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Cross Pollination – Speaker Hostels


As much as I resisted blogging, it became more and more apparent after being appointed one of the new PASS Regional Mentors, that with so much going on out there in the communities, the PASS Summit, SQL Saturdays, Code Camps, etc that blogging was going to be easier and faster at getting the word out, than emailing anyone and everyone I could think of.  So be kind on this first one, as I am not a writer by any stretch of the imagination!

This past Saturday I went to the SWFL Code Camp to do some cross-pollination between Camps and SQL Saturdays, which will really be the main focus of my second blog, but in over-hearing some speakers talk about expenses and how many trips in a year some of them make, it got me thinking that surely there must be a way to help each other out (and a great way to make use of all these bathroom amenities I’ve been picking up from hotels all over!).  Rodney and I have the luxury of using hotel point rewards on most of our geek weekends, as I travel extensively with my job so these points add up quickly.  We typically only have to pay for gas, food, and as many of you know, lots of the cold frothy stuff.  The more I thought about it, it made me think of Europe and how there are Hostels in nearly every country there.  If you aren’t familiar with what a hostel is, other than that very scary movie, it is basically a place, typically for students, to stay on the cheap. 

So that really got the brain-a- cranking, especially since we nearly always have a spare bedroom open, and when we lived in Pensacola, it was like two or three spare bedrooms, which we did offer to a couple of the guys coming to town for our first SQL Saturday there, but one ended up unable to attend/speak at the last minute, and the other, well, was allergic to cats, and we had two of them.  Certainly something to make note and find out ahead of time if you plan to help out, as it puts the speaker in a crunch at the last minute to find an available hotel room (which being there aren’t many in some cities, that can be quite a nightmare of the unexpected added expense now to the speaker, along with the already built-in anxiety of presenting that next day).  Realizing while listening last Saturday that most speakers tend to cross paths on more than one occasion, and begin to really know each other, that this could be something that others wouldn’t mind doing to help each other out.  I’m not suggesting anything extravagant, just a place for a fellow colleague to crash for a night or two, and help them out on their costs.   I know we all try to get enough sponsorship money to help speakers out, but this tends to be more on a user group meeting level, since you are only having to help out one speaker, versus a Code Camp or SQL Saturday where you could have as many as 40 speakers (although hopefully many are local talent, not just those traveling from afar).   And if you have the space available and not being used, why wouldn’t you want to help out, that is one of the questions I’d like to pose here today for comments back.  Maybe being the  altruistic type personality that I am, there may be some “hang-ups” or “snags” that I am not thinking of here. 

Another question I have is if there is interest, just how would this really work in order to help each other out.   So let’s start with interest, I tweeted about starting a #SpeakerHostel yesterday, and immediately had a retweet from Tim Mitchell, “Great idea”, and another tweet back from John Dunagan offering up his spare bed/bath, and later in the day another retweet from Scott Dorman on how he can help.  Then this morning woke up to Old_Man_Fish taking me up on one of our rooms for #sqlsat49.  Ok, so that is all it took for me to know that there is indeed interest and this just might work. 

Now for the other question, how to get the word out and how to keep it somewhat organized in order to help. Alright, so that was two questions.  I do think blogging and tweeting about it more and more will help with the getting the word out part, but how best to help facilitate and coordinate folks with their events and locations of where they are being held.  There, that part is what I’d like to hear back from everyone on, just how to handle that.  One suggestion by Rodney is of course a database, with some sort of front end, and put it up on Azure.  Ok, wow, that was way more than I had planned on, (did I say plan, what plan??), but maybe that is indeed what is needed here.  Then that brings the next question, WHO has time to do all this creating and coding.  I know we are all busy with two jobs, community being typically our second jobs, so really I don’t know that this is feasibly doable, or if the interest will be enough to justify it going to that degree of work. 

So, there you have it, my very initial thoughts and questions that I would like to pose to the community.  Do you like the idea, how should or should we, organize and maintain this, your suggestions there, and lastly, being my first post, your comments on how I can improve my writing for my upcoming blogs.

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  1. Great first blog and what an awesome idea. I think this would really help the speakers out and be able to attract more out of town talent for the events.

    • Thanks Tim, I do hope it will cross pollinate with all the chapters out there. I think if they will maybe even just have a volunteer assigned to handling that for their upcoming events, that it would really facilitate to make this happen more everywhere.

      Thanks for commenting,

  2. Karla, great first post. I think having a twitter hashtag for crashing on couches is awesome. I know once I have my place setup in Orlando after the move I’ll have an extra space that can be up for grabs.

    I like the writing style, it is very informal and conversational, feels more like a quick chat with a friend than some blogs I’ve read.


    • Thanks Shawn!

      I appreciate the feedback. Btw, not sure why, but WP spammed you, had to Not Spam you so your comment could be approved. Weird. See you soon buddy, and happy belated birthday!


  3. Janice Lee permalink

    Hi! Why do I feel like we’ve met?? 🙂 There are people on Twitter that I fall in love with “just like that”…you’re one of them! There’s Erin Stellato, Mike Walsh, Jen McCown,…and around 20 more. Yup, you guys are special 😉

    Welcome to blogging! I love what you’ve written so far. Looking forward to the next posts!

    So, regarding your idea–I like. I have online friends whom I’ve never met but I’ve interacted with at some point that I wouldn’t hesitate welcoming to my home. Another entity called husband is involved so it can’t be everyone though.

    I am awful with setting up these things but I can tell you how I envision it as a “non-speaker” (Ha! I think I talk too much to be a non-speaker). Say there’s a local SQL event, I’d like to find a list of speakers who are willing to stay w/ a local. Then I can select and contact the speakers that I don’t mind having in the house (read: we’re online friends so I trust them). If they trust me back, they can say yes. 🙂

    • Hi Janice, so thrilled you read my first blog, you too are someone that I think we all fell in love with right away after your adorable first blog!

      Yes I think that is really a good idea, and hopefully others will take the initiative to make it happen, whether the event coordinator, volunteer, chapter leader, speaker, or just an attendee. And I think using twitter with hashtags for each event will help cross pollinate those in need of room with those who have a room available.

      I am taking all my little shampoos/cond/lotions and other hotel “swag” and putting it all in a basket, that I plan to just take out when I have guests staying over for these events. Then they can ALMOST feel like they stayed in a hotel! LOL! We have two speakers staying with us for SQLSat 49, so looking forward to seeing if there is anything else I should have maybe thought of, to either clue folks in who want to try this, OR warn them. HAHAHA! Actually all funniness aside, we do know both of these guys very well, so I know we have nothing to worry about.

      Thanks for your comments! Keep in touch! Karla

  4. swfldev permalink

    I kept it going over at mine, Karla. Great idea – excellent first post, and let’s hope we start something. Although my LaQuinta points don’t earn themselves!


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