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How did we realize growth for WordCamp Nederland 2016?

October 20th, 2016 WordPress Community The WordCamp The Netherlands 2016 Organizing team

WordCamp Nederland 2016 has grown a whopping 68% since last years edition. How did the organizing team realize this?

Selling out is a sign

Being sold out for two years in a row made it clear to us. We needed, and had the possibility to grow. Because of having the same venue for the last 5 years, where further growth was not possible, we were obliged to find a new venue. One that was as central in The Netherlands as the previous one, and easily reachable by car and public transport.

In January we started to brainstorm about a new location. Having no idea of the total amount of visitors we would get, we set the bar at 400. A big change since the 250 we had in the last editions. With that new number we gathered venues on a long-list, began discussing the pro’s and cons and soon came up with a shortlist for which we got some quotes. We were surprised by the amount of money involved and discussed how we were going to get the budget approved. We had to get more sponsor income, which wasn’t going to be a problem, since sponsors would benefit from the extra amount of attendees to get more attention.

Having set a new goal for the sponsors we could book our new location, The Jaarbeurs in Utrecht, and got our budget approved by WordPress Community Support. We were excited.

Now we can really begin organizing.

Time to start designing, building the website, open up ticket sales, get sponsors and volunteers and we’d be done.

The sentence above sounds so simple, and yet every WordCamp organizer will know, organizing a WordCamp consumes a lot of time, times two. It’s all for a good cause, to strengthen and grow the WordPress community.

So, back to organizing. After publishing the call for speakers, sponsors and volunteers we were treated by surprise after surprise. Sponsors were in line and soon all the sponsor spots were sold out. After getting more requests we could not say no and got even more sponsors than expected. We got almost twice the amount of funds from sponsors than planned.

To sell more tickets, we decided do an Early Bird promotion and advertisement in a leading web magazine (yes, one made of paper) in The Netherlands. This resulted on being sold out reasonably fast, even after we increased the total amount to 440. We were even more excited now. We were sold out and had enough sponsors before we made speaker and program announcements.

Volunteers and speakers submitted their applications and we were able to plan the sessions, assign volunteer roles and finalize the program. Since we had not planned a party yet, we decided to look around Utrecht for a great place for a party. We did not find a good fit, and decided to check if our new venue could host a party. Sure they could, and it would fit within budget. But, we did not want people to leave the venue for diner, go to downtown Utrecht, and then ask them to come back for the party.

This would result in a lot of attendees not coming back. So, we checked to see if we could plan a diner for all attendees. Yes, all attendees. I don’t know if this was ever done on a WordCamp, but this feels very special to do and it gives our attendees more possibilities to socialize.

It’s been almost a week since this 6th edition of WordCamp Nederland happened. We are thankful, proud and happy, mainly because we could facilitate this event and have all attendees benefit from the growth we realized. At the end it’s all about the community.

Big thanks to the organizing team

I’d like to thank Wendy, Remkus, Luc, Bas, Barry and Taco for being professional, honest and flexible. We can look back to a great event.

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About Marcel Bootsman

Marcel discovered the web in 1995. Since then he has paid attention to and worked with lots of technologies and founded his own WordPress oriented business in 2009.

Currently Marcel is Marketing Manager for the Dutch Market at Kinsta where he helps Kinsta's client base grow in the Managed WordPress and Application & Database hosting arena.

You can contact Marcel on a diverse range of online platforms. Please see the Connect section on the homepage for the details.