How to Have the PowerShell Summit Come to You

We're often asked if we're planning to have a PowerShell Summit in (insert name of town/country/city). The answer is, "no," because we're usually not planning much in advance of whatever's currently on the table. Keep in mind - we're all volunteers. We don't have a ton of free time to plan 3 years out! As you'll see in a minute, it's a lot of work.

That said, you can play a big role in bringing the Summit to your town. How? Simply write a proposal and submit it to us. Use the "Admin" e-mail alias at PowerShell.org. Here's what to include:

  • When you're proposing for. We typically need a proposal roughly 18 months out. The North America event is in April, and the Europe event in September, so you need to plan about a year and a half ahead of those dates.
  • A description of the local PowerShell audience. Helping us understand the local business environment, how many Microsoft IT pros are employes, and whether or not there's a local user group, all helps. The more you can do to help us reach out to the locals, the more confident we'll be in planning an event in your area.
  • A venue. This is the tough part, because we have a number of pretty strict requirements. Many commercial venues won't talk to a smaller organization more than 6-9 months out, so in talking to a venue you'll have to ask them to estimate pricing based on their current situation; we'll nail down particulars closer-in if we select the venue. We don't need you to guarantee dates; we just need an estimate of how much the venue wants to charge us.

Our venue requirements are detailed and pretty much non-negotiable.

  • The venue must be near an international airport - no more than a 30-minute drive. This must be accessible by a major air carrier, such that a flight from Seattle-Tacoma could make it to the venue's airport with no more than one connection. We have to be considerate of the product team's time!
  • The venue must be near a sufficient number of affordable, business-class hotels. We do not reserve room blocks or guarantee rooms, so if you're talking to a hotel, they may not want to deal with you because of this.
  • The venue must offer parking - although we are okay if there are parking fees.
  • We must have 2 rooms capable of seating at least 50 people each. That seating can be "theater-style..."
  • ...but we must also have a place for at least 100 people to eat lunch. Sometimes, that means a separate room. Other times, it may mean setting the session rooms "classroom style" so people can eat in the session rooms. Switching to "classroom style" still needs to afford seating for 50 people per room, minimum.
  • We prefer to buy "all-day" catering packages that include unlimited coffee, a continental breakfast (pastries), buffet lunch, and an afternoon snack. Pricing cannot exceed about $110 per person per day - and that must include taxes, service fees, gratuities, and so on.
  • We prefer not to guarantee a specific number of people until very close-in. However, most commercial venues require a commitment up front. In that case, we prefer to commit to no more than 50 people - even though we want the flexibility to have more than that.
  • If we're paying top dollar for catering, we should get the venue itself for free. That's traditional at most commercial venues. If we're paying for the venue, then our per-person/per-day catering cost should be substantially under our limit.
  • We prefer to minimize A/V expenses, but do require an HD projector, screen, and wireless lav mic in each of the two rooms. We'd need pricing on that equipment if it isn't included in the venue pricing.
  • The venue needs to have decent Internet. That doesn't necessarily need to be included for free, but it needs to be available. We may purchase 2-4 connections for speakers to use when presenting, so knowing the pricing would be helpful.
  • The venue needs to be available for at least one evening event, where we'll likely want a cash bar and some light snacks - we expect to pay extra for the evening food, but not for the venue itself.

As you can see, it's a tough list, and it's a lot of work for us to find venues. That's one reason we tend to lean toward Microsoft facilities, when they're available, because we get the venue cheaper, the food cheaper, and so on.

You'll also see that our pricing doesn't leave a ton of room for error. At $110/person/day, each attendee costs us $330. With 50 attendees, there's another $130 per person in overhead to pay for speakers' meals. We have about another $130 per person in hard costs like insurance, equipment shipping, and logistics planning. We carve off another $150 per person to help fund PowerShell.org itself, including this website. That's $740 per person in costs - real close to the $800 we charge, which also has to cover VERIFIED EFFECTIVE exam costs and so on. We plan our numbers around a 50-person break-even point because we're incredibly risk-averse - we don't want to have to make up the difference on our personal credit cards, which has almost happened in the past. As you can see, we try to keep our numbers pretty tight - which means a lot of careful planning.

So... if you want to volunteer (it's much appreciated!) and do some local legwork, you're more than welcome to propose your favorite town. We understand that, working 18+ months out, some of the numbers will be estimates - that's fine. Knowing that something is roughly in the right price range is a big start.

We do have other operational criteria that can come into play, so just because you propose someplace doesn't mean we're guaranteeing we'll go there - but we'll keep it in mind, even for future years.

About the Author

Don Jones

Don Jones is a Windows PowerShell MVP, author of several Windows PowerShell books (and other IT books), Co-founder and President/CEO of PowerShell.org, PowerShell columnist for Microsoft TechNet Magazine, PowerShell educator, and designer/author of several Windows PowerShell courses (including Microsoft’s). Power to the shell!