One last blog from me before I hand over the reins to Cathy Thompson, the Conference Chair for Alliance 2018 in Salt Lake City.
The conference team has been reviewing all the evaluations looking for opportunities to improve the Alliance experience for you, our attendees, and those helping to bring you the event. As of writing 452 of you filled out a conference evaluation – thank you! We read everything.
Evaluations primarily let us know the complaints so it’s always heartwarming to find some congratulations mixed in. Our keynote speaker, Erik Wahl, was well received and the closing night entertainment was generally enjoyed. Being in Las Vegas we knew some of you would take the opportunity to go elsewhere on that last night, either because you wanted to or because you just didn’t like what we had on offer. We hope you had a good time whatever you chose to do.
Finding a good mix of food for several thousand people is always a challenge and we learn something every year. We ran out of some items – notably snacks and desserts - as well as coffee on the first morning. We goofed by omitting to include hot water and tea as well as not including some more healthy options on the closing night. The absence of breakfast is still getting mixed reviews – about 12% of the 12% of you that responded asked for it to be reinstated. We will definitely be looking at all the options in Salt Lake City. Long lines during snack and meal breaks, also presented challenges. We rely heavily on the venues to manage this aspect and will continue to work with them and stress the importance of having an efficient process. We had very few complaints about no water bottles this year. However, more water needed to be provided especially during lunch. Finding a place to sit before or between sessions after grabbing something to eat and drink was not always easy and we will look at providing more seating in future.
Like many of you, I did not like the smoke in the casino area. On the plus side, the hotel rooms and the conference center were smoke free. This will not be an issue for us in Salt Lake City. We are starting to look at sites for 2022 and we will definitely be keeping the health and safety of our attendees in mind throughout the process.
Most of you got what you came for – some great information from the sessions and the opportunity to make new connections. Some of you found that the roadmap scheduling meant that you could not attend all the roadmaps that you wanted to. We will review the order with Oracle again this year to make sure that the concurrent sessions will impact the least number of individuals possible. It is impossible to avoid overlapping sessions within some tracks due to the number of sessions on offer and the number of time slots available. However, we will continue to work with the track chairs to minimize this.
We had some audio/visual issues on Tuesday – there was a problem caused by the build-up of static electricity in some of the rooms. Our PSAV reps worked on it and things were much improved on Wednesday and Thursday. There was also a failure of Amazon Web Services which impacted the ability of the app to be updated with the latest changes. About 81% of you used the app and most of you thought it was better than the previous 2 apps that we have tried. Not including the session numbers in the app was a common complaint and we are looking into that.
We are still going through your comments and will be making sure that we note the issues and continuously review them as we prepare for Alliance 2018. Next year’s conference will be back on its regular Sunday to Wednesday schedule. We did get a few positive comments about having Alliance Monday to Thursday but not enough for us to seriously look at making it the “new normal”.
It’s your conference and your feedback helps us make it the way you want it! Thanks again for taking the time to speak up.
It has been my privilege to be the Conference Chair for Alliance 2017 and I look forward to helping the Alliance 2018 team bring you an instructional and inspiring event in Salt Lake City.