What to expect at Salesforce.com's Dreamforce 2017: Agenda, dates, speakers, venues, accommodation, price, concerts and handy tips

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Dreamforce, the cloud computing giant Salesforce.com's massive annual conference in San Francisco, can be intimidating. Here is what to expect from one of the biggest technology conferences of the year

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Dreamforce 2017 will be made up of more than 2,700 sessions, including keynotes, breakouts, training and certification. The event runs from 6-9 November this year, nearly a full month later than last year, and will be spread across a range of venues in downtown San Francisco.

Only a handful of speakers have been announced for Dreamforce 2017 so far, with philanthropy looking like a key theme once again. The first batch of speakers to join CEO Marc Benioff includes the former First Lady Michelle Obama, Ashton Kutcher, Girl Scouts CEO Sylvia Acevedo and George W Bush's twin daughters Jenna Bush Hager and Barbara Pierce Bush.

Nearer the time it is a good idea to build your agenda using the official app so that you aren't running around San Francisco during the week, when events can be quite far apart from one another. Salesforce has also put together a Trailhead course to help you prepare for Dreamforce.

Last year's Dreamforce was dominated by the theme of 'intelligence', with the SaaS giant's latest announcement 'Einstein' promising to bring complex data science techniques and predictive algorithms seamlessly into all of its cloud-based CRM products. This year we should expect some great real-life use cases of this technology.

Read next: How Salesforce brought artificial intelligence and machine learning into its products with Einstein

The headline act for the Dreamfest concert on Tuesday night, which is for the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital, is Alicia Keys and Lenny Kravitz. The concert has hosted some pretty big names in past years, including the Foo Fighters, The Killers and U2 last year.

Attendees from last year will be glad to hear that Dreamfest has been relocated this year to the AT&T Park baseball stadium in downtown San Francisco. Last year's U2 concert took place at the Cow Palace in Daly City and required being bussed to and from downtown, causing some pretty chaotic scenes after the concert.

Ray Grady, CCO and president, CloudCraze - an ecommerce solution for Salesforce - and a Dreamforce veteran expects "Salesforce to focus conversations at the conference on its most prominent ecosystem components.

"Einstein, Lightning and Commerce Cloud have been major priorities for innovation in the last year, so it's likely the key themes will centre around new developments for these applications and how they will play a role in Salesforce's continued evolution."

In particular Grady has his eye on Commerce Cloud, saying: "We should see a big focus on commerce through presentations like the consumer goods showcase of Adidas."

Dreamforce venue

Dreamforce has a large footprint in downtown San Francisco, centering on the Moscone Center, with other events happening at the Marriott Marquis, InterContinental, the Palace Hotel, Hilton Union Square, the Park Central, and the Westin St. Francisco.

Accommodation gets booked up fast during Dreamforce so it's a good idea to book as far in advance as possible. Salesforce has contracts with a number of Bay Area hotels for discounted Dreamforce rates, where you will also get transportation to the Moscone and complimentary internet access. This accommodation can be booked during the registration process.

Similarly, the most popular restaurants in the city get booked up for Dreamforce, so if you have an important dinner lined up then get that booked in advance too.

Lastly, trans-Atlantic flights will be busier in the period before and after Dreamforce, so if you are travelling from the UK it would be a good idea to get these locked up as early as possible.

Dreamforce 2016

In terms of Salesforce announcements, last year's Dreamforce was dominated by the new Einstein brand and how customers could start to take advantage of its AI-powered features.

Other headline speakers in 2016 included Melinda Gates, Tony Robbins, Will.i.am and twin brother NASA astronauts Scott and Mark Kelly.

Read next: Ten things you need to know from Dreamforce 2016: Benioff's keynote, U2, Dreampitch winner and Einstein

Finally, it was all wrapped up by a U2 concert that was turned into an anti-Trump rally.

Cost

A full conference pass is $1,799 if you register before September 18, 2017, when it will most likely rise to $1,999.

Lastly, the Dreamforce 2017 FAQ is online and should answer any other questions you have about the event.

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