6 Replies Latest reply on Oct 10, 2016 3:18 AM by paul.chapman

    Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader

    Siraj Samsudeen

      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

        • 1. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader
          Andy Piper



          I'll try my best to answer the questions you've posed.


          1)  If you can consistently figure this one out, you are a leg up on everyone. I often find that around 1/3 of the people who sign up to attend do not show up. I often account for this with a combination of offering more tickets than the number available and then enabling a wait list and getting folks off the wait list as I hear of people not being able to attend. It is tough when there are catered events; but for simple snacks, we often use packaged snacks and bottled water so that they could be reused later if too much was purchased.

          2) Get that company involved. If you have a large number from one company, this might be a great opportunity to ask them to host. Pretty soon, though, that registration from that customer should dwindle.

          3) I have not found a way to block duplicates; but setting the max limit to 1 does help. If you are aware of this, and find that the ticket often goes unused, factor that into taking people off the wait list and/or snack counts.

          4) It would be nice if there was consistency with the company names, but it is what it is. You could download the data into Excel or Alteryx and make changes; but can be a pain. Nothing within EB that does this.

          5) You could ensure the community that you've signed an NDA with Tableau and the only reason you would receive an email from you will be for something related to the user group and that this information would not be shared with 3rd parties (under penalty of death -- right Jordan? )

          6) Space and presenters are issues for most TUG leaders. Get that company involved from issue 2 -- as they develop in skill, they can present and perhaps host. Regarding space, ask every meeting and via whatever group site you may have to constantly solicit. Regarding presenters, same as the last sentence; but you can also reach out to the other TUG leaders -- we may have someone in mind for a particular topic you are interested in that could present remotely.

          7) If held during lunch time, ask people to bring their lunches; if held after lunch, you could provide light snacks. We strictly rely on donations for snacks at regular meetings. Sometimes one company hosts and another provides snacks; however, many who host also provide snacks. I often suggest something that could be purchased in bulk at a warehouse store so as to keep their costs low.

          8) Welcome all. Solicit topics from all. Get people involved and they often stick around -- though there is quite a bit of luck with this.

          9) I use a combination of EventBrite and LinkedIn; however, will likely involve more of the Tableau.com group site. With respect to LinkedIn, as soon as people start posting ads and non-relevant content, I make it so they cannot post without moderation. I also have group rules indicating that advertisements of for-fee goods and services are strictly permitted and those doing so will have their post removed and their access to the group revoked. I had to do this often initially as a ton of consulting sites (many from India) seemed to join and bombard the heck out of us with such ads. I removed a dozen or two folks from the group site and now it only happens on occasion.

          10) SurveyMonkey is not bad -- free. Also consider doing surveys of attendees in the room (raise of hands). You'll never get 100% via SurveyMonkey; but those in attendance will have a voice.

          11) Often we have security desks that an attendee has to go through first before getting to the room where we may meet. For them, I often provide a downloaded list of names and company names that I've formatted in Excel as a check list. Since the EB check-in app would be using my credentials, I don't want to be leaving my cellphone or tablet around for someone else to use and possibly have walk away (since I may not be the one checking people in).

          12) Plan for late arrivals, but start on time. If people know you won't start on time, then they will keep arriving later and later. If they know they will miss something, there is likely a better chance that they will want to get there as soon as possible. If the room you meet in has multiple entry points, designate a single entry point for latecomers (preferably one in the back) so it won't disturb as many people.


          Hope you get something useful out of all this. Best of luck with your TUG. As noted earlier, if you need help with presenters or something else, feel free to ask the other TUG leaders (preferably much earlier than when you think you need the answer as we may not be checking the boards on a consistent basis).





          Andy Piper

          Atlanta Tableau User Group Leader

          • 2. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader
            Siraj Samsudeen

            Hi Andy,


            Thanks a lot for trying to share your thoughts on every single question I have posted. One side it is comforting to know that some of the challenges exist even for experienced user group leaders. I have read your post a few times as I was reflecting on your points and I really appreciate your responses.


            Let me try to reach out to the companies which have a lot of registrations. And as you advised, let me start on time so that a standard is set on how things work.


            Let me reach out to the other User Group Leaders for the presentation as you have suggested so that I have a few people lined up for the next sessions. Is the User Group Leaders forum the right place or should I go through Jordan or should I reach out to them individually?


            Can you please explain what you mean by setting max limit to 1? Is it the max number of registrations per ticket? If I am registering using my email ID once today and later next week, would this block me from doing this?


            can you please share any ideas that have worked for you?


            Yours Sincerely,

            Siraj Samsudeen

            Mobile:  +91 97899 68576

            • 3. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader
              Andy Piper



              The User Group Leaders forum is a good spot to go; but if you have a specific need, Jordan may be able to point you in the right direction. If you see a presentation being offered at a Tableau Customer Conference, consider reaching out to that person (either directly or via Jordan) -- if someone has given a TCC presentation before, it will be easier to repeat it another time (often less prep work needed by the presenter); if you reach out to someone who will be speaking at TCC (not occurred yet), then you could offer the ability for him/her to get in a trial run before the big day.


