[EuroPython] EuroPython 2009-20010 candidate

Jacob Hallén jacob at strakt.com
Sun Dec 17 23:27:46 CET 2006

fredag 15 december 2006 17:57 skrev Nicolas Pettiaux:
> After the proposal for Roma in 2008, I can now say that I propose to
> hold the Europython conference in Brussels in 2009 and possibly also
> 2010. I have spoken about this with some responsible people in a great
> university in Brussels and they welcome the idea, and also this would
> let us the time to find more financial support.
> About this, I restate my resquest to have some figures about the
> previous EP conference, the ones in Norway and in Geneva, for example
> financial, but not only that (eg. budget and its ventilation in
> expenditures and incomes, number of speakers, number of talks in each
> category ...) as well as any good text to build a complete document to
> give to possible financial sponsors.

We have almost always had 3 parallel tracks, running for at least 10 sessions 
(2 morning and 2 afternoon sessions). The remaining 2 sessions have varied a 
bit. In Belgium, people started going home by lunch of the 3rd day, but 
later, people have stayed longer. We can now expect most people to stay the 
full 3 days. Traditionally, we have had at least 1 session of lightning 
talks, and of late we have had 2 of them.

Early on, the length of a talk could vary, taking 30, 45, 60 or 90 minutes, 
but at the latest conference all talks were limited to 30 minutes. I think 
this is a good formula. If you can't bring across the essence of what you 
would like people to take an interest in, in 30 minutes, you probably 
shouldn't be giving a presentation. So, an estimate is that there will be 
80-100 speakers - some people give more than one talk and a few talks have 
more than one speaker.

We have had the keynote speeches at the end of the first 2 days, with a 
conference dinner after the keynote on the second day.

There has to be facilities (room, electricity, internet connection, reasonable 
temperature) for sprinting both before and after the conference. The pattern 
has been that a small group of people (about 10) have wanted to sprint for 
about 4 days before the conference and a lagre group (40 dwindling to 10) 
sprints for about 6 days after the conference.

There are people who are willing to sponsor the conference, but contacting 
them and pulling the deal all the way through to having their ads in the 
programme/posted at the conference and getting paid takes some work, which 
someone has to be willing to do and has to have time for. We are still at the 
level that this yields less than 1000 Euro. This can be a nice source of 
revenue in the future, if the organisers maintain sponsor relations and make 
sure the sponsors feel that they get good value for their sponsorship. In 
2004, I had about half a dozen sponsors. In 2005 I didn't have time to keep 
this part going and it was left more or less unattended both 2005 and 2006. 
In 2006, Google was there as a sponsor. I don't know the details of what it 
yilded, but there was a google merchandise lottery and everyone got a google 

Unless there was a problem this year, Europython has a reasonable stack of 
money, which means that the organisers don't have to take a financial risk. 
If fewer people than expected show up, there is a buffer which can pay the 
bills. (You still need to keep a tight budget and know all costs in advance. 
Things can go really bad in a hurry if you don't.) Another possible source of 
a financial guarantee which we haven't tried so far is the PSF.

For staffing, you have the track chairs who keep tab of their tracks, the 
reception and the tech support. The track chairs are volunteers from all over 
Europe. You need to supply them with written instructions about how to keep 
times, how to operate the equipment and whom to contact if they are unable to 
solve a problem on their own. After that they manage themselves during the 
conference (handling tracks before the conference is a different bag of 
beans - ask Michael Hudson about details).

For reception, you need about 10 people on the first morning, form 2 hours 
before the conference starts until 2 hours after it has begun. This is when 
everyone picks up badges, walk in attendees register and all the unexpected 
problems show up. If you don't have the luxury of having the venue to 
yourself the day before, this is also when you have to put up all the 
signage. After the early rush, a single person can handle the reception;
at least if you make sure everyone gets a proper invoice to print at 
registration time (what a proper invoice is, you can find in the archives of 
the europython mailing list, I wrote an extensive description). Otherwise you 
will have one person fully occupied doing invoices for people and still have 
invoices to send out after the conference. Bad move.

In 2004 I had some volunteer students from Chalmers. This did not work out all 
that well, because 2 out of 4 showed up late. From being understaffed, we 
became extremely understaffed.

In 2005 I sent the developers of my company to staff the reception. This 
worked extremely well and I had time to attend talks, be sociable and make 
sure things were runing smoothly.

In 2006, the initial rush was handled by the CERN professional conference 
support staff. Tres cool. After that, I think the job of reception was split 
between 3 people, which meant that they were tied up more than I think is 

I'm afraid there are no good texts to present to financers. We can supply the 
raw data, but the texts you will have to come up with yourself.

In any case, I think that both Rome and Brussels would be fun places to have 
Europython. The one thing I worry about is cost of accomodation. Europython 
really strives to be affordable for students and people from the not so rich 
countries in Europe. In Sweden, we had reasonably priced accomodation in the 
student residence area, and CERN had its hostel. Vilnius is still quite 
moderately priced in general.

Best regards

Jacob Hallén

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