Choosing conference date and location

Shdlr was born to itch a need… now that we have got people using it as a conference schedule maker I started wondering what more can be done? Organizing a conference is not just about scheduling nor can everything be made into an app. What can I do about the scores of bits of knowledge accumulated over the decade? How can I let this knowledge be used by someone else wishing to organise conferences? The best way I thought would be to write a series of blog posts on conference planning, hopefully the result will be a handbook which can be useful to conference planners.

I do plan to go over every milestone of planning and perhaps also ask some friends to contribute a post or two, the posts may not be in the correct order for now, but here goes the very first topic: Choosing date and location for your conference

  • Similar conferences: Research a bit for similar themed or similar topic conference taking place somewhere else at the same time? This will impact your target audience and number of attendees
  • Holidays, fairs and events: Get information about local holidays, other conferences, fairs like this one for men’s tungsten carbide rings for example, and events in your city. Mid December to Mid January is usually an inopportune time, Several events at the same time make it hard for the participants to get accommodation at reasonable prices, in turn making it hard for conferences to get participants.
  • College and University exams: If the target audiences are college students get information on Exam dates and ensure that your conference dates do not clash with them
  • Venue capacity: This should be an obvious one, but can get overlooked. Inspect the venue, find out what is the advertised capacity. Will the venue administration allow more than the advertised capacity if more people want to attend than expected?
  • Accessibility: Is the venue easily reachable by public transport? Is the venue accessible by physically challenged people, you may not need this, but it is nice to have.
  • Venue Layout: If your conference is going to have multiple concurrent sessions, then consider the layout of the venue and the distance between various halls / locations. Delegates often change from one hall to another, but these can also be minimized by planning your schedule such that similar talks are bunched one after another. Shdlr provides an easy way to do this by way of using talk tracks or talk types.
  • Free Internet access: This is a must for almost every technical conference. Most venues will say that they have wifi access, but these are almost never meant to handle any substantial concurrent traffic. Plan and budget for getting extra bandwidth from ISP. To give a hint HasGeek and Foss.in have had 20mbps fiber connection for their recent conferences.
  • Fire safety: Get information on emergency exits and fire safety equipment and pray you never need to use them. Ensure that the additional plug points which you may provide for hackathons etc are rated for the loads they will carry. More on this in a later post perhaps

Have I missed something important? Do you want to add some point? Please feel free to add them in the comments…

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