[Viscom-dev] Event Planning Thoughts

I gave most of the day today over to OSGeo stuff, and part of this
resulted in some discussion about event planning on the IRC channel.

In advance of our regular meeting on Wednesday, I'd like to try to come
to some agreement on our plans for the year. Read on...


With respect to OSGeo's level participation there are three kinds of
events in the world:

* A "Major Event" is where OSGeo is a formal sponsor of some sort. We
host a booth, have multiple speakers, do workshops, etc. This type of
event participation will be coordinated within VisCom. Funding is
provided by the Foundation itself plus whatever sponsorship money we can
get; expenses are in the $10K-$50K range (???). These are considered
"strategic" opportunities for us, and so we should understand well our
taret audience and our messages. There are only 3-4 such events per
year, and they are planned well in advance.

* A "Regular Event" is where there are people from OSGeo speaking or
doing workshops, but we're not an actual sponsor. VisCom can lend a
hand in lining up speakers and whatnot, but we don't have a booth.
These events occur throughout the year at seemingly random intervals.
VisCom might proactively prod people to participate, esp. if the actual
event organizer contacts OSGeo looking for us to take part. VisCom
might provide some funding, e.g. for travel, on an as-needed basis;
typically such costs would be in the $500-$2500 range. We would like to
support 5-10 of these per year.

* A "Local Event" is where a group of OSGeo members coordinate to host
some level of activity at a local event -- it might be a booth, or a
session, or a workshop, etc. VisCom will support this by providing
small funding amounts ($500-$2500) for things like brochures, posters,
etc. We would like to support 5-10 of these per year.

(Note that FOSS4G is a separate category unto itself. That event is run
by OSGeo but not via VisCom, so we won't consider it here.)


The two limiting factors in deciding what events we do are the monetary
cost and resource cost. Some thoughts on this:

- It is important to realize that the resource cost is not insignficant:
for example, even if someone were to donate booth space for us at a big
event, we'd still need to staff the booth and provide speakers and such.

- While we hope to sometimes be able rely on companies donating the cost
of a booth, this is hard to rely on for the purposes of doing a budget
and planning in advance our presence at big events. (Hence, I'm not
sure how to really budget for this stuff.)


We should try and target a different market or message or audience with
each big show we do. Based on last year's experiences, I would start by
suggesting we pick from the following:

  1- Location Intelligence -- focus on business-level work;
             opportunities for us to network, talk, work with future
             players in the geo field, esp. those of not yet tuned
             into the open source message

  2- Where 2.0 -- focus is on whiz-bang / emerging tech;
             opportunities for us to network, talk, work with key
             players in the field, esp. those of high-caliber

  3- OSCON -- focus on other, non-geo open source projects;
             oppportunities for cross-fertilization and
             developer-level networking

  4- a large/mainstream GIS event -- focus on "regular" GIS apps
             and workflows; target audience is "regular" GIS folks
             who we can educate about OS methods and solutions

  5- a European event -- audience could be any of the above 1-4,
             on actual event type; gives us a chance to spread our
             message outside of North America

  6- a Rest-of-World event -- audience could be any of the above 1-4,
             depending on actual event type; gives us a chance to spread
             our message outside of North America and Europe

Given those six, where should we focus? Did I miss anything?


So let's say the "three types of events" model makes sense. A rough
budget estimate, assuming no corporate sponsorship, would be something

  - 3-4 major events at $10-50K each => $30K to 200K

  - 5-10 regular events at $500-$2500 => $2500 to $25K

  - 5-10 local events at $500-$2500 => $2500 to $25K

This comes out to $35K to $250K (yikes).

If we assume half corporate sponsorship for the major events, this comes
down to $150K. A big number, but in the realm of what we talked about
last summer at the OSGeo offsite as I recall?

What sort of numbers is the fundraising committee looking at? Any feel
for this yet?

If you think my numbers are way off, please speak up -- I'm just making
stuff up here...


On 26-Jan-07, at 4:25 PM, Michael P. Gerlek wrote:

  - 3-4 major events at $10-50K each => $30K to 200K

  - 5-10 regular events at $500-$2500 => $2500 to $25K

  - 5-10 local events at $500-$2500 => $2500 to $25K

This comes out to $35K to $250K (yikes).

I'd assume some level of sponsorship for the larger events. For the most part the events themselves will likely give us a deal or we can glean booth space from a sponsor, etc. But the primary costs will be booth material and set-up, etc. I'd also assume local volunteers or ones that won't need help with travel and hotel (big assumption in some cases).

In my mind I saw the breakdown to be more like:

* 1 mega-major event - 15-20k
* 2-3 major events - 5-10k
* 4-5 regular events - 2-5k
* 4-5 local events - 500-1,000

total == 23k - 36k - this is somewhat near the pie-in-the-sky promo budget the board discussed I think (??)

Maybe I'm too optimistic that our sponsors will help donate space, etc. but I think this will work out in the end and we have good indications for some events that we can get donated space - or serious discounts from the venue itself. We are in a good spot where events are wanting us to come so they have someone covering open source at their show.

These are just quick thoughts, will follow-up further later,