Cisco Live! on a Budget – 2017

Last year I wrote a great article on “Making your Case for Cisco Live” – Click Here – that article was all about how to get your boss to pay for Cisco Live, and why Cisco Live is a great value.    If you have not read that – go back and read that.   I even provide some tips on how to get free passes if you are a Cisco customer, or how to show your boss that Cisco Live! is cheaper than traditional training.

Why Cisco Live?

First, I want to talk about WHY you need to get to Cisco Live US – #CLUS.   For your career, for your job, for YOU.

Cisco Live! has some great tips on “Why” attend, I will not list them all – CLICK HERE – and I will show you all the right reasons.

There’s Never Been a Better Time – to go to Cisco Live and find out what you have been missing.

  • Breakout Sessions, Content, Content, Content…
  • DevNet
  • Seminars
  • Walk In Labs
  • World of Solutions

The bottom line is – there is more to do at Cisco Live, than you have time for, and you really do need to think about, and plan how to get the most out of your week.

I am budget constrained!

No problem, if getting your boss to pay is a problem, or you need to go on a budget (still, get the boss to pay, you need to really make your case!) this will give you tips on how to get the most – for the least at Cisco Live!

A full trip to Cisco Live! for the full conference experience is going to cost you close to $5000 USD – if you get the full conference pass.   That is the bottom line,  between airline tickets, the $2300+ full conference pass and hotel – you are approaching some big bucks.   Don’t let this get you down – you are still going – and for much less.

The Explorer + Social Pass – The Hidden Gem

I am sure the event does not want everyone figuring this out – The Explorer Pass is the best value – and I will show you how to save yourself $1900 right now – and still experience it all.     Yes, all of it.

$249 – Miss (Almost) Nothing.

For the price of “Explorer + Social Pass” which is only $249,  the only things that you are missing at Cisco Live! is the following….

  • Cisco Live T-Shirt (Trust me, you will go home with enough T-Shirts!)
  • Cisco Live Bag (If you ask around, tons of people give their away you could get one)
  • Breakfast and Lunch (Read my blog HERE about breakfast – not a big deal IMO)
  • Breakout Sessions (I will address this)
  • Your attendance does not count towards NetVet status
  • No Free Certification Exam

If you want to save an extra $150, you could get only the “Explorer” pass, but then you miss out on the “Social” part of Cisco Live, and I DO NOT recommend this,  there have been enough BLOGS out there about why Cisco Live! is all about SOCIAL.

What do you get?

DevNet Zone

Are you a developer?  Do you want to be?  Are you getting interested in the new SDN, SDWAN, XML, REST-API – are you trying to catch up in this new software defined programmatic world we are in?   Then DevNet zone is for you – you could literally hang here all week, there are tons of activities and learning opportunities.      This area should be called “Industry Shift Zone”  because this is where you will see what really is up and coming, and new ways of thinking.    Not to be missed

World of Solutions

This is where everyone goes for free stuff – but – this is where you go to learn from everyone who sells complimentary products – and they don’t tend to only send marketing people but real engineering types.     Here is the secret – Cisco has over 30% of the floor space in World of Solutions.   Lots of the content you see in breakouts is also duplicated here, and you can go one-on-one with a lot of the product teams.     I try and track down those hard to find Cisco engineering types on specific technologies, get some answers and learn about things.     Another cool trick, is if you want to integration product A + B – perhaps you want to link ACI with ASA Firewall – goto the ACI booth, and then drag that person over to the ASA booth (or vice versa) and then have a conversation – ok be nice about it, but you get the idea.   WORLD OF SOLUTIONS IS WORTH THE PRICE OF ADMISSION ALONE.   You could spend all week in here.

Customer Appreciation Event (CAE)

It is a concert, it is a great time, and you get to see/hang/learn and collaborate with like minded people – the nerd knobs never stop, and the CAE is a great place to go to network.


You still get access to keynotes, and there is nothing more inspiring than listening to some of these amazing speakers – live – in person.  If you don’t make it into the hall, don’t worry it is simulcasted all over the event.

Breakouts via Cisco Live! 365 Access

Didn’t I just say you don’t get breakouts?  That’s right – live – you don’t – but who says that you need to see them LIVE.   With access to Cisco Live 365 online – you can see almost every single breakout – online.     “But what if I have questions”  well, there is a good chance someone will ask it.

Here is another tip – go ahead and watch the breakouts you WOULD have seen – at Cisco Live Europe on Cisco Live 365 – before the event,  now you are ahead of the game.   Once you reach the event, you can use access to World of Solutions or DevNet to go ask questions.


No question, this can get expensive, if you stay at the Mandalay (Assuming you get a room) you are $490/Night+ – CRAZY.      If you stay just 2 doors down at the Excalibur, rooms as I write this are $69, and it is walking distance, or take the tram.    There are rooms for as low as $49 a night – and if you read my blog from last year, you won’t be in your room much anyway.


This is where it becomes difficult, because travel is always a challenge – and I don’t know where you are coming from, but you need to get “fancy”


If you are in the western half the USA – you have Friday night till Sunday night to get there, so you don’t lose much of your work day, so driving might be an option for you.    Don’t worry about parking, if you are a member of any M-Life hotel program (free sign up) parking is free, or maxes out at $30 (if you “lose” your ticket) and there are many other free parking offers.

If you drove from Chicago and back, it would cost you about $270 in fuel in an average car, leave the F-150 at home, and grab that Toyota Echo.

Even if you are coming from as far as Florida or Chicago – this drive is doable and can anyone say ROAD TRIP!?


I am not an “American Flight Expert” as I am Canadian but Google Flights, Travelocity, tons of other sites give you the ability to find reasonable flight options.   As I look right now you can get flights that run from $300-600 – and if you play with your dates you can reduce it a bit, remember to consider it might be worth staying an extra night on either end to bring the flight cost down.

The Sub – $1500 Live Trip

You can do it,  $249 for your ticket, $276 for your room, $600 for your flight – a little spending money for food – YOU CAN DO THIS – for less than $1500.

So what are you waiting for – CLICK HERE NOW – see what you would miss out on, and sign up now.


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