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November 12, 2009

Update on Hmmm...

I don't know if I can mention the soft commitments I have, specifically, but I'll just say I have one expression of interest from a big draw, an expression of very strong interest (including help in getting this off the ground, and pulling in other draws) from another big draw, and a third expression interest from another draw.

I'm also in touch with someone in DC who can, I hope, help out on that side of things -- sponsors or co-organizers (whatever you call that -- a partner organization) as well as establishment DC guests, and people outside the establishment to get non-establishment type guests.

I would say that the odds of this happening are now much higher than it not happening. The things that would have stopped it early -- people saying "Nah, sounds dumb, not interested" -- didn't happen. So that first hurdle is crossed.

Although, of course, there is still a lot to do. (Everything to do, actually; but with people on board, that stuff gets easier.) It can all fall through but there seems to be enough interest from name-type draws that other name-draws can be gotten, and that in turn should help with a sponsorship, and that in turn should lead to this all happening.

Regarding the city: It's going to depend on the deals offered but since I'm shooting for spring I'm thinking "warmer city." Vegas is still at the top of the list, but based on suggestions and my basic idea that it's a very cool city which also might be hurting and be willing to offer deals, New Orleans is pretty much tied.

The idea is that this would be somewhat countercultural or at least not fully establishment, so a city like Vegas or New Orleans sells that idea in a way that, say, Dallas would not.

A draw suggested Colorado Springs or Denver, which sound too cold to me for spring.


I know people are going to keep suggesting alternate venues, but just keep a couple of things in mind. Update: Actually, I intended this to limit further suggestions, not to encourage them. The fact is, it will almost certainly be Vegas, unless New Orleans or another major draw city comes through with a better offer. I'm not going to read further suggestions; sorry, 100 people can't have their way. It's Vegas unless there is a better offer from another destination-city.

1. Part of the idea here is that it should be a destination city that people would like to go to even if there weren't a conference going on. I'm always annoyed that these things tend to take up valuable vacation-money, and yet occur in places that are business-oriented rather than tourist- and vacation-oriented. DC, for example, is a nice enough town, but I've been there twenty times, and everything closes at 9pm. (Seriously-- what up with that?)

So whatever you propose, if it's not the kind of city/resort area that people think of when they think "fun holiday weekend!" in the first place, it's just not going to be taken seriously. One of the ideas is to draw name guests by offering a venue where they'd like to go anyway, and so can be had for just the cost of airfare and hotel (and maybe a little more).

2. There have to be deals for convention space and blocks of hotel rooms. Vegas is hurting, and so is New Orleans (I'm guessing on that last one), and both have an abundance of rooms and conference space. Other places, I'm sure, fall into this category too; but any contender will have to be in this sort of situation -- willing to offer discounts because otherwise all that space is unused.

3. Smaller, secondary cities generally aren't serviced by many carriers and most cities will not have direct flights. Vegas, especially, is a winner in this regard, as you can get to Vegas, directly and fairly cheaply, from pretty much anywhere.

4. Please don't suggest a town just because it's near you. I mean, everyone's pretty much going to be traveling, and understand, no offense, but if I'm getting on a plane, and I'm going to have to raise money from sponsors to put the guests on planes, I'm really not thinking "let me make sure this one person can drive there." I mean, look, it's just not possible to make that a consideration at all. People from all over the country will be attending, and it's just not possible to say "We'll do it here so that x can attend."

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posted by Ace at 03:27 PM

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