Just a small addition:
The reason we started the VA Smalltalk Forum in 2007 was exactly the fact that it's hard for employees of, say, a major bank or insurance company to get an approval to travel to another country for four days just to attend a Smalltalk Conference. We wanted to give users the chance to learn what's new and to network with other users in a single day, at a place where they can travel to on their employer's cost. And I think we did a good job with this. We had more than 40 people attending and a lot of discussion going on. (Ah, by the way: have YOU registered for this year already???) I hope we'll have an even better event this year.
I am impressed by the number of people who have stayed in Amsterdam for 9 days, starting with Camp Smalltalk and working on the Seaside Sprint on the follwowing weekend. This proves that there sure are some enthusiasts around who invest a lot of their spare time in Smalltalk related topics.
I guess that's only a small percentage of Smalltalk users. Many people won't be able or allowed to stay away from home and their office for 5 or more days, not to mention that somebody would have to pay their travel and hotel costs.
I know quite some people who took holidays and went to several ESUG conferences as a holiday replacement. That's impressive, because these guys love to do Smalltalk and meet other Smalltalkers. But this also makes ESUG a very geeky event.
Another interesting question here is if the timing of the ESUG conference is good for attracting people from the industry. Most countries do have holidays in August, and if you have school children, you need to go on holiday at this time of the year. And if you have no children, you have to stay at the office because the colleagues with children want to go on holiday.
I am not suggesting to move ESUG to another month. I think the concept of ESUG is good and should stay as it is - as long as it is not so much an event for the industry
So I am a bit of a split personality here: I'd be happy to give up on the work and energy (and money) it takes to organize the VA Smalltalk Forum if there is another place for VA ST users to meet in Europe, and I doubt an ESUG of 5 days and at places in distant (yet attractive) places can replace it. I'd love to see VAST users talk with Squeakers and VisualWorkers at the bar and exchange interesting ideas for their projects. It might help some projects solve technical issues by using an open source framework as well as an open-source-author to understand the needs of an industry projects in a very informal and pleasant way.
I also think another vendor conference like the Cincom Smalltalk Conference is not the real solution. But what is?