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From Nick Burch <n...@apache.org>
Subject Venue visit ApacheCon EU Sinsheim Notes
Date Mon, 30 Jul 2012 23:31:54 GMT
Hi All

As people are hopefully aware, several of us visited the ApacheCon 
Europe venue at the end of last week, and had a bit of a planning 
meeting after. This email is an attempt to combine together the notes 
which were kindly typed up by people there. Hopefully it'll largely hang 
together, despite multiple authors, and will make sense and be useful. 
Here goes....!

The venue was visited by Nick, Paul Götz (SAP and ASF, ASF id pgoetz),
Elizabeth Garcia (Lucid Imagination) and Rainer Jung. Paul is our main 
contact into SAP concerning the sponsorship. He took lots photos, some 
of which are already available. The day started at about 9am, and 
finished about 7pm. Was more epic than originally planned... But productive!

1) The Arena

We got paper floor plans showing some variations of chairs etc. We
(Paul) will receive those plans in electronic form, and has rough 
versions of them available in the mean time. Paul will also get some 
picture material from them we can use to get a better sense of how the 
venue looks when setup for a conference. but which we should not 
circulate publicly because of copyright.

There is a German explanation at


and a German brochure ate


a) Parking

Since it is a soccer stadium there is lots of (free) parking directly
attached to the venue.

There are 4 floors:

b) Ground Floor

On the ground floor there is a big open space directly behind the doors.
The site has furniture to establish a registration and a wardrobe in
that area. The furniture consists of about 8 cabinets with rolls to move
them around. They have the right height so you can stand behind them and
give out stuff to attendees.

c) First Floor

The first floor has the biggest "rooms". It is a symmetric design.
There's a so called "Business Club" (an area with a bar, tables and
chairs for about 50 people) in the middle between two open stairs and
the elevators. To the right and the left are two spaces which can be
used for separate talks. Each of those fits about 200 people without
tables (only chairs, much fewer with tables). The layout would be about
20 chairs times 10 lines.

There are no real walls between these spaces and the Business Club.
Partially the spaces are separated from the rest by movable glass walls.
The people there tell us. that there would be no acoustics problem in
having concurrent talks in the two spaces.

The keynote would happen in one of them with sound and projection being
transmitted to the second one.

For the conference we would need a bigger projection screen than what is
installed. For this they have a small setup (one big projection screen)
and a big setup (two screens, presentation plus e.g. speaker or video).
The small setup is covered by the quotes we already received (see
below), the bigger setup is more expensive.

The floor is very bright and there are curtains to dim it slightly for

d) Second Floor

Again it is a symmetric design. The floor is a bit smaller than the
First Floor. In the middle is the so called "Piano Bar" a lounge style
area for about 30 people to sit. To the right and left are areas for
about 186 people each (chairs but no tables, otherwise fewer).

Again the areas to the right and left can be used for talks.

e) Third Floor

That floor is primarily meant for catering. There are chairs and tables
and they can serve meals there.

There is no ceiling between the talk areas on the second floor and the
third floor (you can directly look down).

f) Other Rooms

Press Room: to the right of the ground floor is a separate room called
the press room. The room accommodates about 70 people without tables
(just chairs) and probably about 40 with tables (unconfirmed). See Page
7 in the PDF.

Rhein Neckar Lounge: then there is on the second floor the Rhein Neckar
Lounge. It is a completely separated room to the right of the floor,
maybe about 30 meters away. The room has a very slight angle. In the one
part it can fit 30 people very nicely, if you add the other part you
could fit 50 people. See pictures Pages 12-13 in the PDF.

SAP Lounge: and there is the SAP Lounge, which is usually used as a back

Small rooms: Finally there are lots of smaller rooms for about 12
people. We could book some of those in addition to the basic package.

g) Photos and Floor Plans

Photos from Paul have been uploaded to 
http://people.apache.org/~pgoetz/aceu2012/ , both as individual files 
and a 250mb zip bundle. The floor plans are due soon, in the mean time 
the printouts we received in person have been scanned and put online.

