On the cancellation of FOSS4G Calgary 2020

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On the cancellation of FOSS4G Calgary 2020

Jon Neufeld
Hi All,

As you know the Calgary LOC has made the decision to cancel FOSS4G 2020
due to the COVID19 pandemic.

I have posted the rationale for our decision here
https://www.jonathanneufeld.com/the-rationale-for-canceling-a-global-event/ 
and have included it below as well.

TL;DR Trying to host a major international event during a pandemic
carried huge financial and reputational risks and we decided the safest
thing was to cancel.

Here is the full post:

===================================================================

As we recently shared on Twitter and the website, FOSS4G 2020 Calgary
has been canceled. Clearly this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for
after working for nearly two-years to bring this event to Calgary, but
the reality of COVID-19 is that we likely won’t see large gatherings of
people in 2020.

Recently another chair of a regional FOSS4G event wrote asking about our
decision to cancel and the reasoning behind it. In the spirit of
openness and an open community I thought I would share it here:

Hi, <name> Thanks for your note, I’m happy to share our thinking on
canceling the event and hopefully it can help inform your decision.

Context: Fast facts about FOSS4G 2020

- Planning Time: 2 years (Oct 2018 to Aug 2020)
- Target Attendance: 1,200 to 1,500 people
--- Break even attendance: 800 people
- Total conference budget: $1M+
- Real Cost to Cancel: ~$60 CAD


We were well on our way to building a strong global FOSS4G event, we had
sponsors lined up, a government grant for ~$100k, and 116 people had
already bought tickets. When COVID19 first hit we thought it would pass
reasonably quickly and that things would “return to normal” fairly soon,
but as the travel bans came in to place and the government here extended
bans on gatherings it was clear that we would either need to
dramatically scale-back FOSS4G or cancel it altogether. Since we are so
close to the USA we were expecting that a big portion of our attendees
would be Americans. For the first time in history the longest-undefended
border in the world, the one between Canada and the USA is closed and
the USA has the highest Infection rate of any country on earth; they
aren’t getting that under control in the near future.

Keep in mind that we have already signed agreements with the largest
Convention Center in the city, and four major hotel chains. These
contracts all carry minimum cancellation amounts which ratchet up as you
get closer to the event. If we cancel them sooner, we end up paying less
, but if we cancel later the bill gets dramatically higher. When the
travel bans went into place the minimum payments added up to $250k CAD,
and if we waited to cancel the week before the event they were well over
$500k!

The gamble then, was this: do we try and host an event with a reduced
scope and hope that we get enough attendees to at least break even,
where do we cancel it and hope we can get out of the minimum payments.

We figured that even if the borders opened and COVID-19 disappeared
right away that people’s travel habits would not go back to “normal”.
Companies have slashed their travel budgets, people would still be wary
about international travel and large gatherings, and the world would not
return to a place where a global conference would work. Based on this we
determined that we could not hold an event that would break even. 
TECTERRA Inc, the company backing up and organizing FOSS4G this year, is
a small nonprofit and we wouldn’t be able to sustain those kind of
losses. We also worried about the negative impact too reputation, both
the reputations of the event and of the organizers, if we held an
unsuccessful event.

All of this added together made it clear the only choice was to cancel
the 2020 event. We briefly discussed trying to push it to 2021, but
there were two things in the way. The Buenos Aires team was unwilling to
move their event, and a 2021 event means our local organizing committee
would have spent three years working on a five-day event. To be clear, I
don’t fault the 2021 BA team for holding fast, they have an LOC focused
on delivering an event at a specific time and I respect that.

So reluctantly we pulled the trigger and cancelled the event. We have
been fortunate that our venues and hotels were willing to work with us
and canceled the contracts without any further penalty.  I don’t need to
tell you how hard it is to cancel an event after putting in this much
work, and with your event happening later this year there is a chance it
might still work. I think it all depends on how quickly the COVID-19
situation changes, and the geographic area from which you’re pulling
your attendees. .

My unsolicited advice to you would be to wait for a while and see how
this shakes up in your region. You still have months until your event
and hopefully the governments and organizations in your region can get
COVID-19 under control. There is still the outstanding question of
whether people will be willing to travel to a conference then, and
you’ll need to weigh that carefully.

I hope that future LOCs don’t endure a once-in-a-life-time pandemic, but
I do wonder what the future holds for large in-person conferences.

