Executing a SQLSaturday

Executing a SQLSaturday

Do you have a sample timeline for delivering a SQLSaturday?

4-8 months before event

  • Find and secure venue
  • Submit Event Request
  • Sign and return License Agreement
  • Publish and Go Live with your SQLSaturday

3-4 months before event

  • Finalize content on your event website – See “SQLSaturday Website Tips”
  • Open your Call-for-Speakers and begin securing speakers for your event
  • Begin securing Sponsors for your event – See “SQLSaturday Sponsor Tips”

2 months before event

  • Create and publish your event schedule – See “Creating the Schedule”

1 month before event

  • Contact and confirm volunteers for your event – See “Volunteer Instructions”

2 weeks before event

  • Generate SpeedPASSes for the first time. Continue to generate your SpeedPASSes regularly right up until event day – See “SpeedPASS Instructions”

1 week before event

  • Final preparation for your event, including printing signage for your venue and confirming details for your catering (if applicable).

Event Day

  • Arrive early at the venue to set up signage and tables.
  • Have a walk-through the venue yourself to get a good idea of the layout
  • Schedule a huddle with your volunteers prior to attendees arriving to go through the day.

1 week after event

  • Review feedback forms from attendees, speakers and sponsors
  • Scan attendee tickets – See “SpeedPASS Instructions”
  • Contact your sponsors and thank them for being part of your event
  • Fill in Post-Event Form with event statistics, lessons learned and feedback for PASS HQ

How do I publish my SQLSaturday?

When your Event Request has been approved and you have returned the signed Licence Agreement, we will decide on a day and time to "go live" and publish your SQLSaturday event website.

SQLSaturday organizers can choose when they would like their event to by published on SQLSaturday.com. This allows organizers to get some aspects of their website set up before it is publicly viewable on SQLSaturday.com. To publish your event on SQLSaturday.com and allow the public to view and register for your event, log in with your PASS username on admin.sqlsaturday.com. Go to Event Settings, Site Settings. Under Setting Up Your SQLSaturday, there is a button labeled "Go Live".

 

Note: We recommend publishing your event as soon as possible to ensure you have the maximum amount of time to attract attendees, speakers and sponsors. You can make changes to your site after it has gone live.

How do I send my Call for Speakers email?

SQLSaturday organizers can choose when the Call for Speakers e-mail and announcement will be sent. You can either schedule it to be sent out at a future date, or it can be sent immediately. If you choose to schedule your Call for Speakers email and announcement for a future date, it will be sent at midnight UTC on the specified date. Similar to publishing your event website, we recommend that you send the Call for Speakers email as soon as possible.

To send your Call for Speakers email, log in with your PASS username on admin.sqlsaturday.com. Go to Event Settings, Site Settings. Under Setting Up Your SQLSaturday, there is a button labeled "Send Now".

 

 

It is worthwhile to do some marketing to spread the word about your event and attract potential speakers who may not have been sent your Call for Speakers email. Consider the following:

  • Twitter. Post a tweet using the hashtags #SQLSat and #SQLSaturday.
  • LinkedIn. You can use the PASS LinkedIn group to post a discussion.
  • Local Groups. You can see a list of user groups to contact on the PASS Chapters Page.  User group leaders will often be speakers and will be able to recommend other speakers.
  • Local MVPs. Try the Find and MVP Page (requires a Windows Live Login)
  • Sponsors. Repeat sponsors also have speakers that they will provide for an event.
  • Local businesses/colleges. You may be able to get local college professors that would be willing to speak.
  • Leadership's co-workers. Tap into your personal network to get speakers

How do I manage finances for my event?

The organizer is responsible for managing its own finances. This means PASS does not pay taxes and has no responsibility for reporting any of that money to the IRS on your behalf. If a vendor pays via PayPal the event receives the NET amount of the payment. If paid by check then event gets 100% of the amount. You are not obligated to spend all the money you collect through sponsorship dollars. If after the event you find funds remaining it is recommended you use these funds to support other chapter efforts or just save it towards the next annual event.

 

PayPal/Online Payment. When sponsors sign up they automatically get an invoice sent to them with PayPal link and check mailing address. Check mailing address should be the event organizer. The event is responsible for taxes on funds collected. We cannot give direct tax advice so we highly recommend hiring a tax professional to handle these matters. As an overview of possibilities, treat it as personal income and hold back a percentage of the funds to pay the taxes on that money. Another option is to work with a local business and ask them to pay the expenses for you so that they can expense it and this reduces tax implications on your end.

