[HCS-D] HCS/Harvard hosting PyCon 2006?

Ivan Krstic krstic at hcs.harvard.edu
Wed May 11 12:28:00 EDT 2005

Dear HCSers,

as some of you know, I have high ambitions for the future of HCS. Our
levels of technical service can always be better, and we could always be
doing more with computers, but one aspect in which I hope we can really
develop is our social visibility and service.

The following message was forwarded to me today. Basically, the
organizers of PyCon, the largest "official" annual Python Conference,
are not able to find a conference site that suits them.

I am interested in your opinions and thoughts on the viability of
Harvard hosting PyCon 2006. This is a preliminary message to discover if
any of you possess any show-stopping knowledge ("e.g. Harvard statute
from 1839 prohibits all amphibian-related conferences from taking place
in these hallowed halls"). Until then, I will get in touch with
pycon-organizers and notify them that we are looking into whether we
might be able to do this.

The actual obligations from Harvard's side would be relatively small: a
room that can host a large group and some connectivity. We can discuss
the ins and outs later -- for now, I'm interested in people's gut
reactions. Yay? Nay? Pursue? Not pursue?


> In April an RFP went out to a bunch of hotels for PyCon 2006, to be
> held in February/March 2006. Some hotels couldn't host it, some were
> interested but the room rates were too high, and some had room rates
> that were below $150 (not far below $150, mind you, but below it).
> One DC-area venue got as far as sending me a formal contract, but the
> cost worked out to $250 per attendee. This means that we'd need to
> charge at least $250 as the early bird registration fee to have even
> a slim chance of making a profit. Regular and on-site registration
> would be more, of course. PyCon 2005 cost $175, so that would mean a
> 40% price increase. This is unacceptable to almost everyone involved;
> who would we lose at that price? How much would that reduce the
> attendance? -- all our calculations have been based on a figure of
> 500-600 people. If the cost increase reduces the attendance to 400,
> we might as well have stayed at GWU and just capped the attendance.
> I'll be calling the venue tomorrow to let them know we won't be
> holding the convention there, and the venue search returns to square
> one at this point. We can probably just exclude all hotels from this
> new search; hotels want the attendees to be renting rooms, and we
> can't guarantee much in the way of room occupancy. Some conference
> centers might be suitable, but it seems a stretch; I'll ask GWU for
> price quotes but the numbers may not work out.

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