SQL Cruise as a Speaker and Sponsor

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Sponsor SQL CruiseSQL Cruise offers a number of unique opportunities for everyone involved, including speakers and sponsors. I’ve written before, several times, about the benefits of SQL Cruise. As an attendee of the cruise, you will get to sit in classes by amazing people (and me) talking about all aspects of the Data Platform. Further, you get the opportunity to sit down, for long hours, with these people and get, for want of a better description, free consulting time. What about as a speaker and a sponsor though, do we get benefits?

As A Speaker

Tim Ford is quite a bright fellow. He has tweaked and tuned SQL Cruise. I have been on SQL Cruise a number of times over the last five years, and it has changed radically since my first cruise in 2011. He keeps getting the format better and better, trimming away a little fat here, adding a little muscle there. All this results in a better SQL Cruise experience which, as a speaker, gives me three things; engagement, time, and follow-up. Let’s talk about these.


The people who attend SQL Cruise run from almost complete amateurs within the Data Platform to MCMs who know more than I do about, well, everything. All these people are at SQL Cruise to take part in SQL Cruise. They’ve read the brochures, the web site, and testimonials from people like me. They know that this is an opportunity to get their learn on in a way they won’t get elsewhere. This means those people show up demanding the best out of you. They want you to deliver information that will be useful to them, and they’re going to pay attention to what you say. They ask questions. They engage and they engage directly and well.

As a speaker, this engagement is exciting. It means I have to prepare, properly and thoroughly. I have to pick my topics well (and oh boy, do Tim and I go round & round on that). The engagement means I’m going to have a good time presenting. Don’t believe me? Present a session to your wall. That’s a complete lack of engagement. Was it fun? Now go and present on SQL Cruise where everyone is hanging on your every word. It’s a blast.

Further, the engagement does mean that I have to prep well to present to these people. That means I’m learning the topics I’m going to present on even better. I’ve heard it said, and I believe it, if you really want to know a topic well, teach it. If you want to know a topic more than well, teach it on SQL Cruise.


The class-time on a SQL Cruise is currently about two hours per session. Pick a topic like the Query Store and try to present a substantial chunk of it in your standard one-hour time slot. It’s going to be either highly detailed on only a sub-set of the topic, or it’s going to be very superficial. Two hours gives me enough time as a speaker to delve into the topic and explore it. With an engaged audience, I get lots of questions, and still have time to do the entire presentation. At no point am I feeling rushed. I’m not forced to dump lots of things until later. I have the time I need to get the point across that I hope to teach. However, I have even more time because of the follow-up.


SQL Cruise does not simply consist of class time and then bar time. There are also the Office Hours. This is dedicated time to let the attendees and the speakers mingle. You can sit down, yes, with a drink in hand if you’re so inclined, with the people you’ve just been talking to for two hours and have a more in depth conversation. It’s not simply standing in front and dictating to people. These are your peers. Some of them may become your friends. You get to drill down on topics and connect these topics to other topics. With the topics well established you have the opportunity to tie it all back in to people’s every-day jobs. The follow-up turns a typical teaching experience into a much more intimate affair where you can really share in ways you just can’t at an event with 400 people in attendance.

As A Sponsor

Why on earth would Redgate spend money sponsoring people going on a cruise? After all, we’re only going to talk to 30 people. Couldn’t we invest the same amount of money in an event with 300 people and get ten times the impact? If only sponsorship in events worked that way. Vendors would simply fight with one another to support only the largest events because if we’re at an event with 300/3000/300000 people, we automatically get that many eyeballs, right? Nope. It doesn’t work that way at all. SQL Cruise is worth investing in because we get the eyeballs of the right people who will amplify our message.


Working the booth at events for Redgate Software, I’ll talk to a ton of people. At a well structured event, all the attendees will have walked past my booth several times. All that attention probably results in a good engagement with, maybe 10-15% of the event. Sometimes more, sometimes less. I’m not sharing the hard numbers (and yes, we count). That number is a subset, but not at SQL Cruise. At SQL Cruise, as a sponsor, we get all the eyeballs. They’re ours, not just for 10 minutes, but for several days. No, if you’re on the cruise it’s not some long advertisement, but you’re aware of the sponsors. You know who they are. If they have a representative there, the attendees, each and every one, talks to them. It’s 100%.

The Right People

Even more important than the fact that we’re getting 100% of the people to hear whatever message we care to share is the fact that we’re sharing with the right people. The people on SQL Cruise are the ones who can convince their boss, a little against common sense, that not only will going on a cruise be good for the individual, it will be good for the company. You think I don’t want to show these people how we can help them solve problems? Yes I do. Sometimes the person on SQL Cruise is the boss. Do I want to talk to them? Yes. Every so often, the person on the cruise is junior, or just getting going. Do I still want to talk to them? Yes, because these people, along with the others provide amplification. As a sponsor, amplification is everything.


Very few people come out of SQL Cruise that are not impassioned with what they’ve learned. They’re rested, recharged, and filled with new information. They let the world know. Further, many people come out of SQL Cruise and change their careers. I know a large number of speakers, bloggers, writers, all of whom got their start on the cruise. They share. They share a lot. One of the things they share is the messages of the sponsor on the cruise. Suddenly, instead of the 30 eyeballs that I reached on the cruise, I’m reaching a lot more. That’s because the people on the cruise become very active, very vocal, and very supportive of the sponsor that helped provide them with a life-changing experience. This provides a huge impact for us as a sponsor.

Ready To Cruise Again

I’m taking part in the next cruise in January in the Caribbean. I’ve already worked out with Tim the topics I’ll be covering. I’m prepping the material now because it does take that long to get things ready for SQL Cruise. I’m lobbying work to get on the Alaska cruise later in the year. In short, I’m ready to go on SQL Cruise again. I’d sure like the opportunity to share the experience with you. Go here to sign up.


  • I was on SQL Cruise Alaska 2012, and have recently registered for SQL Cruise 2017 Alaska (well, actually my HUSBAND surprised me with a “Oh, I’ve registered you for SQL cruise 2017 Alaska…” comment). It was definitely the best training experience I’ve had to date, and I made friends with a great group of people who were also on the cruise with me. I highly recommend taking the adventure that is known as SQL Cruise. (multiple times!!)

OK, fine, but what do you think?