Writing the Four Digits Plone Conference Proposal
Here is a little sneak peek in the long preparation process to submitting our proposal.
First steps to conference
In the weeks before the Plone conference 2011 in San Francisco we had a very short discussion "Are we going to submit a proposal for next year?". The answer was very clear "Yes we will, if we get a venue!".
Yadi and myself where appointed to research possible conference locations and create a shortlist. As we visited several conference locations in Arnhem before, the short list was easy: "Burgers ZOO", "Papendal", "Gelredome" and our favorite: "Musis Sacrum".
Calling the Gelredome and hearing: "Yes, it is possible to hire the stadium, we got over 10 rooms available and it will be possible to setup a part of the soccer field and make a stand to seat 6000 people" made me smile, concerts are held there for over 35.000 people.
On the 12th of October the first real visit was made to Musis Sacrum, to orientate and discuss possibilities.
When visiting we where blown away, the possibilities where endless. Big inhouse party location, restaurant and bar facilities and best of all, serveral conference halls big enough to organize four parallel tracks and have a separate hang-out facility all in the same location.
Nine days later the good news arrived from the location, the seven days needed for the conference where available and we could have the entire building for ourselves!
The seven days are needed to locate the three days of conference, two day sprinting and two day training at the same location.
Writing the proposal
In the last couple of years there where several very good submissions made by different sized companies and individuals. There are numerous excellent proposal examples and blog posts. The chapter setup for the conference proposal was easy, doing the research about Arnhem and the requirements was harder then expected, there was so much to do :). In about five weeks time te proposal was written, rewritten and styled. A sneak peak of the "Team", "Venue", "Arnhem" and "Marketing" sections of the proposal is listed below.
In the process of writing and organizing we set up a team, in this team everybody is responsible for different kinds of tasks. This way we are able to focus on the talk program and do marketing at the same time. As we view organizing the conference is serious business, a team will be able to organize it best.
‘Musis Sacrum’ is located in the city centre of Arnhem and is within walking distance from the train station, bus station and a lot of hotels. Musis Sacrum has a large concert hall with 870 seats, a conference hall with 500 seats and various halls for events such as conferences, congresses, dinners, parties, presentations or meetings. It also houses it’s own grand café Mahler.
The venue is big enough to hold 500 people without making it feel too crowded, but not too big to get lost. We have sole access to the entire venue for the seven days of the conference.
Arnhem has been one of the most attractive shopping areas in the Netherlands for years, boasting a range of large chain stores and small clothes shops. There are numerous restaurants and cafe’s in Arnhem from fine dining to fast food and buffetstyle eateries. Through the city there are numerous of bars, restaurants and clubs.
We plan to invest heavily into marketing the Plone Conference. One of the organizers will be responsible for marketing only; The location provides several spots for printed or audio visual sponsor media. This can be at the outside of the building, at the registration desks and in all the conference rooms. Marketing will promote Plone and all people/sponsors making it possible. We will make big banners showing the Plone Conference 2012 logo, the sponsors and the venue.
Switch Conference dates in the dying seconds
In the last days of writing the proposal, Mojo Concerts announced three yearly recurring concerts in the biggest pop-theater of the Netherlands, the Gelredome, Arnhem, exactly on the dates we had arranged with the venue. The hotels in Arnhem raised their prices and availability dropped down in just a few days… O my god, this concert attracts many people having lots of spending money.
In the dying seconds before the proposal was done it was needed to call all available hotels and recalculate availability, a date change was needed! Luckily for us the venue was able to move the conference one week! And now we have already made optional reservations at all hotels in city center to ensure availability and to get the best conference-prices!
Finaly the moment was there, 30 December the last Friday before the deadline, after hard work the complete proposal was finished having a clear budget and all chapters covered. This is it.
Two proposals: Paris or Arnhem!
On 4th of Januari Mark Corum announced there where the Plone Foundation Gets Two Proposals to Host Plone Conference 2012. So we are up against the French!
May the best conference proposal win! I think we got the plan, the location, the city having everything within walking distance and one of the best teams to make a great conference! Fingers crossed!