Our first post-COVID M365 “Saturday” Twin Cities event was on January 21, 2023. Not our normal time of year, but we (the organizing committee, attendees, sponsors, and speakers) have been chomping at the bit to get back in-person so here we are. 🙂 Normally, we host our events twice a year – in the Spring and Fall. Our schedule is primarily dictated by living in the upper Midwest, where Winter can be harsh, and Summer is dedicated to being outside. No one wants to give up summer weekends. So that leaves us with the “shoulder seasons” where we have plenty of other variables to deal with, but we’ve historically had success with. However, we wanted to get back as soon as possible – so here we are. All things considered; I think the event went off well for all involved.
Coming back post-COVID for this event had its own new variables to work with. Specific to the pandemic, were people willing to come back to an in-person event? We knew there were some vocal and passionate folks that would but weren’t sure we’d get back to our normal volume on the first event back. We definitely weren’t as large as we’ve been, but still had successful numbers, I think.
I’m pretty sure there was also a bit of Zoom/Online meeting fatigue. People just want to be back in-person. Me included. That part probably helped us a bit.
Scheduling in the middle of a Minnesota Winter would throw some challenges at us. Weather could have a huge impact. Folks may not want to travel to the event from outside the metro. It can get *really* cold this time of year. Thankfully the day of, we lucked out with both moderate temperatures and no snow. But we likely lost a few sponsors, speakers, and attendees that didn’t plan to attend even with the chance of having to travel in adverse conditions.
For attendees, registering for the event and deciding at the last minute to attend or not isn’t a big deal (for them – it stinks for organizers). They can sign up but not come if the weather turned. For speakers, we figured we’d lean on local folks where we could, but not limit our selection, to local and regional speakers that would be less likely to need to cancel. Signing sponsors for the event seemed to take the biggest hit as we usually have a mix of local, regional, and national companies – even international from time to time. For this event most sponsors ended up being local companies with only 2 coming from out of state. We love *all* our sponsors, but it was unique to have such a local focus.
- 393 Registered attendees
- 11 sponsors with 9 on-site and 2 that were not
- 7 on-site sponsors were local companies. 2 were from out of state
- 25-30 folks staffing vendor booths
- 130 session submissions from 59 speakers
- 1 new venue
- 10 rooms
- 4 session slots in the schedule (we’ve done up to 5, letting folks out earlier)
- 43 speakers
- 16 current or former MVPs
- 5 Microsoft employees
- 6 Canadians
- 6 new speakers
- 38 sessions
- 27 M365 sessions
- 10 Power Platform sessions
- 5 Viva sessions
- 2 JSON sessions (whoa, really?)
- 0 changes to the schedule after printing
- 30 dozen donuts (we had plenty)
- 88 pizzas (plus 30 salads)
- 13,946 steps (Wes)
Some tweaking to do here and there, but we’ll be back. Targeting Fall 2023. As soon as we have a date, we’ll let you know.
Thanks to everyone involved for a wonderful event and return to in-person events!