I am wondering about the timing of a 2012 bid. I have organized some
conferences before, and in my recollection, getting the timing right --
being able to sign the contracts at the right times, when one is able to
commit, but as early as possible -- is critical.
I am a little bit worried that a bid for 2012 is not going to happen until
February 2011, and that we are not going to hear back until (likely) April
2011. This means that from the time we hear, to the meet-up, there is
barely over one year. This is not much time for locking down space for 800
people. Especially, the earlier we are able to commit, the better
conditions we may be able to extract. For other conferences I am involved
in (academic-type conferences), the steering committees try to plan 2 years
in advance at least.
Concretely, I talked with UCSC, and they told me that they would have lots
of possibilities open for 2012, but time for 2011 is tighter; they would
have more constraints for space and time available. We are asking for a lot
of meet space (some place where to meet in 700 people or so, plus 8-10
separate break-out rooms for 80 people or so each, would be my guess), and a
lot of space for attendees. So now we are in an ideal position to enter a
committment for 2012, but if we wait until 2011... who knows?
Also, I am unsure about the logistics of a bid. We send a bid with what
kind of agreement with the venue?
- If we send it after signing an agreement, and the bid is rejected, we
are in trouble.
- If we send the bid without agreement, and in the time before we hear,
the space is sold to others, what do we do? We then retract the bid after
we hear back it is accepted?
- I am not sure if there are other options. We can maybe convince the
universities to keep the space reserved to us, but without a financial
commitment from our part, for the duration of the bid process. This would
be a huge favor to us -- normally, venues never commit space without some
down-payment or agreement -- and I suspect it would be much easier to ask
now, for 2012, than in 2011. When there is only one year going to the
meet-up, universities may be unwilling to reserve the space for us, unless
we are ready to commit.
Other thoughts? This timing issue is, in my opinion, one of the hardest...
When I organized my previous conference (hey, the site is still there:
), I at least knew it would surely happen in
San Francisco, before I started signing contracts.