Archive for October, 2008

BarCamp no shows

October 8th, 2008

You may know that I am a prolific BarCamper, that I love the concept, and really enjoy attending these events. I will be blogging about this addiction soon and will catch up on some well needed blogging about BarCamps I have attended.

I am writing this to stat to addressing a problem we have always had with BarCamps, and a problem that is getting worse. This problem is people signing up and not attending. At the recent BarCampLondon5 there were 150 tickets allocated and only 100 turned up. Most of these absentees were people who had not attended a BarCamp before. At BarCampNorthEast we shockingly had only 30% attendance. Even the first UK BarCamp managed 80%, and that was when we were all new.

Tickets for the popular BarCamps are hard to get and there is nothing more annoying to me than not being able to get a ticket when there would have been room. This is something we need to fix.

Overbooking is one option and is sometimes done. We kind of did it for BarCampNorthEast. We released tickets for everyone we could legally fit in the building rather than a comfortable level. We were convinced that we would not have full attendance, but would not have to turn anyone away if we were wrong. Considering the effort some put in to attend I do not ever want to turn people with tickets away.

BathCamp (the BarCamp in Bath :-) ) tried to decrease nonattendance by charging £5 a non refundable and spending the money on a t-shirt. For legal reasons that are far to complex to go in to here you should not charge for attendance and a t-shirt was a nice work around. Attendance was not bad, but was not perfect either, and I would say that the payment did not make much of a difference.

I have given this whole situation a lot of thought and I am wondering if the solution should perhaps be one of communication, or not relyaing on non attendibng deligates to communicate to be more exact.

Once we have booked then we often get no more than one email, and we never need to confirm we are still attending. Yes people are asked to say if they are not going, but this is obviously not working. Should we expect people to confirm they will be attending a week or two before the BarCamp instead of cancel if they are not?

I agree that we should not have it so a person who has missed an email can not go, but a date can be set in advance and an email reminder sent out in addition to tweets, blogs posts and whatever other communication tools are available at the time.

Taking this one step further, why not allow people to book queue-jumper tickets in advanced so they can plan ahead. This queue-jumper ticket allows you book a full ticket when they are released very close to the event. The queue-jumper ticket guarantees an event ticket if you book that event ticket in a predefined time window just before the event. After that window people on the resirve list can book, and finally anyone can book.

This can be done with something like EventWax and spreadsheet software to check there is no cheating.

All this actually does is bring the date when someone commits to attending the event closer to the event and this might not solve the problem. It could though so should we give it a go?

In the words of an old exam paper…. Discuss. :-)