The Road to SQLSaturday Orlando – 2016

This year I’ll blog sporadically on the event, focusing on pain points, discoveries, and new ideas with the occasional progress report.

  • Requesting the event # is much better than the last time I did it (years ago). More of a wizard, lets you set the exact location (though it’s a little quirky) and add multiple admins (as long as you know which email address the admins use for PASS related stuff). I wish it suggested the admins from the year before. Once submitted they send out the form to sign (Shawn McGehee is the signer this year) and then there is still a pause while the logo is built and the site provisioned. Not effortless, but better than it used to be – progress!
  • The site has been a little flaky. Several speakers reported errors when trying to load the submission page and we were cautioned to not publish the URL right after the site went live. Feels like a little work to be done there.
  • As much as we’re excited about hosting our 10th event, we’re mindful of not taking on too much. Karla & Rodney aren’t on the team this year (returned to Pensacola, but we’re looking forward to having them back on Oct 8th!). Kendal, Brad, and myself have all changed jobs recently and Gilda did so last year, Shawn has been super busy at work, and  Josh has torn up his knee. Gareth is the rock this year!
  • We expect to do a couple pre-cons this year, most likely hosted at Nova for more central location and more flexibility on lunch options (we can bring in whatever we want). We love bringing speakers to town for full day classes, but as we look at our track record of attendance we’re struggling to justify the work/risk against the return. We’re not going to make a change this year, but I think for next year we’re going to have to look at higher pricing, foregoing them, or moving them to a different time of year. The hard part is we we know how important it is to give speakers the chance to practice their craft on these day long classes so that they can try to move up to the Summit. Expect a change of some type on this next year.
  • The admin web site still shows the registration count by week on the graph. We don’t need that. We need to see trend this year compared to previous years, so we’ll still be relying on Kendal and some back flip powershell to give us the visibility we need.
  • The admin site emailer is improved some, but still…not enough. I don’t see a way to save a draft. You can email to one or more previous events, but it’s not clear to me if someone asked for ‘no further email’ if they are excluded no matter what, or if we will spam them.
  • I’ll be writing the marketing content this year, Kendal will review and tweak the layout as we go (using the template from last year). I’ll also be working to combine lessons learned from two years of the Student to IT Pro seminar into what I  hope will be a close to final formula. I’ll be working with Gilda on that and she will again manage the execution on game day
  • We went out our first email to only the reg list from last year on Friday (5/20), so far our reg count is 60.
  • When Gareth returns from his world tour we’re going to do a site visit and try to find room for more sponsors. Gareth is in charge of sponsors this year, I’ll be helping out on trying to get more of the local staffing companies to participate.

On a wider scale, one of the things we’re thinking about is what could we ask PASS for in terms of extra support for our 10th event, being mindful that it could set a precedent so it has to be sustainable. I’m thinking cash equivalent. A billboard or radio ad (to try something new), or maybe funds to pay costs for someone to present a free all day session to reward the community we serve. We’ll see.