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SQL Saturday #154, St.Louis – Event Review

SQL Saturday #154 | St.Louis on Sept 15th 2012, was the first SQL Saturday event in St.Louis, I am happy to say that we started off the SQL Saturday series in St.Louis ( yes, there will be one next year as well !) on a great note. We had over 130 attendees, 11 onsite sponsors and 25 technical sessions spread across 5 classrooms.

Center for Application of Information Technology (CAIT) at WashU, generously offered the venue (6 awesome classrooms plus the common areas and facilities) to host this event. The support of sponsors played a huge role in making this event successful. We got local as well as national sponsors, plus plenty of SWAG sponsors as well. Within a month of opening our call for speakers, we had over 55 sessions submitted for this event. They were a great mix of new and experienced speakers, both local and out of town, on topics ranging across Database Administration, Application Development, Business Intelligence and Professional Development. The real challenge was selecting only 25 sessions and the selection committee put a lot of thought into coming up with the session schedule for the event.

Our team took some time to review the event, which will help us make the next St.Louis SQL Saturday even better event. Feedback from attendees, sponsors, speakers and volunteers was crucial for the team to pin-point areas of improvement. 

  •  The duration of the overall event should be constrained from 9 AM to 4 PM, by either cutting down the session duration from 75 to 60 minutes or possibly having 4 sessions per classroom. We are trying to secure more classrooms at the  venue to make this feasible, so that the total number of session offerings during the event remains the same. 
  • We heard great feeback about the location and quality of the recommended event hotel, and we plan to continue the same for next year
  • We will definitely invest in bigger and more number of signs on the sidewalks around the venue, to make it easier for attendees to find their way to the parking area, registration desk and locate the facilities in the venue.
  • We are also looking at offering a better packaged box lunch  and making some healthy meal options available for next year, not only for lunch, but also for breakfast, snacks and beverages.
  • The SPEEDPASS worked out very well and we were able to move attendees efficiently through the registration process. We will probably do an online ONLY version of the event schedule for next year, to mitigate any confusion arising out of last minute schedule changes.
  • We plan  to leverage Twitter and Linkedin for communicating a majority of updates to event attendees , and use emails ONLY for crucial milestones during the days leading up to the event

Our team is always happy to hear feedback from the attendees and we have plenty of new ideas for the next year’s event. We do have some resource constraints, considering the fact that the event is free to attend, and all of the organizers are volunteers. The event sponsorship, availability of speakers, venue, and costs can change from one year to another and our team will strive to continue providing a valuable learning experience at the event. Organizing a SQL Saturday event, represents team work at its best. On that note, I would like to thank everyone involved; the core team, all the volunteers, PASS & community mentors, sponsors, speakers and friends & family for a successful first SQL Saturday in St. Louis.

Related material: Blog post on PASS Professional Development Chapter Website by Kathi Kellenberger

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