on your own, but having 3 days dedicated to it is amazing. in addition to everything you learn, they provide a world-class event - the welcome reception on Monday 10/22 will be amazing, as well as the Data Night Out party on Wed 10/24. I typically leave on thursday because to be honest the amount of stuff to do starts to taper down by Thursday. I typically fly in early Monday and leave late afternoon/early evening Thur (to help minimize hotel costs).
Now, I've been using Tableau since 2011, and even as an 'expert' i think regardless of experience, people can find new things to learn. i probably wouldn't recommend going for people brand new to Tableau (like only a month) just because it might be very overwhelming.
It's also a great opportunity for networking - get to know others that might be from Calgary/AB/CA, or others in your industry across the world. I've met some fantastic people there. And if anyone from the Calgary TUG is planning to go - let me know i'd love to meet up with you! Feel free to connect with me as well - search for Jason Harmer, MBS on linkedin or itspoots on Twitter.
That being said, i know it's a significant cost. I wish they would find ways to lower the cost - even if it means having less extravagant receptions and data night out parties (they really go ALL out - especially data night out). So yeah - there's no getting around this is a significant cost.
Hope this helps Vicki. If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to reach out to me directly. Hope you can find a way to attend!
Thanks so much for all the information, I really appreciate it.
I've had several responses now, all from folks as enthusiastic about past conferences as you.
I'm intrigued by the data nights out and I'm sure that was their intent in naming them that way!
Good luck with your plan to relocate.