I had an odd feeling for the time I was there. The community was in full force, there was at least 240 people there and that was great. It was the commerce side, the sponsor side, the **money** side that was lacking. EnterpriseDB, Cybertec and 2ndQuadrant were there with booths but I wonder if it was even worth it?
It is great that 3 of the largest European commercial contributors were sponsors. I think the traditional model of sponsorship is over and those companies are not getting their investment back. This is certainly not the fault of PgConf.eu nor is it the fault of the sponsors. It is habit to fall into what we know. It is that what we know, is broken. There is no true return on investment. You might pull a couple or even a half a dozen leads. Yes you get 20 minutes to give your speech at the end of the conference (when a lot of the people have left anyway) but business is about relationships. I don't see how 3 booths at a 240 person conference enables relationships to be built.
I wonder what the attendees are getting out of it? Do we see these sponsors as more beneficial than companies (such as Credativ) who wasn't sponsoring with a booth but was speaking? Or are we just silently thankful that they are there because that way we don't have to spend 500 Euro to attend the conference? If the latter, does it make sense for companies to continue to contribute? What could a company do for the community (and themselves) with a 20k sponsorship versus having a booth and their name on a shirt?
Which brings me to my final point. If pgConf.eu (or Pgcon, NYCPgConf) were to charge 500.00, and it was sponsor free (or at least more creative in presence) would you still go? What if that included a half day tutorial? What if the conference was only about PostgreSQL + Community. Yes, sponsors are part of the community and they are more than welcome to show up in matching shirts and speak when their talks are accepted but no booths, no littered t-shirts, just good old fashion community, and education.
What do you think?