It is with a heavy heart that I must make the announcement that the PHP South Coast conference will not return in 2018. We have discussed thoroughly, and whilst we are still enthusiastic and are immensely proud of what we have achieved with building this conference, we feel that the conference has run its course.
We started the conference with an aim to promote and build the PHP community in the south coast of the UK. The first year was an alliance of three user groups - PHP Hampshire, PHP Dorset and Brighton PHP, and the next two years we added three more - PHP Surrey, PHP Berkshire and PHPSW. We have seen these communities prosper, and working together has been a brilliant experience for us all.
There are a couple of reasons we won’t be carrying on. Firstly, we feel that the number of excellent PHP conferences is growing and the need for our regional conference has waned. The PHP UK and PHP North West conferences are both, in my personal opinion, incredibly good conferences that serve the PHP community across the UK perfectly. Now with the emergence of the Scotland PHP and PHP Yorkshire conferences, the community has even more choice than before.
Secondly, the budget for the conference is being stretched and the road ahead is filled with uncertainty. We started the 2015 edition with a £500 advance payment thanks to our excellent platinum sponsor for all three years, Spectrum IT. With that, we were able to put the deposit on the venue and confirm the first date. This year, we are stretching our budget even further. We’re still over £2,500 short of our sponsorship target, and we still need to make about £9,500 of sales to break even. Expanding to two days has been a risky move with additional costs, and our goal has never been to profit. So much so that when we formed the company, we formed it as a Community Interest Company: making a statement that we would not personally be able to profit from this venture. But, like any business, we still need to operate at least on break even. The recent VAT flat rate scheme changes mean that we will lose out on a little additional income. Additionally, with the uncertainty of Brexit, we are cautious to bring the conference back, lest it be financially and logistically disastrous.
Nevertheless, the 2017 edition, although being the last, will still go ahead, and we plan to make it the best so far! We love the speaker line-up, the rum bar will make a return, and of course the Laser Quest, which we finally found a sponsor for.
I’d like to thank the whole team, past and present who have helped grow this amazing conference. I’m so proud of the whole team. Let’s see this thing out with a bang!