Geetesh: Looking back at the just concluded PowerPoint Live held in San Diego, tell us about the highs and lows, wows and anything else.
Rick: The biggest wow for me was the demographic of the patrons — so much enthusiasm and spirit this year! Most of them were first-timers, but sent from companies that had sent people in previous years. So they were fresh and yet predisposed to having a good experience. As the host and organizer, you gotta like that!
The highest high and the lowest low were actually the same event: the Wednesday keynote address with Garr Reynolds was amazing, as we established a video connection with him from his home in Osaka Japan, at 1:00a in his morning. It was an incredible experience for everyone. And it was, without any doubt, the most stressful hour of my conference career, as we careened out of control, totally at the mercy of the technology and a fragile hotel Internet connection.
The non-academic high water mark had to have been the concert at the beach Tuesday evening, where we took over a Mexican restaurant on the boardwalk for a big margarita party and visit from a Journey tribute band who really played and sounded like the real thing. People were buzzing about that all day on Wednesday.
Geetesh: What gets PowerPoint Live to San Diego every alternate year?
Rick: I just love the city. I grew up vacationing down there (I’m from Northern California, about 500 miles north) so it’s in my blood. It offers a perfect September-October climate (when other parts of the country are beginning to get cold and even snowy), it’s easy to get to, affordable, with lots of attractions.
Also, the hotel we choose fits us like a glove and has many services and amenities nearby. At some point, the patrons might get bored of going there every other year and will tell us so, but so far, nobody has.
Geetesh: Why did you choose Atlanta for the next PowerPoint Live in 2009?
Rick: We are alternating between east and west each year, but we have not yet gone all the way to the East Coast. We know of many people who will appreciate direct flights or simple drives to Atlanta, as well as people whose companies simply don’t have the budget to travel for conferences.
And the Buckhead community of Atlanta is a fantastic place to visit, with lots of dining, shopping, and entertainment. The hotel we chose was purchased by Marriott six months ago and is almost finished with a $65M renovation, so it will essentially be a brand new hotel for us.