FOSS4G2019 Q&A Full Proposal Bucharest
Questions Paul Ramsey
Q1.1: Your venue + AV quote is EUR66745. You use a number of different venues, have you validated that quote or is it a guesstimate? Similarly, since A/V (traditionally a significant expense) is wrapped in, is that locked down with a quote?
A1.1: Event room prices are not estimates, but specific offers for our event. These were negotiated with each location (all 4 large suppliers) for the 20-21-22-23 August or 27-28-29-30 August 2019 conference venues, (plenary, conferences) and the spaces for social events (Ice Breaker and Gala Dinner). The conference rooms are all suited with audio-video equipment (sound, suitable projection screens). The costs are included in the prices presented. Also, all offers are valid until the end of December 2017, guaranteeing their availability. The final offers for the most important services were privately sent to CC chair (some in Romanian language).
Q1.2: Does the AV quote include recording? If not, what are your plans for session recording?
A1.2: Conference room equipment does not include recording facilities. In order to be able to record, we discussed and considered the support of the Boston team. They own the equipment/gear, and expressed openness to make it available for other OSGeo events, during Boston conference. As a backup, we are considering using the recording equipments already available at our institutional partners (especially the Romanian Space Agency, the Romanian National Meteorological Administration and the Faculty of Geography - University of Bucharest). Their potential assistance in this matter is confirmed.
Q1.3: You are recording exhibition revenue but don't have a budget line for variable exhibition expenses (booth, table, power, network).
A1.3: Regarding the costs of the venues/ares that will host the sponsors, there are two aspects: (1) logistics - it was taken into account and it represents a part of the price of the event rooms (power, tables, chairs), and (2) exhibition costs - layout between sponsor spaces (booths) and any equipment they will need. First cost is included in the venue price. The second one was subtracted from the initial sponsorship estimation. The 50 000 Euro amount you see in our financial sheet is the net revenue, after subtracting the costs related to the booths.
QA1.4: Your venue description does not mention the exhibition area? How does that relate to the track rooms and meal rooms? Is the exhibition central, integrated with meal times, etc?
A1.4: During the event, the sponsors will have awesome visibility at each of the 4 event venues, all of which have generous lobbies and foyers. So, in the plenary and conferences (National Theater and Intercontinental Hotel) as well as in the social events venues (Parliament Palace, Bragadiru Palace), we have spaces dedicated to sponsors depending on their specific categories, as it follows:
- National Theater: The Largest Space for Sponsors (exhibition area) - all sponsors will be deployed throughout the Foyer on the 1st floor at the entrance to the plenary hall (25- 30 stands). Lunch will take place on the ground floor at the entrance of the building. Images below reveal the participants' route that benefits sponsors.
- Hotel InterContinental: The conferences will take place on 3 different floors, each floor having a proper lobby for the sponsorship area. Here the sponsors from the first categories will be present. Intercontinental Hotel will also have 2 meeting areas for discussions with/between sponsors and participants.
- Palace of Parliament: The foyer of the Reception Salon is generous, perfectly suited for visibility of HoReCa category sponsors that will be associated with the event.
- Bragadiru Palace: It has a generous foyer (on the ground floor, at the entrance to the building) and an upstairs lobby at the entrance of the hall. The lobby also makes the transition between the event hall and the terrace, which will be designed and designated as a smoking space. Both can be used successfully in sponsors' visibility and emphasis.
For the venue layout/pictures, please take a look of the images below and the details on Response Annexes 1-3 for more details.
If needed, larger spaces for the sponsors can be arranged at the venue.
QA1.5: You have polled prior sponsors, which is well and good, but usually local non-repeating sponsors form a core part of the sponsorship budget. Do you have target local sponsors, corporate and government?
A1.5: Yes, we actually did engage with the local potential sponsors. In the privately provided table, 7 of those companies are Romanian. We also have the support of various Romanian governmental agencies (see the letter of support + our National Mapping Agency). Those agencies were unable to commit as sponsors because the budget for 2019 is approved in late 2018. However, we do have a positive feedback and they will contribute, at least “in kind” (computers, recording devices, printers, spaces, cars, etc) if not directly with money. Also, from FOSS4G-CEE we do have experience to access resources from our national research and development frameworks. As we successfully did in 2013, we are confident that a grant, ranging 1000 - 5000 Euro, can be secured from these sources for our academic track.
QA1.6: Can you speak to the logistics of the plenaries being in a theatre and the multi-track conference at the InterContinental?
A1.6: The Great Hall of the Bucharest National Theatre, where the plenary will take place is just one minute away from the Intercontinental Hotel where the conferences will take place in 9 parallel rooms (see the map below). Both, the Theatre and the Hotel, are located in the University Square, in a pedestrian area. Also, the 3 floors of the Intercontinental Hotel, where the conferences will take place have easy access: one of the floors can easily be reached by stairs, and for the other two floors there are high capacity elevators.
QA1.7: Similarly with the workshops at their own venue, how does it relate to the main conference sites?
