SQL Saturday Louisville 2012 Pre Cons – An organizational perspective

We had our fifth sql saturday at Louisville – this time at a much bigger location, the school of business at University of Louisville. We also had a day of pre cons (our first pre con was by Kevin Kline last year, and was moderately successful with an attendance of 23 people. This year we tried 4 pre cons – we were unsure of which subject area to pick mainly, and all the 4 speakers were rated highly previously and among our loyalists). Some of the lessons learnt on the pre cons are as below:

1 The day started with a bit of confusion – one of the speakers had to move their room from what was originally scheduled since there was a class going on. We were relieved to be given an alternative.But much to our dismay this happened one more time, in the afternoon, actually disrupting an ongoing class. We learnt later that the reason was that the school actually has classes, and many happen without schedule. They helped us out greatly the next day by posting notices on doors that our classes cannot be interrupted. We also learnt not to host classes on premises that have their own events going on, particularly on working days.

2 We didn’t have the room number printed on the ticket – this was a gotcha on our part while setting up the ticketing with Eventbrite. Several attendees turned up without reading the email info on pre cons and those of us at the reception didn’t have them on us although our signboards had them. Our lesson was to keep room numbers printed on tickets going forward.

3 Some candidates walked to their rooms directly without checking in. (We assumed they would register/check in). Although we did not find anyone attending without payment – this indicated a possibility of that happening – lesson is to keep the check in process directly outside the room instead of in a common spot.

4 We learnt later from pre con speakers as well as other sql saturday organizers that having 20 attendees is generally considered good for pre cons – and we did nearly touch that number with 3 of them. The lesson to take away is possibly that two pre cons are the best way to go for us – possibly one on BI and one on the DBA track. That might give an above-average count of people for each class and also ease manageability issues.

5 One of the pre cons had an offer for multiple attendees to attend for the price of two. Initially it seemed like it sold well and brought in a few numbers, but many of those who signed up on this deal simply did not show up. Perhaps they did not get the day off or perhaps they thought it was not worth their time – we had to give away the extra lunches we bought for these people. The lesson here is to reduce ‘deals’ since there does not seem to be accountability with no payment.

All that said,  most attendees seemed very happy with what they learnt and wanted to do this again. The teachers seemed happy too since the attendance was well above average. Overall, we would call this event a success and hope to do it again, incorporating the lessons learnt. Our thanks to our teachers – Kevin Kline, Eddie Wuerch, Bill Pearson and Dave Fackler, and to all the students who attended. We don’t have a spot yet to upload their presentations but will email attendees with them – you may also want to follow their blogs for the downloads.


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