Ultravox released a song about the capital of Austria in the 80s, and since then, I have always wanted to travel to it. Well, as chance would have it, that opportunity presented itself recently. On September 11-12, we hosted the 2008 Bentley International Partner Summit in the Austria Trend Eventhotel Pyramide, which is just outside Vienna city limits in a town called Vösendorf. The event officially lasted a little over a day and a half, although there were other "sub-events" that took place the day before the Summit started.
This event was an opportunity for our Channel Partners (i.e. resellers) and Technology Partners (i.e. third-party developers) to get and exchange various information to help with their business. A wide range of things were communicated during the event, like selling opportunities, upcoming launch plans, program overviews, sales and technology roadmaps, what is new and improved with our business processes and software, etc.
Malcolm Walter, Bentley's COO, started the main event with a corporate overview and insight into the direction Bentley is going in. Shaun Sewall, VP Software Development, then presented some of what is new in MicroStation and ProjectWise "Athens". The event then "split" into two different tracks - one specifically for Bentley Channel Partners and one specifically for Bentley Technology Partners. The latter was referred to as DevCon 2008 Europe. A lot of information was presented, focusing quite a bit on Bentley Solutions and the "Athens" project.
At these sorts of gatherings, we usually have a social event. For this one, we chose a winehouse. Like the word suggests, it is literally a house that provides wine - usually grown in vineyards owned by the proprietor and bottled onsite. What makes this different is that the "house" (and even its vineyard) is within city limits. We spent about four hours there... experiencing wine tastings, great food (local to Austria), and a lot of interaction among attendees. We even provided a bottle of white and red wine (respectively, Traminer and Pinot Noir) to everyone as a memento of the event. One of the great benefits of these sorts of events is the networking that takes place - this event was no different. Although the attendees were from all over Europe, Middle East, and Africa, there were plenty of discussions going on. A great time was had by all.
Right across the street from the event venue, well... more accurately, across the highway, was SCS, claimed to be Europe's largest shopping center. Although it did not look like much from the exterior, once you entered the complex, you realized how big the place was. I mean it was HUGE! 260 shops, 70 restaurants and bars, nine cinemas, and much more stretch out over a number of kilometers (that is KILOmeters). And there are two floors. It was pretty amazing place.
After the event was over, we took advantage of how close we were to the city and took the very clean and efficient light-rail into the center of Vienna (to a place called Opera, where the Opera House is) and walked pretty much all over the place. We spent time visiting some churches and museums - a few of the former being some of the more ornate inside I have ever seen. We saw where the famous Lipizzans stay (and even saw some of the horses).
We ate food from just about a different country every day - Austria one, Hungary another (since that is the next country to the east of Austria), Germany another, and even Australia. It was the latter that I tried something that I had not eaten before - a grasshopper... yes, the insect that hops and flies around during the summer. But before you say "Yuck!" it was not all that bad. Okay, so it was absent the legs and wings, but there was actually no taste to it - it was very much edible. Now I can cross another one off the "I bet you haven't eaten that" list.
In all, we had a great time - we heard from many of the attendees that the event was very informative and well worth their time. We are already starting to plan next year's event, although we likely will not have a specific site picked out until after the first of the year.