What did I learn from WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens? 🧿

On June 11, 2023, I got back from Athens, Greece where I was visiting WordCamp Europe as a part of the Indystack team.

It was by far not my first WordCamp - not even my first WordCamp Europe. As usual, I came back all pumped up - tons of ideas, many goals, and ready to rock.

While all companies are working on post-event recaps for their blogs and grooming their lists of leads, I've decided to look at WordCamp Europe from the perspective of an individual. Plus, it was my first experience with having a sponsor booth.

What does it mean for an individual to be a part of the biggest WordPress event? I'll try to answer this question (and ask a few more).

Before we begin, not everyone is having a similar experience at WordCamps. There were people on my team who were visiting WordCamp for the first time and those who have organized WordCamp Europe before. I will look at the WordCamp experience from different perspectives (based on my observations and annoying questions).

We will see what comes out of it.

Raitis Sevelis and Indystack at WordCamp Europe 2023 in Athens

Are you new to WordCamps? 👶

Visiting WordCamp is thrilling, visiting WordCamp Europe is a WOW experience.

I remember my first WordCamp Europe in Paris, I was shocked, lost, and extremely excited. I had that look - the same look I saw in my teammates' eyes in Athens. You are here, at WCEU, and not sure what to do next.

I know that many people may feel uncomfortable. You may be an introvert. You may have business goals defined prior to the event. It all puts additional stress.

The first thing to do is relax. Yes, take it easy and let WordCamp Europe take care of you.

The WordPress community is very friendly and welcoming. There are plenty of experienced community members who will be happy to explain everything and provide you with useful tips. Seek out to the WordCamp organizers for any assistance you may require.

From my personal experience, it is good to have an experienced team member by your side. A person who you can rely on and who will guide you through the WordCamp jungles.

If you are all alone, connect with the WordPress community prior to the event to build connections.

Of course, there will be plenty of people trying to help you and sell their stuff at the same time. I am completely ok with that - so should you. They came there to do business just like anyone else. Plus, their stuff can be a real gem.

Are you a WordCamp veteran? 👴

This is not the place where I can give you any advice.

I still have my own road to follow to earn that badge and organizing WordCamp Europe can help (one of my personal goals).

From what I see, and it includes me as well, it will be hard to pass the venue unnoticed. Be prepared for meeting hundreds of people you are connected virtually and train for hugs prior to WordCamp Europe.

In fact, meeting people at WordCamp is my favorite part. There are so many people I talk to weekly and daily online but meet only at WordCamps. It is a special moment to celebrate.

The downside is that you won't remember all of them. I find myself hard remembering the names (and sometimes faces). Don't be offended. Instead, remind people who you are - I do that regularly.

Are you in the middle?

You know your way around WordCamp but struggle with some parts. This is probably where I stand with my WordCamp Europe experience.

This is the place where you can seek help from more experienced WordCamp attendees (and organizers) and provide assistance to those who visit WordCamp Europe for the first time.

You are surely in a better position since you already know about Contributor Day, side events, and all the fun that you can find in the Sponsor area.

It is also about the right time to think about how you can contribute to WordCamp Europe yourself. There is tons of work that needs to be done before, during, and after the event - your help is always much appreciated.

Are you having a booth at WordCamp Europe? 🎪

This was the first time we had a booth at the Sponsor area of WordCamp Europe. This is an amazing and exhausting experience at the same time. Be prepared to work your a*s off.

Of course, it depends on your product, the popularity of your booth, and your willingness to get things done. We had a blast with Indystack where hundreds of attendees visited us and had fun. Your goal is to make sure their experience is smooth.

As for the swags - they are important. We managed to give away all that we had in stock, including an exclusive first batch of the Wapuu Alphabet book for kids. I will make sure to have more books for WordCamp Europe 2024 in Torino.

What do you need to know if you plan to have a booth? I have summarized some essential points:

  • Bring a lot of swags with you. Make sure that your swag count covers around 15% of all WordCamp attendees
  • Have an activity in place to entertain people. Our race track competition received huge attention.
  • Practice your booth experience before the event. Make sure that you and your team know who is accountable for what.
  • Don't go with a minimum number when it comes to your staff. We had six people joining WCEU from Indystack. Most of us did not have any time to visit presentations or even other booths around the corner.
  • Think of your booth as a pipeline where you cover a certain part of the funnel. My goal was to make sure that people standing in a queue for the race feel comfortable.
  • Have leaflets in place for your company. I hate them a lot but it is a bad idea to be paperless on your booth.
  • Some people are shy, encourage them to join your activities and give swags.
  • Have at least four company t-shirts (or polos) with you. WordCamp Europe is a full three-day event with side events in the evenings. Make sure you are always fresh and groomed.
  • Introduce people to your team, they may have a common role or interest. It's a chance to make new friends.

It may be hard and exhausting but totally worth it. Having a booth is a perfect way to share your story (business, products, services) with others.

As usual, there is more about the booth but I don't want this article to become a book (yet). If you have questions - you can always find me in the WPRacoon community.

What else you should know about WordCamp Europe?

In this chapter, I want to summarize some of my thoughts, tips, and recommendations. All to make your WordCamp experience better.

  • Choose a hotel close to the venue. There is always something happening around and there are short breaks in the middle. Staying close to the venue will help you drop off the bags of swags, change outfits, and be on time.
  • Get yourself some holidays. Make sure to arrive a few days prior to the event and use it to get familiar with the local culture. It is also a good way to meet WordPress people before the event.
  • Check the resources related to Contributor Day before the event. New contributors often struggle with basic things, like connecting to the Make WordPress Slack channel. See the documentation of your team.
  • Take photos - a lot of photos. It will be easier for you to stay in touch with your new friends and you will have moments to remember.
  • Are you thinking about taking your family with you? Go ahead, WordCamp Europe is a family event with even childcare available at the venue.
  • Have your business cards or digital way to share (and collect) contact information. There are plenty of apps for that available.
  • Find a way to make quick notes. I will be considering making audio recordings to speed things up.
  • Make sure to visit WordCamp Europe 🙂

Again, there is a lot more to share - we can always start the conversation about WCEU in the WPRacoon community. Make sure to share your points as I may want to update this article.

Otherwise, see you in Torino, Italy. 🇮🇹

WordPress Latvia

The branding for the WordPress Latvia community designed by Raitis Sevelis. Applicable and free to use for WordCamps and meetups in Latvia.