Should sponsors be given away free sessions at camps?

saitanay's picture

Good to see Drupal Camp Hyderabad being the first paid camp in India. This is a more sustainable model and has been long due in India. In most of the camps in India, a large section of the crowd used to be irrelevant to the camp, and many times, we did see a large number of random students from the host university spending their weekend at the free camp.

Paid camps solve many of those problems with sustainability and effectiveness of the camps.

Although, what disappoints me is to see that sponsors get 2 sessions each to speak, for granted.

This move is bound to dilute the quality of the sessions, when the sessions are selected without the usual selection process, or when sponsors are given a free unrestricted pass to speak at the camp.

I understand that this could be a great incentive for getting sponsors, but I think giving ad space, stage time during keynote, and separate slots for sponsors to pitch their services or products etc - will still be better and more sustainable incentives than giving sponsors an unchallenged opportunity to speak in multiple sessions at the conference.

I am not sure if this is the norm usually in paid camps outside of India. I haven't attended any camps elsewhere, so can't comment.

But if this is something we are trying in Drupalcamp Hyderabad for the first time, I think we should give this idea a second thought to ensure the quality of sessions don't go down due to giving such unrestricted access to sponsors to speak at the conference.

I understand, that at the end of the day, this is a decision that rests with the organizing committee of the camp, and I am sure this decision was an outcome of a lot of brainstorming after evaluating all possible outcomes, but still felt like we could be starting a dangerous trend with this, and did want to flag this, to hear about more perspectives that I am sure could not have thought of myself.


Happy weekend folks


Whoa! I must have missed that

hussainweb's picture

Whoa! I must have missed that when I saw it first.

But thinking about it further, I think it is not an outrageous idea. For example, DrupalCons have sessions in a specific track (IIRC, Case Study or Showcase) which are only available to sponsors. This track is not even available in regular session submission form. As far as camps are concerned, I can't pick other camps that do this (or even other conferences) but I have seen things like lightning talks (10-15 min showcase or anything like that) given to sponsors of an event.

I think it boils down to organiser's choices here. I don't like the idea any more than you do but I don't think there is anything fundamentally wrong with it.

My reason for not liking the idea is not an outrage over sanctity or unbiased selection of sessions but the fact that I really like that the camp is moving to a paid model and changing too much. We have organised free camps for a long time and we should transition to a paid model with careful planning. Personally, a large number of changes in the camp structure makes it difficult to take our learnings on what works and what doesn't for future camps.

That said, I respect the fact that it is the organiser's choices and responsibility that matters and as long all the actions align with the code of conduct, I can accept it. OTOH, I also respect that we should be able to constructively criticise such decisions and suggest improvements or alternatives. Finally, we should take specifics offline and let this thread remain for a broad summary and an entry-point for someone who wants to participate in the discussion.

Oh, and thank you for the

hussainweb's picture

Oh, and thank you for the first paragraph. It is exactly what I feel. Kudos to DrupalCamp Hyderabad to take this step.

Totally agree on that. This

saitanay's picture

Totally agree on that. This (organizing a paid camp) is a welcome move and Kudos to the Hyd team for being the first to try the Uncharted waters.

Tanay Sai

Clarification on Sponsored sessions

epari.siva's picture

Tanay, Glad to hear constructive criticism about the event. Really appreciate your views. Paid camps was not just a decision from the organising committee of DrupalCamp Hyderabad, but also from the larger Indian audience we have been meeting for the past 2 years.

Also the organising committee discussed several ideas to make organising events more sustainable. Part of the discussion was to provide incentives to sponsors, so that Drupal Hyderabad gets a larger fund, which in turn will help to cater a larger audience. Obviously, such sessions will be subject to quality assessment, Code of conduct (Refer: & Speaker agreement (Refer:
(Note: We have updated the Sponsorship brochure with a disclaimer)

Drupal Hyderabad Organising committee stands for ensuring the quality of content delivered in the camp and reinventing itself in a manner that set's a good precedent across India. Looking forward for more such constructive criticism, we promise to improve our strategy as and when needed.

Siva Kumar Epari

+1 for paid camp kind of +0.5 for sponsor session

parth_gohil's picture

A huge +1 for paid camp & kind of a + for Sponsor sessions.

I noticed that the usual top sponsorships that camps in India have are up to Rs. 50,000 and I noticed there are no paid sessions for them. Thus I do believe and agree with Siva that this will encourage sponsors to pay a bigger amount. That being said I feel we can improve sponsor returns by getting together with some prospect sponsors and asking them about their pain points. The last time around when I was involved in planning DC Hyderabad, I spoke to sponsor representatives post event about what went wrong and what went right for them as a retrospective and improve upon next time. I know I kind of failed in effectively forwarding that information to Siva and others but my point is, we need to work with the sponsors to get them better returns as opposed to building a behaviour inducing sponsorship package :). Though after writing this I feel a lot of sponsors could have asked for speaking spots.... but regardless, A good and well thought out move from my point of view.

Thanks Tanai for bringing this up on the community forum and opening it up for discussion!

Monopoly and partiality in session selections.

mehuls's picture

Selections of sessions and appreciassion seems very partial.

Thank you team hyderabad, for

vaibhavjain's picture

Thank you team hyderabad, for implementing this. Much awaited.
I am sure having a paid camp must have been a difficult decision, but it is definitely needed to improve the overall quality of the camp and the content we want to deliver. If you give more quality content, you will make it more attractive to attend, and people from farther places won't mind travelling. If you have high profile speakers, Yes, charge for them. As a camp organizer, we know when we call in speakers, we get their travel, stay and gift them too. Months of effort goes into this, and if we are getting any help from a paid camp, Good for us. Also, we have struggled a lot on number of participants, this will make sure that we have some numbers in hand, and things can be planned accordingly.

As far as session to sponsors is concerned, I believe, its a good idea. Organizations can showcase what they want to, and moreover, it will give them an assurity that they will have a slot to present which will inturn give them enough time to prepare and work on the session. However, I also believe, as this being a paid camp, we should make sure whatever content is delivered, meets the standards we are trying to achieve.

Lastly, as soon as the team gets a sponsorship, they should also declare the sessions, by the organization, which in turn will help pull more crowd.

All in all, Its a great initiative, much awaited, much talked about, and first to implement, team HYD. All the best guys.

Vaibhav Jain

Thumbs up for Paid Camp -

venkatadapa's picture

Thumbs up for Paid Camp - (Quality will improve)
Thumbs down for 2 free sessions to sponsors. Speakers and sessions should be high valued.

Just a thought

sudheeshps's picture

DCH, great move. Really appreciate this step.

But thinking from other side. Do you all feel this will reduce the no:of new comers. Drupal is everything for all of us. So we all will join even if its paid one. But just thinking how new people will approach it. This is can be something which can drag people backwards who would just like to see what Drupal is.

Of course i would support this move as i have seen very casual behavior from Students.

we also think about couple of other options for future camps.

  1. Use paid ones for co-prorate, general and make Students pass free.
  2. Make entry fee free and avoid food.
  3. Payments only for sessions and training.
  4. Conduct sessions on 2 days so that there will be more people coming both days.

Again these are thoughts from my side. Lets discuss :)



Group organizers

Group events

Add to calendar

Group notifications

This group offers an RSS feed. Or subscribe to these personalized, sitewide feeds: