SQLSaturday Orlando Notes – SpeedPASS

This year for the first time in a long time we pre-printed the SpeedPASS for all attendees and we did it on perforated paper. This was really all about logistics, it’s a pain to have to provide a printer, paper, scisssors, and someone to staff the table for what feels like the penalty line of people that forgot to print (or bring) their SpeedPASS.

It is, of course, a trade off. For me moving the work way from Saturday was a win, even if a little more work. In theory!

In practice, it almost worked. The work I put in to allow me to print a batch early in the week and then print net new registrations worked decently. I printed a batch Friday night after the speaker party and even a few more than came in after that on Saturday morning before I drove to the event.

The first negative was that because of the number of sponsors we had the SpeedPASS was two sheets per person. Took a little longer to print which was ok, but the pain was in keeping the organized – I had to staple 500+ sets together. It was also a little work to take the later batches and put them in the correct A to Z stack. Plus the effort to make sure that those paying for lunch late had a lunch ticket printed (PASS: a cutoff day for paying for lunch would be really nice!).

Still, for a few hours work it was all done and organized. We split them across 2 tables with 2 people at each table and the line moved reasonably well. It felt like we did a little better collecting check-in tickets this way. We ended up with about 20 people for whom we did not have a SpeedPASS and that was an annoyance for them and me. I had brought the supplies just in case and tried to print them, but several were stuck in “regenerating”. It seems like some of the missing ones were cases where because there was no PDF to download. I didn’t know any were missing (should have driven from the list of attendees and not the list of PDF’s) and some were students who had not registered (they were supposed to be a different building).

Close, but not perfect. Definitely a little disappointing.

Going into this it was hard to know what the attendee reaction would be. Would changing from “print your own” throw them off or make it better? The consensus was definitely positive, with a lot of comments appreciating the perforated paper instead of having to find scissors.

Making this work (in one form or another) matters some to the attendees, but a LOT to sponsors. Remember that “raffle tickets” evolved from the idea of printing “business cards” for attendees who didn’t have them to stick in the sponsor bucket. In 2007 it was a reasonable solution and one that SpeedPASS has improved on, but I think it’s time to explore alternatives. One would be a PDF formatted for a phone and start to build the expectation that sponsors need to scan (or have a standalone scanner at the table). Another might be to have a page that lists sponsors and their prizes, give attendees the ability to “join” whatever raffles, or just select *.

The downside to the print it all plan is that it’s all on you. If it’s not there, not right, the attendee is frustrated. If they are supposed to print it and forget, well, they get why they have to wait in line.

So, meh. I don’t like the options I have and don’t have a clear path to doing something different.