At 5:00 AM on August 1, 2009 I was awaken by a ringing cell phone. It was Mark, the official and dedicated facilities person and speaker for SQL Saturday #17, which was going to be (little did we know) one of the biggest SQL and .Net events ever held in our community (OVER 200 ATTENDEES). It was time to pick up 30 dozen donuts. I jumped up and began my day.
When we arrived at Louisiana State University (LSU) there were several people already there unloading tables, chairs, coolers and other stuff. We had a great team and it definitely paid off. Time moved quickly. Everything was going as planned until…. We were doing a final check on the rooms, you know, checking projectors, computers, etc. To our surprise, the projector and computer in the largest room was not working and the welcome speech was only 45 minutes from starting. I started to get a little nervous, but never really lost my cool. Mark made a call to LSU facilities and within 15 minutes someone was there and the situation was resolved.
Lesson Learned: To avoid a possible catastrophic situation, like loss of a ROOM, always secure one or two more rooms (if possible) when scheduling the event with your hosting facility.
I digress. With that situation resolved we noticed a long queue at the registration table, which was a good thing. People were gathering in every corner of the building, chatting, eating donuts and drinking coffee. At approximately 9:35 we announced that the welcome speech would be given in a few minutes by yours truly. We were a little off schedule, but since I was speaking I just stated the specifics about the schedule, thanked a few people and dismissed the audience. This was a good idea, because before the first session began we had registered approximately 130 attendees. With that much body heat it seemed a little warmer in the building than it was when we initially arrived.
Lesson Learned: If possible ask your hosting facility to leave the air on all night or ask can someone turn it on a couple of hours earlier than normal.
During this time of year a warm building and a hot day makes for very disgruntle individuals. Fortunately, it cooled off quickly and the day went on without a hitch. After the first session a suggestion was made that we should go around a bring drinks to the speakers, which turned out to be a great idea. Several speakers commented on the gesture and really appreciated it. Around 12:30 lunch began. We served lunch from Subway, which included a sandwich (Turkey, Ham, Roast Beef or Vegetable), Lays Chips, Cookies, and a soda or water. We did not get one complaint. I guess not it was free.
At the end of the day, we concluded the sessions with a grand raffle. We gave away several books, gift cards, software and many other items. One of the coordinators of the event actually created a small application that was used to pick the numbers. It would have worked out fine if we only had a few items to give away, but since we had over 40 items we had to speed up the process. I grab a bucket with the tickets in it and started calling out numbers. Everyone seemed to enjoy the back and forth between myself and the application.
We ended the day at a nice little daiquiri shop not too far from LSU with some Jambalaya and adult beverages. Fun was had by all and the event was a success. Stay tuned we are meeting this week to discuss: WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN DONE DIFFERENTLY TO TRANFORM A GOOD EVENT INTO A GREAT EVENT.
Talk soon Patrick LeBlanc,
SQL Down South.