In the lobby, there's the fan shop to the left (no pictures), and the 
press room to the right of the entrance hall (see pictures 0xx).
Level 1 and Level 2 are the main event areas (see the areas marked 
yellow in the Floorplan.pdf, pictures 1xx and 2xx).
Level 3 is smaller and mostly used for meetings / discussions (see 
pictures 3xx).
On Level 2, there is the "SAP Loge" (where usually the IT and Orga Team 
is located) and - not shown on the floor plan - the "SAP Lounge", an 
additional room for conferences (see pictures 4xx).

Paul has tried to mark the view points for the various pictures on the 
last three pages of the PDF.
Orientation of the floor plan: Top = East, Right = North, Bottom = West, 
Left = South.

On Level 1, there are two large areas (left/right), which can be 
separated by movable walls. Each of these sections has a capacity for 
about 200 to 300 persons, depending on how the seating will be arranged. 
Other events had a setup with about 250 persons/seats on the right area 
(as key note area), using the left area for catering. The area in the 
middle is for chill out, meet & greet, for smaller groups.
Level 2 has basically the same layout, with about 180 seats capacity per 
Level 3 could be used for about 70 persons per area, but as you might 
see from the pictures, this level is mainly used for meeting areas and 
for catering. For other events, it has been mostly used for the evening 
The press room has a capacity for about 80 persons, the SAP Lounge for 
about 50 persons.

Nick's assumption was something between 300 and 500 participants per 
day, with 4 or 5 concurrent tracks.
So we could have registration in the lobby, one track in the press room, 
the largest track + key notes in Level 1 to the right, another track + 
key note video in Level 1 to the left, one track on Level 2, and 
(depending estimated number of participants) the fifth track either in 
the SAP Lounge or on Level 3.
That would leave pretty much space for meeting in the different lounges 
and catering areas.

h) What we do / don't get of the venue

As the Rhein-Neckar-Arena (RNA) Sinsheim is the football stadium of 
"Hoffenheim 1899", parking space is more than we need.

We will not have access to the entire stadium, only to the main 
building, the "Business Club", which is "Entry West" on the plans above.

2) Various Aspects

a) Capacity

Catering floor and keynote possibilities limit the site to about 450
attendees, maybe 500. Between the individual track rooms we have more 
capacity, the limits are catering on the 3rd floor and keynotes.

b) Accessibility

There are Elevators connecting the central parts of the floors.
Everything we visited had no steps (as far as I remember).

c) Smokers

Smoker have access to balconies inside the stadium.

d) Power

The common setup of having tables and power supplied during the talks
will not work. Usually there's not enough space for tables, and if it
were, there are not enough floor tanks.

We think about creating charging areas were we provide a few dozens of
plugs. Details e.g. maximum current they can provide (= number of plugs) 
need to be checked with the relevant people. This will affect the number 
of charging points we can offer.

e) Network

There Wireless everywhere, but details about access points etc. still
need to be checked. Paul remembered they have an outside bandwidth of
about 20 MBit/s.

Wired connectivity could be provided in some special places, eg for 
speakers and for the the chill-out/meetup spaces in the middle of the 

f) Sound

They provide Microphones, amplification etc.

g) Audio Recording

Plugging in our recorders would be possible. Details need to be checked.

h) Video Recording

They could provide the service but it is expected to be very expensive.
They seemed not to be to happy about the option of bringing in some
external partner for this. Since they didn't see a problem doing it by
ourselves, there might have been a misunderstanding about external
partners using the Arena's equipment. Need to clarify.

i) Evening Hours

For Evening Events we would at least need to pay for a security person
near the entrance. It didn't sound like a big problem nor did it sound
expensive. Having evening events e.g. until 10 p.m. would then be no
problem, so they don't kick us out early.

j) Non obvious staff

They recommend to put some staff at the stairs to guide people.

k) Signage

They have electronic displays and could also provide about 10-15 pin
boards (they want to check the numbers).

l) Insurance

We will get the so called AGB (Allgemeine Geschäftsbedingungen = basic
contract rules). We hope we can find out from that what kind of
insurance is covered.

