SQLPam's Blog

March 15, 2012

SQL Saturday #110

Filed under: SQL Saturday — sqlpam @ 8:20 pm

So we have another SQL Saturday Tampa on the books.  This was our fifth – our fourth at KForce who supplied facilities.  Based on the reviews – it was another success.

This year we had two last minute precons held on March 9th, 2012 at the Ybor City Hampton Inn.  One session was for the DBAs led by Eddie Wuerch (@eddiew) entitled The DBA Skills Upgrade Toolkit The other session was for our BI audience led by Bill Pearson (@Bill_Pearson) entitled Getting Started with PowerPivot and Other Microsoft  Business Intelligence Topics.  The events were opened to the public only a couple of weeks before the event – so an attendance of 34 was a pleasant surprize.

We had over 40 people attend our Pre-event dinner at Spaghetti Warehouse.  This was a good time by all.  It was a chance for our speakers, sponsors, and volunteers to get together and let their hair down before getting to work on Saturday.  This was the core of the people who helped make the event a great success.

The morning of March 10th, 2012 found us at KForce very early in the morning.  This year registration opened at 7:00am to allow for the elimination of one room that was not conducive to learning.  Instead of six time slots we had seven – so that meant a very early start.  Registration was a breeze for those that pre-printed the SpeedPasses supplied by the SQL Saturday site this year.  This did create some confusion.  Last year, since I was prototyping the process, each registrant got a SpeedPass delivered via email.  The common thread from those that did not print them was that never received the PDFs.  I need to do a better job of clarifying what the process is next year.  We also had issues with the SQL Saturday site’s SpeedPass process on the day of the event which created a few glitches for those that did not pre-print the SpeedPasses.  This is a work in process – so all information has been submitted to PASS.  The site continues to improve – so I see these wrinkles being resolved soon.

We had 42 scheduled sessions led by 40 speakers and 1 co-speaker.  We did end up with 2 no shows the day of the event.  One of these was filled by a speaker on site with a similar topic while the second was left unfilled.

We had 20 sponsors for the event with 11 on site.  We had three sponsors that were bloggers trying to get their names out there – my hope is they got the exposure they were hoping for.  We also had three Bronze,  five Silver, seven Gold and one Platinum.  Although this looks like a lot of sponsorship money, there was a lot of this that was in trade for needed materials for the event.  My hope is that each sponsor got what they hoped to get out of the event to encourage them to continue sponsoring SQL Saturdays in the future, not only Tampa – but all events.

We saw a marked decrease in registrations this year.  There were several reasons that I assumed caused this.  First, we changed the time frame we had our event.  In past years it has been held soon after the beginning of the year.  This posed challenges with sponsorship budgets – so this year we moved to March.  I received some emails stating that they planned on coming in Januray – but March was not possible.  The other factor is the number of SQL Saturdays that are occurring.  I think that that the sponsors, speakers and attendees are reaching a saturation point.

A big round of applause should go out to our volunteers.  They were the silent partners that made the event a great success.  I would like to give a special word of thanks to two of my volunteers.  Karla Landrum (@KarlaKay22) is now a PASS employee – but she went well above the call of duty to assist me with details that boggle the mind.  Brooke Ranne (@BabblingBrook01) managed the registration desk for me.  She has gotten it down to a science by volunteering at a number of the events in the south east.  On Friday night, the volunteer staff stuffed 300 event bags in less than an hour.  I have to say – my team kicked butt.  My warmest gratitude to each and everyone.

Lots of things went right – but besides registration glitches we had a few things that raised concerns from attendees.  I heard concerns about signage – we had more this year than ever before – I guess there will have to more next year.  There was also concerns raised that although the Guide Book was mentioned in a pre-event email – there was not enough information for attendees to know how to use it.  The cardinal sin of all was that we ran out of coffee.  Last year it was overkill so I backed off – looks like I need to gear it up a little more for next year.

Thank you to everyone who spoke, sponsored, volunterred or attended.  You each added to the community.  For those first timers – I hope to see you again in the future.  For those that came back after a previous attendance – thank you for continuing the cause – free training and the expansion of the SQL Family.

 

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