Image:BLUG 2011: It’s a wrapThis 3rd big BLUG event is the second one I've organized, and I made 2 wrong assumptions:

  • It would be a lot easier, because I had done it before, and all bases were covered (website, workflow & mailing-tools, ...)
  • A two days event would be the same effort as a 1 day event
Well, the first one was partially correct. But still, it's a pretty big task, and involves a lot of things to think about. I decided to work with ToDo lists (Think on my iPad), and that helped a lot. I certainly felt more in control, and at ease.
I really miscalculated on the 1-day vs 2-day duration: you need more than twice the speakers, and as we had to find a bigger (read: more expensive) venue, we needed more sponsors too. Now, don't get me wrong: I got enough abstracts in to fill the 40+ slots. I could even be picky. Our sponsors for 2011 where very generous too. No, what I underestimated was the serious increase (more than double!) in communication (mostly emails).
This was the first time we had to deal with a regular (conference) hotel, but the hotel staff, especially Dalia, were a pleasure to work with: very professional, approachable and keen to help. The Crowne Plaza in Antwerp was an excellent choice: easy to reach, lots of car parking, close enough to the city center, and above all, an almost perfect conference room layout.
Next to the sessions and sponsor area to organize, there are the 'after-hours' social events too: speaker & sponsor dinner and city trip.

The day before the actual event there is always a lot to do: set up sponsor booths, beamers, fill the bags (we had almost 20 items to put into 300 of them), prepare the speaker room, reception area,...
Luckily we had help here. Thanks guys/girls.

As soon as the conference starts, all I needed to do is walk around :-), and check if everyone was happy: speakers set up, and ready to present, sponsors satisfied, reception area OK, catering ready, attendees at ease, speedsponsoring prepared, raffle organized, ...
I was glad my short introduction went OK. I prepared all my slides using Keynote on my iPad. So, after Kevin Cavanaugh took over, I was time for me to relax a bit.

But all this is forgotten, when you see and hear the positive reactions of the attendees, sponsors and speakers. Except for a few small hiccups, everything went pretty smooth.
There are so many people I need to thank, but I think I've done that to most of them in person.

Most speakers have already submitted their presentations and/or sample applications.
Katrijn, our photographer took a lot of pictures, of almost everyone.

The evaluations that came in were mostly very positive. They also contained some very useful ideas on how to improve things. Thanks for that.

So, am I going to do it again? You bet, it's certainly worth it, and fun too.
Let's meet again, end of March 2012 !

Are you organizing, or thinking about organizing a Lotus User Group, I would certainly go for it. The result is absolutely worth the effort.

Hope to see many of you at UKLUG in Manchester.

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