Dallas TechFest was a 2 day event full of great content! I’m a SQL guy and most of the conferences I go to are SQL centric. This event, however, had something for everyone. There was everything including SQL, .Net, SharePoint, Security, Kinect, and even Windows phone. Overall, everything seemed to go very well.
I delivered two sessions for the event. I got an email from an event organizer sent to all the speakers asking for feedback to help them improve things in the future. The things I thought they did best was signage, maps of the venue building, maps of how to get there, and lunch.
What I am going to do here is list the things that other conferences had that Dallas TechFest was missing. This is not a list of complaints, but a list of possible improvement ideas. Also keep in mind that Dallas TechFest was a paid event and the other conferences I am comparing it to (like SQLSaturday events) are free. So we are not comparing apples to apples and of course it is not a competition. So here is my list of things commonly found at SQLSaturday and other conferences that are possible opportunities for improvement.
- There was nothing provided for breakfast and no coffee.
- If you wanted a drink with your lunch you had to walk half way around the building.
- The rooms were spead out across the building and that did not lend itself well to networking.
- Lunch was served out of the speaker room which caused confusion, as lunch was only supposed to be picked up from there. It was to be eaten in one of the session rooms, but everyone thought they could eat in that room and organizers had to keep announcing the rules.
- There were a lot of complaints about the photographer being intrusive, but I personally did not find 1 of the 2 to be an issue.
- There were no room monitors to help speakers with setup.
- There were no surveys for speaker feedback.
- There were no surveys for event feedback.
- Volunteers and organizers did not have event shirts so if you needed direction they were hard to find.
Again this was a great event with wonderful speakers and content. Dallas is not the only community TechFest around so make sure to search the web for one in your area. I know that there is also a Tulsa TechFest and Houston TechFest. Unfortunately I won’t be at those this year since they conflict with the SQLPASS Summit.
The absolute best thing about the conference was a special event held on the first night for community and user group leaders. It was awesome to share ideas with other leaders and talk about the difficult parts of running user groups. I won’t get into all the goodness, as you can read what Jay Smith already wrote.