FOSS4G2019 Q&A Full Proposal Sevilla
Questions Paul Ramsey
- 35EUR seems low for a Gala dinner expense, have you trued this up with a quote?
The gala dinner we have planned is informal, allowing networking, gathering around high tables, with and without seats, taking advantage of the power of “tapas”-like menu to let all participants to live that gastronomic experience in a magnificent location.
We know a few catering companies that would make an excellent dinner for that price. We do have a couple of recent quotes in the same space and for the same type of dinner with prices that would fit in. On the other hand, we will negotiate with a catering company for all the services so we expect to have a good deal to get the assignment, even at a lower price.
- What is the actual floorplan of the proposed venue? How does the plenary hall relate to the exhibition hall relate to the session rooms? Near, far, connected, disconnected?
We have worked on the OpenStreetMap representation of Isla Mágica: http://www.openstreetmap.org/way/22747446#map=17/37.40795/-5.99994
There is still many things to add there, but you can have a better idea of how the venue is and where the rooms are going to be placed. On page 31 of the dossier you can find the detailed map of all the spaces we plan to use.
The walking distance between rooms will never be longer than 600 meters in the worst case. All the venue is almost flat (maybe 3 meters elevation difference maximum), prepared for wheelchair access, even the bridges over the water. So walking between different rooms should be easy and fast. We also can provide to people who have some kind of disabilities to move using different motorized ways like segway, golf car, electric wheelchair, motorized bikes,...
There are also some floorplans and photos for each room if you want to see how the room looks like right now, although some of the rooms will have a different distribution of seats as we want to perform different activities which requires different seat distributions.
The exhibition will be displayed along the ways between halls, close to the lunch and coffee break meeting points.
- The budget includes about EUR20K for workshop computers. What is the University providing and what are you renting yourself? Where do the spare computers go?
The University of Sevilla will provide all the computers for the workshops with proper internet connection. Those computers are the same students use on their classes, desktop machines linux friendly that can be started with OSGeo Live.
We will have to take care of all the expenses that arise from our activity, including: extra computers to complement room availability (as it is stated in the template: “You will need a handful more computers than you have seats, to deal with DOA equipment and on-site failures, so gross-up the per-computer cost a little to account for spare machines”), extra electricity cords supply, electrical technicians, technical assistance personnel, security, cleaning, etc.
We are also planning to record these sessions, and this will cause expenses that are also included in that budget item. Similarly cost for workshop registrations. Also the cost of coffee machines and coffee supplies are –mistakenly- included here. EUR20K it’s the overall cost of workshops that probably we should have splitted in more budget labels and rows.
Questions Steven Feldman
- Can you provide some more details of the “parallel official schedule outside the main conference”?
Our idea is to provide interesting workshops, talks and meetings outside the FOSS4G scope, but of interest to the people attending the conference. We will get in contact with all the tech and opendata communities in Sevilla to make a parallel free schedule outside the venue (but as close as we can).
This can be useful for different use cases:
- Attendees that may come to the workshops but cannot afford to pay the full conference ticket. They can still make the most out of the tickets, staying the whole week and attending all these free events.
- Attendees that are only interested in specific topics of the conference. They may found other topics relevant for them that may not be geo but still connected to what they do.
- Companies looking for partners outside the geo world (like on the IoT codesprint we have already discussed).
- Companies looking to hire. They will find talented developers that may not be inside the geo world but may be using some technology they need (docker, Java, Drupal, Python, R,...).
The exact details of what the topics and type of events will be are still not decided, as we will work on it once we get confirmation of where the FOSS4G will take place. Usually in Sevilla you can find workshops, talks and business meetings every week from different technologies.
- You propose 9 parallel track with 351 20 minute presentation slots, there does not appear to be any time allowance for questions and for changeover? Previous FOSS4Gs have had 30 minute sots with 20 mins talk, 5 mins questions and 5 mins changeover.
Each slot will be one hour and contain 3 talks. So each talk will be 15 mins talk and 5 minutes questions. Between one slot and another there is usually a break (coffee or lunch) so you can use the break to move between rooms.
