Over the past weekend at DrupalCamp Essen, I had the opportunity to sit down with Florian Lorétan, who has been instrumental in organizing and coordinating all the work which goes into bringing the next European DrupalCon to Munich, Germany. Since the last time we’d spoken, at Drupal City (the Drupal Camp held in Berlin, September 2011, less than a month after the initial announcement in London), there had been a lot of new developments. I asked Florian to catch us up.
Lowell: I’m Lowell Montgomery from Cocomore and I’m here in the BoF room at DrupalCamp Essen, speaking with Florian Lorétan, Munich’s community representative and a co-founder of Wunderkraut, about new developments in the planning of DrupalCon Munich. So what’s the latest news, Florian?
Florian: There are a lot of things going on right now. One of the big things we have on our plates right now is just making all these developments communicable. There’s a lot of work being done on the website, both on content and also on making the content look good — so it’s styling all the content types, different views, new content types, different blogs — and making sure that the sponsors get the attention they deserve on the website and also preparing for the session poll results which will open in a few weeks. One of the things that needs to be communicated are the featured sessions. We have some very exciting speakers coming from the outside — some very exciting topics, too. This is not completely final; but we do have some sessions which are confirmed, so this will probably be going up on the website in the next couple of weeks.
Lowell: So before DrupalCon Denver, then?
Florian: If it’s ready before DrupalCon Denver, we’ll put it on the website then, but at the latest it will be there at Denver.
Lowell: And you mentioned that the sponsor slots are pretty much all filled?
[…] For Munich, we still have Silver (very limited), Bronze, Sponsor Lunch, Sponsor Coffee Break, Sponsor a contest (like Tropo's hackathan or Twilio contest) [ … ]—Megan Sanicki, from email update, 29 Feb, 2012
Florian: All the top ones are sold out; Diamond, Platinum, Gold, and I think Silver, too, is sold out. The day stage sponsors, the beer garden sponsor, the coffee sponsor; are also given away. With Wunderkraut, we’re also happy to get the contribution lounge and contribution sprint sponsorship slots, which is something that fits for us, but it’s also a one-of-a-kind sponsorship of our community. I think that it’s been going very quickly; we weren’t expecting things to go that fast. Megan Sanicki is responsible for all the finances and sponsorships for DrupalCon and she’s has been doing a fantastic job at it. I think it’s really great that the sponsors have shown such incredible enthusiasm. I think it’s an indicator of how much interest there is in the conference and I hope that the attendees show as much interest as the sponsors have.
Lowell: That’s great news. But there are still unlimited Bronze sponsorships available, though, right?
Florian: Indeed there are. And it’s still a great way for Drupal-related companies to help make this an
Lowell: So one thing I really wanted to ask you about is: how can people who aren’t already involved in the planning do something to help make sure this the most awesome DrupalCon Europe to date?
Florian: The best thing to do is really just to spread the word: blog about it, tweet about it, make a presentation about it at the local user group, to get people up to speed, to get people to know what it’s about. There’re still a lot of people who don’t know exactly what DrupalCon is, and what the goals of DrupalCon are. Many people think that it’s a for-profit
Lowell: For people who do know what a DrupalCon is and live far away, say in North or South America; it’s easier for them to get to Denver. What can you say to encourage them to come to DrupalCon Munich other being able to go to interesting beer gardens and see Germany?
Florian: Well, a lot of people travel to DrupalCons both for professional reasons and as tourists and a lot of people bring their families for the trip to DrupalCon, so we are planning all the special
Lowell: For the “Drupalgängers”?
Florian: Right, Drupalganger outings and also making sure we have some cultural activities.
Florian: Besides that, Germany is probably the largest Drupal market in Europe and the market with the biggest potential. There is a lot of demand and a lot of growth potential. And so I think it’s inevitable that there will be a lot of interest from the outside to get some presence in the German market, so for large companies it’s really a very interesting market to open branches, do more business with Germany, and also for the European market: more and more we are seeing that we’re not dealing with local projects anymore. It’s not a local Drupal shop working for a local company; we’re seeing companies from all over the world doing projects for clients all over the world. Since the German market has a lot of
Lowell: Right. So there’s a lot that takes place at a DrupalCon and a lot that goes on in the half-year between the DrupalCons, so if people only attend once-per-year at the conference closer to them, they are missing a lot and missing the opportunities to meet and connect with other members of the community who might not be able to make the longer trips to Europe or to North America.
So are there other ways that people outside of Germany could help support the preparation processes?
Florian: Actually for the teams doing the coordination and organization of the
Lowell: Right. How does that work, anyway? If you want to help out at the
Florian: Yes. This is generally done in half-day slots or something like that, so we generally have plenty of people who just want to help. I’ve done it before; it’s a lot of fun. You work with other people who are also really passionate about what they do. So it’s a fun experience. You normally get a T-shirt for it and that’s pretty much it, but it’s a great opportunity to start being involved. So sign up for our newsletter on the website and you’ll be notified when we have the call for volunteers.
Lowell: Okay. So is it time yet to register for the conference and buy a ticket or when does that happen?
Florian: It’s not open yet. There are still some things to do to finalize the budget and determine the ticket price. This will be coming soon; it will probably be open a couple of days before Denver, but the official announcement, when we expect a lot of people to register, will happen on the last day at Denver.So it should be ready in a couple of weeks.
Lowell: What are your expectations about how many people might be in attendance at DrupalCon Europe?
Florian: Well, we have enough space for 2500 people. This is bigger than other European conferences, but at the same time, well… there’s been steady growth in the community. Also Munich has a very central location in Europe. It’s very easily accessible from pretty much anywhere by either plane or train, so I’m expecting a lot of people to come. Also, since we want to reach out more to people outside the community, it’s not going to be an
Lowell: That’s great! Unfortunately, I’m not personally going to be able to get to Denver… between the cost of airfare, the cost of staying in a hotel for a week, and other expenses, it’s just not in my personal budget right now, so I’m wondering how the prices of hotel accommodations in Munich compare to the costs in London and in winter-tourist-season Denver?
Florian: In Munich, the conference is taking place at a hotel where they’ve offered conference attendees a special price which includes, among other things, free Wi-Fi in the rooms. There are various advantages. You can already make reservations by phone or by e-mail just by mentioning DrupalCon and there’ll be a special form for booking your hotel accommodations which should be ready soon. Otherwise, Munich is not a cheap city, but there are some budget priced hotels in the area and the local transportation is good, so it should be possible to stay at other hotels and easily get to and from the conference location. Public transportation there is great and I would certainly recommend anyone coming for the week, especially if they are staying at another hotel, to buy a public transportation ticket for the week. I think it’s 13 or 14 Euros.
Lowell: That’s a good deal. Do you have any final thoughts you’d like to share with us.
Florian: Well one of the things that we did in London is that when we announced the conference in Munich we handed out stickers. The logo for the conference is actually a beer coaster. And our design team from Cocomore came up with the idea, “Hey, the logo is a beer coaster, how about printing real beer coasters?” And so we looked into that, and then when we were looking at the quantities, we realized that we could actually use a lot of those. And so a couple of weeks ago they were printed and then just last week we received them in our office. It’s two very big and very heavy boxes full of beer coasters, and now we’re distributing those at various Drupal
Lowell: I agree. I think the DrupalCon site really looks terrific, too.
Well, thank you for taking the time to talk with me today and I’m definitely looking forward to Munich.
Florian: You’re welcome, Lowell. I’m looking forward to it, too.