[Linux-aus] Re: LCA, eh

Matthew Palmer mpalmer at hezmatt.org
Thu Apr 28 07:54:02 UTC 2005

On Wed, Apr 27, 2005 at 09:03:50PM +1000, Del wrote:
> >Growing LCA is going to be a major pain, I agree.  Unfortunately, the only
> >idea I can think of at the moment (splitting the conference into multiple
> >separate yet most likely related conferences) sucks for a wide variety of
> >reasons.
> As does arbitrarily accepting only the first (300|500|2000) registrations.

It wasn't arbitrary, it was a hard ceiling imposed by the venue, and
limiting your numbers is inevitable -- I'm sure even the Darling Harbour
venue wouldn't say "yeah, just pack in as many as you like".  There's always
a limit.

> >Even finding a really, really big venue (capable of holding umpteen 
> >thousand
> >delegates) isn't necessarily a solution.  You need one room capable of
> >holding everyone, and at least one or two other rooms capable of holding
> >nearly as many people (since it can be hard to guess which of several
> >simultaneous talks is going to be the big drawcard).
> >
> >Do we know how the other big Linux conferences (or even other, relatively
> >unrelated meeting events) handle these sorts of size issues?
> The simple answer is that they hire larger convention centres.  They
> book out places the size of darling harbour and pack in the punters.
> The answer to the problem of scale is, well, scale.

Are the DH convention centres really suitable for something in the style of
LCA, though?  I haven't been to a lot of events there, but it seems more
something that you'd hold a trade show in than a largely lecture-style
conference -- large open rooms and suchlike.  Maybe they're hiding the
lecture theatres somewhere out the back I haven't been to yet.

> If you're cutting the numbers off at (what was it?) 550 in Canberra,


> and then in a few years time you're looking at holding the conf in
> Sydney, then expect probably double that.  Interest in Linux is growing,
> not waning, and Canberra could have easily booked in 800 or so if
> they hadn't cut off the numbers.

Do you have any basis for that figure?  It might be true, but considering
that the conference sold out only a couple of weeks before the start date, I
think it's mildly implausible that they would have gotten 300 more
registrations in a fortnight when they'd gotten 500 in the preceding couple
of months.

> If you add an additional stream or two, reach out to some of the
> non-hobbyist community, then your numbers go up again.  Say around
> 2000 would not be unrealistic.

I'm sure if we did all sorts of things we could bump up the numbers, but at
some point we have to stop and think "what is LCA *really* about?".  I don't
think it's ensuring that we have as many people as possible at the event. 
It's far more important, in my opinion, that we provide a quality experience
for the people that do come than to get as many people as possible through
the door.

It might be time to revive the user conference idea.  The problem with
splitting the conf is that most of us are interested in user issues as well
as developer and sysadmin issues.  Having to go to two (or even three!)
conferences to get our fill would probably be way too much -- not to
mention finding three times the organisational capability each year.

> Now if you're charging $400 (avg) per delegate (split between professionals
> paying more and hobbyists paying less), then that makes your conference
> turnover closer to $800,000, and you can start to afford the larger
> venues.  You can also do things like hire a professional conference
> organiser and that takes the load off the volunteers to some degree.

You would chew through a *very* large part of that $800k for a conference
organiser.  And I don't imagine that the DH convention centre is cheap,

- Matt
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