A list of what needs to be completed by each point approaching an upcoming GUADEC conference.
Provide an estimated budget (budgets from previous years will help you here)
ASAP after bid is accepted
Define infrastructure needs with the venue (essential for defining scope & budget)
- Plan budget spending based on conservative estimate
Get a website online with basic information: what, where, when. Link to previous editions, list previous sponsors, whatever. A static page is fine, but your conference doesn't exist until it's online. Important for sponsors, attendees, keynotes…
- Get a sponsor document together, define sponsorship levels and programmes
Define a keynote wishlist, and start contacting prospective keynotes. It's always good to get an early confirmation, and add it as news (with photo & bio) on the website
- Create list of potential sponsors, and get requests in for sponsorship
End of previous calendar year
- Fix the dates for the conference
- Big sponsors should be mostly finalized by now
End of January
- Start collecting content
Web infrastructure for accepting content proposals (call for papers) - should have form-based submission & review process to avoid grunt work
- Web infrastructure for the site in general is important now (registration, news)
- Week 7 (Monday): Open call for papers (depends on infrastructure availability)
Define conference format so you know how many talk slots you have available to fill (essentially, create empty schedule). Allow for foundation AGM, keynote plenary sessions, lightning talks, conference opening & closing, lunch breaks, coffee breaks, time for changing sessions (5 mins).
- Add information to the website on getting to GUADEC, start contacting hotels for block bookings
End of February
- Delegates start looking for travel options and planning Summer vacations
- Get travel information and recommended dates online
- Gather suggested accommodation list, group book a cheap accommodation option for sponsored attendees
Explain the schedule - at this stage it can be empty, but people decide their arrival & departure dates based on content
- Finalise keynotes around now and book their travel
Start gathering press contacts (local and international) and ensure they're present if possible. Education of local media. Some press releases & a press pack on the conference might be useful, but personal contact is more so.
End of March/mid April
- Content finalised
- Week 29 (Sunday) - Close call for papers.
- Allow 2 weeks for deciding on papers. Avoid temptation to accept more papers than slots.
- Leave 4 or 5 slots for "Breaking news" - partner announcements, late submissions that you must accept, essential stuff that comes up between March and July. Fill these only with really compelling content
Start defining social schedule - budgets for social occasions should be defined, start looking for venues & activities now.
Confirm sponsored participants & cheap accommodation option for them
April on - detail work
- Ensure all the printing, t-shirts, etc. are done. Design badges with useful local info on them + schedule
- Confirm stands, if there are any.
- Ensure drinks and food are available near the site
Organise delivery of sponsor material & gifts
Co-ordinate with companies & sponsors to see if there is anything press worthy to announce during conference. Potential press releases.
Ensure that keynotes & advisory board members are met at the airport & taken to hotels
- Co-ordinate a press team
- Line up interviews on request for press
- Co-ordinate with local government to see if there's a welcome address or something
Co-ordinate board & advisory board meetings
- Local info for attendees
- Co-ordinate conference volunteers (video, time-keeping, welcome desk, merchandising sales, testing equipment, work with A/V guys on-site)
- Set up conference office (printing, phone/cellphone, storage of materials, etc)
And all the rest...
FINAL PHASE - The last month you WILL be extremely busy with endless small details and you want all the previous milestones already out of the way.
- Final preparations (signaling, office setup, equipment testing, volunteers organization...)
EVENT - The day GUADEC starts you won't need more milestones, just a written checklist. May The Force Be With You.