There is only between the slots 2 and 3 where there will be no break and we will try to make both slots with similar content to diminish the movements needed. They can be seen as a double slot.
It is true that between talks inside the same slot there will be no time dedicated to movements between rooms, but in our experience, usually this time is used anyway for extending the talk or the questions, so people who want to change rooms between talks in the same slot, have to miss questions anyway.
- Will workshop presenters receive free or reduced price entry to the conference? Is this included in your budget?
We have a 15% of complimentary registrations that could include workshop presenters/teachers, scholarship students, other speakers, sponsors’, volunteers, etc. It will range from 135 to 180 free registrations that the conference committee and SLOC will further detail. It could also be possible to have some more reduced registration fees – instead of free registration-always aligned with our budget provisions.
- Please clarify your plans to record sessions (all or some?)
Our plan is to record all sessions; there will be a fix video camera in every room, workshops included and in the conference plenary and parallel tracks.
- Will you be streaming any sessions live? If so, just keynotes or all sessions?
We will stream the plenary sessions, one in the morning and one to end up each day, six plenary sessions in total, plus the parallel track that will be run in the plenary room. We will design our program accordingly.
- Is there room capacity for 1200 attendees in the presentation track?
We will have two big rooms: El Fuerte (where the plenaries will be) and Circo del Condor. Both have a 1500 people capacity, so both rooms will be good for high attendance talks.
- While the mid range attendance at 1200 is in line with Boston in 2017 (1150) it is well above Bonn in 2016 (950) - I suggest it would be prudent to budget for a lower “low” estimate.
We have calculated also for 900 assistants in our minimum scenario. We have also presented a lower low estimate of 750-800 with a worst scenario budget.
We have a plan to cut costs if we cannot reach the estimated number of attendees. (see question of making the conference viable with 750-800 delegates). We estimate to get at least 900 attendees and that is our base budget estimation. But still, we have a lot of extras this year we can cut costs on if needed without attendees from past editions noticing anything is missing (like the recording of the workshops).
- Currently you only just cover costs with 900 delegates is there a plan in case the economic environment has deteriorated by 2019?
As we detail in page 57, our worst scenario (but still breaking even) would be having 800 attendees to the conference and 400 workshops slots occupied (with 80% of early bird registration). In this case, complimentary registrations would go down and wouldn’t give right to any of the services that have costs, except for sponsors (such as gala dinner, lunches, etc.).
- How might you make the event financially viable with 750-800 delegates?
We believe that 750-800 attendees is still a very interesting number in order to get sponsors, and we assume that we will be perfectly capable of maintaining a high income through sponsorships, while in the case of having less attendees, most of the expenses will be lower.
- Does your budget include allowance for 15% free entrance to students and staff and sponsors?
Yes, as it has explained previously.
- Your sponsorship target is moderately high, particularly if you are focussing on a large proportion of public sector sponsors? Do you have a contingency plan if sponsorship is less than expected? Who will be responsible for recruiting sponsors, a member of SLOC or the PCO?
We will work together, the SLOC and the PCO to get the sponsors. SLOC and PCO have very good connections in both public and private sector and have previous record of success in many open-source conferences. Anyway because the amounts proposed for sponsorship are reasonable low, we believe it will be very feasible to involve many different companies to sponsorship the event.
The contingency plan, if we don’t have enough sponsors, will be to reduce slightly in expenses we can control, like catering or even technical issues that are linked to sponsorship. If FOSS4G 2019 finally comes to Sevilla we are convinced that the expectations that we have generated in the proposal phase will transform into (economic) support.
We plan to reach sponsors from past years but also we want to reach companies that don’t usually sponsor FOSS4G but instead sponsor other smaller events in Spain/Portugal. This way we expect to increase the total number of sponsors, even if they contribute with a smaller fee.
There is also these laws the Spanish and Portuguese Government are pushing through that will give tax incentives to companies which invest in events commemorating the 500th anniversary   (and more laws incoming). This should attract sponsors that wouldn’t sponsor the conference otherwise.
We want to reach other companies that participate in FOSS4G but don’t usually sponsor. This is a longer shot, but we will work on extending the pool of companies that sponsor the conference.
