6 Replies Latest reply on Nov 26, 2019 3:42 AM by Erik Wempa

    Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?

    Erik Wempa

      I'm not a newbie to this conference, nor am I an "every year" guy, but this was the third Tableau conference I attended and the first time I've ever come back afterwards to my company recommending that we NOT send people next year.

       

      For the record:  I'm not suggesting that the content is bad (it's always stellar) or that Tableau doesn't put enough into this conference (it's obvious they sink a lot of time, energy and money into making this the best conference they can).  And the opening night reception was pleasant enough.  But this year really paled in comparison to the other two I attended (Seattle 2014 and Las Vegas 2017).

       

      My main gripes:

       

      1. Hands-on trainings were WRECKED by the network/PC issues.  Some of our company's attendees did a pay-extra session on Tuesday and were refunded money because the network was not useable at any point.  Furthermore, my first full day of the conference was back-to-back hands-on trainings that consisted of: 1) The first 45 minutes bogged down with network issues, only for the network to finally become stable and forcing the rest of us to play "catch-up."  2) Two hours of watching the instructors demo stuff, because the side of the room where I was sitting never was able to get the course to launch on our machines.  Four hours of hands-on training reduced to 75 minutes of actual work.  Simply unacceptable.

       

      2. Keynote speakers were a step down from previous years.

       

      3. The first full day of the conference, I was among the small group of early birds who entered the data village at 7:00 on the dot.  I finished up eating at 7:15, only to find that most coffee stations were completely out.  I had to walk probably 300 yards just to find a station that still had some.

       

      4. The food was a step back this year.  Seemed mostly of the low-budget heat-and-eat variety.

       

      5. We experienced issues with the app for the first few days afterwards and threw constant API errors.  Most of the people from our company ended up with whatever sessions they could get into, and very little of what they were actually interested in.

       

      6. Data Night Out was a mess.  The parking deck atmosphere was pretty gross, although some of the indoor sections were a lot nicer.  The crowd was way too big for the area allotted, though, and most of us considered leaving within the first 30 minutes of arrival.

       

      7. Perhaps my BIGGEST issue:  I know that Tableau prides itself in breaking an attendance record with every conference, but this was the first year I felt that things had reached the "tipping point."  Crowds were just unmanageable at times, and even the Data Village (which is usually good for a breather) was packed to capacity during keynote speeches.  Waiting in line to get into sessions I'd registered for and had already been approved to attend was horrible.  Lines were long, sometimes constructed in confusing manners, and typically resulted in people being elbow-to-elbow with absolutely no room to move.  This was the first conference I'd attended where I got even the slightest inkling that it had grown too big for Tableau to handle.

       

      It pains me to say it, because I love the company and I love the software, but this was a big letdown.  Not just for me, but for our group (of roughly 25) as a whole.

        • 1. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
          Charles Shaw

          I agree on some points.  This was my first Tableau Conference and have been

          using the Tableau software for a little less than a year now so the

          Conference was very eye opening.  It was a great way for me to get an idea

          of everything that Tableau can do and more importantly it gave me lots of

          ideas and gave me enough knowledge to set a path going forward.  But I

          agree there were also a lot left to be desired and maybe it would be better

          to say a lot that was undesired.

           

          1. I was also one of those that paid for the extra training session on the

          Tuesday before the Conference.  We were unable to log into the virtual

          machines for the first hour and a half.  The presenter did the best she

          could but it was extremely frustrating.  Luckily we were able to get

          everything up and running after that first hour and a half so it wasn't a

          total loss.  But for a software conference I would expect a little better

          preparedness.  Especially when it would have been very easy to have a

          backup plan like a usb stick with the data to follow along.

           

          2. I would agree that the Keynote speakers were  Meh... I am actually happy

          I didn't stand in line to see the Keynote live.  I watched from the Data

          Village and found myself just working on stuff on my laptop half the time.

