Hi Fellow User Group Leaders,
Thanks for being available to answer questions. I have communicated with Anthony Guild by emails and he has given me a lot of very useful tips. I am grateful for all the support I get from you and the UG community. I have read and reread the UG Best Practices document to help me plan each event. Now before this, I have read the document once more to ensure that I am not posting a question which is already answered there in that document.
I have started the Chennai TUG in April 2016. (For those of you who don't know where Chennai is, it is in the Southern Part of India, close to Bangalore). I have conducted 3 TUG sessions so far - in May, July and August. As of now, my plan is to have a TUG event every month. I plan to alternate between beginner and advanced sessions in each event (learning from Ryan Sleeper). As I have conducted these sessions, I have had a number of questions. I am posting them here to learn from the experienced user group leaders. I would really appreciate any thoughts from you! Also, this is the first TUG in India and I have had a number of people talking to me from other cities like Bangalore, Mumbai and Delhi to organize TUGs there - I would use the inputs I get from this thread as a reference for a long time to come in guiding others as well!
1. How do we set the maximum number of tickets and how do we manage the waiting list? I am not asking about the EB feature, but more about handling this in a way that helps build a community where people feel welcome.
The hall that I have can hold 40 people. For the first event in May, I had set the tickets at 50. And we had a houseful - around 40+ people have attended. But a lot of people have written to me saying that they want to attend the session, but I could not accept them. For the 2nd event in July, I had 277 registrations. It became so difficult for me to decide who to invite and who not to invite. We went through an elaborate process for shortlisting people and we sent out around 100 invitations as we decided to have 2 sessions - one in the morning and one in the evening. But the actual attendance in both morning and afternoon sessions was around 25-30. I had a lot of people writing me wanting to attend. But many of the shortlisted participants did not attend. And all the preparation done for refreshments got impacted. For the 3rd event in August, I had 63 registrations for the session targeted at Advanced users, but only 16 people showed up. May be it was due to the heavy rain.
Overall I am seeing a lot of mismatch between interest and attendance. How have you managed this in your user groups? And how do you plan refreshments, etc based on this variation as you need to order them in advance?
2. How do you handle a large number of people registering from a single company? Do you have limits for number of people from a single company? I had 40 registrations from a single company.
3. How do you handle duplicate registrations? Despite reminders, I see some people register more than once. Is there a way to block this in EB?
4. I was trying to analyze the registration data in Tableau and found that a single company was spelled in so many different ways (for example, CTS, Cognizant, Cognizant Technology Solutions, etc.) - have you faced this problem and how did you handle it?
5. I also see that a lot of people use their personal email address for the event registration. When I asked people why, I got 2 answers - one is that they want to be connected to the User group even if they leave their current company and second was that they want their work email to be protected from spam. I am thinking that personal email is a problem because people may not be checking their personal emails regularly and that is where all the reminders go.
6. I am in need of larger spaces to hold the meeting. I have asked the participants for help, and so far, I have not gotten anything. Also, I am in need of more presenters. I have asked/encouraged people attending the session to present, but so far, no one has come forward. Hence, finding good speakers and scheduling sessions also take up a lot of time. Any advice here on how this can be done more effectively? I saw that London TUG is able to host its meetings at corporates like Google, Deloitte, etc. - how do we approach them? can you please share what has worked for you?
7. I also saw that the London TUG has a very nice snacks/social time at the end. How do you manage the expenses for that? Tableau has offered me to fund some of it. As of now, I offer some light snacks and coffee/tea and since the amount is not high, i have not claimed it from Tableau. Ideally, I want to host a light lunch with pizzas, etc., but I wonder whether the cost could be too high - how have you handled this in your user group meetings?
8. I see a few people are coming back from earlier sessions, but I see a lot of new faces each time. Especially here in Chennai, I see a lot of Report Developer crowd, and less business user crowd. What kind of people are regular attendees in your TUG session? What would be an ideal TUG attendee? Should I be targeting any type of tableau user at all? What is your experience with new vs old attendees?
9. I want to gather all the attendees in one place so that they can get notified of new events, etc. I created a LinkedIn group. But when I create a new post, it does not send a message to the group members. I have the Tableau community page for Chennai, but I see a lot of people are members there and some irrelevant content like marketing materials, etc. are posted there - I want a place where I can post the support materials and I also want people to be notified of new events. As of now, I am using EB to send out an email to past attendees where I set up a tracking link to see how many people are coming back from earlier sessions. Is there a better way to do this? I have not yet tried Facebook though. Any thoughts from you on what has worked for you and how you use it? Please note that I am not very familiar with the social media and I am a beginner to most of them. Someone suggested to use Whatsapp? Has anyone tried it?
10. Do you have examples of the feedback surveys I can take a look at? How much percentage of the people respond to the post-event feedback survey? Is SurveyMonkey the best choice here?
11. Do you use the Checkin provided by the App? I have used it for the 3rd event and it worked very nicely. I have tried to use the checked-in list to create an email only to them to send support materials after the session, but I could not do it in EB. Have you used the check-in to do any analysis of the attendees?
12. How do you handle late arrivals? We want to start the event at 930 AM in the morning, but not even 20% people showed up on time. And people kept trickling in, thus disturbing the flow of the sessions. I am not sure whether this is a problem in India only (Sorry about complaining about my own country; I have returned to India after living outside for a long time - And my last place of stay was Geneva, Swiss where everything runs on clock. So, I am still getting used to this.)
It is a long list of questions, but I thought that I would ask you all for support to figure out a better way to do some of the stuff I am doing now.
P.S. Here is my LinkedIn profile if you want to get a better idea about me https://in.linkedin.com/in/siraj-samsudeen-2b6785