- How have you accounted for VAT on ticket sales and expenses?
Just like it is contemplated in the budget template, we have set net prices for the tickets, but have counted on the 21% VAT in the expenses.
- Have you allowed enough for the costs of a registration service e.g. eventbrite and credit card fees
We are counting on a 4% of the final budget for bank expenses, credit card commissions and that kind of expenses, which should be enough.
- On your mid estimate 1200 delegates you only make a $40k surplus, this is quite low and leaves little room except your contingency. Can you clarify?
We have tried to be conservative with the expenses, and of course we count that there might be expenses that will turn out without being contemplated, but there will be others that we will manage to lower once we are dealing with real contracting with suppliers. It is certainly a conservative and cautious estimation of profits.
- Your sponsorship rates seem low in comparison to previous events Can you explain your rationale for this?
Knowing how companies and public administration work in our countries, it will be easier to get more sponsors to pay less money, than to ask companies to pay bigger amounts. This will give us some extra work, because we need to make many more contacts, but we think is more realistic than expecting less companies to increase their sponsorship fee.
- Can you clarify the maximum extent of the OSGeo Guarantee that you are requesting?
Just on the event that the conference has to be cancelled because of very low subscription or an economic cataclysm in 2019 we deem necessary the OSGeo Guarantee. We should know that circumstance by the end of May 2019. The estimate amount would be around EUR 45,000 (Forty-five thousand euro) that includes fixed expenses. We will have for other force majeure circumstances an insurance policy to protect the conference.
Questions Till Adams
- General remark: although I like the idea to write a story around the proposal, nevertheless, for me it seems unnecessary difficult to find single events and approach the structure. This maybe the cause for some questions, you already answered in your proposal...
The idea to relate the Magellan and Elcano voyage was done to transmit the importance that the landmark of the first circumnavigation can have to our tribes and the general feeling in Spain. We apologize for any inconvenience on the easy reading of the document. Please do not hesitate to ask everything you don’t see clearly expressed in our proposal.
- the workshop fee of 110/160 seems slightly high (guess we had 80/100) or is it per day (w workshops)?
It’s per workshop, but in our calculation, we assume that everybody will pay 110€ (early bird) and we are offering additional 10% discount for people registering to two sessions. It is true the price is higher than in previous years, but we are providing a more complete service and a good percentage of free fees to compensate those who will be in disadvantage for this price change. Opposite to previous conferences, we are providing computers to all attendees and lunch, so the final price will be cheaper for those who attend.
- Just a remark: We did the same in Bonn (computers and lunch) with lower costs. Our experience was, that we did *not* sell out 100% of the workshops in advance. I do not know the exact numbers, but I think it was s.th. around 60% of the sold workshops, the total occupancy was about 80%.
- the total calculation seems a bit risky to me (e. g. 1200 participants, 40k surplus) - where are the levers that reduce your risk except to increase the participation fees?
As we have stated in other questions, we have tried to be quite cautious with planning the expenses, and our intention is to negotiate those prices to put the costs down. We think we can make a bigger surplus for the same number of attendees. We think that it is safer to calculate on higher costs and lower profits at the beginning and then turn those numbers around. In fact, part of the risk is already calculated on the budget as an added percentage per cost. Profit that came from lowering the costs in the final price (which we are confident we will have) will be revenue for OSGeo.
- Just to clarify: I am not considering the minimal revenue, I have worries, that your low surplus may turn into a loss, if anything unforeseen happens. That was the reason for the question. I agree with your idea of conservative cost estimation, that's what we did in 2016 as well. On the other hand I agree with Steven, who already noted, that your sponsorship estimations are targeted too high. Especially in this field I gathered some experience and I know about the difficulties of collecting sponsorship money, perhaps this is a german issue, but perhaps this is an European issue as well ..? Perhaps you can do a re-calculation, where you cut down sponsorship income by 25% or 35% and see, if your proposed fallbacks of cutting costs will work, without rising entrance fees?
