Assuming Your Travel Budget Is Not Unlimited

The second month of the year is just barely drawing to a close, but for some reason the fall tradeshow season has been on my mind a lot lately. Here in Chicago, we've got some big ones to look forward to, including IMTS, which only comes around every two years, and Pack Expo, which finds itself in Chicago just every two years as well. Those are two of my favorites for the opportunities to hook up with you, the machine builders. Let me know if you'll be there so we can chat about what you've been up to with your machine designs, or what's still on your wish list.

Besides those big fall shows, we'll be attending several other user conferences throughout the year. I think first up will be a couple months from now at ABB Automation and Power World in Houston, and there will be several others throughout the year from big names like Rockwell, Emerson and Siemens.

But here's what I wonder: Where do you get the best mileage for your travel dollar? When it comes to finding the information you need to do your job better -- whether that's learning about new products or better understanding technology advances in your industry -- would you rather be at a larger tradeshow or more of a technical conference? Are specific company user groups helpful to you for drilling deeper, or would you rather see everything in one place? Are you more likely to attend shows focused on automation but covering a broad range of industries, or focused on your particular industry with a broader range of technologies?

Finally, which specific shows are your favorites? Which do you make sure you don't miss each year? I'd love to compare notes.