There have been many Tweets and Blog posts (here’s just one example) about the two events being so close together and the impact on attendance and this is my view on the discussion. The general consensus seems to be the San Francisco VMworld is the “better” one as it has far more lab time, probably due to it being a day longer. But also it is the first one and therefore the news will be announced there and Copenhagen will just be a regurgitation of the San Francisco content.
Having the two events virtually back to back is a mistake in my view. Firstly, the perception that Copenhagen is a lesser event due to fewer days and secondly, because both events will suffer in terms of attendee numbers. By holding the events so close together VMware also loses the opportunity to announce major news twice in one year.
Other than lower attendance numbers, VMware also runs the risk of lower income from the sponsors. For some of the smaller eco-system partners, that would have attended both Cannes and San Francisco, having both events so close together is a huge impact on their resources, not just financial but also human. The smaller sponsors, in all probability, would have at least 50% of their staff, if not more, attend both events. They cannot afford to have those folks out of the office for over 2 weeks virtually back-to-back. The other consideration is the type of sponsorship package they would take. If the events were separated by 6 months or so, they would probably take a larger booth at VMworld SanFran and may take a slightly less sponsorship at VMworld Europe. However, I personally know of vendors that have decided to take a considerably smaller sponsorship at VMworld Europe as they too feel Copenhagen is a “lesser” event. This is probably mainly true of US-based vendors but it should still be a concern for VMware. One vendor actually told me when the decision was taken to move the European event from February to October that it would be the death knell for VMworld Europe.
Apart from the overall decision in timing to be a mistake, I also think the location is a mistake. Again, there have been many Tweets about the Copenhagen event being more expensive, for less content, than VMworld SanFran. In part this is due to exchange rate, coupled with the Nordic region being generally expensive. Moreover I think it is a mistake because Copenhagen in October can be pretty unpleasant weather-wise (this is true of most of Northern Europe, so I’m not picking on Denmark, honest!), and the event location is a distance from the main town. Whilst the Palais de Congres in Cannes may be a 1960’s concrete architectural nightmare, at least the location enables VMware to brand the whole area in the local vicinity and the weather in February in the French Riviera is most pleasant!
I do believe there must have been much debate about this internally at VMware and I think that most people agree with me (and many others) that holding the two events so close together is a mistake. But I do hope for the person (or department) that took the decision to ignore the majority of input on moving from February to right after VMworld SanFran, their decision will be right and we will be wrong. However, I will make a prediction; next year, if not the following, the VMworld events will revert to being 6 months apart again.
Jane Rimmer is owner of hiviz-marketing , a strategic marketing consultancy servicing the IT industry.