FOSS4G 2011 Questions

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Questions & Answers

Budget Questions

The fixed costs don't seem fixed. The venue cost, for example varies by $17,000 between the 600 and 950 scenarios. Similarly the conference dinner fixed expense varies by $20,000. (Paul Ramsey)
This is mostly due to the fact that we didn't want to put too much effort into such a preliminary budget. In the budget to be submitted for approval, we focused on an 850 scenario (based on my attendance estimates). (Eric Wolf)
Why does the conference dinner even have a fixed expense?(Paul Ramsey)
The Gala Dinner will include A/V and room costs, which are fixed. The catering costs are variable. In the budget to be submitted for approval, we made the Gala Dinner a self-sufficient, separate-fee item.

(Eric Wolf)

Are the venue costs realistic? They seem closer to the prices in Victoria (mid-sized city) than to the prices we have paid in Sydney and Cape Town (international destinations).(Paul Ramsey)
The venue costs are based on a hotel and not a convention center. Not only is the venue cost much lower at a hotel (with guaranteed rooms), but many of the other costs are reduced in comparison to, say, the Colorado Convention Center.

(Eric Wolf)

I would prefer to see pricing that bring the conference-no-workshops cost down closer to the $400 level.(Paul Ramsey)
Catering costs currently make up about half of the budget and represents the easiest area for reduction. Personally, I love "free" food but in this respect, it's not really free. By cutting the proposed breakfast and lunch from each day, I estimate (roughly!) we'd save 3/4 the catering cost. This should get the early, no-workshop registration to $395. If we chose the Sheraton venue, there is a wide variety of restaurants within walking distance to fill in the gap. (Eric Wolf)
AV prices feel slightly high (equal to venue cost?) again, how validated are these?(Paul Ramsey)
AV prices include tech labor at the "everything will just work" level. We may be able to trim some costs here but it could be at the expense of much heartache as we watch the venue and a/v people point finger.

(Eric Wolf)

Is "General Service Contractor" the GITA management fee? I'd like to see the GITA pricing structure in simple black and white- $A flat fee, or $N flat fee + $M / registrant, or X% of revenue, or whatever, but just show it clearly.(Paul Ramsey)
General Service Contractor covers the setup and maintenance people for the exhibition hall. (Eric Wolf)

Explain the $22,500 email / advertisement / mail lists line please?(Paul Ramsey)
This is reduced in the budget to be submitted for approval. But it's there for online advertising (like banners) and purchasing mailing lists. This can be reduced and/or maybe shifted to focus on sponsors and exhibitors of OSgeo thinks their normal advertising would be adequate. (Eric Wolf)
Regarding the previous two lines... if there are budget lines that represent services provided by or fees levied by GITA, please break them out or otherwise distinguish them from expenses incurred to third party providers.(Paul Ramsey)
Why is printing a "fixed price" item? (Also, strip it down, it shouldn't exceed $20,000, even for the 1000 person event). The fixed costs of design and so on are already handled in the previous Artwork entry. If we're planning on spending $38,000 on design services, we should stop that. (Paul Ramsey)
Why is the Welcome Reception a fixed cost? It should be variable based on attendees, no? (Paul Ramsey)
Build in contingency as 5% of expenses, not as a fixed cost.(Paul Ramsey)
Done in the new budget. (Eric Wolf)
Are you certain of 25 exhibitors? Historically FOSS4G has been light on exhibitors? At $70,000 that is a major revenue line.(Paul Ramsey)
On the flip side, do you think you can improve on $90,000 in sponsorship? Victoria managed $115,000.(Paul Ramsey)
In general the conference should, at 950 attendees be returning a much higher profit than at 600 attendees, and the fact that it isn't makes my look askance at the numbers.(Paul Ramsey)
I do not see a mention of a student rate for the conference fee. To me students are the future (and our topics are always more understood by the younger generations anyway)(Jeff McKenna)
Our initial budget was designed for simplicity. Adding more registration levels adds complexity that we felt was overwhelming for the initial proposal (same with workshops). Per Cameron's request, I am trying to put together a more detailed attendee analysis. I can try to factor in student (and other) pricing levels. I know Where 2.0 and other conferences have used discount codes as an effective marketing tool.(Eric Wolf)

