SQL Server Blog

SQL Saturday 71 – Now with BAM!!

I am happy excited to be helping MVPs and fellow User Group Leaders Adam Machanic, Grant Fritchey and Tom LaRock plan a Saturday of free (unless you want to donate a totally optional $10 to help offset costs) learning for the Boston (and greater New England) SQL Server community.

The four of us have been actively planning SQL Saturday #71 Boston  for April 2, 2011. We’ve been doing a lot of talking, soul searching and debating and we ended up deciding on making a

Change Of Venue

Now before I describe the new venue, let me tell you that the Microsoft campus at Jones Road in Waltham is a fine location. I’ve been there many times for many events but we draw a heavy SQL Server crowd in New England and we pack the place to an often uncomfortable level. We have had some excellent sponsors sign up with us and as a result we’ve decided to look at a location that allows the larger crowd to be more comfortable. We’ve also gotten rid of some of the headaches that plague organizers of these events (food contracts, delivery, setup, buying and replenishing drinks, parking concerns at tight venues, etc.) with this change.  Where are we going?

Adam and I just got back from a tour of the venue and the final discussion before entering the official contract (so now it is just a matter of signing on the dotted line) and I am too excited about the location to hold off on the post.. So we are going to be moving to

The Babson College Executive Conference Center

The location has worked with us on the rates, will be providing a group rate discount on the (built in) hotel at the center and will have setup staff, kitchen staff, etc. available to make this an excellent SQL Saturday.

What Do We Get?

  • Spacious Meeting Rooms – This is a conference center and we will have rooms of two styles. One style will be traditional conference center meeting rooms seating 35-240 people (for the raffle and keynotes/welcome) with most rooms at the 50-75 person size. The other style (3 rooms) is a multi-level ampitheater/classroom style with aeron chairs, desks and great AV. These seat between 45-75 and if we overflow a room we can have more chairs brought in. Check out their photo tour.
  • Continental Breakfast – There are little nooks built in throughout the conference center. At each of these there will be a continental breakfast setup in the morning.
  • Continuous Snacks – At these nooks there will be constant snack food, soft drinks, hot coffeee, iced coffee stations and other goodies for attendees walking between rooms.
  • Excellent Vendor Space – No more crowding all the vendors onto one outlet in an overly cramped or hardly trafficked location. Here we will have our Gold and most silver vendors in strategic locations where people will be congregating/walking through (including a table right outside of the lunch room). Other vendor locations will still be central to all attendees and at a place where they have to walk through/around.
  • Hot Lunch (Fresh from the kitchen) – There will be a buffet setup in a dedicated cafeteria. We will have entrees on the buffet that are for vegetarians or non vegetarians alike. It will likely be a pasta main course of some sort with a choice of protein to go.
  • Time To Network – No more grabbing a slice of pizza and rushing to a vendor session or spot of floor to sit. We’ll have a full cafeteria that can fit us all with enough time to get food, network and chat during the lunch break.
  • Vendor Sessions BEFORE lunch – We are still finalizing the schedule but it is looking like we will have our vendor sessions in the regular session rooms before the lunch begins. This means our Gold sponsors get fuller attention, people aren’t leaving right after lunch and missing vendors. It also means the sponsors can go eat with the rest of the attendees or man their tables during lunch.
  • Hotel Built In – Coming to speak? (Speaker submissions are due by Friday 2/18/11 end of day so get it in now if you haven’t!)  Coming from out of town to attend? why not stay at the built in hotel? Parking is in a garage at the center, the rooms are clean, safe and nice. There will be a group rate (still working that out) for the SQL Saturday event and the rooms all include a hot breakfast (hopefully there will be Bacon). There is a lounge serving food and drink open at 5 each evening for hotel guests also. No more driving to the center or waiting for a shuttle, just roll out of bed, down an elevator and into your room and you can start speaking.
  • Help – The staff at the conference center have the rooms setup and broken down. They setup the registration tables before we get there with our attendee bags. They have AV extras available, staff to move chairs as needed, etc. This means we can focus on providing a great event, making sure schedules are running properly, etc. instead of rushing around for food, drinks, plates, napkins, etc.
  • Networking – Not just at lunch but the whole design of the center (the courtyard, the lounge downstairs for after the event if you want, the time for lunch, the snack wings, the spacious lobby, etc.) is setup for you to chat with other people who do the same kind of work you do. Great time to exchange business cards, get to know others in the area and make lasting connections.

It isn’t just the location

Take a look at the speakers who have submitted so far. We have some top name speakers interested in coming to visit Boston in April and speak, unpaid, about something they are passionate about. Lots of MVPs, lots of known community names, lots of talent and knowledge. This will be a day packed full of learning and growing and I am really looking forward to seeing the SQL Server community in New England treated like Kings and Queens through the learning and the environment we are striving to create. My only fear is we are setting a bar to try and afford to reach next year 😉

We are also working on a fun event for the speakers. Not details yet, we want to make sure we can work it out but if it works out it will not just provide food and conversation but some fun memories for you. Tom is working some details out on that and we are crunching numbers to see if it can happen. I think you’ll like it.

This isn’t free –

We have a lot of excellent sponsors stepping up to the plate in big ways and I think the venue change will really be a benefit to them as well. You’ll see their logos on the event bags we hand out. You’ll see them on signs, in mailings, speaking during the vendor sessions (and many sponsors are sending experts to give community sessions not about their product also) and manning tables. You’ll get to put raffle tickets in on some really nice giveaways. You’ll get to have a relaxed lunch with good food. This event is very much not free and we’ll have to cap the number that can show up (still too be determined on the exact number, we have flexibility here) so you have to sign up today. We will have to turn away walk-ins and need to be able to get a somewhat accurate head count for the conference center closer to the event. If you want a free day of learning that will boost your career, go to our site and sign up now before we have to implement the waiting list. Also when you are here, visit the sponsors. These are people who care about helping put on great events like these and they have a lot of interesting products and services to offer.

Article by Mike Walsh

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