Once again I am back at home recovering from another PASS Summit. This year the attendance has exceeded all expectations with over 5000 registrations. I don’t have the numbers from past years, but I it doesn’t seem that long ago when that number was closer to 2500. I began to wonder what factors drove the record breaking attendance. I thought of two things that most likely made a big difference.
The obvious factor is the SQL Server 2012 release. It’s not surprising that SQL Server professionals are excited about SQL Server 2012; it is a huge release and there is something for everyone between AlwaysOn Availability Groups, new T-SQL functions, Power View (Project Crescent), ColumnStore Indexes and sooooo much more. The chance to hear more about “Denali” probably made a difference.
The second thing I thought about was social media, like Twitter. I’m not a big user of Twitter, but I often tell folks new to the SQL Server community to get on Twitter to meet MVPs and other SQL Server experts. I figured the buzz on Twitter about PASS encouraged a lot of people to find out for themselves how awesome the PASS Summit really is.
I was talking to Pam Shaw about this topic when she mentioned that SQL Saturday is also a big factor. That makes sense! Every SQL Saturday is like a mini-PASS Summit with first-class speakers, great networking and amazing educational content. Over the last couple of years, SQL Saturdays have really taken off. These events get folks thinking about how great it would be to attend the PASS Summit and many of them are inspired to attend PASS.
Over the past couple of years, there has been an effort to make sure that the First Timers attending the Summit feel welcome. My favorite is having them wear a “First Timers” ribbon. Whenever I see that ribbon I make sure I find out what they think about PASS and that they are getting the most of out of experience. I heard many positive comments and saw many smiling faces among this group and hope to see many of them next year. I also became one of the Big Brothers/Big Sisters and helped several newbies get the most out of PASS. The First Timers program included a Speed Networking session with Don Gabor and a red-carpet entrance into the Welcome Reception Tuesday night.
PASS is an amazing experience and I hope you consider joining SQL Server professionals from all over the world learning, networking, sharing experiences and meeting the coolest people anywhere.