I just got back from the PMA/DIMA conference and expo. A week in Las Vegas (the city alone would be a whole nuther thread). I thought I'd mention some stuff for people (like me) who had never attended anything like this before.
The mornings had organized activities such as golf, photo shoots, and running that I skipped with no regrets. The first two days had courses running in multiple tracks, including a Photoshop track. The other tracks had things such as marketing and retailing courses (PMA is aimed at commercial photographers, labs, and photo stores).
The Photoshop sessions were taught by Lee Varis, Julieanne Kost, and (of course) Katrin Eismann. The classes were taught in enormous rooms with 48 tables, each seating 3 people. Half the room had Macs, half had PCs. The speaker worked up front and had their computer monitor projected onto an enormous screen.
After two days of multiple courses the venue changed from a big hotel conference wing over to the Las Vegas Convention Center for the expo. Mini-sessions continued throughout the day, in much smaller rooms and on much more specialized topics (typically led by a manufacturing representative). The big courses were at night, using the exact same setup as for the first two days (in fact they were the same machines, just moved).
The main event was the expo. This thing was HUGE. My feet ache just remembering it. Two floors, each seemingly the size of a football field. The lower floor had large pavilions sponsored by the big names such as Kodak, Polaroid, Epson, Fuji, etc. They were displaying and demonstrating everything from full labs down to individual devices such as cameras and printers. Plus there were dozens, maybe even a hundred other vendors in smaller areas, but mostly larger companies you've probably heard of.
The upper floor was far more interesting to me. This was mostly for digital technology companies and photography. There were large pavilions as well, but nothing compared to the lower floor (Adobe and HP were the largest spaces on the 2nd floor). The rest of the second floor was individual vendor booths of an amazing array.
I got a real kick out of walking down a row of booths where all the vendors sold props and backgrounds for photo studios. Fake rocks were plentiful
Bottled water was $2 and lunches were basic but good, and uniformly ran about $10 (including beverage).
I got a good look at the Epson 3200 scanner and had some questions finally answered about it. I also spent some time in the Piezography booth and fell in love with the process (the prints were so gorgeous).
This is nothing I could recommend for a casual user (unless you happen to be in Las Vegas anyway), but if you do earn your living with photography (or aspire to) it would probably justify a working vacation. The next one is this fall in Orlando, and there's another one planned for Las Vegas this time next year. http://www.pmai.org