Archive for April 2006


Many conferences give out bags with informational and advertising material, goodies, etc. to the conference participants. This is a good habit that you should probably adopt.


You Are In a Maze of Twisty Little Passages

Finding your way around a conference hotel or convention center can be daunting. Because many places like this have been growing over time and because they use the venue for many different kind of events which all have different needs, conference venues tend to be too large and with too complex a layout. Visitors will encounter many locked doors and dead end hallways, because your event is using only part of the venue.

And while the organizers first view of the location is probably on a guided tour by the venue staff, the normal attendee will arrive there totally unprepared. He’ll see lots of people running in all directions not all of which seem to belong to the same event. So he needs some guidance.


The Hallway Track Blog

In the last years I have organized several conferences and similar events and I have been to many more. I have been to conferences as a normal attendee, as a speaker and as a reporter. And I have done the behind the scenes work in many roles from programm committee member to head organizer, some of it as a hobby and some of it as paid work. In this blog, I want to share the experience I have gained and help others who are planning to create their own events.

I started organizing events without any formal education on how to do this and without even a book about the subject to help me along. Instead I watched what other people were doing, noted what I liked about other events and what I didn’t like. And I tried out things, some of which worked and some didn’t. Because I think conferences are important to learn and to network with your colleagues, I want to help make this process easier for other people. And while my experience is from IT conferences, most of it is probably applicable to other subjects as well. From my background of organizing events on a budget for user groups instead of working for a company organizing expensive management events, my view might be slightly biased towards the do-it-yourself mindset instead of giving large amounts of money to conference hotels and let them do a large part of the work.

The plan for this blog is to collect my (and possibly other peoples’) ideas on how to organize a conference. I intend to write an article every week or so about some aspect of event management. The blog can capture the information and hopefully brings it into a public discussion. I encourage everyone to contribute with comments and maybe articles. We’ll see where this goes.

The name for this blog is derived from the proverbial “hallway track”, the informal gatherings of attendees of a conference in the hallway between the official sessions. Experienced conference goers know that the hallway track can be more important than the formal tracks with their talks.

About Jochen Topf: I work as an independent software developer and consulant focused on internet technologies. I live in Karlsruhe, Germany. For more information see my business home page and my private home page. You can reach me at