[Linux-aus] Re: LCA, eh

Del del at babel.com.au
Thu Apr 28 08:21:02 UTC 2005

> 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.

True, but guessing your conference numbers in advance helps you pick
a venue.  There are always large enough venues.

>>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.

AUUG was held there very successfully in 1995.  There were a large number
of lecture theatres available of various sizes.  They held it in conjunction
with the Asia-Pacific WWW Conference & exhibition and had over 5000 people
through the doors of the exhibition, with about 900 at the conference.  The
following year it was in Melbourne at the World Congress Centre, and in
1997 it was at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre.

1995 conference:


Here's me, in Melbourne:


sans facial hair at the time.

It's been decidedly smaller (and shrinking) ever since, which is a choice
of the organisation.  That doesn't mean there isn't room in the Linux and/or
Open Source community for a conference of such a scale -- I imagine that's
what IDG are aiming for for next March.  Perhaps LA and OSIA need to combine
forces on this sort of thing a bit.

>>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.

Educated guesswork and both past and present experience.  I help run conferences
quite a bit actually (not IT related) and a larger proportion of the bookings
come in in the last week or two than in any previous time.

Ask the Brisbane LCA folks how many registrations they had on the day.

The largest one that I'm involved with peripherally has typically 12,000
registrations, over 4,000 of which are sign up on arrival.  OK so the conference
is in early August and we close pre-registrations on the 30th June, but it
shows that that last month or so is critical to boosting the numbers.

For someone like me, who has to deal with disruptive clients and things
(have to earn a living somehow I guess), I typically make a decision on
attending something like LCA a few weeks before the event when I know
what's on my schedule.  I guess a lot of Linux using business folks are
in the same boat.

> 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.

Fair point.

I guess people won't show up if they're not getting a quality experience.

> 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.

What do you see, exactly, as the difference between a user conference and
LCA as it currently stands?  LCA is quite technical, but there are many
talks in past and this years' LCAs that were accessible to "users".

Also, never underestimate that users like hanging out with other users.
If you get 100 users in a room then another 100 will show up to find out
what all the fuss is about.

(NB: I have banned the use of the word "user" in my company.  We prefer
"you" or "doctor" or "editor" or "person", whichever seems appropriate.
"User" rarely is, unless you're talking about a drug addict.)

> 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,
> either.

No, but if AUUG can do it, and turn a profit, then so can LCA, OSIA, or
any other such organisation.


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