Be aware that PayPal does charge a fee of 2.9%+$0.30 on payments received up to $3000 (the percentage goes down as the amount goes up and over $3K). As an example, a lunch fee of $10 the event will receive $9.41 if paid via PayPal.  Any refunds of paid lunch fees are the responsibility of the Event Leader.

If you set up a new PayPal account, be sure it is verified for it to be “auto accepted”, otherwise payments could end up in a “pending” status and after 30 days of it not being accepted, PayPal will refund the person who made the payment.

If you ever have any problems with your Paypal, be sure to call their support line and have your last 4 numbers of your bank account or credit card on the account available (they will also accept the phone number associated to the account).

Bank Wire Transfer. An organizer can opt to accept a Bank Wire Transfer payment option to receive sponsorship funds from PASS. If an organizer chooses to accept a Bank Wire Transfer, they will need to fill out a Bank Wire Transfer form, which will be provided upon set up of their event.

Check/Manual Payment. If vendor chooses to pay via check or other non-online means, you will have to provide them a W-9 tax form before you receive funds. (Some vendors are now even requiring you provide a W-9 to them even if paying online via Paypal).

Tracking Expenses. On the SQLSaturday site there is a basic expense collection page. This page is visibility only to other SQLSaturday admins. This can be used for committed and planned expenses. Using this tool is optional but recommended to keep track of these expenses.

Refunds. Lunch and Sponsorship refunds are the responsibility of the event leaders.

How can my co-organizers gain admin access to the SQLSaturday Event Portal?

Send an email to communityteam@pass.org with the following information:

  • Your name
  • Your event name and number
  • The name and email address associated with a PASS Account for your co-organizer(s)

The PASS Community Team will be able to provide administrator access to co-organizers and add them to your event distribution list.

Note: All co-organizers must have a PASS Account to be added to a SQLSaturday Event Portal.

How do secure sponsors for my event?

Sponsors are a critical component of all SQLSaturdays. They not only provide valuable resources to support event execution, but they also provide a great opportunity for your attendees to connect with local organizations. Here are some tips to securing relevant, exciting sponsors for your event:

  • Write a compelling Sponsor Plan (see “What is a Sponsorship Plan”).
  • Reach out to the sponsors that support your affiliated PASS Local Group(s).
  • Get in touch with local consulting, recruitment and training companies and explain how your event can help them get new leads by participating in the raffle and attending your event.
  • If there are multiple SQLSaturdays scheduled for your region, consider a “multi sponsorship” option, where sponsors can support more than one event and have a presence across the region.
  • Think about what your sponsors would like to know when you first reach out. Think about the estimated attendance of your event and the types of professionals who will be in attendance. You can use actual numbers like "we expect 400+ attendees", or previous experiences like "last year our sponsors got over 200 new leads", or even the more general "SQLSaturdays generally get 30-40% first-timers, that's a lot of new leads and a lot of new potential customers". If you run a smaller event with fewer sponsors, you can also use that to your advantage by highlighting how much visibility each sponsor will get by being present at the event - they will stand out!
  • Make your outreach specific and personalized – potential sponsors want to make sure that their time and money will be well spent before signing up.

Finally, make sure you are thinking long term – will your sponsors will they get enough value from the event to sponsor again next year? Here are some tips to make your sponsors feel special and keep them coming back year-after-year:

  • If you're doing event t-shirts, put logos from your top sponsors on the back.
  • If you have a printed program or flyer, include a sponsorship recognition page with their logo.
  • Be sure to remind the attendees several times about the event being sponsor supported, and call out the sponsors by name (especially if you do a keynote).
  • Consider offering your top sponsors the chance to do a lunch time presentation, or to do a true product demo on sponsor session or track (just make sure attendees can tell it's absolutely about their product).

What is a Sponsorship Plan?

A Sponsorship Plan is a description of the different sponsor levels for your event, including all the benefits per level. The most important thing you can do is to have an updated and detailed sponsorship plan. Be creative! Can you offer your higher-level sponsors additional benefits that won't cost you anything, like sending an e-mail blast to all attendees where you present the sponsor, their lunch session, and their raffle prize? How about offering sponsored tweets? Can you give them a couple of minutes to promote their company during your raffle? These are all small and cheap ways of creating value for your sponsors and ensuring that they get the most out of sponsoring your event.

You can edit your Sponsorship Plan by going to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select Your Event -> Manage Sponsor Plan.

How should I promote my event?

