Notes from SQLRally Orlando–Part 3

Our last day went well, even extremely well. By day 2 (or day 3 if you attended a seminar) everyone knows where everything is at and it all just flows well. It was a busy day for me, several meetings about SQLRally 2012 and a lot of conversations with people I don’t see often enough, busy enough that I never sat down for lunch.

I spent a lot of time asking people what they thought, everyone positive and pleased. Even the list of suggestions for changes for next time was tiny – a reminder about breakfast being provided (or not) and  maybe not require the raffle winners to be present to win. I also had a lot of people tell me that they thought we absolutely hit our mark of creating an event that fell between SQLSaturday and the PASS Summit.

I tried to think (and ask) what was it that made it good? My thought is that it’s a combination of all of these:

  • The price point was affordable, even the seminars were a great value
  • The hotel. SQLSaturday is by it’s nature grass roots and the locations reflect that, we held the SQLRally at a very nice hotel meeting space and it made the event seem professional.
  • Less walking. There was less walking because we had four rooms literally side by side, and the sponsor area was 75 feet past that, and lunch was just around the corner from there. It’s not about the exercise involved, it’s the time. Being able to just walk to the next room in 30 steps leaves a whole lot more time to slow down and talk, and I saw a lot of that, in the rooms and outside the rooms.

Funny that all of that doesn’t seem like much in many ways,but many people described the event as intimate or comfortable. I don’t think that reflects badly on our other event formats,it’s just an area of difference – and one that I was thrilled to see work out.

One of things we tried this time was doing the ‘closing ceremonies/raffle’ at 4 pm instead of after the last session as we typically do at SQLSaturday. We had almost all of the attendees gather outside in the pleasant Florida sun for about 20 minutes while Jack Corbett, Kendal Van Dyke, Mark Ginnebaugh, and myself ran through a quick list of items – thanking everyone for attending and especially the speakers for their contribution, announcing SQLRally Nordic (Sweden!) for this fall, taking a minute for Mark to speak to them about PASS Chapters, and then finally back to Jack to raffle off some great prizes.

The last sessions of the day went well, and then we had people remaining around the registration area for another hour just talking. Some groups formed to go for dinner and various things, but no formal After Hours for Friday – by Friday you’re either tired or have met people that you want to spent time with.

A lot of people contributed to this event in ways large and small, and I hope they all know that they made a difference. In particular I want to publicly thank Jack Corbett and Kendal Van Dyke for their help. I couldn’t have done it without their help and they did a great job. PASS HQ played a big role in this as well, with Craig Ellis hosting our bi-weekly and then weekly calls that kept a very large team of volunteers in sync and on schedule.

As I’m writing this Saturday morning out by the pool at the hotel it’s nice to be able to look back on a very long journey and see that it’s done. PASS HQ will be sending out a survey to the attendees, I’m about to write some notes for the Connector, and I need to send some thank you emails, so for me today is the day I get to mark this one as completed, and completed successfully.