Schedule presentation in correctly sized room
It's not acceptable to have presentations in room that cannot accommodate those who to attend.
Streaming is not a substitute for a full room when you at the conference in person.
AdminJane Duffy (Admin, PASS) commented
Thanks for the feedback, we'll work on improving this for the next Summit.
Frank Ress commented
I've been attending conferences like the Summit for over 25 years. This has been a problem at all of them. And it's a tough one to solve.
Trying to do a reservation system, or something along those lines, is a logistic challenge. How do you take names, and check them at the door (it takes a lot of extra time and manpower). How do you deal with no-shows, for example? Even worse than having a full room is having empty seats that others would have liked to fill.
The reality is that there will be a variety of room sizes. That's desirable in general, because audience sizes will vary, and it's also undesirable to have 20 people in a room that seats 300 (been there, as an attendee and as a speaker). Scheduling speakers into appropriately sized rooms is tough when 1) it's hard to anticipate popularity - particularly when a variety of presentation lengths are accomodated, 2) speaker schedules have to be considered - can't be in 2 places at once, and many speakers present multiple sessions, 3) need to present a variety of topics during a single timeslot - don't want 6 DBA topics simultaneously and no BI, for example..
I'll allow that sometimes there might be better scheduling possible. But it's ultimately an inexact science. If you have 3 sessions that you think will draw 400, and you have room sizes for 600, 300, 300, you stick the one you think will draw the highest number in the largest, and that's the best compromise you can make. And sometimes, the 600 seat room only gets 200. What a REAL drag if you schedule a 3 hour session that's under-attended, and use up the biggest room for a half day... But it happens.
And some people are such great speakers, that I'd listen to them talk about the weather if I didn't have another session that I wanted to attend. (Brent Ozar is one of them.) So you might also have to consider speaker popularity, in addition to the topic.
In the end, at best, I attend MAYBE half the sessions I'd like to, and it's even tougher if you try to work in exhibit hall, self-paced labs, chalk talks, meet the experts, etc. If a session is full, I usually have at least one other choice as a backup - and there are LOTS of other things to do if there's nothing you can get into for an hour and a half. In fact, the BEST times to talk to the developers or CSS is while everyone else is in a session. If you were stuck twiddling your thumbs, I might be more critical of the conference as a whole. But the folks who put together the Summit REALLY make it tough for me to choose. Hardly the worst thing I can think of.
Overall, I think this conference is run as well as any that I've attended. It's not perfect, and it never will be. But it's not for lack of effort. I'm incredibly impressed by how well they do and how much they all care.
The oppisite is also true. I was in a session in 6E that only had like 50 people in it. It felt weird just being in there. I felt bad for the speaker, it made him look like a boring speaker from the outside.
Rob Volk commented
I not only agree with the previous 2 commenters but really have to criticize the room choice for Bob Ward's SQLOS half-day session. 6E was less than half full for Brent Ozar's concurrent HA session. Bob filled 6E the previous year with his tempdb half-day. It's also common sense/courtesy to give half-day attendees more room to spread out.
Bryan Cooper commented
I 100% agree. We spend a lot of money to attend in person. Spending more money to purchase recordings or being directed to another room with streaming are not solutions. I did attend one session in an overflow room with streaming and the quality was so poor that it was useless anyway.
Paul Drew commented
Agree totally. First session day I missed 3 sessions I wanted to see, despite arriving 15 minutes before the start of each. Totally unacceptable given the cost of the conf and travel to my employer. Please think about improving this area. Something like "pre-booking" sessions may help size the rooms more closely to what is needed.
I did "complain" about this issue at the summit and was advised to purchase the recordings...this would be additional cost on top of the $5k attendance had already cost, this is no solution.
Sadly this damped my whole experince of PASS this year.