[Board] Travel Expenses

Peter Batty peter at ebatty.com
Wed Aug 29 07:49:36 PDT 2012


I think it's probably good to have some sort of rough guidelines but
situations can vary so much that I'm not sure it's worth getting too
detailed with these. The situation of conference organizers and individual
speakers also varies widely.

The challenge with a per diem is that a sensible amount does vary hugely,
not just by country but by city. In quite a few cases, conference
organizers may have a deal with a particular hotel, which often includes
some free or heavily discounted rooms, so they would rather give you one of
these rooms than pay a separate per diem. And also many conferences have
social events which mean you don't need to pay for dinner separately if you
get into those (and some don't of course). I have often done events where
the conference paid for travel and hotel but I picked up food and
incidentals myself. But my point is just that there is a very wide range of
situations.

Also the situation of speakers varies. For some people, especially those
who work for larger companies, the company and/or individual may see value
in the publicity of speaking, and the networking they get at the
conference, and what they can learn from the rest of the program, or they
just see value in a good opportunity to spread the word on what they want
to talk about, so they may be happy to pay the expenses if the conference
doesn't have a budget for it. My point here is that I don't think we should
have an expectation that conferences have to pay expenses in all cases (but
in some it's entirely appropriate of course).

I have been fortunate to speak at lots of conferences around the world and
the circumstances have varied a lot, from me paying my own way
individually, to my company paying, to the conference paying expenses, to
them paying expenses plus a speaker fee. There are lots of other factors
that go into whether deciding to accept including what I think I will learn
from the conference and attendees, what is the audience, is it a place I
want to visit :) etc etc. Again my point is just that situations really
vary, even for me as an individual.

I think what Jeff and others have raised is maybe that we should have some
guidelines to set the expectation that speakers may need reimbursement for
expenses, rather than just having an expectation that everything is free.
This would certainly help initiate the conversation about being paid, which
I think is a help. But at the same time I'd hate to see things switch to
there being an expectation that any time an OSGeo advocate speaks at an
event they have to be paid a set amount (I don't think anyone is suggesting
that, but there's a bit of a danger of things moving that way if we set
specific per diem rates). We need to recognize that a lot of events have
very limited (sometimes no) budget for speakers, so if we as a community
aren't willing to pay our own way some of the time, the number of speaking
opportunities we get will be massively reduced. (As Mark said, this opens
up the question that if we had more revenue then potentially OSGeo could
afford to fund more activity like this, but right now we are very limited
in what we can do directly).

So anyway, I guess my main point after rambling round a bit is that I am
wary of a "one size fits all" solution. I think we should set an
expectation that it is reasonable for speakers to expect to have some or
all of their expenses covered, but that this may not always be needed
depending on the situation. And that there is some flexibility - providing
free accommodation at the conference venue would be a very reasonable
option, for example (instead of a per diem).

In general it always has to come down to a negotiation between the speaker
and the event organizer - if event A says I can only afford to offer you a
room and free entry to the conference, you'll have to pay your air fare,
speaker B may decide that makes sense for her situation but speaker C may
not.

Cheers,
    Peter.


On Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 7:19 AM, Eli Adam <eadam at co.lincoln.or.us> wrote:

> On Wed, Aug 29, 2012 at 5:50 AM, nicolas bozon <nicolas.bozon at gmail.com>
> wrote:
>
> > May be we could get an average amount that previous Ambassadors spend for
> > travelling and  speaking in every continent.
> > I'm not sure every FOSS4G conferences would be able to cover all that,
> > that's why i was telling about the Foundation money.
> > I'm sorry if i was wrong on this.
>
>
> FYI: In addition to US per diem rates,
> http://www.gsa.gov/portal/category/21287, there is also the State
> Department http://aoprals.state.gov/web920/per_diem.asp for the whole
> world.  Although I'm sure these both have flaws, using this or
> something similar avoids the difficulty of selecting an amount for
> each place or an absolute amount that works in many areas.  This also
> removes any debate about the 'appropriateness' of selecting this hotel
> or that hotel.  Other Counties probably offer similar websites.
>
> Eli
> _______________________________________________
> Board mailing list
> Board at lists.osgeo.org
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/board
>
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