Why is this conference in Chicago, and who decided?
After four consecutive years on the West Coast (three in Portland and one in Mountain View), the sense of the community was that we needed a change of venue. Accordingly, the conference headed eastward for DjangoCon 2012 and 2013. Delegates to DjangoCon 2011, the last event held in Portland, had opportunity to voice their preference for future locations through a post-conference survey. Chicago was the overwhelming favorite.
Chicago is an expensive city. Did that factor into choosing a location?
Of course it did. Chicago is well-known to be a fairly expensive place to conduct any sort of business – including conference attendance. Our sense of the community, coupled with the 2011 survey results seemed to indicate this wouldn’t be a huge factor. The second most favored locations we surveyed were New York and Washington. Houston, a lower-cost city for a variety of reasons, came in dead last place by a large margin.
Why did we have to go downtown – wouldn’t the airport have been more affordable?
Sure, the conference would have been a bit less expensive were it to be held at O’Hare. From the conference production perspective, the venue expenses would have been less. However, from the delegates’ perspective the airport location provides less flexibility around total expenses. There are few hotels within walking distance, offering much less range in amenities and costs. Choice of a hotel away from the airport means renting a car or daily reliance on mass transit. Transportation to downtown for evening activities can be expensive, whether denominated in time or money. From the perspective of production costs (and, by extension, ticket prices) O’Hare is still in Chicago and subject to the same taxes, fees, work rules, etc. that add expense. Audio-visual, internet and other infrastructure costs are about the same in town or at the airport.
Why are ticket prices so high this year?
Most of the costs associated with producing the conference (70-80%) are fixed – these include the venue rental, A-V, Internet/wi-fi, staff, logistic expenses and conference-related events (receptions, etc.) These services are provided to us at full retail, and there is little room for negotiation. Ticket prices are calculated as a function of the estimated costs and the expected number of delegates attending.
Who is making money from DjangoCon?
Mostly the venue and event-related vendors. If the conference is a financial success the proceeds are shared between the Foundation and the producer. If not, the costs are absorbed by the producer.
Is this a one-time deal, or will the conference be permanently expensive?
Next year's conference will be in Portland, Oregon. Not only did Portland poll well in the 2011 delegate survey, it rates as one of the lowest cost (for business travelers) destinations in the U.S. Of interest to some delegates it rates as an international beer, wine, and outdoor recreation destination. In 2015, DjangoCon US will be in Austin, Texas - another reasonably-priced venue.
Our goal is to return prices to pre-Chicago levels and keep them there for the indefinite future.
What is the Django Software Foundation's role in the conference?
The DSF and The Open Bastion are partners in the sense that this event is produced for the Django community, with the blessing and support of the DSF, and under a (competitively awarded) contract. TOB has undertaken to shoulder the financial risks related to, and provide professional management for, the DjangoCon US 2013 event.
This would be tough for me financially, do you have any assistance available or ideas on how to cut costs?
We have identified several traveler's hotels within reasonable walking distance of the conference venue. These are listed in Budget .. Alternative Lodging. We're also attempting to negotiate discounted rates in other venues on behalf of the delegates.
Delegates interested in sharing accommodations can connect via the wiki available in Budget .. Room Sharing Wiki.
Mass transit options (including transportation to/from the major airports) are listed in Budget ... Transit.
The Open Bastion has donated $10,000 of financial assistance to delegates who require it; the current plan is to offer partial scholarships to recipients to be determined by the DSF. We plan to provide sponsors with the opportunity to contribute additional funds. Please contact Lynn Root (DSF's delegate) [email protected] directly with your request.