              As for the starting on time, I will start a few minutes late if I know that there are additional effort people have to make to attend -- go through a security desk, parking is off-site, technical difficulties, etc. However, we don't just start with the first presentation. After welcoming everyone to the meeting, I'll often perform a safety briefing (required if we meet at my office building and in a few other companies we've met at), let people know where restrooms are, inform everyone of upcoming meeting times, locations and presenters (and make requests for presenters and locations if the upcoming three meetings have openings), go over the agenda for today's meeting and then introduce the first speaker. This welcome and house-keeping effort takes about 5-7 minutes which often gives a good number of stragglers a chance to find a seat before the first presenter begins.


              As for the max number of registrations, I'm referring to the setup of the ticket types. One of the options is 'Tickets allowed per order'. I set the minimum to 1 and the maximum to 1 -- this forces someone to go through the registration process for each ticket. On occasion someone will create a 2nd ticket order, but I've seen that perhaps only 3 times this year -- and I believe in each case that 2nd ticket was never used.


              Don't forget about the experienced users. Often we have tons of newer users come to our meetings (lately it seems that 50-60% have been using the product for less than 6 months and only about 10% over a year). I often cater to the majority of the attendee's skill levels when choosing presenters/topics; but usually once every 3-4 meetings I will have a more advanced presentation/topic so I can bring back more of the experienced folks (we do meet monthly, so it equates to about once per quarter).


              I'm excited to hear of and learn more about the Phoenix TUG's efforts (thanks Michael Perillo, Ann Jackson) to create a workshop to help new users. Perhaps by offering a workshop tied to the TUGs may help get newer users up to speed in Tableau more quickly. Of course, incorporating this offering would mean extra time and resources (something TUG leaders tend to have little of); but it might be worth designating someone in your group to follow their efforts and see if it would be something you could incorporate within your TUG.


              Best of luck,



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              • 4. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader
                Ann Jackson

                Thanks for the shout out Andy.  I think you hit the nail on the head in terms of strategically "why" we're offering workshops for new users.  I'd say often our audience is about 60% new people and the workshop gets them hooked on coming back to the TUG and hooked on using Tableau.  (And ideally they become candidates for future presentations.)


                Siraj - Let us know if you need additional details on how we're deploying the workshop.  Michael Perillo has the logistics down to a science.

                • 5. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader
                  Siraj Samsudeen

                  Thanks a lot Andy and Ann for the workshop idea. I was almost feeling a need for something like this but could not nail it down as we have a lot of newcomers too and what we could cover in an hour or two is limited. I am really excited to learn about this and i would be grateful to get to know more details about the workshop. My next TUG meeting will be a workshop


                  To be frank, I was feeling a little bit down in my energy levels after running the TUG alone for about 6 months and having to deal with a lot of logistics issues which means a lot of late nights for me the week before every event. This conversation is definitely bringing my energy levels up. Thank you so much Andy and Ann.

                  • 6. Re: Many questions after running 3 TUG meetings as a new UG leader

                    Hi Siraj, Here are some further answers that may help. You will always have a dropout rate.  What we do is send a reminder the week before the event, another the Friday before and a final on the morning of the event.  In each of these comm's we stress there is a large waiting list and ask people to cancel if they cannot make it with a link.  This really helps to get our attendance up in the 90% of booking, but does require an amount of admin on our side from the TUG committee. We have some consultancies who would like to send along a number of people to each event.  We have a dialogue with the organiser from their side and ask them to limit bookings to a number we give them depending on venue size.  They then manage this internally to ensure that not everyone books up.  If you need to , in Eventbrite you can also cancel bookings, so if after this, you need to reduce the number, then use the feature but keep a dialogue with the company as well. Duplicate bookings are more difficult as the tool does not find them naturally.  You can either use mark one eyeball to have a look, or export the data into a tool like Alteryx to apply some fuzzy logic to see matches, which you can then email directly to check that they are indeed duplicates and cancel one. Space is always a challenge.  If you do need larger venues always ask during the TUG if anyone can host.  Tableau themselves can potentially put you in touch with customers who they know have large spaces, or could potentially help with the cost of hiring a venue if that is your only option. As for our London TUG snacks etc, this is all provided by the host venue.  We ask for this and have only had one where this has not been possible.  To counter the cost of this, we allow the host a 15 minute session at the start of the TUG to talk about what they do/plug services etc.  We do this at the start because people normally arrive late, so for us, it is the minimal impact to the proper content. Check in is a great tool and helps with the post event analysis.  Allows you to see who didn't come, who did, what time the average check in was etc etc and can be useful in future planning. You will always get late arrivals, best bet is to allow them in at the back, at the start try and get people to move forwards so the empty seats can be accesses easily and then have someone using Check in.  This might help with adjusting the start time going forwards. Sorry for the delay in replying but I hope that it helps. Paul