3) Duration of the Conference

The options depend a bit on the soccer schedule. There is set to be a 
match in the stadium either the Sunday before (4th November) or the 
Friday after (9th November), it should become clear in a few weeks which 
it will be. The local club is set to play against Schalke. Depending on 
that there could be an option
of doing the setup on Sunday and starting the conference on Monday. The
more likely option is being able to run a hackathon on Monday starting
not to early (like 11 a.m.), e.g. in the press room, and opening the
registration also on Monday e.g. at 2 p.m. and starting with the
conference on Tuesday.

We need to decide whether we want to have a 3 day plus Hackathon or 4
day plus Hackathon conference (or another option) and whether we think
Friday should just be for tear down or a real conference day. Adding a 
4th day of talks is likely to bump the price up a lot.

4) Prices
All costs will be in Euros. Registration and Sponsorship will want to be 
collected in Euros too.

CAUTION: all prizes are given in Euros. During the last 4 months the
Euro was declining from 1.32 USD to 1.21 USD.

b) Committer Reception

The venue people recommended to ask in the nearby museum (one can walk
by foot):



We went there, but the responsible person didn't have time
spontaneously. I do have a telephone number and someone is going to give 
me a call on Monday, so that I can report the basic options and 
conditions. Based on that we can hopefully work out what the option is, 
and how much it'll cost, then we can approach potential sponsors.

We kept this item separate because traditionally we found a sponsor who
finances it.

5) Hotels

There are only very few options in Sinsheim itself. Only four hotels
have more than 10 rooms:

The biggest Hotel, which is also not very far from the Arena and the
museum, has about 110 rooms and 218 beds. Of these currently about 90
rooms are still available for the conference week. Web site:

Feedback from Elizabeth (who stayed there) was that it was very nice, 
and also has some rooms which could be used for trainings / small events 

Hotel Bär has about 55 rooms and about 80 beds. It is a walk of about 20 
minutes to the Arena.

Hotel Prinzen has about 17 rooms and 25 beds.

All other Hotels in Sinsheim are smaller than 10 rooms. There are quite 
a number of guesthouses, b&bs etc in Sinsheim. The next village over, 
Dühren, has a couple of hotels in the 50-75 bed range, but it's a bit 
far to walk.

b) Options for accommodating everyone

It's not going to be possible for everyone to stay in Sinsheim, as we're 
planning for a conference of up to 450 people, but there are only about 
250-300 beds in Sinsheim across the hotels + guest houses.

People would have to commute to any of the proposed cities. Public 
transport is available. Train e.g. from Heidelberg to Sinsheim is 36 
minutes non-stop every hour. From Karlsruhe is about 1.5 hours 1-2 train 
changes, 3 times an hour, Mannheim 1 hour 3 minutes, 1 change, once per 
hour, Heilbronn about 40 minutes, 1 change, once per hour. So it seems 
Heidelberg would be the best option concerning optimization of commute 
time. Heidelberg is a touristic and university town so in principal 
should have enough capacity. We have to check for other concurrent 
conferences though. Evening trains to Heidelberg are available at 8:51, 
9:51 and 11:15, one that takes a bit longer even runs at 11:59 (p.m.).

And: some people will have a car and they have more options. Like 
booking one of the small places in the surroundings of Sinsheim.

Finally: if we go for students with reduced tickets, then many of those 
will likely come from places in a distance less than an hour driving and 
will stay at home for the nights or belong to the car category.

I'd say the worst thing about the hotel situation is, that there's no 
easy gathering for everyone for some local bar time in the evening.

6) Sinsheim
The town seems very nice, with several different restaurants and bars, 
lots of cafes etc. There's a pedestrianised bit between the station and 
Hauptsrasse. Most of the restaurants / cafes / bars are either on the 
pedestrianised part or along Hauptstrasse. We're not going to fit the 
whole conference into any of them, but groups of 20-30 people looking to 
do their own thing in the evening ought to be just fine.

