ConferencePlanning

From CitconWiki
Revision as of 14:26, 14 November 2012 by Zsoldosp (Talk | contribs) (on picking a date & location)

Jump to: navigation, search

How to Run a CITCON

The organizers use a pretty straight forward process for running the CITCON conferences. Below are the details.

JTF and PJ are known for their classic opening speech for the conference. They have been doing the same speech since nearly the inception of CITCON. More details...

Date & Location selection

  • happens on the organization mailing lists
  • location requirements:
    • should have good (international) connections (airport, international railway stations, etc.)
  • date considerations
    • check for other conferences happening in the area - could hurt if there is a similar event just a week ago (or even on the same day), both when competing for sponsors & attendees. Impossible to achieve perfect schedule, but some places to check are
      • meetup.com
      • lanyard

Venue Search

Finding a suitable venue for CITCON can be challenging. It takes some creative searching. As a non-profit conference, we try to minimize the venue cost as much as possible. That tends to be the biggest hurdle. Here are the criteria for a venue that would typically be good for hosting a CITCON event.

Phyisical requirements

  • One larger room, and 3 or 4 smaller rooms
    • We usually have one large room that can accomodate everyone at the conference (125) with 3 or 4 smaller rooms for breakout sessions that run in parallel.
    • We arrange the chairs in circles, instead of traditional classroom style. That changes the number of people that fit into one room.
    • We frequently use concentric circles to increase the capacity in the room.

Where to find to find no cost/very low cost venues

Frequently we try to seek out a venue that would be "sponsored" by the company that owns the space. For example, Bank of America/Merrill Lynch in Singapore.

  • Look at existing communities and the venues they have used
    • coderetreat.org
    • meetup.com
    • classic user groups
    • free to attend conferences
    • etc.
  • educational institutions
    • Second tier but upcoming universities - established leading colleges are not only renting place, but also endorse you via their reputation, and thus for a(n often significan) cost. It works in the reverse with the next group of unis that would benefit from hosting a conference
    • high schools with an emphasis on IT in their curriculum
  • (tech) training companies - they already have the venue & the experience and hosting is a kind of advertisement for them
  • big companies with big offices that are keen on hiring/building a cool IT company image
  • startup hubs/centers, coworking spaces - especially ones that already run events
  • might be worth asking headhunters if you know any that are more than just staffing agencies if they know of such a company

Nice to haves for a venue

  • they have run events before
  • they have an established catering firm they work with

Choosing a venue

  • probably any venue you consider describing to the list is gonna be good enough.
  • having a floor plan helps the committee
  • choosing between multiple potential venues (unless the price difference is enermous): go with the one
    • where the venue people have been more enthusiastic about hosting the conference
    • which felt more responsive during the talks/emails


Catering

The easiest solution is when the venue already has a catering firm they routinely work with.

If that's not the case, just search for location name & catering, and ask them for a quote.

Also, while the word "catering" is used, it doesn't have to mean waiters - delivered food with plastic utensils can be just as OK

While it helps if the vendor's people speak English, as long as one of the CITCON volunteers can communicate with them, it's OK.

Quotes

  • give them our budget - be sure to explicitly say whether the amount is net or gross.
  • also, emphasize that you want the quote with the final number - most firms do this, but just to be on the safe side
  • tell them that registration only closes about a week before the event, and its implications
    • ask for multiple quote variations (different menus) - tell them the current number of registrants and the maximum amount of people
    • that you'll finalize the order amounts then
  • what we need the quote for
    • Friday evening reception (7:30pm-9pm)
      • fingerfood
      • soft drinks & coffee
      • beers (and maybe some wine)
    • Saturday morning breakfast (8-9am)
      • coffee, tea
      • breakfast
    • Saturday, 3 coffee breaks
      • soft drinks & coffee
      • snacks are a plus but not required
    • Saturday, Lunch (12:30-14:00)
      • soft drinks & coffee
      • food - in the past we had everything from delivered sandwiches, pizza, and full catering warm meals

Invoices, Payment

  • AFAIK, non-English invoices are fine.
  • Invoices are due for the OIF
  • available payment options are creditcard, bank transfer, cash (in this order of preference)

Event logistics

  • make sure the catering and the venue people know each others contact details (get permission from both sides)
  • be sure they have discussed the logistics (will there be someone in the morning at the venue when the catering people show up? Or can they enter the building?)

Conference Registration

Once the website has been setup, for example the Sydney 2013 site, the organizers decide when to open registration. Once agreed upon, the following steps are followed to create the EventWax event and link it in to the CITCON conference site.

