For the past two days, I was totally engrossed in Search Engine Strategies (SES) Toronto show. My hat goes off to this years conference organizers at Incisive truly came through and took all the negative criticism from the past couple of year and turned it around.
Change from the Toronto conference centre to the Sheraton Centre was by far the biggest improvement. No longer were attendees and speaker subjected to the dungeon like bottom floor of the convention centre, but instead were treated to a much warmer environment even if it was all virtually on the bottom floor as well. Perhaps it was just the lighting and the cushy carpeted floors, but it just worked better and there were not (or at least I couldn't find them) black holes where you cellphone wouldn't work.
As usual, the quality of speakers was fantastic as usual and Andrew Goodman who chaired this event did an excellent job developing the session topics. Grant many of the session were very basic, but there were a few sessions and frequently at least one panelist who took it to the next level.
One change I did notice this year was the background of the attendees. In past year there were many do it yourself business types at the event trying to figure out how to do SEO and PPC on their own. This time around there was the usual independent SEO consultants and some agency types, but many more people who were from medium to larger business who are the ones being tasked with implement SEO or paid search campaigns.
But no conference takes place with out a few criticisms. The biggest one I heard and agreed with was the location of one of the 3 session rooms. It was far way (about a 5 minute walk) from the may area. Attendees and/or speakers not paying attention to which room they needed to go to were frequently seen rushing to these rooms or getting there late. The distance from the main conference area to the speakers room had the same problem. While this was a inconvenience for most speakers, on the positive side this forced many of the speakers who usually disappear to the speakers room to remain in the conference area and opened up the lines of communication with all the attendees.
There are numerous blog posts and tweets on the session specifics so I would take up any more of your time, just simply search on SES Toronto for the blog post or #sesto in Twitter for more information