In my opinion, FOSS4G is so much more than material presented. It’s
about meeting people, building relationships, and the serendipitous
bumping-into-someone-in-the-coffee-line that really builds and
strengthens community. This is nearly impossible to emulate with an
online conference, and until someone finds a way I think that large
in-person gatherings will continue.

====================================================================================

Thanks for your understanding, and hopefully we can get together in 2021!

Jon

Co-chair FOSS4G Calgary 2020

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Re: On the cancellation of FOSS4G Calgary 2020

ginetto
thanks Jon for the detailed description

Luigi Pirelli

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* Hire a team: http://www.qcooperative.net
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On Fri, 29 May 2020 at 17:34, Jon Neufeld <[hidden email]> wrote:
Hi All,

As you know the Calgary LOC has made the decision to cancel FOSS4G 2020
due to the COVID19 pandemic.

I have posted the rationale for our decision here
https://www.jonathanneufeld.com/the-rationale-for-canceling-a-global-event/
and have included it below as well.

TL;DR Trying to host a major international event during a pandemic
carried huge financial and reputational risks and we decided the safest
thing was to cancel.

Here is the full post:

===================================================================

As we recently shared on Twitter and the website, FOSS4G 2020 Calgary
has been canceled. Clearly this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for
after working for nearly two-years to bring this event to Calgary, but
the reality of COVID-19 is that we likely won’t see large gatherings of
people in 2020.

Recently another chair of a regional FOSS4G event wrote asking about our
decision to cancel and the reasoning behind it. In the spirit of
openness and an open community I thought I would share it here:

Hi, <name> Thanks for your note, I’m happy to share our thinking on
canceling the event and hopefully it can help inform your decision.

Context: Fast facts about FOSS4G 2020

- Planning Time: 2 years (Oct 2018 to Aug 2020)
- Target Attendance: 1,200 to 1,500 people
--- Break even attendance: 800 people
- Total conference budget: $1M+
- Real Cost to Cancel: ~$60 CAD


We were well on our way to building a strong global FOSS4G event, we had
sponsors lined up, a government grant for ~$100k, and 116 people had
already bought tickets. When COVID19 first hit we thought it would pass
reasonably quickly and that things would “return to normal” fairly soon,
but as the travel bans came in to place and the government here extended
bans on gatherings it was clear that we would either need to
dramatically scale-back FOSS4G or cancel it altogether. Since we are so
close to the USA we were expecting that a big portion of our attendees
would be Americans. For the first time in history the longest-undefended
border in the world, the one between Canada and the USA is closed and
the USA has the highest Infection rate of any country on earth; they
aren’t getting that under control in the near future.

Keep in mind that we have already signed agreements with the largest
Convention Center in the city, and four major hotel chains. These
contracts all carry minimum cancellation amounts which ratchet up as you
get closer to the event. If we cancel them sooner, we end up paying less
, but if we cancel later the bill gets dramatically higher. When the
travel bans went into place the minimum payments added up to $250k CAD,
and if we waited to cancel the week before the event they were well over
$500k!

The gamble then, was this: do we try and host an event with a reduced
scope and hope that we get enough attendees to at least break even,
where do we cancel it and hope we can get out of the minimum payments.

We figured that even if the borders opened and COVID-19 disappeared
right away that people’s travel habits would not go back to “normal”.
Companies have slashed their travel budgets, people would still be wary
about international travel and large gatherings, and the world would not
return to a place where a global conference would work. Based on this we
determined that we could not hold an event that would break even. 
TECTERRA Inc, the company backing up and organizing FOSS4G this year, is
a small nonprofit and we wouldn’t be able to sustain those kind of
losses. We also worried about the negative impact too reputation, both
the reputations of the event and of the organizers, if we held an
unsuccessful event.

All of this added together made it clear the only choice was to cancel
the 2020 event. We briefly discussed trying to push it to 2021, but
there were two things in the way. The Buenos Aires team was unwilling to
move their event, and a 2021 event means our local organizing committee
would have spent three years working on a five-day event. To be clear, I
don’t fault the 2021 BA team for holding fast, they have an LOC focused
on delivering an event at a specific time and I respect that.

So reluctantly we pulled the trigger and cancelled the event. We have
been fortunate that our venues and hotels were willing to work with us
and canceled the contracts without any further penalty.  I don’t need to
tell you how hard it is to cancel an event after putting in this much
work, and with your event happening later this year there is a chance it
might still work. I think it all depends on how quickly the COVID-19
situation changes, and the geographic area from which you’re pulling
your attendees. .

