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LUG Events - Tips and Tricks
The purpose of this page is to put together an encyclopedia of tips and tricks for Local User Group Leaders who are trying to plan a user group event.
Planning a local user group event can be a lot of work. From keeping track of your budget, to finding a location, to selecting caterers - it can be a big challenge for small user groups who are new to organizing large events. The purpose of this page is to help pool our collective knowledge and provide new ideas for folks who are just starting out.
Please add any tips, advice, or ideas for local user group leaders who are putting on an event. However, do not use this page to include information that advertises or criticizes specific companies or persons (e.g. "You should have your event at XXX hotel").
What type of event to have
Not every event has to be a large catered affair. Some user groups work well with short frequent meetings that only feature a single speaker.
Hands-on workshops can be an excellent way to get fantastic training to your users. Many universities and some companys have computer labs that make this possible, and SAS can set-up a temporary license for the event.
If you have other LUGs nearby, consider putting on a joint meeting as your large event. This allows you to pool resources, including volunteers and funds. In addition, this is a great way to potentially get more speakers for your event.
Finding a location
Potential location sites to consider:
- Local Library
- Government buildings
- Company headquarters
- SAS training center
- Elks club or similar
Universities can be an excellent choice for a meeting location. They have lots of meeting rooms and computer labs and they generally offer cheaper rates on room rental. Also, many universities have SAS users on campus - particularly in the graduate programs - so that can be a great way to get more users involved with your group.
Local libraries may have free meeting rooms available for community groups.
Some companies are willing to offer free meeting space if you offer free registration for their company's employees.
Sometimes it is possible to get a good deal on a meeting location if your group works with someone affiliated with that organization. For example, many universities will offer discount reservation rates if your group includes someone from that university.
Food and beverage
Buffets can be a great way to save money compared to sit-down meals.
If you are ordering a lot of food and beverage from your location, ask to get the room for free in exchange.
Many locations will not let you bring in your own food and beverage if they have catering available in-house, so you should keep this in mind when choosing a location if you plan to offer snacks or meals.
LUGs who are officially registered with SAS are eligible to receive free speakers from SAS Institute to come to their event. SAS will cover all of the travel-related expenses for the speaker. To request a SAS speaker, go to http://support.sas.com/usergroups/ and select "Request Support" on the right-hand side of the page.
LUGs are also eligible to receive partial reimbursement for SAS Press Authors to come talk at their event. To request a SAS Press speaker, go to http://support.sas.com/usergroups/ and select "Request Support" on the right-hand side of the page.
LUGs can also have a virtual SAS speaker for their event. To request a virtual speaker, go to http://support.sas.com/usergroups/ and select "Request Support" on the right-hand side of the page.
One great way to leverage a lot of use out of only a few speakers is to choose speakers who will be willing to present more than one talk. This works particularly well if the speaker has a wide variety of talks to choose from or if your event has a particular theme.
If you have difficulty finding speakers, contact your Regional User Group to see if they have resources available to help.
There is a large pool of excellent speakers out there who are willing to volunteer their time for your event. Think about this before agreeing to pay an honorarium for a speaker.
Some LUGs use corporate sponsors to help fund their events, by offering incentives such as advertisement in the LUG newsletter or distribution of company flyers.