ConferencePlanning

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For details on administering this wiki and website, look at Administering the CITCONF.COM website

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

Marketing for attendees

Our goal is to "sell out" the conference at 150 registrations.

Expect at least a 1/3 no-show rate. We believe around 100 in actual attendance is the right size for a great event. That's why we limit to 150 registrations.

IMPORTANT: Advertise, advertise, advertise. Get the word out. Push the committee to help you advertise!!!

In order to sell out registrations and get a broad and diverse mix of attendees, these are some channels for advertising the conference:

  • 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)

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

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

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.

Physical 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
  • ask local commerce chambers and/or municipal/governmental Tourism, Events and Economic Development offices if they have any suggestions

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


Once a venue has been confirmed

  • establish a point of contact at the venue for logistics.
  • have local venue coordinator send and introductory email to the logistical point of contact and the sponsor@citconf.com mailing list, including the conference organizers.
  • conference organizers will send the following email to the logistical contact at the venue:

Thanks for hosting CITCON (Year and City)!

We are excited to work with you on this event. As a venue sponsor (Venue Name) receives all of the benefits of a full conference sponsor.

Could you please send us both a web ready logo (jpeg, tif, or gif) and a print quality logo (eps or ai)? We will use these on the conference website, posters, and T- shirts. Also, can you please lets us know what web address you would like your logo to link to.

Here are a few things we would like to check on to get started:

1. Do you have any preferred catering vendors?

2. Are you willing to receive delegate give away items from event sponsors and hold them until the event? (They wouldn't arrive until shortly before the day of the event.) If so, to what address and to whose attention should these item be sent?

3. What items A/V and other items are available for conference use? i.e. projectors, microphone/sound system, white boards, ect.

4. Is access to the building limited, is there security, will we need cards or pass codes? Is security aware that we are going be there (e.g.: if normally they don't provide weekend personnel, they might need to do so 'coz of the conf. See Helsinki)

Thanks again for your help!

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.

For examples, see Menu from CITCON Sydney 2013 and Menu from CITCON Budapest 2012.

Quotes

  • give them our budget - confirm budget on CITCON-committee mailing list - 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
    • you'll finalize the order amounts one week prior to the event
    • ask for a complete breakdown of items included, have them specify any potential food allergy items i.e. shell fish, gluten free, peanuts, tree nuts, etc.
  • what we need the quote for
    • Friday evening reception (19:30-21:00)
      • delivery time 19:30
      • i.e. finger-food, canapés, hors d'ourves, pizza
        • plates, napkins and utensils need to be included
      • soft drinks, coffee, water
        • cups and ice need to be included
      • beers (and maybe some wine)
        • glasses need to be provided
    • Saturday morning breakfast (9:00-10:00)
      • delivery time 8:30
      • i.e. danishes, croissants, muffins, fruit
        • plates, napkins and utensils need to be included
      • coffee, tea, juices, water
        • cups and ice need to be included
    • Saturday beverage service - all day
      • coffee and tea
        • cups need to be included
      • snacks are a plus but not required
    • Saturday lunch (12:30-14:00)
      • delivery time 12:00
      • i.e. sandwiches, pizza, full catering including hot food
        • a full meal is required, i.e. chips/crisps or fruit should be included with sandwiches
        • plates, napkins and utensils need to be included
      • soft drinks
        • ice needs to be included

Invoices, Payment

  • non-English invoices are fine
  • Invoices should be addressed to the OIF (Open Information Foundation, PO Box 1812, North Sioux City, SD 57049)
  • available payment options are PayPal, credit card, 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?)

Swag

  • traditionally, there have only been T-shirts
    • taken care of by PJ/Amy
    • color voting happens on the organization mailing list (everyone on the list can vote, not just the current organizers)
  • stickers
    • from 2015 on
    • taken care of by PJ/Amy

During the event

Tweetwall

In the main hall. Normally we use visible tweets, using the following link http://visibletweets.com/#query=citcon&animation=1

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