WordCamp Europe 2017 in Paris, it’s a wrap!

After a few days of rest, and a few more days wrapping up vendor invoices, gathering feedback, uploading more than 50 videos on WordPress.tv and tying up loose ends, we can really consider WordCamp Europe 2017…finished!

We decided to share some data about the event, starting with attendance figures:

  • 1,900 people from 79 countries were present.
  • 1,000+ watched the live streams from 77 countries.
  • Total audience: 2,900 from 92 different countries.

It’s interesting to note that 2479 tickets were published, or 12.6% more than last year’s 2200, and 1900 people attended, 5% less than last year’s 2000 in Vienna.

This put the no-show rate for 2017 at 24%, more than twice the no-show from the previous four years that had been consistently hovering around 10%.

It’s hard to give a single, simple, explanation for this change, we don’t really have any data to back the different hypothesis, and the truth is likely a composite of several different reasons:

  • Visa refused probably affected a few dozen people.
  • Higher local sales: we sold 1144 between France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, all places within a few hours from Paris.
  • Higher cost: Paris was by far the most expensive location in WCEU history.
  • We sold tickets almost one year ahead of the event, and tickets sold in the first six months had much higher no-show rates (34% no show on tickets sold in 2016 vs 20% on tickets sold in 2017.

These two charts show ticket sales and no-shows per month and seem to be teaching us that very early might be too soon to sell WCEU tickets.

WordCamp Europe ticket sales and no-shows by month

People behind WordCamp Europe

Let’s now look at the people who made WordCamp Europe 2017 happen:

  • 45 organisers (split into 9 teams)
  • 221 volunteers
  • 42 speakers
  • 32 sponsors (+ 48 Micro Sponsors)
  • 3 media partners

And on the communication aspects:

  • 198 P2 posts and 579 comments.
  • More than 100k Slack messages.
  • About one thousand people/hours spent in hangouts.
  • About 10 thousand people/hours of work.

The budget

Finally, let’s talk about the budget: the overall budget for WCEU 2017 amounts to about 700k€ before sales tax.

The budget was initially higher, at 860k€, but for the first year, we couldn’t sell all the sponsorship packages. It was a transition year, in which WCEU moved from a traditional table setup for sponsors, common in smaller WordCamps, to an actual floor with booths reaching up to 36m2.

We had to do some magic to reduce expenses along the way:

  • The sponsorship, planned for a total of 705k€ ended up being 556k€, so 149k€ less.
  • Ticket sales estimated at 153k€ ended up being 90k€ so 60k€ less.
  • We added 30k for the Community Summit to the expenses.
  • We managed to reduce the originally budgeted expenses from 862k€ to 705k€, so 157k€ less.

In the end, the budget is balanced thanks to WordCamp Central, as they provided a subsidy of 10€/ticket sold to keep the prices low, and covered the final deficit of 28k€

50% of the budget covers catering costs! (breakfast, lunch, cold and warm drinks, snacks and fruit).

It would be a mistake though to just assume that food cost that much, considering that Les Docks de Paris (our venue) came with their own catering partners. When that’s the case, it’s usually impossible to know what part of the catering costs really covers food, and what part covers part of the venue rental.

The budget was covered by:

Ticket sales 90,000€
WordCamp Central 50,000€
Sponsors 560,000€
Total budget 700,000€

Which brings the real cost per attendee to 300€.

Important note: this budget includes the Community Summit and Contributor Day costs. These events are offered to the attendees present and therefore supported by the main event.

The breakdown for one attendee is:

Attendee (ticket price) 40€ 13.33%
WordCamp Central 20€ 6.67%
Sponsors 240€ 80%

It’s essential to also underline that this budget is kept extremely low for an event this size thanks to the gracious participation of speakers, volunteers, and organisers who all travel on their own dime, and work absolutely for free before, during, and after the event.

If we had to cover travel and accommodation costs for all these people, the budget would be double, at about 1.4M€. We won’t even consider what would happen if we had to pay everyone for the time and energy they invest, the event at that point would simply become impossible to organise, with a cost per attendee closer to 1000€.

So, here we are. For the sake of transparency and education, we felt it was important to share these numbers, to:

  • Demonstrate to everyone who might have a doubt, that maintaining the ticket fee very low is meant to make our events accessible to all, but that the fee is not an indicator of the value of the conference.
  • Thank once more sponsors, speakers, and volunteers, without whom WordCamp Europe wouldn’t exist.
  • Provide context and information to other and future WordCamp organisers.
  • Explain to all WordCamp attendees why at times the food selection might not be their first choice: organising an accessible event requires some compromise (as a last data point, WCEU17 attendees collectively expressed 29 different combinations of dietary requirements).

WordCamp Europe 2017 is now officially over, and we wish all the best to the team organising WordCamp Europe 2018 in Belgrade, Serbia.

And to show you how amazing WordCamp Europe 2017 has been for all of us, here is a selection of photos from the WCEU Photography team. <3

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