We had 133 people fill out a post-conference survey. Pretty good, considering traditional low response rates for surveys.
Overall, the conference received outstanding reviews from participants, with 87% of the people rating it Very Good or Outstanding. On our five-point scale, which is particularly tough because the midpoint “three” rating equates to Good rather than Fair, we earned a 4.11 rating. That compares to 3.96 last year and is almost exactly the same as the 4.12 rating we received from the first conference, when I think we were still in the “love bubble” stage of a new relationship.
As for individual events, the results are naturally mixed. The top five scoring events were the presentation by geologist Kevin Pogue (more salt in the wounds of those who slept in that morning), the Sunday excursion to Red Mountain, and Thursday excursion to Yakima Valley, the Sunday Wine & Food Pairing lunch presented by Winebow, and the Sunday Wine & Food Pairing presentation by chef Jeffrey Saad. We are always a little nervous about how many people will leave the conference early and were happy to see so many people stay for what was an incredible presentation by Chef Jeffrey and perhaps the best meal of the weekend courtesy of Chef Bear from the Marcus Whitman and the wines of Winebow. The Friday After Hours Walla Walla Walkabout and the Saturday reception and dinner put on by the Washington Wine Commission also received ratings above 4.0 on our scale.
All other events were scored in the 3+ range, meaning all were good but all could use some tweaking to make them better. Some events didn’t go quite as planned and we will try to avoid those issues in future years. We received many, many comments and will come up with a plan of improvement. Some specific things we will try to implement: more outside experts at the breakout sessions, longer breakout sessions, and more vegetarian options.
Other things are simply harder to control when we have 300 drinking, talking people in one room. Time will always be tight at these conferences and we are always trying to balance competing interests. 72% of you did say we got right the mix of educational, wine, and fun activities this year.
I’d like to finish by sharing one comment from the survey. One person wrote “More thought should go into what Bloggers want and less into how to stroke the self-appointed inncer council member’s egos.” I find this shockingly inaccurate and laughingly funny – but since someone out there thinks this, it is worth telling everyone a bit about the process.
The “inner council” consists of Joel (from OpenWine Consortium), Reno (my employee at Zephyr Adventures), and me. And I can tell you that while I have an ego in certain things, like on the soccer field, I certainly don’t have an ego about what is presented at the Wine Bloggers Conference. And if you had a chance to talk with Reno, you know he aims to please everyone. In fact, while all of us are related to the wine industry, none of the three of us are even wine bloggers, which we all think makes us quite impartial when it comes to planning these conferences. If we surveyed bloggers for their opinions any more (location survey, content suggestion survey, post-conference survey, wine blog awards nominations, wine blog awards voting) many of you would probably get sick of us!
In summary, thank you to those of you who attended and provided your opinions, we are glad you enjoyed the conference, and we’ll work hard (as always) to make 2011 even better.
– Allan, Zephyr Adventures, Conference Co-Organizer