Find out how this QtWS stacks up against prior events and make a list of lesson learnt.
Here's my personal impression.
- A lot of us were there, many KDE subjects could be discussed within QtWS
- Our presence was great. More than blending in we were standing out. That was good.
- We had stuff to show at the booth and a good story to explain.
What didn't work:
- Booth people were often talking to each other or looking at their laptop at the booth (!). This is not engaging for people to approach. People at the booth should have been either pro-active and engaging or just not at the booth.
- We probably should have mixed roles between booth and video. Manning the booth during talks isn't all that useful after all.
For those who have attended this event before, did you have the impression you interacted with more people than in prior editions? I am aware you didn't have the means to count the visitors and there is no record of the number of visitors at prior events, but a general impression would be helpful. Also if other attendees could share their thoughts.
You are right, @davidedmundson: this is a rather big oversight that should not happen again. Also, there were QR codes on the cards, maybe there should have been some on the flyers too. Like that, visitors only carrying their mobile phones would have been able to visit our sites easily.
Here's mine. For posterity, I was responsible for organizing our presence at the event and coordinating the team on-site.
- Manpower: We had 14 people (plus another one for half a day) in the team. This felt like just the right number to do what we wanted and needed to do - staff the booth and place a KDE person in every session room at the bcc (there were seven rooms to staff). We should shoot for this amount next year, too, assuming the venue and our duties remain the same.
- Keeping the team informed: We had an editable notepad (https://notes.kde.org/p/QtWS2017) with venue info, transportation info, contact points, team assignments, team directives and our strategy. I've attached a copy of if to this ticket for posterity. The notepad worked well - everyone in the team seemed aware of the pad and knew what they had to do and where they had to be, and had the same info about others in the team. I didn't have to deal with any questions.
- Booth location: KDE's booth this year was on Level C outside the main dome room at the bcc, not among the other exhibitors on Level B. We were previously worried we would get no foot traffic up there, but as Level C provided the only seating (in two corners of the building, one of which was fully ours, with the seating path of our booth concept), was used continuously for talks throughout the event and had snack/lunch/dinner bars as well, we generally had a good amount of visitors. The location also meant we had the largest booth at the event right after The Qt Company itself, whereas many of the booths on Level B felt very cramped and unimpressively small. The unique location apart from the other booths also helped reinforce the idea that KDE is qualitatively different from other exhibitors.
- Booth setup: The combo of an info counter w/ logo and bar tables as themed demo stations (display stand w/ description insert + demo sustem) felt great. The lounge seating with charge stations in the form of hubs with cable spokes felt just the right degree of casual and proved popular. The demo stations and info counter were placed in a way that made most of the folks who wanted to get to the lounge seating walk past them, often picking up a flyer on the way. This was good.
- Hardware/product demos at the booth: These generated a lot of interest and allowed visitors to have hands-on experience with our stuff. The demos made the booth feel much richer this time. The demos were also arranged well, with a little bar table each, forming little hubs for each product category.
- Theme & key art: We had a cohesive and beautiful visual theme to our entire presence at QtWS: Shirts, flyers, stickers, demo system wallpapers had consistent colors, iconography and slogans. This easily outclassed almost every other booth at the event.
- Team attire: While some had initially voiced dress code concerns over wearing KDE shirts, the uniform attire made us look more organized and professional than in past iterations of QtWS. I also think it helped make us feel more like a regular part of the event and the Qt community, rather than another vendor trying to sell something.
- High-quality print materials: Some issues with the flyer aside (no URLs, slightly awkward layout due to last-minute problems getting enough content to drop into the planned layout), our print materials looked more than competitive. Some of the commercial vendors had very ugly print materials that looked like they came out of an office inkjet. We did so much better.
What didn't work:
- Event program: KDE people had no talks in the QtWS event schedule. This is partially because we didn't submit many (perhaps even just one, as far as I could gather) and partially because The Qt Company didn't do well on talk selection and rejected them. As far as I could gather, the talk committee for QtWS was mostly ineffectual this year, with marketing taking the reigns. The schedule initially also only allowed for short talks (until KDAB pushed hard for a few longer slots). As a result the technical quality of the talks was low. Many talks were essentially product or service pitches instead. We've already submitted some feedback to The Qt Company about this, as have other event partners/sponsors I've talked to. Next year we should push our people to submit talks, and push The Qt Company to adopt a more effective talk selection scheme - perhaps even try to get onto the committee.
