Planning a SQLSaturday

Planning a SQLSaturday

Do you have a sample timeline for delivering a PASS SQLSaturday?

4-8 months before event

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


3-4 months before event

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


2 months before event

  • Create and publish your event schedule – See Event Organizer Resources -> “Creating the Schedule”


1 month before event

  • Contact and confirm volunteers for your event – See Event Organizer Resources -> “Volunteer Instructions”


2 weeks before event

  • Generate SpeedPASSes for the first time. Continue to generate your SpeedPASSes regularly right up until event day – See Event Organizer Resources -> “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 Event Organizer Resources -> “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 PASS SQLSaturday?

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

You 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?

You 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 Local Groups Page. Local 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?

As a PASS SQLSaturday Organizer, you are responsible for managing all finances for your event. This means PASS does not pay taxes and has no responsibility for reporting finances to relevant authorities. PASS cannot give direct tax advice so we highly recommend hiring a tax professional to handle these matters. 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 Local Group activities or save it towards the next annual event.

When sponsors sign up for your event they are automatically sent an invoice with a PayPal link and check mailing address.

PayPal/Online Payment. 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 Organizer.

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.

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 PASS SQLSaturday website 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.

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

I received a letter from PayPal. What do I need to do?

PASS has met PayPal minimum security requirements as they relate to PASS SQLSaturday events. Organizers do not need to take any action.

The PASS SQLSaturday admin site facilitates payments and displays a transaction record (which you can also find by logging into your PayPal account) but we do not process the payments directly. As a reminder, this facilitation only extends to lunch and sponsor payments – if you are using your PayPal account for other payments (i.e. pre-con registrations), this is outside of the scope of the PASS SQLSaturday website.

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

Send an email to the PASS Community Team 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 PASS SQLSaturday Event Portal.

How long will I have access to my event portal?

PASS SQLSaturday organizers will have access to Event Admin portals for any specific event for up to a maximum of two years, starting when the event portal is launched, up to one year following the event date.

In order to protect member data, new organizers will not be added to past events. Organizers can contact the PASS Community Team with unique requests for access. 

How do I secure sponsors for my event?

Sponsors are a critical component of all PASS 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 PASS 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 PASS 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 PASS 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 PASS 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 PASS 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. PASS SQLSaturdays tend to have at least two tracks. This means that attendees with different interest areas can attend and find meaningful content. PASS 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 – PASS 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 PASS 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 PASS SQLSaturday event in order to submit a session. This requirement ensures that all individuals (whether attendees, speakers or co-presenters), have agreed to the same Terms & Conditions. 

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 PASS 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 I manage volunteers?

Volunteers are an essential part of every PASS SQLSaturday 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.

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