Some people seem to think that Sinsheim is just a football stadium and 3 
houses next to a motorway junction. We're going to need to convince them 
of what it's really like!

The town centre is a 20-25 minute walk from the arena. There are 
footpaths the whole way. Walk wasn't too bad, but it wasn't the 10-15 
minutes Elizabeth thought...! 20-25 seems a good estimate though.

There are two railway stations in Sinsheim. The main one in town has 
more trains stopping, including some fast ones, but is 20-25 mins walk. 
The other is nearer the venue, perhaps 10-15 mins walk (we didn't try), 
but only local trains.

Tourist Information have a brochure of local hotels / guest houses / 
etc, which we have the printed version of. Same info looks to be 
available on their website, need to link to that from the venue details 
page, along with info on the town, hotels etc.

7) Some Calculations
3 different calculations were done, two online and one on paper, to 
check that the numbers added up and that everything was covered. 
Amazingly, they all came out with the same answers! A single version has 
been uploaded to Google docs for ConCom review.

We produced some numbers for the likely breakdown of attendees at 
different ticket sale levels, 250 / 350 / 450 people. We worked on the 
basis that at 250 people, we'll have a cheaper lunch, and probably only 
4 tracks. If we get 450 attendees, e.g. sell out, we would go for the 
higher end food and run 5 tracks. This largely gives the same answers 
for the profit/loss - extra people have extra costs, but a little bit 
left towards more food. The likely breakdown was ad-hoc, based on 
experience and gut feel. It was *not* based on numbers from previous 
ApacheCons, as they were felt to be too different.

8) Various Aspects

Some aspects have only been shortly discussed.

a) Track Sponsors

We talked about Sally's proposed track sponsorship model and it was
integrated in some of the calculation sheets. There was a question of
what value the track sponsor gets apart from logo visibility ans whether
a sponsor should be able to buy all sponsor slots for a track
(exclusivity, first come first serve).

There was an expectation, that the track sponsor slots for Big data
could be sold out, the ones for Lucene/Solr nearly and in addition maybe
another 4 track day slots. This is not based on known expressions of
interest, just a gut feeling yet.

b) Marketing

- in Germany many IT people watch the Heise Newsletter. There are
several contacts to heise and we would expect to be able to have at
least two messages in the Newsletter. An early one and a reminder one
before the conference. What we would need is a text suggestion.

- there are lots of Java User Group. We don't know yet whether there is
a common newsletter or similar.

- there are a couple of universities around Sinsheim. Mannheim,
Heidelberg, Karlsruhe and Kaiserslautern. Some of them have lots of
computer science students.

- current track descriptions and names work fine internally, but need 
work before we can start selling tickets against them. Elizabeth is 
going to work with the Lucene community to put together something of the 
required detail / level. Will circulate that to the other track chairs, 
and ask them for something similar for them. Need to do this soon.

c) Apache Office

There might be additional funds which can be used around the conference
for Office specific stuff.

d) Hotel Situation

We need to provide information on the Wiki. Possible towns are

- Heidelberg
- Mannheim
- Karlsruhe
- Heilbronn
- Bruchsal

The differences are public transportation (duration, frequency), size of 
town (Bruchsal is the smallest, Heilbronn still pretty small etc.),
Hotel options etc.

e) Hotel Rooms for TAC

Nick and me visited the Hotels Klostermühle, Prinzen and Bär.
Klostermühle didn't look very friendly, is the smallest of those and
there was no one there to show rooms or give any information. Didn't
look promising.

Prinzen looked OK. The guy I'm talked to was a bit complicated. Bär 
looked nice, but was a little bit more expensive.

We have rough quotes for expected TAC numbers and dates. If we want to 
cover speakers too, we'll need to up those. All hotels visited were in 
Sinsheim, but there are also hotels in the next village (would need a 
bus), or loads in Heidelberg (train). Another email thread for this.

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