Upcoming SQLSaturdays are listed on PASS services, however, particularly for new events, it is very important to help promote your event as well. Here are a few tips to help with your promotion efforts:

  • The PASS Community is extremely active on social media. Share your event on your channels, and tag high profile individuals who may be able to attend or share your event.
  • Ask your sponsors to help spread the word to their staff, networks and followers.
  • Contact local colleges and universities, particularly IT and Computer Science Departments. Ask if there is an upcoming events board or website where you could share your SQLSaturday.
  • Reach out to other Local Groups within your region. Contact local MS developer evangelist/other contacts.
  • Make sure you are messaging your registrants with event updates. This will keep them excited, as well as remind them that the event is coming up. You can keep them engaged by updating them when the schedule is announced, sending a profile of your keynote speaker, getting them excited about big raffle prizes, and more!
  • Post about your event on major community sites, such as SQLServerCentral and SQLTeam.
  • Print flyers and ask contacts at local companies and universities/colleges to put them up. Many coffee shops and bookstores will also allow you to display flyers for local events.

How do I send Group Messages to registrants, speakers, volunteers and sponsors involved with my event?

You can use the Message Center to send Group Messages.

Go to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select Your Event -> Message Center. In the “To” field, you can select various groups you would like to send a message to.

What does the schedule for a SQLSaturday look like?

A SQLSaturday Schedule is organized into Tracks and Sessions:

Sessions. A Session is a presentation on a defined topic delivered by a knowledgeable speaker (and may have a co-speaker). Sessions can vary in length. Sessions are submitted by potential speakers, and SQLSaturday Organizers approve Sessions that they feel attendees will find interesting, and build them into a Schedule.

Tracks. A Track is made up of several Sessions that are part of an overarching theme. SQLSaturdays tend to have at least two tracks. This means that attendees with different interest areas can attend and find meaningful content. SQLSaturday Organizers define the topics for Tracks. Organizers can designate tracks in advance (Database Administration, Business Intelligence, etc.), however, it may be most effective to have a single “Default” track to begin with. Once you start to build the schedule, it will begin to make sense to try to group related topics into Tracks. You may need to create a “Miscellaneous” Track for Sessions that do not fit into a subject area.

As far as the total number of tracks, more is better to a point. Having many Tracks works if you have enough speakers and rooms to support it. The downside is more logistical work, such as more rooms to clean, more door signs to make, more speakers to check on. Reserve a couple more rooms than you think you might need, but don't feel obligated to fill them all. We also recommend against scheduling any speaker for more than 2 sessions in order to fill Tracks - speaking is hard work, and they deserve to attend a few sessions too.

Building the Schedule itself is all about trade-offs. Here are some things to consider:

  • Are you having a keynote?
  • How long do you need to schedule for lunch and breaks? It is advisable to have 15-minute breaks between Sessions.
  • Make every hour have something for all ability levels. Do not put beginner sessions at the same hour. 
  • Strike a balance between having some "big name" speakers on the schedule with a good mix of local/less well-known speakers – SQLSaturdays are way of growing speaking capacity within the community.

 

For information about how to create your schedule, see “Event Organizer Resources” -> “Creating the Schedule”.

Note: Speakers are not automatically notified when their Session has been approved. Send out an email blast to all speakers who submitted Sessions letting them know the schedule has been posted.  If you couldn't schedule everyone who submitted a session it is nice to email those individuals directly to let them know they didn't make it prior to posting the actual schedule.

How do I edit the parameters for my Sessions and Tracks?

As a SQLSaturday organizer, you can edit the details of both your Sessions and Tracks.

The length of the Sessions is defined by the “Category” of the Session. You can set up several Categories by going to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select Your Event -> Manage Categories.

You can edit the Tracks for your event by going to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select Your Event -> Manage Tracks.

Why can’t I approve a submitted session?

You can approve Sessions by going to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select your event -> Event Settings -> Manage Sessions. From here, you can view all submitted Sessions and decide which ones you would like to approve.

You may find that you are unable to approve a Session. There two common reasons why you may not be able to approve a Session:

The Speaker is Not Registered for the Event. All speakers are required to register for a SQLSaturday event in order to submit a session. From a governance perspective, this requirement ensures that all individuals (whether attendees, speakers or co-presenters), have agreed to the same Terms & Conditions. This change was also made in response to community feedback that speakers should have to fill in the same registration form as attendees so that all their preferences are captured.

Speakers will not be able to complete their session submission without meeting this requirement. When a speaker navigates to the Session Submission page, they will be notified that they need to register for the event.

If a speaker’s submission is not selected and they would no longer like to attend the SQLSaturday event, they can simply unregister, or you as the organizer, can unregister them. If a speaker’s submission is not selected, but they would still like to attend, they can remain registered.