          The woman coders were interesting but there seemed to lack any big names.

           

          3. The food was pretty bad.  I would usually stand in a long line for some

          food that sounded good and when I got to the front of the line I found that

          it wasn't anything like what the sign said and there was no other choice.

          I would usually take 2 bites and then just end up paying for food outside

          of the conference. About the only things I would get would be a soda, which

          led me to drink more soda over that week than I had probably the whole rest

          of the year.   But I guess that's more on me!

           

          4.  My biggest gripe  was also how crowded everything was.  I felt like

          herded cattle half the time.  All of the classes I actually wanted to

          attend were usually full so I ended up settling for other stuff that wasn't

          really as beneficial for me.  Not sure what could be done about the overall

          crowded feeling, other than selling less tickets which I don't see

          happening.  For the classes maybe they can have more repeated sessions or

          have the same session going in more than one room at once.

           

          5. The data night out definitely needed a much bigger Venue it was beyond

          crowded.  I was very disappointed when on the map there were sections that

          said Bourbon & Bites, Margaritas & munchies, Craft Beer & messy eats...

          Then when we get there the only beverages were a few canned beers and two

          mixed drinks... Definitely no Bourbon, Margaritas, or Craft Beer.  Half of

          the booths and things they had setup seemed pretty much pointless I almost

          would have rather had the extra room than some of the stuff.  Again it

          seems pretty difficult to pull something off with as many people as there

          were in attendance, but Cisco Live a few months prior had about 28,000 and

          was able to pull everything off rather well.

           

          Overall it was a good event for me since I am still learning Tableau and I

          was able to come away with a wealth of knowledge.  I think I will still

          push to go next year as well because I would like to do a lot more of the

          advanced stuff after a full year of working with it.  But I could

          definitely see it being a hard sell for someone who has been using Tableau

          for many years or a company that is looking to send multiple attendee's.

           

          On Mon, Nov 25, 2019 at 10:48 AM Erik Wempa <tableaucommunity@tableau.com>

          • 2. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
            Tammy Brown

            My experience was very much the same.  This was my second conference.....my first was NOLA last year ('18).

             

            Hands-On Training -- I was in a pre-session on Tuesday, and spent the majority of the time watching the instructor show us the activities on her screen.  On Wednesday, I stood in line waiting for a HOT session to start only to be told 38 minutes after the session was to begin that virtual machine issues prevented the session from happening.  But we could go see the Schedule Scouts to get rebooked into the same session on Thursday or Friday.  Which would have meant giving up other sessions that I was looking forward to attending.  So the ONE HOT that I was most excited about, I didn't get to experience.

             

            Keynote speakers -- I was bleh about all of them.

             

            Food - I was not a fan of the food offerings either.  Every lunch I had that was supposed to be at least warm, was ice cold.  And except for one day, I was there at the beginning of the lunch service.  All of the sandwich options that I chose -- I ate the insides and threw the stale bread away.  Was thoroughly disappointed, and spent more money on food than I had budgeted for because I was still hungry.

             

            Data Night Out -- the venue was way too small for the number of people attending.  It was nearly impossible to move around, and the food lines were ridiculous.  After 15 minutes of being there, I wished I had stayed back at my hotel and took a nap instead (my husband was arriving for the weekend late that night).  I was on the first 9:00 pm shuttle BACK to the hotels.  And hungry, once again.

             

            Crowds...I agree.  It was nearly impossible to figure out where the start of one line was and the end of another.  People tripping over each other and unintentionally cutting lines.  My frustrations were the same as yours.

             

            I decided on my flight home that I likely will not be attending TC20....especially since it's in the same venue as TC19.

            • 3. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
              Tammy Brown

              And....entertainment at Data Night Out.  In the months leading up to the conference, there was talk of a BIG SURPRISE for live entertainment.  If the person performing was "the big surprise", I was seriously underwhelmed.  Was that actually the "big surprise"?

