Final Preparations for SQLSaturday #8 on October 25th, 2008

Andy Warren, 2008-10-19

I suspect final preparations will stretch all the way through next Saturday morning, but at this point we’ve done most of the prep work that can be done in advance. I thought I’d share with you some of the work we’ve been doing and just overall progress on the event.

We’ve got 381 registered through this morning, will one full week to go. Our original goal was 400 registered and 250 attending, so at this point we’re on track to hit both goals, and with luck exceed them. We’ve also got an outstanding schedule, 40+ sessions spread across 8 tracks, shown next:

A lof the work this year has been to standardize how we build a lot of the printed materials. Last year we weren’t entirely sure what we wanted, so we had a hodge podge of Word mail merge docs, a couple Access Reports, and a few in Reporting Services. This year almost everything is hosted in RS, which isn’t necessarily better as far as pure output, it’s easier to manage when I need an admin person to do some of the work. Navigate to the SQLSaturday folder, find the report, select the event, generate as PDF or print as appropriate.

So what kind of printed stuff do we have? Oh, more than you might think!

  • Raffle tickets. These are really a key item in our strategy, this prints a sheet of 8 tickets personalized with name, emailaddress, and company name/position if provided. We order micro-perf stock so it’s easy to work with from a user perspective
  • Lunch tickets. These aren’t always needed, but this year we’ll have students (non-attendees) mixed in with our group and we need to make sure our attendees get fed first. Basically we just swap in the correct event logo and print a bunch of copies. Also printed 8 up, but we have the printer cut them in advance.
  • Prize tickets. Printed 8 up on card stock, we use these to award the books provided by various publishers, speakers draw from a box of raffle tickets (see next item) and the winner gets a prize ticket they can redeem for one of whatever is left.
  • Session evals. Sized the same as a raffle ticket and in fact we treat it as a raffle ticket, attendees fill in the session name, their name, and answer a couple of quick questions, then the eval goes in the box for the end of session drawing. Hopefully this will encourage more feedback, which speakers love.
  • Event evals. These count as end of day raffle tickets for the “big” prizes, and we hope to also get some feedback about areas in which we can improve.
  • SQL Stampede, aka Bingo Cards. We use these to drive traffic to our sponsors, and also to drive a little networking by putting the names of a few speakers on the card (there are two versions with different names)
  • Name badges

In addition there is a printed event guide, which with luck will get finished up today and go to the printer on Mon (we try to wait as long as we can because things change!). This one is in Word, to give us the flexibility to shape the document however we want.

Next Thursday night we’ll have a volunteer meeting to stuff the event bags with everything we have available, including the personalized raffle tickets and the name badges. We’re hoping the added complexity of putting those in the bags will speed things up at checkin on Sat morning. Friday we’ll be picking up soda and water, and loading up all the little stuff; direction signs for the event, PAS system, coffee supplies, trash bags, tape, etc, etc, etc.

On the topic of volunteers, we have thirty on our list this year and I wouldn’t mind a few more. Having 30 volunteers gives us decent redundancy if someone has to drop out at the last minute, but more importantly, it makes it a real community event because it’s run by the attendees.

Hopefully I’m manage to make it sound complicated, interesting, daunting, and fun all at the same time – because it is. I’m looking forward to the event, but I’ll also be glad when it’s done and I can relax and go back to just having a day job!

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