To resolve this, please reach out to the individual who has submitted the Session and request that they register for the event.

 

A Co-Speaker is not registered for the event. If the individual who has submitted the Session has included a Co-Speaker who is not registered for the event, you will not be able to approve the session. If there are multiple Co-Speakers, you will not be able to approve the Session until all speakers are registered.

To resolve this, please reach out to the Co-Speaker and request that they register.

What should I include in attendee bags?

When your attendees check-in you can give them an attendee bag with relevant information, material from sponsors and other swag. This can be a great way to get your sponsor’s materials to your attendees and can be part of your Sponsor Plan.

If you have offered sponsors to provide marketing materials and/or swag for the attendee bags, you will want to make sure to purchase these at least a month out from the event. If you can get a sponsor to provide them, even better! (Some events offer to "raise" the level of sponsorship for a sponsor if they provide the bags, since it is saving you money.)

You may want to consider including:

  • A printed schedule for your event
  • Sponsor materials
  • Information about your affiliated PASS Local Group
  • Information about becoming a PASS member and PASS Member benefits

How do people register for my SQLSaturday?

Once your event is published, individuals will register for your event via www.sqlsaturday.com/000, where 000 is your event number. Registrants will automatically be added to a “Planning to Attend” list, until your event has reached maximum capacity (which you defined when you submitted your Event Request).

If you have enabled a Wait List, individuals that register for your event once you have reached maximum capacity will be added to the Wait List. If an individual on the “Planning to Attend” list cancels their registration, the first name on the Wait List will be automatically registered and sent a notification email.

How do I manage volunteers?

Volunteers are an essential part of every SQLSaturday event. You will have a team of volunteers helping you on the day of the event. Individuals opt-in to volunteer when they register. You can track the number of individuals who have opted-in to volunteer on the main page of your event portal. Go to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select your event. You will see the number of available volunteers under “Registration Details”.

It is important to think about all the volunteer roles in advance, and how many volunteers you will need to fill these roles. This number will be dependant on the size of your event. Use this to build a Volunteer Plan, where you consider volunteer shifts, breaks, arrival and departure times, and necessary materials.

Once you have come up with your Volunteer Plan you can send a message your volunteers via the Message Center to let them know the details of the available roles and ask them to sign up for the role and shift that works best for them. To access the Message Center, go to admin.sqlsaturday.com -> Select your event -> Message Center -> Send a Message. Use the dropdown menu to send a message directly to volunteers.   

For more information about volunteers, see “Volunteer Instructions” under Event Organizer Resources   -> SQLSaturday Documents.

How do I manage registration at my event?

It is crucial to make sure that check-in at your event is as smooth as possible. You will need to set up several tables at the entrance of your event with volunteers. When an attendee or speaker arrives, the volunteer will:

  • Collect their Admission Ticket (part of SpeedPASS) and scan and/or save it
  • Give them an attendee bag and a name badge holder. Provide the attendee with details of the first sessions.
  • If they did not print out their SpeedPASS, direct them to the Not Registered table, as there will be a printer there.
  • For speakers, direct them to the Speaker Room.

Consider how long you think it will take to check-in your registered attendees. This will be dependent on the number of registrants and the number of volunteers available. Factor this time into your schedule and make sure you have long enough to get through the whole check-in process without overrunning into the first session of the day.

I have opted to provide lunch. How should I manage this on the day of the event?

The SpeedPASS will print a lunch ticket for all attendees who have paid for lunch. If you are not charging for lunch and don't wish to use tickets, you can set this ticket to not print prior to generating the SpeedPASS. This is located under Event Settings/Site Settings in the admin site.

How you serve lunch will be dependent on the type of food you are providing, but here are some things to keep in mind:

  • You will need to set up tables in the serving area. Think about this area in advance. Is there enough space for your attendees to line up? Is it in an easily accessed area of your venue?
  • Have your food delivered at a time that will not disrupt the flow of your event. Ideally, it will be delivered while your attendees are in a session.
  • If you think you might have leftover lunches, research in advance any nearby organizations that you might be able to donate lunches to once lunch is over. Arrange for a volunteer to deliver it.

Consider how long you think it will take to serve lunch to all your attendees. This will be dependent on the number of registrants and the number of volunteers available. Factor this time into your schedule and make sure you have long enough to serve everyone, as well as making sure that everyone has enough time to eat and relax before starting the afternoon sessions.

Do I need to provide refreshments for attendees, speakers and volunteers?

