[OSGeo-Conf] FOSS4G Discount for Charter Members proposal

Jeff McKenna jmckenna at gatewaygeomatics.com
Thu Aug 14 06:54:49 PDT 2014

Hi Darrell,

I can say that in 2011 I did bring this issue strongly, and very 
publicly, to the OSGeo Board.  I even proposed a part-time position to 
manage the main FOSS4G conference (google 'foss4g advisor' for some 
history and fun reading, all there outlined in a public wiki page forever).

Well, that didn't happen.  And as you just mentioned, it's still needed.

Or, if that cannot happen, we need to realize this, and change our 
mindset, back to the origins of FOSS4G: a meeting of the tribe, cheap 
admission, affordable university venues, bare-bones (essentially what 
our FOSS4G regional events are doing now).

Because yes I agree, to assume a bunch of volunteers can run a ~1,000 
attendee event in the best conference venue in the city and still make 
it affordable for the tribe to attend, will not work.


On 2014-08-14 12:10 AM, Darrell Fuhriman wrote:
> I’m trying to formulate a response to this, but it ties into an e-mail
> that I owe this list, but haven’t had time to send because I’ve been
> busy finalizing the conference preparations.  Also, I’m well into my
> third pint this evening, so it’s probably not the best time. :)
> While I agree the early bird discount is important for the reasons you
> state, there actually aren’t that many commitments that can be avoided
> after the deadline. Frankly, the only significant contracts unsigned by
> our early bird deadline of June 15th were the catering contracts. Though
> admittedly, that’s a substantial portion of the budget – if we were on
> that red line, we’d be jettisoning coffee breaks like ballast in a
> sinking ship.
> I think right now the quickest thing I can say is that OSGeo has so far
> shown minimal interest in actually taking responsibility for FOSS4G. If
> OSGeo is going to increase the demands made on the committee, OSGeo
> needs to be stepping up and taking a more hands-on approach to
> conference organization.
> For the record, I believe OSGeo needs to step up and take such a more
> hands on approach. I’d love a chance to talk about in person at the
> board meeting.
> SotM.us <http://SotM.us> runs very different, and I know from talking
> with the organizers that it was a challenge to break-even this year. The
> difficulty is that as conferences get bigger, they get more expensive to
> put on (primarily because the supply of possible venues shrinks very
> rapidly, and the per attendee costs go up substantially). They also get
> logistically more challenging, and having dedicated resources, either
> employee or outsourced, can vastly decrease the workload on the LOC.
> Frankly, unless something changes on this front, it’s just a matter of
> time until there’s another 2012.  To be honest, I’m not sure SotM.us
> <http://SotM.us> would have been a success if Mapbox hadn’t devoted
> significant employee resources to making sure it was (as they have for
> the past three SotM.us <http://SotM.us> conferences). Conferences take
> huge numbers of hours to organize. The inefficiency introduced by having
> someone re-learn the job every year is substantial, wasteful, and
> incredibly risky.
> Anyway, I’m supposed to be on vacation.
> Greetings from Yellowstone,
> Darrell
> On Aug 13, 2014, at 13:41, Cameron Shorter <cameron.shorter at gmail.com
> <mailto:cameron.shorter at gmail.com>> wrote:
>> I'm open to the idea of providing benefits to osgeo charter members,
>> but suggest having an early bird discount apply to all ticket
>> categories. I'd suggest something like a 5% discount for charter
>> member tickets instead.
>> Note: conferences organisors need to decide whether they will also
>> give such a discount to professional bodies as well (such as
>> professional institute of surveyors). Such organisations often
>> aggressively request a discount for their members in return for
>> publicising foss4g to their membership.
>> There is a very important reason conferences have a early bird
>> discount. It means that conference organisors get an early indication
>> of the number of attendees coming to the conference. This helps
>> significantly with regards to making financial decisions about the
>> conference. In particular, it enables organisors to decide to cancel
>> the conference before having to lock into key financial commitments
>> and potentially sending OSGeo bankrupt. This was very important for us
>> in FOSS4G 2009, the year of the global financial crisis, when
>> registrations were much lower than expected. At the early bird
>> deadline, we were aware that we had enough people attending that we
>> would loose less money by going ahead than if we cancelled, so we went
>> ahead. Without that confidence, we likely would have decided to cancel
>> the conference. (In the end more people did register, and we were just
>> able to make a modest profit.)
>> On 14/08/2014 4:56 am, Kate Chapman wrote:
>>> Hi All,
>>> I think the comparison between the SotM model and the FOSS4G model is
>>> interesting, but it is important to think about the financial
>>> objectives of each conference. My understanding was that FOSS4G
>>> provides most of the funding for OSGEO over the year, this isn't the
>>> case for SotM. Though successful sponsorship programs could possibly
>>> make up the difference between the discounted tickets.
>>> One note, I've worked for a few organizations that have paid my
>>> ticket for SotM. I've also paid the mapper price myself previously as
>>> well. I would have not been able to get them to pay for FOSS4G
>>> though. Some of you may have noticed I have given a workshop every
>>> year I've attended FOSS4G. I would not be able to attend otherwise.
>>> Not that it is conceivable for everyone to give a workshop to be able
>>> to attend.
>>> Best,
>>> -Kate
>>> On Wed, Aug 13, 2014 at 11:46 AM, Daniel Kastl <daniel at georepublic.de
>>> <mailto:daniel at georepublic.de>> wrote:
>>>         SotM finances are based on the expectation that most people
>>>         attending will be ‘mappers’ who pay the lower rate, I doubt
>>>         they make much money from the business tickets.
>>>     Hi Steven,
>>>     I agree that SotM is a bit extreme in the price difference. It
>>>     doesn't need to be that much. But I can speak for SotM Tokyo,
>>>     where I was involved, and there were more business tickets sold
>>>     than I expected and they made up a large share of the total
>>>     revenue through ticket sales.
>>>     My main point is, that for delegates, who get paid the conference
>>>     by their employer, a slightly higher price doesn't really matter
>>>     (it's just a fraction of the total cost anyway), because they
>>>     just pass the costs to the employer. For the employer it has a
>>>     value, if one can see the company name on the badge.
>>>     But someone from nearby for example or tries to keep the travel
>>>     costs low and takes a holiday to attend FOSS4G, such a discounted
>>>     community ticket makes a difference, whether the person is a
>>>     charter member or not.
>>>     I think we should strengthen the value of the community, not the
>>>     "club" of charter members. ;-)
>>>     Daniel
>>>     --

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