I was the events manager for the Drupal Association, for the past few
years, and our conferences have gone from mid 30s to over 3,000 in the
US and 1,200 in Europe. We are expecting over 1,500 for our London
conference in August.
Having outgrown the hotel rooms and free venues that we had through
2007, we set a goal of keeping the ticket price under $400 for the
events that included food. This has meant that we need sponsors to
cover about half of the revenue. We need to have positive cash-flow on
our conferences in order to cover percs such as servers. Even though
it is free software, folks really expect those to work.
It has been tough to define what support activities are appropriate.
We haven't gotten to selling naming rights -- the Oracle DrupalCon...
Nice ring. We do provide an exhibit space and a lot of branding
opportunities in the program and on swag-bags.
There is a certain synergy between us and our sponsors. Hosting
companies, for example, are frequent sponsors and also take part in a
sponsored referral service (clearly identifies) on our website. While
not perfect, it does give us a channel to let providers know if they
are doing a good job. Hosting companies that do not behave ethically
or reliably are given the boot.
While I think that Code4Lib is a pretty singular event, I don't think
that it is harmed by being open to sponsorship. I, for one, would love
to see some major ILS vendor get actively involved, if only to see how
they would respond to being called on every bogus promise of openness
The Cherry Hill Company