My unsolicited advice to you would be to wait for a while and see how
this shakes up in your region. You still have months until your event
and hopefully the governments and organizations in your region can get
COVID-19 under control. There is still the outstanding question of
whether people will be willing to travel to a conference then, and
you’ll need to weigh that carefully.

I hope that future LOCs don’t endure a once-in-a-life-time pandemic, but
I do wonder what the future holds for large in-person conferences.

In my opinion, FOSS4G is so much more than material presented. It’s
about meeting people, building relationships, and the serendipitous
bumping-into-someone-in-the-coffee-line that really builds and
strengthens community. This is nearly impossible to emulate with an
online conference, and until someone finds a way I think that large
in-person gatherings will continue.

====================================================================================

Thanks for your understanding, and hopefully we can get together in 2021!

Jon

Co-chair FOSS4G Calgary 2020

_______________________________________________
Discuss mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

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Re: On the cancellation of FOSS4G Calgary 2020

Moritz Lennert
In reply to this post by Jon Neufeld
Hi Jon,

All my sympathies go out to you and the team. You did an amazing job preparing all this and I'm sure it would have been a wonderful event. I admire your courage to do it in the first place, and to pull the plug which I agree is the best solution in these uncertain times.

I hope we will have the opportunity to meet in Calgary some other time.

Moritz

Am 29. Mai 2020 17:34:11 MESZ schrieb Jon Neufeld <[hidden email]>:

>Hi All,
>
>As you know the Calgary LOC has made the decision to cancel FOSS4G 2020
>
>due to the COVID19 pandemic.
>
>I have posted the rationale for our decision here
>https://www.jonathanneufeld.com/the-rationale-for-canceling-a-global-event/
>
>and have included it below as well.
>
>TL;DR Trying to host a major international event during a pandemic
>carried huge financial and reputational risks and we decided the safest
>
>thing was to cancel.
>
>Here is the full post:
>
>===================================================================
>
>As we recently shared on Twitter and the website, FOSS4G 2020 Calgary
>has been canceled. Clearly this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for
>after working for nearly two-years to bring this event to Calgary, but
>the reality of COVID-19 is that we likely won’t see large gatherings of
>
>people in 2020.
>
>Recently another chair of a regional FOSS4G event wrote asking about
>our
>decision to cancel and the reasoning behind it. In the spirit of
>openness and an open community I thought I would share it here:
>
>Hi, <name> Thanks for your note, I’m happy to share our thinking on
>canceling the event and hopefully it can help inform your decision.
>
>Context: Fast facts about FOSS4G 2020
>
>- Planning Time: 2 years (Oct 2018 to Aug 2020)
>- Target Attendance: 1,200 to 1,500 people
>--- Break even attendance: 800 people
>- Total conference budget: $1M+
>- Real Cost to Cancel: ~$60 CAD
>
>
>We were well on our way to building a strong global FOSS4G event, we
>had
>sponsors lined up, a government grant for ~$100k, and 116 people had
>already bought tickets. When COVID19 first hit we thought it would pass
>
>reasonably quickly and that things would “return to normal” fairly
>soon,
>but as the travel bans came in to place and the government here
>extended
>bans on gatherings it was clear that we would either need to
>dramatically scale-back FOSS4G or cancel it altogether. Since we are so
>
>close to the USA we were expecting that a big portion of our attendees
>would be Americans. For the first time in history the
>longest-undefended
>border in the world, the one between Canada and the USA is closed and