Create Event

  1. Log in to https://citcon.eventwax.com/admin/account/login
    • For obvious reasons, the username and password are not included on this page. Email the committee mailing list to get authorization to do this.
  2. Click the "Events" drop down and select "New Event".
  3. Fill in the Event Name, e.g. "CITCON Sydney 2013".
  4. Fill in the Venue, e.g. "Sydney Marriott".
  5. Fill the Capacity, e.g. 150
    • We have traditionally always set the capacity to 150. That allows 150 people to register. We expect about one-third no-show. So, we expect about 100 people to attend the conference. Sometimes it is more. Sometimes it is less.
  6. Set the Currency, e.g. "Australian Dollars"
  7. Status should be defaulted to "Open".
  8. Set the Timezone, e.g. "Australia - Sydney".
  9. Set the Start Date, e.g. "Feb 8, 2013".
  10. Set the End Date, e.g. "Feb 9, 2013".
  11. Set the Start Time, e.g. "18:00".
  12. Set the End Time, e.g. "19:00".
  13. Click Create Event.
    • The new event should now be listed in the upcoming events on the admin page.

Create Tickets

  1. Click on the link for the new event.
  2. Click the Edit Event tab.
  3. Click the Ticket Setup tab.
  4. Change the name for the "Standard Ticket" to "Registration Only".
  5. Add another ticket type named "Registration + Donation - Generous Amount - Cover Costs Plus Some" set to $100 (local currency units, i.e. 100 pounds, 100 Australia dollars, etc).
  6. Add another ticket type named "Registration + Donation - Cover Full Costs of One Participant" set to $65 (...see note above about currency units...).
  7. Add another ticket type named "Registration + Donation - Cover Food Costs of One Participant" set to $32.
  8. Add another ticket type named "Registration + Donation - Cover TShirt Cost of One Participant" set to $9.
  9. For all tickets, set the start time to the time when you want people to begin being able to purchase those tickets, e.g. Now.
  10. For all tickets, set the end time to the time when you want people to stop being able to purchase those tickets, e.g. the Friday one week prior to the start of the conference at 23:45.
  11. Add any details you like to the "Fine Print", e.g. "* Note that the date for the event MAY change. In the event of a date change, the organizers will attempt to notify all ticket holders as soon as possible."
  12. Click Update Event.

Adjust Promotional Pages

  1. Click the Promotional Webpages tab.
  2. Set "Use EventWax hosted landing page?" to No.
  3. Change the Return URL to an appropriate page on the CITCON conference site, e.g. http://citconf.com/sydney2013/register_success.php
  4. In the Ticket Order Form section, click Add Field.
  5. Name it "Tshirt Size (USA Sizes)".
  6. Change the Type to Drop Down.
  7. Check the Required box.
  8. Set the Options to "Small, Medium, Large, X-Large, XX-Large, XXX-Large, No Shirt"
  9. Click Update Event.

  1. Click the Event Dashboard tab.
  2. Under Upload New Logo click the Choose File button.
  3. Upload the logo found at http://citconf.com/_Images/logos/001.png

Link the Event Registration to the Conference Site

This section assumes that you are familiar with editing the website. If not, then email the committee mailing list for help.

  1. Copy the contents of the file "register.wasopen.php" and paste it into "register.php".
  2. Confirm that the registration URL matches what was listed on on the EventWax Promotional Webpages, e.g. https://citcon.eventwax.com/citcon-sydney-2013/register
  3. Double check the rest of the page. Add any comments that are important, e.g. <p>NOTE: The venue for CITCON Syndey has NOT been finalized...
  4. Commit the change and double check the live site, e.g. http://www.citconf.com/sydney2013/register.php


Marketing for attendees

Some of the groups & communities below are the same as the ones mentioned in the venue search - not surprisingly :)

  • email usergroup/meetup leaders to announce on their groups (permission marketing a'la Seth Godin)
  • Linkedin, xing (in German speaking areas the latter is more popular)
  • reach out to other events' hosts (e.g.: coderetreat, devopsdays, etc.)
  • past relevant conferences in the area (see how far to reach out below)
  • exchange advertisments/mentions with other upcoming conferences in the area
  • twitter - always make it personal, and take it offline (email) once rapport is established
  • reach out to topical podcasts (e.g.: @foodfightshow, @ShipShowPodcast, and probably a ton of others)

it requires a bit more work than just broadcasting your message (aka tweeting into the void), but not much much more, and once you get the hang of it, you can do a lot in a week, even if you make a daily quota of reaching out to 2-3 people

How far to reach out for attendees?

Not sure about the rest of the world, but in Europe people are quite happy to travel, so having people from Finland attend the conference in Budapest is normal. Starting with the venue location, advertise in an ever growing radius