First, the numbers. We registered 240 people, had about 110 on site. That’s definitely better than last year and still quite a bit under what it was pre-Covid. I’ll admit the recovery back to normal is taking longer than I expected. By a lot. I think all we can do is keep having events and give people time to decide to seek out the in-person experience again.
This was a low intensity year for us, by design. I didn’t have a lot of extra time and energy to put into it compared to most years and we knew going in that were probably going to be in the 100-150 range so it would be a smaller event. Doug Leal, Kendal Van Dyke, and Mike Antonovich all helped out, with a great assist from Adolfo Santiago on event day.
We did have a hurricane this year, about 2 weeks prior to the event and we paused marketing for a week, that may have had some impact on the final attendance but as far as storm recovery it was pretty much complete in our area. Just the nature of October in Florida that you might have a storm.
We used Sessionize for speaker and session management, Eventbrite for event registration, and Paypal for sponsors. I still miss the integrated tools from way back, but it works. I would say sponsor management is the hardest task between having to manually set up PayPal items, adding logos to the event site and getting them somewhat sized correctly, and tracking the list/lunch needs.
Sponsors this year were Cozyroc, Solarwinds, Quest, Redgate, SQLGrease, and Microsoft. I really appreciate sponsors continuing to join our event while we’re trying to build back to the old attendance levels.
The only thing we tried differently this year was our student seminar. In previous years we ran a separate registration and had the seminar in a separate building, inviting them to attend SQLSaturday after their morning session was done. This year we had just the single registration and had in the same building, though on a different floor. We had about 20 attend, lower than the usual 50-70. Doug and Gina Meronek did a great job delivering content to the students at a level right for them. Lots of good comments from the students and staff on the effort.
Most things went well. The Friday night volunteer dinner was well attended. We had BBQ for lunch and we had plenty of food. We had more than 30 people at the after party, far more than the 10-15 we expected. We ordered 15 dozen donuts and at the end there was one whole donut and two halves left, so we were pretty close on the count for those.
Of course not everything went well. We ran out of lanyards early because I left one box at home. We had one AV issue that we resolved by moving to one of our spare rooms. We had coffee left over for once because we ran out of cups sometime late in the morning and while we got more, less coffee interest after lunch. The most painful issue was that when I set up Eventbrite this year I used the “add-on” feature for the paid lunch option. Worked well enough, but when I downloaded the file I didn’t check the formatting and printed all the raffle tickets but no lunch tickets. I printed the lunch tickets separately and that was fine, but one extra bit of of stuff to manage.
Thank you to the speakers for attending and helping out, as always you make it possible for us to have a SQLSaturday.