- Does Gala Dinner mean Gala Dinner or is it also somewhat socializing (I think this is an important point. If x hundred people are seperated by fixed seats on tables, socializing is difficult (I think the Gala Dinner of the 2010 Barcelona event is an example for what I fear, socializing took place in front of the door, not really inside)
We fully agree with your thoughts about the need of socializing. Intentionally the gala dinner is made in a format that allows exchange and networking (cocktail). Although there will be many high tables and stools or other type of chairs, (plus some contingency tables for people who need it), there will always be people who have to stand. That doesn’t mean that we’ll not enjoy very abundant and good quality food, nicely prepared as we can expect from a Gala Dinner. The space we have chosen it’s a perfect venue for this kind of dinner. The idea is to have a dynamic dinner, where people moves around the food and beverage while socializing.
Please see also our previous answers regarding the dinner.
- 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?
Having a CS during the whole week is not planned at this point, but we see no reason not to do it. If there are enough developers interested in a CodeSprint during the week, there is a building just in front of the venue we can use for having a CodeSprint during the week. We have negotiated the use of some of its rooms before for free for other events, as long as it is something that contributes to the community and has no fee entry (as it is the case). If the building is not available during the whole week, we can try to look for other similar spaces close to the venue (less than 30 minutes walking) that we can use for free, as long as the CS is useful for the community and is free (which, again, is the case).
We were preparing some of the smaller rooms as rest rooms so people can work with their laptops if they want during the conference. And if the weather is nice (which statistically is very probable), working on the tables under the trees is also a nice option for developers who want to work. So maybe there is no need for a specific room for the CS in a different building? If the Conference Committee or the developers think it is useful, we can arrange it. If for this extra space we want to add free food, beverages or something extra than internet, a few tables and chairs, then we will have to rearrange the budget to accomodate it (maybe some special sponsor for this?). But a basic space for working could be arranged easily for free, if there is a need for a specific space outside the venue.
- In chapt. 7.3. you write "We will try for students to engage on the codesprint so that they can learn how a codesprint works and interact with other developers [...]" - How will you do this, especially if the CS is only one day (which at least is quite enough for the people in the projects to say hello to each other)
Our base goal for students in the CodeSprint is just to make them see how a CS works. Even if they just sit there, see the interactions and learn how to report/test bugs, that will be a success from our perspective.
Depending on how many volunteers to mentor those students we get (we will look for local mentors to let OSGeo developers free to do their tasks), we will be able to introduce those students to more complex tasks and even maybe make them interested enough to repeat the experience themselves later.
Our “hidden” goal here is to make students aware of FOSS4G, show them how fun it is to collaborate and make them want to contribute later (or even move their career paths to FOSS4G!).
Of course, the idea is to interrupt as less as possible the work of current developers during the CodeSprint.
- Looking at your sponsor's list: I think it's kind of unfair only to plan to mention the top level sponsors and let them present in the plenum. My opinion: In the end the day is as follows: We are a community of small to mid-sized companies, that are often willing to sponsor our events. If we only give big visibility to the "big players", none of the companies, that comes from our own community, that actualy support our projects will be mentioned - in relation, 8k for Gold for a small company is much more money, than 20k for google (e.g.). So my question is: Are you planning to give also small/mid-sized companies, that sponsor the event, more visibility?
This is something we can work further to make a very appealing sponsorship deal. We agree with your considerations about SME’s. We will, of course, give high visibility to all of our sponsors, each one according to the level of sponsorship, be it through the logo in all of the venues banners, electronic sites, through the programme, through our media associates, etc.
It is true that diamond, platinum and gold will have presence on the plenary sessions, but we will allow silver and bronze to have presence in the side tracks. This means we will allocate some time for them to present their projects and goals.
There will also be more visibility through the Business to Business tracks. We will reach sponsors first to check what their interests on B2B are to try to match and make the conference profitable for them. One of our ideas is to have coffee-bar like sessions on one of the smaller rooms (not one of the nine parallel track rooms), where our sponsors can have a relaxed meeting with some of their potential customers or partners or whatever focus group is interesting to them. The details of each session will be arranged with each sponsor. This is part of the "experimental gamification" we are trying to introduce in FOSS4G to help people interact with each other and make it more profitable for companies.
We thank you for your comments and we’ll give it a second thought to make it attractive for all kind of sponsors.