Pensacola TKO’s another Great SQL Saturday Event!
It’s been a heck of a week, as I had to go right into another three day event post the SQL Saturday #77 one in Pensacola, but I am finally able to sit and “brain-dump” all my thoughts about this year’s event.
For the first time in Pensacola we added two pay for pre-cons the day prior to the event. We were honored to have Andy Leonard [blog/twitter] train on “A Day of SSIS” and Kevin D. Wolf [blog/twitter] trained on “Real World Windows Phone 7 Development”. Due to very few technical events coming to Pensacola, we typically add a couple of dev tracks to the SQL Saturdays at this location, so we decided to have a pre-con for our local Devs as well as the DBAs. These events were very well received, and really added some value and a few dollars to help cover additional expenses for Saturday. I highly recommend adding a pre-con if you can manage it.
This year the SQL Saturday was held at the same venue, however at a different building, so added a bit of confusion for folks attending. Even though the building was right next to the one we’ve always used, it required people to enter into a different parking lot. Well, one side of that parking lot, the side that is the actual physical location of the college, was blocked off with cones for a motorcycle training class going on that morning. For people not familiar with the college, and coming to SQL Saturday Pensacola for the first time, they had a hard time finding the entrance on the opposite side of the block. We assigned a volunteer to stand over there and direct folks to the other entrance, however the first track of sessions had very low attendance which I’m sure was due to people unable to locate us. Something to note for next year if the event stays at the same college, offer all routes of entry to the college in email prior to the event. By the second session, the numbers were looking good, and rooms were starting to fill up, although I’m sure we had some just give up and leave altogether.
Another “hiccup” in the morning was the printer not working. We used the Speed Pass registration process this year for the first time, and for folks who didn’t register online or forgot to print their pass, we planned to print them onsite the morning of the event. We had about a dozen people lined up when we finally just gave up and went across the street and bought another printer. So added an unexpected expense, and caused some hold up for a few attendees, but not sure how to avoid this type of thing for next year, as I do feel the Speed Pass overall was a huge help in creating a very smooth check in.
One thing that was really great for our new location was the ability to have enough room for more exhibiting sponsors. This year we had more sponsors actually onsite then we’ve ever had in the past, and the attendees really got to see/hear about a lot of great products and services available to them. After reading some blogs, I know the sponsors really felt it was worth their while as well. I always try to encourage sponsors to come onsite, as I really feel it adds more value to the event for the attendees, and equally helps the vendor to get more exposure.
Lunch was Lenny’s Sub Shop, as they always give us a great price for their box lunch and deliver and set them all up for us, which is nice since its one less thing we need volunteers to do. We typically encourage folks to eat outside, but this year had to be the hottest June I’ve ever seen in Pensacola, so we may consider moving it up into April next year…although that will mean SQL Sunday fishing will take a “hit” as red snapper season isn’t open that time of year. Again, some things to weigh out for next time.
The day ended with the raffle drawing, and we had a lot of great giveaways this year, so we had a good amount of attendees hang around all the way to the end of the day, then off to the after party at Seville Quarter. Some good eats and winding down time, which I know for THIS GIRL was much needed. I don’t think I’ve ever been so quiet at a networking opportunity.
All in all, I’m satisfied with the outcome. A lot of people have made some great comments about the sessions being higher level this year, so even those more advanced DBAs and Developers I think walked away with some new knowledge. Thank you to ALL our great speakers for coming to Pensacola and making it a huge win for our hometown. I really cannot express enough how deeply appreciative I am to all of you for making the “haul” (I know some came very far away!) and tolerating some unusually hot weather for that time of year!