Microsoft Visual Studio Launch

It’s always fun working with Microsoft at their events. Their locations are always well located, decorations and other considerations are pleasantly arranged and the food for both staff and attendees is always off the charts. In this past year, we’ve coordinated our own AZ (Microsoft users) Group, traveled to San Francisco to help introduce the world to Windows Azure and most recently flew up to the Seattle pier to run the registration desk for the Visual Studio Launch on September 12.

But day-of tasks are not all we’ve done for each of these events. Before the event, we built registration microsites, worked with Microsoft staff on badge design and lanyards and acted as ‘I need to get this done but I don’t have the time to figure it out’ type of helpers that every good event has on hand.

While the Visual Studio Launch was easily the smallest of our most recent Microsoft events, it may have been the most important — it was for enterprise customers, high-ranking Microsoft employees and the press. Our tasks, once we arrived on site, were to check in 300ish people (giving them badges and lanyards, a gift bag and direct them to coat check) without using any sort of stanchions for line control and pre-printed badges.

While we typically prefer to print badges on site, this invite-only event prompted the event planners to order all the badges with names on them in hopes of eliminating possible bottlenecks. It worked. Our staff met attendees at the door, showed them to the proper badge pick-up line, distributed their materials and guided them where they needed to go with nary a delay.

The registration desk is usually the first thing any attendee sees when attending a conference, and the swanky-ness of this set up made it even more important that we establish a proper mood and tone for those walking through the door.

Did I mention the goodies? Have you ever had ahi tuna, shrimp and scallops mixed in a Mediterranean sauce and emptied into a martini glass? How about a real leather satchel bag — that’s cool and practical enough to be usable — as a giveaway item? Or plush seating surrounded by purple drape? Microsoft and their Visual Studio Launch attendees sure did.

See you next time!

Check out the EventDay Facebook page for our collection of pictures.

Microsoft BizSpark One Shares Praise

May The Fourth Be With You!

It’s great to be recognized by the boss, praised by family/friends and rewarded by clients. The feeling that we’re doing something worth their time fuels the fire to keep stretching ourselves and improving our service, regardless of the hours and late nights.

But when you’re complimented by people you consider your peers and colleagues, the praise feels a little different. No, you likely won’t get a raise from such, nor will the praise increase your bottom line, but there’s a feeling of accomplishment and validation that only someone on your level can give.

Thanks to Microsoft BizSpark One for sharing some love today. From the article:

“It’s really great to have smart people working on our behalf, and the BizSpark feedback is invaluable for building our company,” says EventDay co-founder Scott Cate. “Because EventDay has grown totally organically, using all our own money, we focus our decisions on a few key criteria: does it work? Is it efficient? And what’s the impact on our wallets? Our BizSpark advisors help to amplify our business and marketing efforts so we can continue building on our early success, and the Windows Azure technology base allows us to put our precious personal dollars toward software development rather than systems administration. These things are a really big deal to a startup like EventDay.”

As one of the 45,000+ BizSpark startups, we can’t thank them enough for the assistance they’ve provided. As Cate said, the combination of BizSpark advisors and Windows Azure technology has allowed us to focus on what matters most: how to solve customer problems.

The less time we have to seek out advice and/or system administration, the more resources we can allot to making EventDay a fantastic company for our employees, our clients and our industry.

While we may never be able to assemble a team of actual superheroes, it feels good to know we can be just as accomplished.

Microsoft Underground PDC event a hit

Microsoft asked us to handle online registration for their Underground PDC event at L.A. Live on November 9, 2010. We nailed it.

There’s a lot we do to make sure an event goes smoothly. From hiring capable staff to having backup badge printer(s) and troubleshooting software to having a strong wireless connection, it’s always the little things that make or break an event.

Photo of one of the on-stage presentations. Courtesy of user Verdiggo.

Name badge design is one of those little things. Scott was especially proud of the name badges at the Microsoft Underground PDC event on November 9 and for good reason: people called each other by their first name. Often.

Take a look at your last event badge. Is your first name the same size as your last? Is your company name also similar? Do short and long names automatically re-size to be readable? No? Ours featured the first names in large type that was auto-scaled before they were printed. No space issues, no fumbling with markers and certainly no errors.

The ability to quickly and easily print customized name badges that could easily be read was our biggest win of the evening. Sure, the queue was handled well, the software ran glitch-free, everyone showed up on time and changes were made to the invite list with ease, but man, we were and are still proud of those badges.

The view from the balcony. Photo courtesy Verdiggo.

We were also able to give Microsoft real-time updates on checked-in attendees, pick out VIPs without calling too much attention to them (VIPs received special raffle tickets and an extra wristband) and even served as bouncers when called upon to help clear out the upstairs to prepare for the VIP party.

While we had plenty of successes, there are a few things we learned from the event, including:

1. Make the first name BIG
Stick-on badges or badges in lanyards always make finding someone’s name awkward. No one likes to think someone is staring at their chest for too long and with the big first name there, this wasn’t a problem. Conversations were started quickly, people became closer a little quicker and it gave people one less thing to worry about when socializing with a roomful of people they didn’t know.

2. Always have a backup
One of our label printers went down during the event. We have no idea why, nor were we in a position to troubleshoot the issue. Having one extra printer allowed us to swap the defective unit out and keep the registration line moving.

3. Always have a free station
Most large conference check-in areas are packed with row after row of occupied stations. When a name is wrong, a guest’s name isn’t on the list or someone wants upgraded status, they get sent somewhere far away and feel like a problem. We left one station open and solved issues right away. Everyone left happy.

Many thanks to Microsoft for asking us be a part of a successful event. Can’t wait for the next one.