- Event duties: Our volunteer duties at QtWS this year were limited to camera operation, while in past years we also did talk chairing. I would have much preferred talk chairing over A/V, as it would have given KDE a larger, more dignified presence at the event. Next year we should see if we can chair again.
- Neglecting some of our content: The flipside of having had hardware/product demos at our booth is that they overwhelmed any opportunity to talk about our libs and dev tools. These were in the flyer, but had no other presence at the booth. Next year we should try to give these things more presence. Perhaps with a try-out station, or having people at the booth prepped and ready to give demos, or doing live coding exercises (as we had mulled but didn't implement in the end).
- Insufficient booth team briefing/training: The briefing for the booth team was limited to a short strategy document. Additionally I gave some tips about how to behave at the booth (engage people actively, etc.). This worked for the most part, but as apol already said, we weren't outgoing and open enough. In an ideal world we'd probably set up a little booth duty training session beforehand next time.
- Rushed asset prep timeline: We should have started to prepare the flyer content 1-2 weeks earlier to give more time for content acquisition and polish.
- Missing assets: We ran out of time to get business cards printed for the team members. They probably would have been nice to have, although it's unclear how often cards actually got requested, and the QR code name tags did see some use in their stead.
- Booth polish: Some bits of our booth still looked a bit unprofessional and haphazard. I was very unhappy with the dumping ground of backpacks and jackets behind our info counter (and yes, my bag was in there, too). The Qt Company had offered us an additional room for live coding sessions that we turned down - perhaps we could have dumped our bags there and locked them. Unclear. Further, we put up some of our posters on a board using masking tape, which looked unpolished and could have been easily avoided with some double-sided tape or those magic zippie glue thingies, which we forgot to buy and didn't have on hand when we needed them.
- Team communication: We used a Telegram group for realtime communication during the event. Realtime communication became important at several turns, e.g. to call people together on short notice to receive A/V briefings by The Qt Company team. However, some on the team (well, one) refused to use Telegram and we could not reach them when we needed to. This needs to be rock solid ahead of time next year. The criticism of Telegram being fundamentally legitimate, we should likely use something else next year.
- Team assignments: I drew up the duty roster by asking everyone on the team for their preferences, then dividing them into booth and room teams based on responses, number of rooms we had to cover and filling gaps with some personal judgement about skills/reliability (I didn't really have to make any hard calls there, happily enough). Each member of the room team had a particular room assigned, which mostly kept them stuck in that room running the camera during talks. I tried to be a little bit smart with the assignments based on what I knew about their interests. I also briefed folks that the room assignment was mostly to inspire reponsibility for the room always being covered, but that swapping rooms would be expected and entirely OK. Yet there was some unhappiness about this from some. It's unclear if we can actually do better, though, because (a) the free ticket given by KDE is not a gift, people are expected to work for it, (b) explicit responsibility via assignments is IMHO still a good idea, (c) if we put more effort into booth briefing/training in the future it makes continuity on the booth team even more important, requiring the team assignments to remain stable, (d) the talks being boring isn't on us.
- Fuckups: The video feed for one of the talks was broken because the responsible room team member didn't do the work. This made us look bad with The Qt Company. Not cool, but also the only thing that went really wrong during the two days.
In summary: I am confident this was our best-ever presence at Qt World Summit ever and overall regard it as a big success. We did many things well we should keep and build upon next year.
In regards to print material - the flyer is the big downside I feel. It looked nice, but there where problems during printing (two graphical elements fell out and since there was no time for proof-printing it all had to just trundle on ahead) - it was also rushed through in terms of content and I feel that this is something I would love to work on for the future. Tbh I also think that we could - IF we rewrite the forward facing wikipages or project pages core description (as per Pauls suggestions from Almeria) we should be able to slot them in if there ever is issues finding text. It would be rather nice to have that as well:
- folder has an intro text to the subject
- folder has a link
- when hitting that link you get to a text that mirrors that of the folder in the first part but then carries on in more detail
Sort of creating a continuity.
I wasn't at the physical event so have nothing else to add