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RubyConfAU - Lessons Learned

It’s the Wednesday after the Saturday that followed the week that was RubyConf AU 2015. Here at Lookahead we practice what we preach and being part of the Ruby community here in Australia is more than just showing up.

Pat beat us to the punch in a very long thank you post and we also want to thank everyone involved! Given we helped run the 2014 conference in Sydney, we thought that we’d outline some of the things we did differently this year. We hope this will help the future organisers.

Sponsorship

One of our jobs was to make sure that we reached out to the Ruby community and asked for help from the companies that exist within it. We increased the sponsorship levels this year, and sold all the major ones and most of the minor ones. We decided to allocate naming rights to the opening party, social events and the picnic & closing party to the major sponsors which gave them visibility above and beyond their slide mentions.

Delegation

In 2014, the only outside help we got was from a travel agent to book speaker flights. This year, along with a travel agent, we enlisted the help of Event-ism. Deb and her crew were amazing. Organising the nitty gritty parts of a conference is not something that Rubyists do very often (although Pat does have a history of this). Having Deb in charge of the low level operations and elevating the four of us to “3rd level support” seemed to be a smart move and made the days run very smoothly. The amazing Liam Esler curated a bunch of volunteers that helped lighten the load as well.

No WiFi

The internet connection in Luna Park in 2014 was awesome. We weren’t sure that we could get a decent connection into the venue, so we decided to skip it. I have to say that the combination of 20 minute talks and no wifi *seemed* to have everybody paying attention all the time. I was sitting up the front and seeing ~450 pairs of eyeballs consistently focussed on the stage was amazing.

Social Events

Building on the back of the awesome speaker dinner in 2014, we decided to up the ante and run a whole bunch of them. Each dinner had two speakers at it, and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Asking the conference goers to pay a small amount worked well too. Very few no-shows. We ran a family picnic on the Saturday and I was delighted to see how many people came along with their kids and partners. So much fun.

Overall, we are very happy with how things went. The twitter feedback suggests so too. Of course, if there is anything you think we could have done better, we’d love to know.

Matt & Melissa