Organizing a conference is hard work and a lot of things need to come together to make it a great experience for everyone.
Being part of the Open Source Community Africa Team since 2018. The Open Source Africa Festival has been one of our major goals. Back in 2018, we had very little idea on how to put things together then fast forward to 2019, we were able to start planning for the festival. I am going to highlight some of the things we had to put in place to make the festival a success.
Starting Early: “Doing everything in advance” We started as early as 2019 to make plans and strategize on the things that we need to make this a success, planning the event early made us take care of important things on time such as selling of tickets, getting sponsors, finding a venue, getting good vendors, etc we had various committee set up where each member of the planning team picked where they could effectively perform. We had different committee setup ranging from the design team, logistics planning, on-site management team, publicity(social media), video and photography, registration, feeding and refreshments, local transportation and scholarships. The success of an event is usually attributed to how early preparations are made.
Having a website and a good design team: Having a website and a good design team is one of the most important things to do. Creating our website in collaboration with the developer’s team and the design team made it easy for people to get the information about this conference and share it. Also, our design team were responsible for the beautiful designs on the tags, swags, stage, booklets even as far as creating wallpapers, etc. Having a good designing team gives the conference its uniqueness and make it stand out
Selling of tickets: Open source festival Africa is the first of its kind being the first conference to sell tickets and have a huge turn out of people at the event. The selling of tickets seems straightforward enough. Sadly, some third-party ticket sale sites may likely have rules about when they give you your money, and it’s often AFTER your event. For some reason, they don’t seem to understand that all your costs will be due BEFORE your event. For these reasons, we made use of Open Collective which handled our ticket sales for the festival.
Choosing a good venue: Due to the capacity we had in mind we made use of Zone Tech Park Lagos, Nigeria which was enough to accommodate the number of attendees we had in mind. Picking a venue we had this in mind;
- Target Audience
- Conference dates
- The proximity of attendees to the venue
- Hotels and apartments close to the venue
- Kind of service the venue offers and if the venue meets your space, production and tech needs.
The choice of venue affects everything and we sure did a great job in choosing a good venue and location.
Finding sponsors: We had lots of amazing sponsors who made this event a huge one Facebook Open Source, Google Open Source, GitHub, AWS Amplify, Microsoft, Ubuntu, Open collective, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Open core summit, Salesforce, Web-flow, Eclipse Foundation, Python, and Mozilla. Finding sponsors you need to make sure you share some common values with a sponsoring brand, as well as that you could benefit from their support. Sponsorship is just like any other business, and to create a sponsorship deal, you will need to find the link between your conference and a potential sponsor, and show them a unique value they’ll get from joining forces with you.
Also, during the conference, be sure to give your sponsors what they paid for and even more, and not risk their goodwill for many years to come.
Effective communication: Communication was one of the effective tools that we used making attendees know details about the conference telling them over and over again using different social media platforms and the website, we went as far as sending emails to some attendees too.
Diversity and Inclusion: This was one major thing we emphasized. we had this code of conduct where we don’t assume but ask people of their pronouns and how they want to be identified. Even the host of the event was also encouraged to use gender-inclusive words like “everyone” instead of “guys”.
Organizing a conference can be a nerve-wracking experience, but the satisfaction of helping further the industry, and being part of something special, greatly outweigh the drawbacks. I just pointed out a few things that we considered in the course of planning this festival not all just a few important points.
The event won’t have been a huge success without the amazing efforts of the OSCA team . Who worked with their hearts out to make this event a success. Shoutout to Samson Goddy and Ada Oyom and the amazing OSCA team you all are amazing. I’m looking forward to planning and working with you again on OSCAFEST 2021!!!.