The big change for PGDay.EU this year really was the switch from a university venue (first Monash University in Prato, then ParisTech in Paris) to a hotel venue (The Millennium Hotel in Stuttgart). We believe that much of the rest of the conference was an improvement over previous years - but it was an incremental improvement, whereas the change of venue was rather drastic. Looking at the feedback on this, I think we can conclude that this change was in general a positive one:
We're seeing a total of 75%25 who rate the venue as a 4 or a 5. Looking at the freetext comments, a large majority of them are very positive, but there are a few ones that stand out:
Amongst the positive ones we find a large number of comments saying that the "integrated venue" or "all inclusive" venue was a great step up.
Closely related to the venue, is the food. Unlike the big north American conferences PGCon and PG-East/West, we have for the past two years tried to provide proper lunches and not just sandwiches/boxed lunches. This obviously costs more money, but we believe it's worth it, and we think our visitors do. Last year we had a catering firm bring us assorted food, mainly cold cuts, at the conference venue, and this year we got proper lunch buffets (including multiple choices for dessert, of course..) at one of the hotel restaurants. I think the ratings speak for themselves - I would encourage those other conferences to look into improving their lunches as well!
A full 82%25 rated the food as 4 or 5. In the end, the cost for paying for a lunch "on ones own bill" would probably have cost more than half the conference fee - so we think we managed to provide some very good value. In fact, several people rated the food as being the best part of the conference(!)
There was, however, one person who said the food was one of the worst things about the conference - if you recognize that was you, we would very much like to know exactly why (no details were included) - please send me an email or write a comment here!
A few people commented on the large amount of food left over from lunch on at least one of the days - it is up to the hotel to decide what to do about that, but it is our belief that they do something "reasonable" with it - and not just throw it away. We know that the caterers last year delivered all leftovers to a nearby homeless shelter, for example. For next year, we will attempt to again get a specification from the catering/restaurant as to what happens to leftovers.
We feel that the overwhelming majority of our visitors found the changes an improvement, and we will therefor pursue something similar as our primary option for next year. We are always interested in improving further, of course, so if you have any other ideas - let us know! The final question we asked about the venue was where to hold the conference next year. Many were quite ambiguous in their suggestions ("big city in Europe" is in, "Hawaii" is out because we want to stick to Europe). Summarizing what we could gave us the following:
The final part of our evaluation was considering the conference website and registration:
In general these are very good rates. I'm happy to see that more than 50%25 rate the website overall experience as 4 or 5 - that's a much better rating than it's being given by the people who edit the content on it! Same for registration, with very few people rating it really low. There's clearly some room for improvement though:
In summary, here are some reasons in graphical and textual forms why you should already put attendance to next years PostgreSQL Conference Europe in your budget:
Freetext comments: "The overall organization of that event was excellent." "Very good organization, great people, interesting talks, vibrant community in general. Lots of core dev presents, high level of knowledge." "Great organization from beginning (registration at the website, information prior to the event), arriving and registering (internet access already available, great t-shirt and backpack) to the conference itself (sessions, warning speakers about how much time is left), good food and drinks at the breaks and at lunch. Kudos to the organizers and everyone who helped make this happen." "I think the organisation was perfect. There where many people and all know where they had to go to." "The huge amount of information, inspiration and positive energy. Actually I hacked my first patch on the way back." "The people especially the staff :) Both keynotes were stimulating good dsicussions with my peers" "Very good conference. I felt really cosy there. As a noob to PG, I got a lot of information and I lost the fear of asking the experts (either on the mailing list or on IRC)." "The organization was really great. Maybe the best PostgreSQL conference I've attended so far."
That concludes my summaries of the feedback from this years PGDay.EU conference. If your specific comments haven't been called out here, don't worry - we still read them all and will consider them all for next year!
Finally, thanks again to all who helped make this conference great!
See you again next year!
Posting videos (after the fact) of all the talks would be great. I've found a few on Youtube, but not nearly as many as I'd like. They are not only a great way to get a good look at the talk, but you also get to connect somewhat with the speaker.