A1.7: The university is located just across the conferences venues (3-4 minutes of walking, see the map below).
Questions Steven Feldman
Q2.1: You say "the continuation of the Travel Grant Program for students” - do you intend to restrict TGP to students? In 2017 we focussed on people from lower income economies
A2.1: That was a mistake. The travel grant will not be dedicated only to students. We will work with OSGeo board to define the target audience for the travel grant program as some recent discussions mentioned diversity beside lower income economies. Students and lower income economies will still have 50% discount (limited to 100 seats).
Q2.2: It appears that your maximum attendance is 1000 delegates? In 2016 we had 950 approx and in 2017 we had 1150 approx, how would you manage if there was demand for more than 1000?
A2.2: The 1000 limit is imposed by the capacity of our plenary room (Great Hall) in the National Theatre (we are talking about the seated “seats”, assuming that all the registered participants will attend the plenary sessions - the room can accomodate more people if they are willing to stand or seat on the aisle steps; not sure if this is OK with the building security rules). Realistically speaking, BLOC is conservative about going too easy beyond 1000 participants as it never happened in the past in Europe (have a look at the chart below - note: from our knowledge, FOSS4G2016 in Bonn was a 900 event, not 950, and Boston was 1200+). It's true, Boston did break the historical 1000 threshold but we have to consider that 850+ attendees were from the USA alone. The European FOSS4G landscape is a little bit different, as we have an important number of national/regional/project based events (e.g. FOSSGIS, GFOSS.it, FOSS4G.fr, FOSS4G Belgium, GeocampES, FOSS4GUK, SIG Libre, FOSS4G.hu, GEOSTAT Summer School, Bolsena Code Sprint, QGIS conference and hackfest, gvSIG Festival, INSPIRE Conference, FOSSDEM, GeoPython, etc.) that are eating away from our target audience.
However, we will be more than happy to see that the event will be a 1000+ one and, if registrations in the early bird registration period are close to or even exceed 500 participants, which would mean the final achievement of the 1000 participants, we have the following options (number 3 being not really a choice but a last resort if choices 1 and 2 will not work):
- CHOICE 1 - keeping locations and space capacities:
- We can rent a new room at the National Theater (the location has 4 different halls of different capacities, from 130 seats to 594 seats + generous foyers) and live stream the presentation from the main room;
- We will extend the Lunch & Coffee Break area to a second foyer on the ground floor;
- For the Gala Dinner in the Parliament Palace, we will replace the Reception Salon with Unirii Hall, which can accommodate 1,600 guests;
- For the Icebreaker Cocktail at Bragadiru Palace we will also have the Terrace available for the event(1000 sqm) with Bar and Buffet, but also generous Foyers;
- CHOICE 2 - adopting a new location:
- There is Romexpo in Bucharest - a space for fairs and events that would allow the widespread development of our event with all the moments included.
- It was not considered as a first option because it is an exhibition space that does not have the capacity to connect the participant to the event with the history, lifestyle and beauties of Bucharest during the event itself; it was taken into consideration only optionally as a tourist attraction at the end of it, but the initial decision can be revisited.
- CHOICE 3 - Cancellation of enrollments
- We together set up a limited event for 1000 participants for 2019 in Bucharest, Romania.
Q2.3: Please clarify your plans to record sessions (all or some?)
A2.3: All the sessions will recorded. Please also see the response to Paul’s question (A1.2).
Q2.4: Will you be streaming any sessions live? If so, just keynotes or all sessions?
A2.4: Live streams will be provided for all sessions.
Q2.5: Your sponsorship target is very low compared to recent FOSS4Gs, do you foresee a problem in attracting sponsors? Perhaps you might consider lower rates or some early booker incentives?
A2.5: Actually, we are less conservative comparing with recent (very successful in the end) FOSS4G events (e.g. Bonn LOC estimated the sponsorship amount to 41000+ Euro - see page 106 in http://svn.osgeo.org/osgeo/foss4g/proposals/2016/Proposal-FOSS4G2016-Dublin.pdf). FOSS4G2019 in Bucharest, in all three considered scenarios, is totally covered by the participants fees (not needing sponsorship to break even). Of course, the sponsorships are important, but, in our scenario, it will add to OSGeo profit and, of course, will allow us to do a better/fancier event, but the lack of this source of revenue will not be a threat for the conference. We are also conservative because of the Europe’s FOSS4G events fragmentation presented in your second question response (all those national/regional/project based projects are also seeking for sponsors) and because most of small and medium sized North Americans companies don’t really have a major interest for the European market (e.g. this is a quote from a reply we got from a US based company “The honest answer is that we would definitely consider sponsoring a Europe-based FOSS4G, but so far we have only sponsored events based in North America. I would consider us a 50-50 shot of sponsoring, most likely at the Supporter or Bronze level.”. The Open Source EO Data Challenge may receive some important funding from the European Commission and the European Space Agency but, at least at this moment, will not be necessarily money that BLOC can spend on different conference related issues but money for prizes, infrastructure, speakers and participants travel and accommodation.
