Analysis of Feedback from satRday [Cape Town] 2017

Conference

We recently announced the second satRday (Cape Town) conference scheduled to take place on 17 March 2018. Obviously we want this to be bigger and better than this year’s event, so we are paying careful attention to the feedback that we received from the first event.

This is a quick analysis of the feedback. We sold 192 tickets and gave out 11 complimentaries to the event. There were 107 responses to the feedback survey, which means that we heard back from more than half of the people who attended, which is hopefully a representative sample.

General Feedback

We’ll kick off with general feedback before looking at specifics.

Generally people were satisfied with the conference.

The programme was rather ambitious and, in retrospect, we realise that we tried to fit too much into a single day. This is also reflected in the feedback: the majority of people felt that the programme was overloaded to some degree. Slightly fewer felt that it was just right. Nobody felt that there were too few talks. No surprise there!

Next year we’ll be aiming to have a similarly diverse and interesting programme, but the talk slots will be slightly longer and we’ll work in more time for networking. How we will accomplish all that remains to be seen: there are only so many hours in a satRday.

We catered for two coffee breaks and a lunch. Most people were happy with the catering, but there were some specific issues that we had not foreseen. We received some suggestions in this regard and we’ll implement them next year. You can expect to be entertained, informed and well nourished.

People were also mostly happy with the venue. Not surprising: Workshop 17 is a great place to work or host an event. Again there were some specific suggestions for improvement, which we’ll feed back to the appropriate people. Since we are hoping to host an even larger audience next year, we’ve had to look for a bigger venue (the room at Workshop 17 was close to capacity). We’ve found a location on UCT campus which will easily be able to accommodate us (and incidentally, should also offer free parking!).

Our keynote speakers (Jenny Bryan, Julia Silge and Steph Locke) were the highlight of the conference, so it’s little surprise that feedback was positive.

It looks like we hit the sweet spot with three keynote speakers. We might drop this to two next year though to leave more space in the programme for local speakers. We’ve already secured two phenomenal keynotes for next year: Maëlle Salmon and Stephanie Kovalchik.

Ticket Prices

For this year’s conference we tried to keep ticket prices as low as possible (R 100 for early birds and R 200 for standard). The logic was to make the event accessible to students. However, there was a flaw in this plan: we still did not get many students in attendance and there was a perceived lack of value associated with such a “cheap” event.

What did people think would be an appropriate price for tickets to another satRday? It seems that the majority thought that either R 200 or R 500 would be appropriate. Around 20% of the respondents would pay R 1000 or more.

Perhaps how much one is willing to pay depends on who is actually paying? Roughly 60% of the people who attended this year had tickets purchased by their employer. The rest either paid for themselves or received complimentaries.

The joint distribution of how much people are willing to pay and who actually paid is likely to be even more informative. However, it seems that people’s sentiments in this regard was not really influenced by whether or not the money came out of their own pockets.

The tickets will be somewhat more expensive next year (but still very cheap relative to similar conferences), but you can be 100% assured of getting good value for money (either your own or your employer’s). And we are working on other strategies for attracting students.

Future Events

Should we hold another satRday in South Africa?

The vast majority of people were keen to attend another satRday. That’s good news. And it’s one of the biggest reasons why we are repeating the experience next year. That and the fact that we had a blast ourselves!

The overwhelming majority of people were keen to repeat the experience in Cape Town. Maybe we’ll have the event elsewhere in the future but it seems pretty clear that Cape Town is the city of choice for satRday 2018.

People enjoyed satRday, but would they be keen to speak next year? Just slightly less than two thirds of people were inspired to tell us about their experience with R next year. So we are expecting to receive a bundle of talk submissions!

Other Interests

From the perspective of our sponsors it’s useful to note that just over half of the attendees were interested to hear about employment opportunities.

Around 85% of the attendees were keen to engage in R training, so there’s certainly a gap to be filled.

Conclusion

The feedback we received from the first iteration of satRday (Cape Town) was very positive. Many of the attendees gave us detailed feedback on specific items and we’ll definitely be factoring those into our plans for next year.

So reserve 17 March 2018 in your calendar and make plans to be in Cape Town! Tickets are already on sale and the Call for Papers is open.

Categorically Variable