Organising a conference is a lot of work, and it’s easy to forget about one or two things in the process. This document is intended to be a reference guide for anyone involved with organising the Wine Projects’ annual conference, WineConf. Some tasks are best done by someone local to the conference location, but many tasks are also location independent. A typical structure would be to have one or two local people, and three or four remote ones. By necessity the local team will change from year to year depending on the location, while for continuity it would be best if changes in the remote team are less frequent. As with anything, it’s important to keep in mind what the goals and constraints of the conference are:
- StrengtheningtheWinecommunity.Makingsurecontributorsfeelappreciated, and stay engaged with the project. Strengthen interpersonal relationships, etc.
- Maintaining relationships with related projects, and creating new ones. Transferring knowledge between contributors. Staying in touch with the user-base.
- Since Wine is a Free Software project, and a Conservancy member project, it’s best to avoid proprietary software and services where possible. Typical exam- ples of things to avoid would be Google Maps, Forms, and YouTube. Aside from being inconsistent with the goals of the project, many potential attendees will have reservations as well.
- Choose a venue and date
- Setup a registration process
- Setup a website/wiki
- Solicit talks
- Facilitate travel sponsorships and visas
- Arrange for audio and video equipment for presentations
- Arrange for a venue for the Saturday evening dinner
- Upload video and/or presentation slide to website/wiki
Choosing a venue and date
There are a couple of things to consider here. In the first place, it’s important to start looking for a venue well in advance—many of the other tasks depend on having a date, and the date to some extent depends on venue availability. Knowing the date far enough in advance also helps attendees make travel arrangements, get a visa if needed, plan vacation, and so on.
The project has traditionally mainly used hotel conference rooms, but dedicated conference centres and local educational institutions are certainly worth con- sidering as venue as well. Educational institutions may also be able to provide additional attendees, some of which may also be willing to hold a talk.
In recent years, typical hotel room prices have been around €120 per room per night, and conference room prices have been around €60 per person per day. Attendance is never easy to predict in advance, but in recent years attendance levels have been at around 60 people for the main conference, and around 10 additional people for social events like the Saturday evening dinner.
The time of year is of influence on attendance. Although January or February in Minnesota may seem perfectly reasonable to many long-term WineConf atten- dees, that may not seem quite as attractive to first-time attendees—especially ones living in more agreeable climates themselves. For a potential attendee having to travel a longer distance, only visiting the conference for 2 or 3 days may not be worth it, but if visiting the conference could be combined with some vacation that may be enough to convince them to attend. On the other hand, a nicer time of year does tend to be somewhat more expensive, which may deter some people—a balance needs to be struck.
It’s worthwhile to keep track of the dates and locations of other relevant con- ferences like XDC, FOSDEM, LCA, sambaXP, etc. On one hand, we don’t want to make people choose between going to one conference or the other. On the other hand, there’s an opportunity to hold a conference together with another project. That may be especially attractive if the other project is a Conservancy member project as well.
Setup a registration process
Setting up the registration doesn't need to be done by the local organiser.