Q2.6: How low would your attendance have to be to require the OSGeo guarantee that you have requested (assume you have correctly estimated costs)
A2.6: Actually, with a few relatively minor rectifications on the budget (mostly on the social events side where we have 2 x 8 hours events with open bar a.k.a. unlimited drinks), the conference will self sustain even with 400 participants. The guarantee will be used only if (very unlikely) force majeure situations will occur before the conference (e.g. war, earthquake, epidemic crisis, etc) preventing the participants from attending.
Q2.7: You plan for 208 presentations sessions, this seems low can you explain? Is there capacity to increase?
A2.7: The proposed number of rooms/presentations is in line with other previous events (9 parallel tracks in 2013, 8 în 2014, 8 in 2015, 8 in 2016, 10 in 2017). However, we can increase the capacity with at least 26 more presentations (1 more parallel room). Note: this does not include the academic track (see answer 2.8).
Q2.8: Do the academic track presentations eat into the 208 general presentations or are they additional?
A2.8: The academic track is additional to the general track. Separate rooms are allocated for this track.
Q2.9: Is there room capacity for 1000 attendees in the presentation track?
A2.9: Yes, the rooms considered in the InterContinental hotel can go beyond 1000 (please see Response Annex 1). The 1000 limitation is related only to the main room in the National Theatre.
Q2.10: How have you accounted for VAT on ticket sales and expenses?
A2.10: We have accounted a 10% VAT for the tickets (net value is 10% less) and all the expenses include the standard Romanian VAT levels (9% for food and coffee breaks, soft drinks; 19% for venue renting and other services).
Q2.11: Have you allowed enough for the costs of a registration service e.g. eventbrite and credit card fees
A2.11: Yes. Costs for registration and card fees are based on clear offers from Banks and registration services. We have no reason to believe it should be readjusted.
Q2.12: Have you allowed enough for further discounts to registrations for students etc?
A2.12: All the discounts (students, low income countries and the free workshop presenters, BLOC members and volunteers tickets) were carefully considered in our budget. If needed, detailed information on what we expect can be provided.
Q2.13: Have you allowed enough for the free tickets for workshop presenters?
A2.13: Yes. See the answer above.
Q2.14: I think the sponsorship estimates are overly cautious which will offset some under budgeting
A2.14: Please see our previous response on sponsorship (A2.5)
Q2.15: 5% is a low contingency, I suggest a higher level, say 10%
A2.15: Actually, our initial quote took into consideration miscellaneous/unpredictables at a rate of 7%, but we found a 5% values in the proposal template and treated it as a rule (the actually figure was 15%). Our mistake. We appreciate this recommendation that leads us to greater caution in the financial area, so we will recalculate the unpredictables to 10% in the budget.
Questions Till Adams
Q3.1: Your prices are really challenging and will open F4G for many attendees, especially for people from economical lower developed countries such major parts of eastern europe. My general question goes int the direction, whether you can ensure this low fees, although the planned event is nearly 2 years ahead?
A3.1: The ticket price was rigorously established on the basis of suppliers' specific offers for August 2019. The next step would be to sign the contract with each supplier and confirm the offer. Also, 80% of the prices are in EUR, the same currency will be paid by the participants, thus lowering the first risk of modifying the budget calculations. Inflation and fluctuation of the RON / EUR exchange rate may, however, influence the budget of the event. Please also see our response to Paul’s first question.
Q3.2: In Bonn we shaped the Code Sprint around the conference. The idea was, to give the people the opportunity to work together, once they are in place anyhow. Do you see a chance for s.th. similar for 2019?
A3.2: As stated in the proposal, BLOC is open to a second day of CS after the conference. Hereby we declare that this second day can be placed before the conference or we can have a 3 days CS like in Bonn (unfortunately, we don’t have such a nice location as the Basecamp). Anyway, we will consider a survey to decide along with the community on the number of code sprint days and the schedule.
Q3.3: Why is diamond sponsor limited to 1? What if you have 2 companies interested?
A3.3: The diamond sponsorship package is limited to 1 because we believe this could reduce the financial pressure of the LOC’s shoulders by creating a small competition between sponsors. If there is only one spot and a sponsor would considering it, then it would be somehow necessary to lock it down as to not lose it in favor of another one. And this would translate into financial coverage for the LOC. On the other hand, there is not much history of having 2 diamond sponsors for FOSS4Gs.
Q3.4: Like Paul I am interested in the capacities. On page 28 you write "Our main venue can host up to 1000 participants." - Are there any alternatives? I can imagine, that a cheap conference (s.a.) in a part of Europe, where it did not take place yet, but which is quite good reachable for most parts of the world, easily can attract more than 1000 attendees. What is your emergency plan? Stop the registration (which might cause financail issues, as you have more early bird bookings, than calculated ..?), other rooms, other venue, .. ?
A3.4: Please see the answer to question 2.2