>the USA has the highest Infection rate of any country on earth; they
>aren’t getting that under control in the near future.
>
>Keep in mind that we have already signed agreements with the largest
>Convention Center in the city, and four major hotel chains. These
>contracts all carry minimum cancellation amounts which ratchet up as
>you
>get closer to the event. If we cancel them sooner, we end up paying
>less
>, but if we cancel later the bill gets dramatically higher. When the
>travel bans went into place the minimum payments added up to $250k CAD,
>
>and if we waited to cancel the week before the event they were well
>over
>$500k!
>
>The gamble then, was this: do we try and host an event with a reduced
>scope and hope that we get enough attendees to at least break even,
>where do we cancel it and hope we can get out of the minimum payments.
>
>We figured that even if the borders opened and COVID-19 disappeared
>right away that people’s travel habits would not go back to “normal”.
>Companies have slashed their travel budgets, people would still be wary
>
>about international travel and large gatherings, and the world would
>not
>return to a place where a global conference would work. Based on this
>we
>determined that we could not hold an event that would break even. 
>TECTERRA Inc, the company backing up and organizing FOSS4G this year,
>is
>a small nonprofit and we wouldn’t be able to sustain those kind of
>losses. We also worried about the negative impact too reputation, both
>the reputations of the event and of the organizers, if we held an
>unsuccessful event.
>
>All of this added together made it clear the only choice was to cancel
>the 2020 event. We briefly discussed trying to push it to 2021, but
>there were two things in the way. The Buenos Aires team was unwilling
>to
>move their event, and a 2021 event means our local organizing committee
>
>would have spent three years working on a five-day event. To be clear,
>I
>don’t fault the 2021 BA team for holding fast, they have an LOC focused
>
>on delivering an event at a specific time and I respect that.
>
>So reluctantly we pulled the trigger and cancelled the event. We have
>been fortunate that our venues and hotels were willing to work with us
>and canceled the contracts without any further penalty.  I don’t need
>to
>tell you how hard it is to cancel an event after putting in this much
>work, and with your event happening later this year there is a chance
>it
>might still work. I think it all depends on how quickly the COVID-19
>situation changes, and the geographic area from which you’re pulling
>your attendees. .
>
>My unsolicited advice to you would be to wait for a while and see how
>this shakes up in your region. You still have months until your event
>and hopefully the governments and organizations in your region can get
>COVID-19 under control. There is still the outstanding question of
>whether people will be willing to travel to a conference then, and
>you’ll need to weigh that carefully.
>
>I hope that future LOCs don’t endure a once-in-a-life-time pandemic,
>but
>I do wonder what the future holds for large in-person conferences.
>
>In my opinion, FOSS4G is so much more than material presented. It’s
>about meeting people, building relationships, and the serendipitous
>bumping-into-someone-in-the-coffee-line that really builds and
>strengthens community. This is nearly impossible to emulate with an
>online conference, and until someone finds a way I think that large
>in-person gatherings will continue.
>
>====================================================================================
>
>Thanks for your understanding, and hopefully we can get together in
>2021!
>
>Jon
>
>Co-chair FOSS4G Calgary 2020
>
>_______________________________________________
>Discuss mailing list
>[hidden email]
>https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
_______________________________________________
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Re: On the cancellation of FOSS4G Calgary 2020

