Out the window of my office, I see snow adding a new layer over the remains of the back-to-back blizzards that hit the Middle Atlantic states earlier this month, but at Geek Gatherings, we’re already focused on next fall. Today, we’re posting the Call for Speakers for Southwest Fox 2010, along with the updated proposal submission application.

Last year, we set a new record for the number of speaker and session proposals we received . If that happens again this year (as we, of course, hope it will), we’ll find our decisions even tougher than before.

The attendance at Southwest Fox 2009 declined more than we expected from 2008. We suspect that reflects both the difficult economy (many previous attendees we talked to said there was nothing in the 2009 budget for training) and that there are fewer VFP developers than in the past. Thanks to tremendous cooperation from the Arizona Golf Resort, that decline in attendance didn’t result in a corresponding financial loss for Geek Gatherings.

We plan to continue offering Southwest Fox as long as the community wants it and we can make the economics work. To make sure they do for Southwest Fox 2010, we’re trying something new for speaker selection. We will initially select enough speakers to run simultaneous sessions in three rooms, rather than four. If early registration warrants, we’ll add speakers and sessions for a fourth room.

This offers a challenge for both prospective speakers and those planning to attend. For speakers, the challenge is obvious. Competition will be tougher up front, so hone your proposals, offer us plenty of choices, and in general, try to make yourself stand out. (Be sure to read through the whole Call for Speakers before preparing your proposals and make sure you can meet the deadlines.)

What’s the challenge for attendees? Register early, and encourage others to do the same. In order to give the added speakers enough time to prepare, we’ll have to make our decision in early July. As always, we’ll offer other incentives for registering early.

We know that Southwest Fox is a tremendous value and vow that, whether we have three rooms or four, attendees will still get their money’s worth.


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