Attendee Analysis

I would like to see some more detailed analysis to determine how many people should be coming to FOSS4G. (Cameron Shorter)
I am concerned with falling victim to "analysis paralysis" in over-analyzing where people should be coming from. But a little more detail wouldn't hurt especially since this is an important aspect of marketing to sponsors. I will start a separate Wiki page for this analysis - Attendee Predictions
Do you have access to GITA conference metrics? What can you learn from them? (Cameron Shorter)
Look at previous FOSS4G metrics and try to deduce the number of attendees based on previous metrics rather than gut feeling. (Cameron Shorter)


The sample timetable devotes a whole morning to "panel discussions" and less than 1.5 days to presentations. Due to the huge demand for presentation slots in 2010, it would be better to expand the presentation space.(Paul Ramsey)
Note that with 5 parallel tracks it takes 12 hours (1.5 days) of presentation blocks to fit 120 talks (this is the amount given in 2007 and 2010). I would not suggest expanding number of tracks (width of program) but rather would expand hours devoted to presentations (length of program). Probably at the expense of plenary (closing in particular).(Paul Ramsey)
When selecting a date for FOSS4G, note previous comments in Lessons Learned about budget cycles and when people will be able to access money.(Cameron Shorter)


I like that you state that the LOC will be made up of one OSGeo Board member. In fact I would like to at least 2 OSGeo officers be part of the committee
an OSGeo board member, and also myself as the OSGeo Conference Chair. As you mentioned, we would be there only to provide advice through your process. (Jeff McKenna)
We have intentionally tried to keep the number of OSGeo board members on the LOC to a minimum during the bid process. We would appreciate as much participation as possible from the OSGeo board and the conference committee once the final decision has been made for us to host FOSS4G 2011. (Eric Wolf)


Paul Ramsey suggested that FOSS4G 2009 have 2 days of workshops (which we over ruled and only had one day). After chairing foss4g, I mirror Paul's suggestion. Your closed Source GIS techies will be attracted to the workshops. I suggest 1 day of code sprint instead of 2. By the end of FOSS4G, everyone is drained, and not in the mood to write lots of code. This will free an extra day for workshops. (Cameron Shorter)
I think I see a program with 1 day of workshops, 2.5 days of talks, and possibly 3 days of code sprints. Wow. As someone mentioned, I could see 1 or 1.5 days of workshops, 3.5-4 days of talks, and then 1 day of code sprint (trust me, by the time you get to a code sprint we all have only a little bit of energy left). (Jeff McKenna)
We originally were trying to design the code sprint as more of an "after conference" for code contributors, complete with a separate social event. I have put forward the idea of dropping a "code sprint" and setting up an unconference, WhereCamp5280, to occur immediately after the conference. I am interested to see what other members of the Denver LOC have to say about that idea. (Eric Wolf)


On workshop equipment and costs

  • I see no expense entries for workshop equipment.(Paul Ramsey)
  • There should be an attempt to price the workshops to recover their costs fully (food + space + machine rental + AV support) so that the rest of the conference is not subsidizing the workshops. $100 is not the correct workshops price.(Paul Ramsey)
  • FOSS4G workshops have always included a workstation with software installed and ready. It is a trusted selling feature for our FOSS4G event and I don't want to get away from this successful recipe. Will the LOC consider renting machines for the workshops? (Jeff McKenna)
  • With workshops in demand, we should be charging more than $100, and this extra cost can cover the rental machines (Jeff McKenna)

(Combined Answer) This is becoming more contentious than we originally thought. Two possible answers could be:

  1. A variable ala-cart workshop pricing model (Where 2.0 and GIS in the Rockies have used this successfully). Have two workshop tracks. One with machines, one without. Workshops requiring equipment would be more expensive. Workshops using live systems could be cheaper.
  2. Reducing the "free" food in the proposed budget could cut the registration cost significantly. This makes it easier to charge more for the workshops.

(Eric Wolf)


from traveling I know how difficult it can be to get an entry VISA for certain countries. Is the LOC ready to handle a large volume of invitation letters and VISA related document requests from potential attendees? (Jeff McKenna)
Both GITA and the Denver Visitor's Bureau will be able to assist us with the VISA process. Seeing how the US government gets a little "cranky" from time-to-time about foreigners, I would suggest we put together a sub-committee focusing on international VISAs. The sub-committee could be chaired by someone with strong personal knowledge of the process. (Eric Wolf)