The title says the most important thing we learned from the Southwest Fox evaluations. Most attendees were very happy with the conference. Of 92 people who filled out the overall conference portion of the evaluation booklet, 88 said they were likely to come to Southwest Fox again in the future. That’s an incredibly high number, but matches what people told us in person.
Although the overall tone of the comments was positive, nothing else had quite that high a score. Nonetheless on a five-point scale (from “Disagree” or “Poor” or “Not important” to “Agree” or “Excellent” or “Very important,” depending on the question), the average score was above 4 on every question except one.
What was that one? “How important is the facility and location in your decision to come to Southwest Fox in the future?” The average score for this one was 3.18, just a hair above neutral. Some people went farther in their comments, indicating that the room is irrelevant to them as long as it has a bed.
As is usually the case, we learned more about what people thought from the comments than from the numerical answers. A few issues were mentioned on lots of evaluations.
First, we blew it on coffee. In trying to keep costs under control, we decided to provide a full (rather than continental) breakfast, buffet lunch and an afternoon snack. At the last minute, we added coffee and tea to the first morning break. (Since none of us are coffee drinkers, we hadn’t fully thought this issue through until we were on site.) Good thing. Even with coffee and tea at breakfast and the morning break, a lot of people commented on the need for coffee all day. We’re definitely revisiting this question for next year.
We also blew it on the pre-con day with no drinks (other than water) or snacks. I think I can state that we’ll certainly have coffee and tea available; we’ll look at the question of snacks, as well.
Another frequent comment was a request for power strips in the session rooms. An increasing number of people expect to run their notebooks in sessions (especially since we provide free wireless in the conference center). Because our session rooms were all part of a larger ballroom, most of the available outlets were in the back of the room. People wanted more. This is an easy-to-solve problem.
We had a lot of comments about the temperature in the session rooms. But it wasn’t as simple as “it’s too cold” or “it’s too hot.” It varied by room, time of day, and number of people in the room. We actually went to the facility staff a number of times during the conference to have them adjust the temperature, but there were enough variables that it was hard to get it right.
My favorite comment, which appeared on a fair number of evaluations was along the lines of “this session paid for the conference.” That’s a goal we always have as speakers, and anytime we see that comment, we’re thrilled.
More to come.