Last year at the end of the 2007 The Big EveNt, I'd handed off my monster to Chad. Apparently the communication on this change in leadership wasn't sufficient. So I'll be sending a letter to all of our sponsors (past and present) the information on the change again and include Chad's contact information. We'll be putting together a checklist of things to do for the next change over of leadership as well.
I also learned that only one person really heard me when I said it takes a year to plan this thing. It is a 2-day event, similar to Best of BrainShare but with sponsors, more sessions, door prizes, and food to deal with. So we were way behind on marketing, scheduling, and getting sponsors lined up. For a first year chairperson though, 22 sponsors are about all you can effectively manage without a lot of help. And we've put in a co-Chair position description into our SIG Charter.
Did I mention we made our event a SIG of our NUG and it has its own charter? We're happy to share it if anyone's interested in seeing it. The main purpose of the SIG and it's charter is to ensure this event remains a user-group event and doesn't get taken over by a single sponsor, vertical market segment, or partner. We want to be able to continue to invite who we want (including Microsoft and Red Hat is so desired) and bring an IT training opportunity to our community. As a Tier-2 city we don't get much in the way of IT events or training, so we're just making it happen on our own.
This year it turned out that Gracon Services, one of our corporate sponsors and a Novell Platinum partner, was planning to bring the Best of BrainShare to Lansing, Mi. a week before our event. We figured this out at BrainShare this year, and Gracon was willing to change their plans and put the Best of BrainShare on top of our event. Considering that this was our first year for doing this, it turned out quite well. We're hoping to do this again next year, perhaps involve additional partners, and get Novell to pick up some more of the food costs.
Door prizes are the bane of my existence. No matter what we do every year we have someone who's unhappy about how we do door prizes. We're making changes to next year's event already, with no door prizes being given in a session (some sponsors felt it was "unfair") and instead we'll do a big drawing at the end of the event, with the smaller Novell-specific stuff being drawn for throughout the day - at least that's the plan for now, it's still subject to change. The "bug hunt" that GWAVA does each year is our blueprint for doing a similar hunt at our event and draw more people to the sponsor's tables.
Sessions scheduling is still being fine tuned with the most valuable sessions being given by our members. Next year, we're going to try to pair up sponsors with members who are using their products to develop the session and cut down on the appearance that it's a sales pitch rather than a "this is how we do it a my company" type of session. We'll need to block out more "sponsor-only" time as well so attendees have time to talk with the companies they came to see. Not sure how we'll do that yet, but we'll get it figured out.
All-in-all, with gas prices being what they are in Michigan (it pretty much is keeping pace with California due to our insane tax structures) we had a fairly good turnout, just not as many from our neighboring states as we're used to seeing. But we did have a lot of new people come for the first time, so I expect next year attendance will be up.
And Novell, as always, came through on spiffs and bags for us. But then again, I'm a "loud mouth" and we're a proven event, so it's a little easier for me to get what I want. :)