Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Running a developer event - venue

My biggest piece of advice to anyone looking to run ANY event
Get your venue sorted FIRST

That’s about it really, except a few other things to consider;

suitable for the Event

Make sure you focus on venues that fit your event, there is no use chasing a venue that is not suitable, if you can go to the venue before you say yes or put cash down, expect to out a deposit down well in advance of the big day, to secure the booking.
Keep in contact with the venue, make sure you know what they need from you and that they know exactly what you are expecting them to do.
When you go to the venue, try and imagine how the event will run in your head, ask about everything you may need and make sure anything verbally agreed is also bounced around in emails too.


This will set your cost per person straight off.
In London its going to be a lot more than in the sticks, saying that you wont get as many people travelling to somewhere that doesn’t have a train for example.


Public transport is a must, if it’s out of range to walk, then is their parking?


If you plan to run the event over night or not, people may want to stay the night before to save an early trip. I used a hostel as an option for anyone who didn’t want to kip on the floor. Saying that a few said they would have crashed on the floor if they had to. Also I could have saved a lot of cash by booking beds rather than dorm rooms that were not full due to last minute drop outs.
I was very lucky when I found www.hammersmithriverside.co.uk, this was all down to an opportune email. They allowed me to use the venue overnight (this was the biggest hurdle for dev4good, I wanted people to be able to work through the night if they had to (or sleep for free). I spoke to a few businesses and insurance was the problem, so was security. I tried real estate agents as well, looking for empty buildings, but again insurance and security were the problem.
I also looked into YHA hostels, as the initial event idea was for it to be a code retreat, but there are very few that have an internet connection (even 3G) and even fewer that are close to civilisation – they are a very cheap option though.


Can you get the internet, is their 3G, how many people are you planning to have on site?
We had 25 people using 2 wifi points on the same Adsl and we crashed this quite regularly. One team ended up in the pub next door using theirs for a few hours. If you are using a corporate venue this probably wont be an issue, but do go wandering around your venue and make note of any ‘public’ wifi spots, cafes etc


After the venue itself this is the second biggest cost, at dev4good I covered all food costs + coffee/tea/biscuits through the venue’s kitchen. We ordered pizza in on day 2 as it is a pre-requisite for any coder event.


I didn’t have one, but its always worth having a backup in mind, especially if you are booking a long way in advance, don’t stop looking for other venues, you never know hen you might need them.
If you have any questions, tweet @chillfire and I will see what I can help with

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