              • 4. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
                Toby Erkson

                Seattle was my first and I've been to every one since so this was my 6th.   I agree that Seattle was great but there was well under 1/2 the number of people there than this year!  Last year in NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) was terrific except for the 1-kilometer walk between the ends of the building but that was still tolerable -- good exercise   The food there was equally good and "local".

                 

                I agree that this year was not as delightful as any of my prior ones. 

                • The food was definitely sub-par -- I heard that the vegetarians had it even worse! -- with only DNO having anything decent.  Yes, as a whisky guy who was not late to the party, having only the option for beer/wine was a total "no thank you" for me (and did ya see the glass room full of The Macallan bottles that we couldn't sample? ). 
                • Yes, running out of coffee and snacks (like cookies, I never got one!) early was a notable faux pas.  Oh, and swag at the keynotes...not much like prior years
                • My other gripe, and one that I discovered was quite common, was the high noise levels everywhere; like anywhere music was playing it was way too loud for normal conversation and there were so many people that were hoarse because of it (one even lost her voice!).
                • I hate to say it but, yeah, even the keynotes were not quite as excellent as past ones.  The whole "fireside chat" should never be done again as it was awkward and lost the momentum for the keynote (unless it's actually held outdoors, next to a roaring fire, with plenty of smores and napkins for all).  I found the codebreakers very interesting and touching (I'm a US Navy vet so a little biased) but it did make for an awkward moment or two.  However, the last keynote was the best in my opinion as it was very relatable and in-tune with past Tableau guest keynotes.

                 

                Being a Tableau Server admin I didn't have to worry much about waiting in line so I can't comment on downed servers and lost training sessions but boy did I hear about it!  One thing positive is that the wi-fi was finally great this year!  I had no connectivity issues in the conference area.  I was also pleased that the Data Village was large and well populated, especially the Community section.  It's nice to have the Tableau Community given the recognition.

                 

                I think there was a great deal of learning at this conference and, to be realistic, not every time can they hit it out of the ballpark -- the past five years in a row for me were excellent though!  Each year has been larger than the last and it takes a ton of planning and coordinating to pull it off so hats off to the teams involved in making this happen!   I'm confident Tableau will learn from the feedback they get and adjust accordingly so i'm more than willing to give them a second chance (y'all did fill out the feedback, right?).  One "just okay" year shouldn't be the bad apple that makes all future ones unworthy!  I spoke with several first-timers and they had a really good time, beyond their expectations, so not all is lost.  However, I'm all for a smaller population and the "our conference was bigger than yours (or ours last year)" definitely is unappealing so if they cap the conferences to under 17K-18K people I'd be happier...it seems to be a sweet spot for population vs enjoyment based on prior years.

                 

                Let's not be so quick to give up; I'm looking forward to attending next year, connecting with old and future friends, and am sure that Tableau has learned from this TC as they are a pretty smart and in-tune company

                • 5. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
                  Erik Wempa

                  To add to your point about lines:  I had at least one experience where the line began near the entrance to the room, then wrapped around and eventually went inward, meaning the end of the line was in the middle of a huge group of people.  And, when you made your way to the end of the line - which was smack-dab in the middle of a huge mass of bodies - people thought you were cutting.

                   

                  It was one huge mess.

                  • 6. Re: Was anybody else seriously disappointed this year?
                    Erik Wempa

                    A great point about the noise levels, by the way.  I'd forgotten about that, but I agree it was annoying.

                     

                    Oh yes, since you asked...I filled out my survey and held nothing back.  Like you, I hope they make some adjustments for next year.

                     

                    You make a fair point about not writing Tableau off completely, and I won't (like I said, I know the effort is there and the software is truly amazing), but this wasn't just an "okay year" for me at the conference.  It was downright disappointing.  It's hard to justify going to this to my company when I could have feasibly saved myself the time and money and stayed home and just watched the videos (when they're eventually released).