Jon Neufeld
Thank you Moritz, I appreciate it.

I hope we do!

Cheers,

Jon


On 5/30/2020 4:16 AM, Moritz Lennert wrote:

> Hi Jon,
>
> All my sympathies go out to you and the team. You did an amazing job preparing all this and I'm sure it would have been a wonderful event. I admire your courage to do it in the first place, and to pull the plug which I agree is the best solution in these uncertain times.
>
> I hope we will have the opportunity to meet in Calgary some other time.
>
> Moritz
>
> Am 29. Mai 2020 17:34:11 MESZ schrieb Jon Neufeld <[hidden email]>:
>> Hi All,
>>
>> As you know the Calgary LOC has made the decision to cancel FOSS4G 2020
>>
>> due to the COVID19 pandemic.
>>
>> I have posted the rationale for our decision here
>> https://www.jonathanneufeld.com/the-rationale-for-canceling-a-global-event/
>>
>> and have included it below as well.
>>
>> TL;DR Trying to host a major international event during a pandemic
>> carried huge financial and reputational risks and we decided the safest
>>
>> thing was to cancel.
>>
>> Here is the full post:
>>
>> ===================================================================
>>
>> As we recently shared on Twitter and the website, FOSS4G 2020 Calgary
>> has been canceled. Clearly this wasn’t the outcome we were hoping for
>> after working for nearly two-years to bring this event to Calgary, but
>> the reality of COVID-19 is that we likely won’t see large gatherings of
>>
>> people in 2020.
>>
>> Recently another chair of a regional FOSS4G event wrote asking about
>> our
>> decision to cancel and the reasoning behind it. In the spirit of
>> openness and an open community I thought I would share it here:
>>
>> Hi, <name> Thanks for your note, I’m happy to share our thinking on
>> canceling the event and hopefully it can help inform your decision.
>>
>> Context: Fast facts about FOSS4G 2020
>>
>> - Planning Time: 2 years (Oct 2018 to Aug 2020)
>> - Target Attendance: 1,200 to 1,500 people
>> --- Break even attendance: 800 people
>> - Total conference budget: $1M+
>> - Real Cost to Cancel: ~$60 CAD
>>
>>
>> We were well on our way to building a strong global FOSS4G event, we
>> had
>> sponsors lined up, a government grant for ~$100k, and 116 people had
>> already bought tickets. When COVID19 first hit we thought it would pass
>>
>> reasonably quickly and that things would “return to normal” fairly
>> soon,
>> but as the travel bans came in to place and the government here
>> extended
>> bans on gatherings it was clear that we would either need to
>> dramatically scale-back FOSS4G or cancel it altogether. Since we are so
>>
>> close to the USA we were expecting that a big portion of our attendees
>> would be Americans. For the first time in history the
>> longest-undefended
>> border in the world, the one between Canada and the USA is closed and
>> the USA has the highest Infection rate of any country on earth; they
>> aren’t getting that under control in the near future.
>>
>> Keep in mind that we have already signed agreements with the largest
>> Convention Center in the city, and four major hotel chains. These
>> contracts all carry minimum cancellation amounts which ratchet up as
>> you
>> get closer to the event. If we cancel them sooner, we end up paying
>> less
>> , but if we cancel later the bill gets dramatically higher. When the
>> travel bans went into place the minimum payments added up to $250k CAD,
>>
>> and if we waited to cancel the week before the event they were well
>> over
>> $500k!
>>
>> The gamble then, was this: do we try and host an event with a reduced
>> scope and hope that we get enough attendees to at least break even,
>> where do we cancel it and hope we can get out of the minimum payments.
>>
>> We figured that even if the borders opened and COVID-19 disappeared
>> right away that people’s travel habits would not go back to “normal”.
>> Companies have slashed their travel budgets, people would still be wary
>>
>> about international travel and large gatherings, and the world would
>> not
>> return to a place where a global conference would work. Based on this
>> we
>> determined that we could not hold an event that would break even.
>> TECTERRA Inc, the company backing up and organizing FOSS4G this year,
>> is
>> a small nonprofit and we wouldn’t be able to sustain those kind of
>> losses. We also worried about the negative impact too reputation, both
>> the reputations of the event and of the organizers, if we held an
>> unsuccessful event.
>>
>> All of this added together made it clear the only choice was to cancel
>> the 2020 event. We briefly discussed trying to push it to 2021, but
>> there were two things in the way. The Buenos Aires team was unwilling
>> to
>> move their event, and a 2021 event means our local organizing committee
>>
>> would have spent three years working on a five-day event. To be clear,
>> I
>> don’t fault the 2021 BA team for holding fast, they have an LOC focused
>>
>> on delivering an event at a specific time and I respect that.
>>
>> So reluctantly we pulled the trigger and cancelled the event. We have
>> been fortunate that our venues and hotels were willing to work with us
>> and canceled the contracts without any further penalty.  I don’t need
>> to
>> tell you how hard it is to cancel an event after putting in this much
>> work, and with your event happening later this year there is a chance
>> it
>> might still work. I think it all depends on how quickly the COVID-19
>> situation changes, and the geographic area from which you’re pulling
>> your attendees. .
>>
>> My unsolicited advice to you would be to wait for a while and see how
>> this shakes up in your region. You still have months until your event
>> and hopefully the governments and organizations in your region can get
>> COVID-19 under control. There is still the outstanding question of
>> whether people will be willing to travel to a conference then, and
>> you’ll need to weigh that carefully.
>>
>> I hope that future LOCs don’t endure a once-in-a-life-time pandemic,
>> but
>> I do wonder what the future holds for large in-person conferences.
>>
>> In my opinion, FOSS4G is so much more than material presented. It’s
>> about meeting people, building relationships, and the serendipitous
>> bumping-into-someone-in-the-coffee-line that really builds and
>> strengthens community. This is nearly impossible to emulate with an
>> online conference, and until someone finds a way I think that large
>> in-person gatherings will continue.
>>
>> ====================================================================================
>>
>> Thanks for your understanding, and hopefully we can get together in
>> 2021!
>>
>> Jon
>>
>> Co-chair FOSS4G Calgary 2020
>>
>> _______________________________________________
>> Discuss mailing list
>> [hidden email]
>> https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss
_______________________________________________
Discuss mailing list
[hidden email]
https://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss