PASS Summit 2020

  • Steve Rezhener

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 263

    @ChrisAVWood this is not about the timing, as we moved ultra fast from in-person to virtual. This is all about the team:

    • We are totally fine with asking for help
    • We can scale quickly from just few people
    • We are all volunteers based, so seating idle doesn't cost a dime
    • We are extra careful with 501.c.3 money
  • ChrisAVWood

    Newbie

    Points: 8

    Steve,

     

    I agree that you had a wonderful team but lets say your SQL Saturday was in October or November how long would you have waited before making a big change like going virtual?

    Chris

  • Steve Rezhener

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 263

    1. I would wait till the last minute to sign any binding contracts or get a confirmation in writing for a full refund. Starting from February/March 2020, there is almost zero competition for venue reservation. A solid alternative is reserving venue and buying an event cancellation insurance.
    2. Come up with a plan B for a virtual event. Decide on a software to deliver the virtual event and check on availability of volunteers to help deliver it.

    We switched from in-person to virtual in 1-2 months.

     

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 396703

    Just so people know, we have contracts with convention centers and hotels. These contracts get negotiated starting 3-5 years away from the event. This is in order to keep the costs down. If cost was not a factor, you can schedule events 6 months out. You just pay more, a lot more. So, when we made the decision to go virtual, two things happened. First, we didn't announce it. Why? Because we had to get in touch with the hotels & convention centers in order to renegotiate those contracts first. So that was our focus. When you've got sunk costs and contractual obligations, you don't flip a switch and they go away. While that was happening, we started figuring out how to go virtual. We found a provider that will give us more than just a GoToMeeting/Zoom/Whatever event. We started switching over all apparatus to virtual. That process took less than a month.

    There has been frantic and fast activity going on. But, again, because so much of it is around contract negotiation, which you don't want done in public, after you've already announced your decision and now everyone is entrenched positions and out to get what they can, it wasn't obvious. It was behind the scenes. There's a lot of work like that every year. It's part of putting on a very large event.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • alex.yates

    Valued Member

    Points: 57

    Hi Grant,

    I'd like to just state for the record that while I've made my position about PASS/Summit pretty clear in a number of places, often clumsily, and while we might not have always agreed on what the right course of action might have been, I absolutely respect and am grateful for the work done by the community folks on the committee and behind the scenes and I sympathise with the impossible financial position PASS finds itself in. While we can trade "would have"/"could have"/"should have"s all day long, I recognise that retrospect and knowing the future makes past decisions feel obvious when they rarely were at the time. And I appreciate that it's a lot easier to heckle from the sidelines than it is to sit in the driving seat.

    I salute you.

    Regardless of my personal opinions, if PASS does fold this year I recognise that would be a brutal shame for a lot of people. I may have believed in a smaller, less corporate and less centralised PASS for a while, and, being European, I might never have personally found PASS Summit terrifically important to me, but I don't think anyone on either side of the debate wanted any changes to happen like this. I expect that while a lot of folks might have wanted a different PASS, I expect that most (including myself) would be very sad if it dissappeared completely. The whole situation is desparately cruel and I think everyone recognises that.

    Regardless of what happens, I want you and the rest of PASS to understand that I have (and I expect pretty much everyone else has) always been appreciative of and inspired by the personal contributions made by all the community folks involved at all levels.

  • Steve Rezhener

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 263

    Hey Grant,

    Can you expand on contracts with hotels, please? I was under the impression that the hotel industry is competitive enough and attendees can find better deals themselves.

    When SQLSatLA is shopping for vendors, we are asking for a non-profit discount. Can you confirm that PASS is a 501.c.3 non-profit, please?

     

     

  • ChrisAVWood

    Newbie

    Points: 8

    From your response Grant it sounds as though PASS and C&C actually figured out quite quickly what Covid was all about, especially with the Summit being in November, which this year is still a long ways away.

    I figured that the time to Summit would have caused a lot of problems especially at a new site, Houston.

    We should commend PASS and C&C for that vision and decisiveness.

    Chris

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 396703

    PASS is a not-for profit organization, not a non-profit organization. About three years ago we investigated going full non-profit and it would actually have hurt our tax position, so the decision was made not to pursue it. All the details for this were published in the minutes of the meetings at the time.

    Hotels near a convention center can charge a premium for that location. So, any organization looking to host an event with thousands of attendees at a convention center will negotiate with hotels in the vicinity. Give us X number of rooms at a discount and we'll guarantee that they get filled. Is this cheaper than the cheapest hotel in the area? No. Is it cheaper than the standard rate at the same hotel? Absolutely.

     

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • Grant Fritchey

    SSC Guru

    Points: 396703

    ChrisAVWood wrote:

    From your response Grant it sounds as though PASS and C&C actually figured out quite quickly what Covid was all about, especially with the Summit being in November, which this year is still a long ways away.

    I figured that the time to Summit would have caused a lot of problems especially at a new site, Houston.

    We should commend PASS and C&C for that vision and decisiveness.

    Chris

    Honestly, we didn't move that quickly. We had to wait a little to see how the legal repercussions were going to work out. If we unilaterally pulled out of contracts before we had force majeure on our side, we would have been in trouble. However, as governments, from local to international, made their intentions more and more clear, we could start those necessary negotiations. Once we decided to go, we went.

    The credit for this belongs with Wendy, C&C, and the rest of the board supporting them.

    ----------------------------------------------------
    The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood...
    Theodore Roosevelt

    The Scary DBA
    Author of: SQL Server 2017 Query Performance Tuning, 5th Edition and SQL Server Execution Plans, 3rd Edition
    Product Evangelist for Red Gate Software

  • ChrisAVWood

    Newbie

    Points: 8

    Thanks for that crucial update of information Grant.

     

    Chris

  • Steve Rezhener

    SSC Veteran

    Points: 263

    I have a hard time understanding how paying taxes with a not for profit is better than not paying taxes with a non-profit. This one is beyond my paygrade (I only had one class in accounting). Additionally, PASS is constantly claiming high level of expenses, so why not cut some of those expenses (taxes and infrastructure for example) by going to 501.c.3? Moreover, with PASS being a charitable organization, sponsors will get the benefit of a tax write-off for their sponsorship money (namely Microsoft $$$).  That being said 501.c.3 will require a much greater transparency and scrutiny.

    TBH, when most people see a not for profit corporation, they assume it's a charity non-profit 501.c.3 organization. This is highly confusing to say the least - PASS is NOT a charitable organization.

    If PASS is losing money why create another liability with hotel reservations? If PASS can cut breakfast to a $25 Starbucks card why not cut the risk from hotel reservations?

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