It is recommended that you provide refreshments for your speakers and volunteers. They are dedicating time to make your event successful and it is important that they are comfortable. To make sure that refreshments reserved for speakers and volunteers, you can keep the refreshments in the Speaker Room and be clear about who can access that space.

Depending on your budget, you may want to offer breakfast, or just drinks. If possible, have coffee and tea available all day. Some things to remember to have on site:

  • Coffee / Tea
  • Coffee cups
  • Napkins & paper towels
  • Milk or creamer
  • Real sugar and artificial sugar

If you have the budget for it, you may want to consider:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Doughnuts
  • Cookies
  • Sandwiches

How should I prepare my venue for my event?

Every venue is set up differently and will provide different amenities, however you will need to ensure that the following are set up before your attendees arrive:

Signage. Make sure you have plenty of signage, both outside and inside the venue. Try to approach the venue as an attendee who has never been there before, and make sure that they can easily find the entrance, registration, session rooms, sponsors, lunch and restrooms. You will also want to have signs on the doors of the session rooms listing what sessions are happening in those specific rooms.

Speaker Room. Speakers need a quiet area to prepare for their sessions. If possible, have bottles of water available in this room, and if your budget allows it, provide other drinks and snacks.

What supplies should I have on-site?

Some useful things you should have available during your event:

  • Scissors
  • Tape
  • Pens
  • Notepads
  • A printer with extra paper and ink (some events have a printing station for attendees who forgot to print their SpeedPASS)
  • Large trash bags
  • Cleaning supplies
  • Paper towels / napkins
  • Gloves for handling food
  • Hand sanitizer
  • First aid kit
  • Coolers with ice for drinks

How do I run the raffles at my event?

Some events will have prizes for sponsors to raffle off. Having a significant prize to win in a raffle at the end of the day can keep you attendees around right until the end of your event. Make sure you let your attendees know that they must be present to receive the prize.

End of Day Raffle. This will likely be for the most significant prize you have on offer. Here are few things you should consider:

  • Be sure to schedule a block of networking time between the end of the final session and the raffle. This block should be no more 20 minutes as you may lose some attendees. If a session runs long, this break provides buffer to ensure that all attendees can make it to the raffle.
  • Use Event Evaluations as raffle tickets – this will mean you get more evaluations returned.
  • For software prizes, make sure you have a placeholder - build a "prize certificate" that includes the software key or the contact information for the vendor
  • Have someone available to record who wins the prizes, that information should go back to the sponsor and it's also great to announce as a close out note for the event.

In-Session Raffles. These can be conducted throughout the day for smaller prizes. They work best when you have volunteers as room monitors who can ensure the speaker ends early enough to do the raffle. You can use Session Evaluations as raffle tickets so that you can get feedback for your speakers.

The biggest issue with In-Session Raffles is to keep the speakers moving and have time for the raffle and still allow the next speaker time to setup.

What is a Speaker Dinner and do I need to plan one?

A Speaker Dinner is a get-together for all the speakers the day before the SQLSaturday. Many SQLSaturdays provide a Speaker Dinner, but not everyone has the budget to do so. That is completely fine! Most Speakers are happy to just have a get-together to meet each other before the event, and are fine with paying for their own food and drinks. Just make sure to let the Speakers know what to expect before the event.

If you are planning a Speaker Dinner, have the Speaker name badges and SpeedPASSes ready for them so they don't have to spend time at registration during the event. If you are providing Speaker shirts, have those ready at the speaker dinner as well.

What do I need to do after my event is complete?

Post-event Activities. Some events organize after parties. This can be something as simple as reserving a group of tables and ask everyone to cover their own expenses, to providing some drinks or appetizers. The important thing is to let everyone know that they can meet and continue their networking after the SQLSaturday is over.

Post Event Form. After your event, the PASS SQLSaturday HQ Team will send you information about the Post Event Form. This is where you will submit attendee numbers, volunteer numbers, sponsorship amounts and any feedback you have for other organizers.

Post Event E-mails. Make sure to thank all your sponsors, speakers and volunteers for their support and hard work! There are templates available in the Message Center for this.

Event Evaluations. You can provide attendees with paper forms to fill in at the event (see Event Resources to download a form you can use). Online evaluations open are open for one week after the event:

  • http://www.sqlsaturday.com/000/EventEval.aspx
  • http://www.sqlsaturday.com/000/Sessions/SessionEvaluation.aspx

Note: Replace the 000 with your event number

Sponsor Follow-Ups. Stay in touch with your sponsors. If you plan to host another SQLSaturday next year, let them know early so that they can budget for sponsoring your event.

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