Sage Summit dropped for Sage Sessions in 2018

I know I may have said this once or twice (or 50 times), but Sage has a habit of listening to its customers’ feedback, especially when it comes to its big events. So when Sage announced last week that it was foregoing Sage Summit this year in favor of a series of local, one-day events, it didn’t surprise me it was based off of customer feedback.

Sage Sessions will be a series of mini-events that are meant to bring Sage even closer to its customers and partners instead of the other way around. In North America, the 10-city tour will start on Tuesday, February 13 in Los Angeles.

Thanks to the help of my friend, Sage’s Vice President of Event Marketing Danielle Cote, I was able to get the word on Sage Sessions 2018 from the source: Van Diamandakis, the executive vice president of Sage’s Global Brand.

Sage Sessions evolves from past experience

Diamandakis joined Sage in time for Sage Summit 2015 in New Orleans and was put in charge of Sage Summit 2016 in Chicago.

“(Sage CEO) Stephen Kelly asked me to make that Sage Summit the biggest and best one ever, and we did that,” Diamandakis said. “We had almost 17,000 people register for it and nearly 10,000 customers, partners and prospects showed up. It was a four-day extravaganza with Richard Branson, Gweneth Paltrow, Aston Kutcher and The Killers. It was really good.”

Sage Sessions 2018 Sage 500

Sage Sessions are taking Sage Summit down a notch. But smaller can be better: Just ask these Sage 500 customers.

While it was a great spectacle, customers who gave feedback generally said it was too much. Danielle told me that last year and Diamandakis confirmed it to me when we spoke.

“Sage has 3 million customers worldwide and most are small business owners,” Diamandakis said. “A lot of our customers can’t afford four days away from their companies and can’t afford to spend the money to go to a Sage Summit.”

The first course correction for Sage Summit happened last year. During 2017, Sage offered the Sage Summit Tour, which brought smaller Sage Summit events to multiple cities around the world.

“Out of the eight Sage Summits, there were two anchor Summits: One in Atlanta and one in London. They weren’t as big as Chicago, but there were a lot of customers who attended,” Diamandakis said. “We took the stuff that everyone loved, and we just picked the best of the best stuff.”

Despite the smaller Sage Summits, Diamandakis said there were still small business owners around the U.S. and Canada who couldn’t make it to the events and was still too much of a burden financially to attend. So alongside the Sage Summit Tour, Sage developed Sage Sessions, which were a series of one-day stops in smaller cities.

“(Sage Sessions) focused on products, hands-on training and really plugging our customers and partners into Sage, making sure they had everything they need to grow their business,” he said.

Diamandakis said the two regions in the Sage ecosystem that picked up the mantle for Sage Sessions were Spain and Canada, with the events in Halifax, Vancouver and Montreal being wildly popular. (We can confirm this, as Samuel Keeler from Jolly Farmer Products went to the events in Halifax, Toronto and Atlanta, and said they were all beneficial in their own right.)

So as Sage moved into this fiscal year, Sage determined the Sage Sessions would provide the most benefit for the majority of their customers. Their plan is to host 50 Sage Sessions in the first half of the year and to plan the same amount for the second half.

“That’s the beauty of these Sage sessions,” Diamandakis said. “It can be focused and deliver the content and go deep on the content (specific regions are) focused on. That way it can be more convenient: It’s only one day and they can drive to it.”

Sage Sessions: The end of Sage Summit?

Although the agendas for all of the North American Sage Sessions have not been published, Diamandakis said they will generally feature an outside speaker, a Sage executives and speakers, networking and a cocktail party.

Here’s the list of Sage Sessions 2018 cities on the schedule:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 18 — Los Angeles. Click here to register.
  • Tuesday, April 24 — Chicago
  • Tuesday, May 8 — Toronto
  • May— Austin, Texas
  • June — Atlanta
  • Tuesday, June 26 — Montreal
  • July — Edmonton, Alberta
  • July — New York City
  • Tuesday, Aug. 7 — Seattle, Washington
  • September — Vancouver, British Columbia

Early bird registration is $29 up to one week before each event. Standard registration is $49. Although it doesn’t say specifically on the home page of the Sage Sessions website, I’m sure there’s a discounted rate to stay at the hotel where each event is taking place.

So while it’s great that Sage is listening to the majority of their customers, what about the customers who actually enjoy Sage Summit, the larger events with the concerts, the huge trade show and the chance to meet with their friends from across the country and around the world?

I know there are Sage customers who are thinking this way. I had to notify one of our customers in California who goes to Sage Summit every year about next week’s event in Los Angeles so he’d have enough time to plan.

“That is interesting and unfortunate of Sage to do this,” he said. “Summit was the only place we could connect with all (of Practical Software Solutions‘) other customers. … We will miss your awesome dinner event.”

We also know that the Sage Construction and Real Estate teams will not be attending the Sage Sessions. Mike Milligan, the director of marketing for Sage Construction and Real Estate, said that a 45-minute block would not be enough time to go over their product segments. Instead, they are encouraging Sage CRE customers to attend the TUG National Users Conference in Orlando and the CFMA Annual Conference & Exhibition in Miami Beach.

But fear not: Diamandakis said that Sage Summit is not going away. Sage is planning on relaunching the flagship Sage Summits in the 2019 fiscal year. That could be as early as October 2018 (not that Diamandakis said it would be in October — that’s just when Sage’s fiscal year begins). Milligan said when Sage Summit returns, the Sage Construction and Real Estate team would be there with bells on.

On the other end of the spectrum, Sage is also planning to host even more focused events — some even smaller. Diamandakis said sage introduced Sage Forums this year, which are half-day events that can be geared toward a certain Sage product’s customers, or accountants or partners. Also, Sage is hosting a larger event specifically geared toward Sage X3 partners.

I know I’ve said this before too: Give this a chance. Sage is doing its best to listen to their customers and partners to create events geared toward the feedback they receive. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to give feedback to Sage, whether positive or negative. Your feedback can help shape the course of Sage Summit and other Sage events.

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