Plone Conference 2010 - The Numbers
So, I thought I'd write a post about the final financial figures for the Plone Conference 2010, and our budgeting, and how things went in the end. ie how accurate were we, and what all the costs were. The goal of this is to help anyone else who might in the future be organising the Plone Conference... or any other similar sized, similar nature Open Source conference.
For general background information on the event and its organisation, see the two previous blog posts:
The Initial Proposed Budget
Firstly we needed to decide how many people we would be getting to the conference. This was the hard bit (and the bit we ultimately got wrong). Last year's conference in Budapest got around 420 people, Washington DC before that got 350, and I think Naples and Seattle were similar numbers too.
The conference fee was lower for Budapest, to try and attract as many local people as possible, and there was a large travel bursary available from the Open Society Institue (OSI). We wouldn't have that bursary available and our fees would be on par with Washington DC and Naples. We did think however that we would get similar numbers of people as last year. In informal chats with people they reckoned that quite a few people would be interested in coming to the UK for the conference.
Based on this, we made the decision to hope for 400 attendees, yet be able to break even still with 300, and be able to cope with 500.
The original budget we put together when we submitted our bid came roughly to:
|Total Fixed Costs||£22,650|
|Total per-person Costs||£90 / person|
£300 / person
|Early Bird Rate||£250 / person|
|Percentage of Early birds||50%|
This then gave us the following figures depending on how many attendees we'd get:
|People||Registration income||Sponsorship Income||Expense||PF Fee||Surplus|
One of the conditions of holding the conference is that the Plone Foundation gets a 15% cut of the ticket sales in order to help fund its activities.
Well, as we went along we revised the budget and added and removed things. I also went to Budapest to meet up with Balazs and Judith the previous organisers to find out what worked and didn't work at the previous conference, this was invaluable and we learned a lot from their experience.
We moved the budget onto Google Docs, and if you are interested in seeing the actual budget by the time the conference happened... alas Google won't let anonymous viewers go back through the revision history, as it is interesting how it changed.
In short, we nearly doubled our fixed cost expenses from £22K to £35K as we decided to add more in to the conference. Don't worry, this was done with an eye on the budget, so was not a surprise, but there were plenty of things we wanted to add, and there was some room in the budget for it (see 'surplus' in the table above).
So the final expenses came out as:
|A/V rental (speakers, mics, etc, for 4 rooms)||£8,995|
|Visual Identity (website)||£2,000|
|Flights & Rooms||£909|
|Networking / Server||£854|
|Total fixed costs||£35,295|
And the per-person costs:
|Per person costs|
|Delegate rate/lunch (thistle hotel)||£35|
|Conf dinner rate||£24|
|T-shirt / person||£5|
|Bags / person||£2|
|Paypal fees (approx)||£13|
|Total per person costs||£79|
The increase in fixed costs can be quite justifiably explained. We hadn't figured in the cost for a guest keynote originally. Whilst it was expensive, that figures does include a £1,000 donation to the Bloodhound project. And I think everyone who was there will agree they keynote was absolutely amazing.
We also decided to spend more on A/V and staging, and again I think that was very well appreciated. We had most of the video of the talks up by the end of each day, and the stage did look amazing.
Originally we had thought we could get the sprint and training locations donated to us by a local media centre, but in the end didn't think we could fit everyone in, and since we would be putting all the wifi infrastructure in the hotel anyway, it might just be easier to stay there for the training and sprints. This cost a bit more money, but allowed people to keep sprinting as long as they liked in the evening.
The Final Count
At the final count we had 285 people at the event. Whilst the event itself went very well, I have to admit I found the final turnout a bit disappointingly lower than we expected. We were quite a long way off our mark of 400 people, and whilst the economy might not be great, I know there were a quite a few of the 'usual suspects' that did not attend in the end. We had contracted with the hotel for a minimum of 300 people at the event, so we ended up losing a bit of money on that. We did however have a very good spread of people, from a total of 33 different countries in the end:
|64 United Kingdom||5 South Africa||2 Romania|
|29 Germany||5 Japan||2 Czech Republic|
|27 United States||5 Denmark||1 Nicaragua|
|27 Belgium||4 Slovenia||1 Luxembourg|
|22 Netherlands||4 Poland||1 Jamaica|
|17 Italy||4 Finland||1 Ireland|
|12 France||4 Australia||1 India|
|11 Spain||3 Greece||1 Hungary|
|9 Switzerland||3 Brazil||1 El Salvador|
|7 Austria||2 Ukraine||1 Canada|
|6 Norway||2 Sweden||1 Argentina|
The final financial figures at the end of the day when all was said and done are:
|Total Ticket Sales||£69,500|
|Plone Foundation donation||-£10,425|
The conference is run as a not-for-profit event, and our plan was to keep the costs as reasonably low as we could, whilst still delivering the best conference we could. So overall, whilst we definitely covered our external costs for the event and had an amazing time in the process, if we'd have had around 50 more people attend then we would have covered the cost of our time a bit more.
But... would we do it again..... YES! ;)