As the exec owner of Tech Ed for Microsoft New Zealand I receive a lot of questions about the logistics of putting on an event of this size. Attracting 2000 attendees, Tech Ed is the largest professional conference held in New Zealand and we’ve been running it since 1996 – so we’ve learned a thing or two about how to make it work.

The Tech Ed proposition is pretty simple, comprehensive technical education on Microsoft technologies for developers & IT professionals that want to get ahead and stay ahead, delivered by experts in their field. That doesn’t change – but we’re constantly looking for ways to improve the attendee experience, and this year is no different. We’ve made some major investments to address the number one concern we receive feedback on: lack of space around the venue. We’ve redesigned what used to be the marketplace, now the hub. With more space for people to move, sit, eat and connect with others. It also provides more opportunity for our sponsors to shine.

Anyone who holds a large public event knows that people vote with their feet. If they have a great experience they tell others and come back – if they don’t…well, you don’t have a viable event.

So we want to provide the best experience for our customers and at the same time put on an event that has longevity. Like any business losing money long term isn’t an option so we aim to break even while running a world-class training event  right here in NZ. Sometimes we manage to break even and sometimes we don’t – an event of this scale has significant costs. Consider venue, food, refreshments, staffing, audio/visual, security, speaker costs, entertainment, internet, recording…the list is a very long one indeed.

We raised prices by a small amount in 2009, before that prices had been static for five years – I think that’s pretty good value given the increasing complexity of the event, and demands of the audience - consider how expectations of wireless networking availability have changed over that period! Since 2008 we’ve also run Tech Ed Online where we publish a huge variety of content online in near real time, all absolutely free. We understand this is not the same as being there but hope it helps.

New Zealand is really punching above its weight in the worldwide Tech Ed stakes – consider there is one event for all of North America, all of Europe, China, Russia, Middle East, Africa, Australia…and New Zealand. Notice the odd man out? Whether you attend in Africa, the US or New Zealand the event should be of a similar standard and I’m proud that we can deliver this in New Zealand year on year, helping foster a smart, connected and competitive ICT industry.

Happy learning!