The Making of a WordCamp: the Venue

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WordCamp London 2013

Over the coming months, myself and a fantastic team of WordPress folks will be working our little socks off to bring you WordCamp London on 20th – 22nd March. During that period, I’m going to blog about the process of creating WordCamp London. Every WordCamp is different but hopefully there’s something you can learn and please use the comments to tell us how we can improve.

So where best to start but with the start of this WordCamp’s story: the venue.

Finding the Venue

Last year we held the event at the Bishopsgate Insitute which was a fantastic venue. But this year, we’re bigger. WordCamp London sold out more than a month before the event and this year we want to be able to have more people, more tracks, and more days. The biggest problem is that everything in London is so expensive and WordCamps are supposed to be cheap! Bishopsgate was very reasonable but for a bigger venue we’d need more money.

The first thing that I always do when looking for a venue is to look at Lanyrd to see what similar events have been held in London. That helps to gauge whether a venue will be able to cope with a bunch of geeks with multiple devices. I make a list, and start contacting them.

Finding a Free Venue

As well as looking for a ££££ venue, I wanted to make a real effort to find a free venue. I discovered that City University had been hosting Drupal Camp London. If someone’s already hosting a FOSS event it’s a good sign that they’re supportive of FOSS software and communities. I tracked down the contact at City Uni who’d been responsible, got in touch with him, and he invited us to view the venue.

At the same time, Ilona, who’s on the organising team, got in touch with one of her contacts at London Metropolitan University. They were keen to build up relationships with a FOSS project.

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The Rocket at London Met University

We went to view both venues and in the end decided to go with London Met. We wanted to hold a three track event, and London Met had three perfect sized rooms (including one former rock music venue) for us to use. They also have a venue that could host the evening social. The only drawback is that one of the rooms is being renovated until November. So we decided to push the event until next March.

We kept contact with City University, however. Alex Elkins, our contact there, was really enthusiastic about WordPress. It’s good for us as a project to keep connections to different educational institutions. This helps us to grow the WordPress community locally and means that we have different venue options for the future. While City wasn’t quite the right fit for the WordCamp this year, it is a fantastic venue for our meetup and the next WPLDN meetup is being held there.

Finding Your Venue

Finding a venue for your WordCamp is one of the biggest challenges. The venue makes a huge difference to the event – you want a space that makes people feel comfortable and that they enjoy being in. You also need somewhere that’s cheap so you don’t have to charge your attendees through the nose.

Here are some of the things that I learned during my venue search that might help you:

  • search Lanyrd for events near to you and come up with a list of venues
  • look at where other FOSS projects have held events and get in touch with the organisers to see if they can connect you with the venue
  • if you are trying to get a venue for free, never contact the events department – they want to make money out of you. Find a contact in a department who is sympathetic to your project.
  • try to find somewhere that doesn’t lock you into catering. That’s often the biggest cost.
  • be open to doing work with your venue. We’re going to do some WordPress events specifically for non-profits as part of the University’s outreach. It’s good to think of things that you can do for them that fit with the project’s values.

That’s my thoughts on the great venue hunt. It is one of the hardest things you’ll do but once it’s done it’s done and you can get on with the business of planning your WordCamp.

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Save the Date: WordCamp London 20th – 22nd March 2015

We’re really excited to announce that the next WordCamp London will be held from 20th – 22nd March 2015 at London Metropolitan University!! The event will break down as follows:

  • 20th March: Contributor Day (for all things contributing to WordPress)
  • 21st – 22nd March: Conference (for all things WordPress)

The next WordCamp London is going to be even bigger than the last, with three tracks packed with everything the discerning WordPress developer, designer, blogger, contributor, business owner, and general aficionado might need. We’re hugely grateful to London Metropolitan University, who will be hosting us this year. We’ve got some exciting plans this year that we think will make our WordCamp really special.

But…uhh…. what about WordCamp London 2014?

We had every intention of holding WordCamp London this year. However, the room that we fell in love with is being renovated until the end of the year. Rather than having a festive Christmas WordCamp or pushing it just to January, we thought March would be a great alternative. This means that there’s a slim chance that the English weather will be nice to us and send rays of sunshine to warm up our WordCamp.

You shan’t be starved of WordPress, however. The WPLDN meetup group continues as usual, and there’ll be a WP Contributor Day in London later this year! Watch the meetup group for information.

What’s Next?

Over the coming months we’ll be making the usual announcements: call for speakers, call for sponsors, call for volunteers, ticketing, contributor day signups, and all of the other goodies you’ve come to expect from your WordCamp.

See you in March!

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WordCamp London needs a venue! Can you help?

Last year, WordCamp London was a huge success and we want to make this year even bigger and better. This means finding a bigger venue that can host two conference days. We’re working our way through venues in London, sending out requests for quotes, collating information, and trying to find a way to keep our costs as low as possible.

We’re committed to keeping the event as cheap for attendees, while still providing an amazing WordCamp experience. Venues in London are expensive, so we’re looking for a venue partner or sponsor who would be able to host our WordCamp for us. By hosting WordCamp London you’ll be supporting an amazing open source project, and we’re happy to discuss what we can do to show our thanks.

We’d like to hold the WordCamp over a weekend some time between August -> December 2014.

Who can help?

We need an venue space that can hold up to 600 people, across three rooms. You might be able to help us if you’re a:

  • University: universities can be perfect spaces because they can hold lots of people and have lots of bandwidth. It’s also a great opportunity for your students to learn about WordPress and meeting people in the WordPress community.
  • Adult Education Centre or College: again, this can be a great opportunity for students to learn about WordPress.
  • Tech company: if you’re a big tech company with a whole load of space, supporting a WordCamp is a great way to support the open source community
  • cinema, theatre, meeting house, community centre, mansion house, historic building, any other big space that can hold 600 people and their laptops!

We’d also be interested in speaking to anyone who thinking they can host the Contributor Day. For that we need a venue of around 150 people.

If you think you can help, we’d love to hear from you. Drop us an email.

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