E13 Day 1 Katie-78Sincere thanks to all of you who filled out evaluations for Extravaganza 2013 this past January.  We’ve completed the process of collating the responses, writing up reports and doing analysis.  There was a ton of great data there.  The total, final, “full” report was 47 pages long  (small print..single space!)  Clearly, people care about the Network and this event, and for that we are grateful!

Generally, the feedback for the event was really positive.  Two of the questions that we look at, and which carry a lot of weight for us are:

  • “Overall, this event was (1=terrible; 10 = awesome).”  The response to this question was 8.55.  That’s a very solid response.  And;
  • “This event was worth the money spent (1=not even close; 10=totally).”  The response to this question was 8.56.  Again, we were pleased with this response.

There were lots of other questions, and lots of responses, including great and very insightful comments.  Please know that we will take all of this feedback seriously as the team reconfigures now and ramps up for the 2014 event in St. Louis.

There were also a few questions/comments that showed up throughout the responses that I think merit some response and explanation from the planning team.

The housing at the Hyatt sold out and a group had to move to the Hyatt House.  Those of you who had to stay there were inconvenienced.  We’ve never had this kind of issue before.  When we sign our contracts with hotels, we “guarantee” a certain number of rooms.  It has never been an issue before when we have gone over that mark.  Hotels have been able to accommodate us without a problem.  What we didn’t know was that there was a large, city-wide convention happening at the same time and that the remainder of the hotel was sold-out.  We had guaranteed 900 room nights.  We actually got the hotel to expand our room block to just over 1100 room nights.  But that still wound up leaving us short by around 150.  Of course, we would have sought out hotels just down the street, but they were sold out.  So while it was unfortunate, we were kind of stuck.  We apologize for the inconvenience!

This year the housing links will be live and ready to go on May 15.  We recommend that folks book early.  Last year, the only people who were displaced were those who tried to book their rooms after December 29th.

There was concern raised about the cost of the event.  Some people ask “why can’t we stay at a camp or retreat center.”  We’ve had this question raised before.  It’s a good question.  There are, actually, only 5-7 camp/retreat centers that have the capacity to host the Extravaganza.  And none of those are easily accessible to an airport or transit hub.  The cost of ground transportation would make the cost of the event much higher.  And we do negotiate really good rates from the hotels that host us.  I always say, “If I could find a Hampton Inn with rooms for $89 that have 12,000 sq. feet of ballroom space, 8-9000 sq. feet of exhibit space and 8-10 workshop rooms that can hold 50-100 people theater style, I’d book it!”  But I don’t think it exists.  We are very conscious of the funds people spend to be at the E.  We treat them like a sacred trust, and we work hard to be good stewards.

A minority of people struggled a bit with the worship services.  Reading the responses, it actually reminded me of the responses we often get when we talk about congregational worship.  What can be incredibly meaningful for one person might not even seem like worship to the person sitting next to them.  Some thought it was too contemporary…some thought it was too traditional.  All of your feedback is being carefully considered.

People generally liked having one speaker (John Roberto) for the 3 general sessions.  There were, again, a minority of people who didn’t like the strong emphasis John placed on technology.  I understand that.  It is where a lot of his time and attention went.  Comments like “I’m a youth and children’s minister, not a webmaster” were shared.  On one level I understand that, but on another level, I think part of the point was missed.  (Please understand, I’m just speaking for myself now)  You’re right that we’re not called to be webmasters.  However, we are called to communicate the truth and grace of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in the language and culture of the people.

The people with whom we work live in a digital culture, and use digital mediums to learn, to communicate, and to experience their world.  We have to be fluent in that language, and our role as people who curate resources has to move into the digital because that’s where people are.  This is not in lieu of face to face relationships, but rather alongside and enhancing relationships.  Watch the videos again online…there’s a lot of wisdom in what John says about the culture we’ve been called to minister within.

These were themes we heard that deserved to be acknowledged and responded to.  There were great comments, both critique and affirmation in the 47 pages of evals. Even though we can’t respond to them all, they have already influenced the planning for 2014.

Thank you for caring.  Thank you for your time in filling them out.  They are a great gift to the E-Team, the event, and to our community.


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