WordCamp Europe 2017 Posts 24% No-Show Rate, Cites Early Ticket Sales and Expensive Location

photo credit: WP Tavern

WordCamp Europe 2017 organizers have posted attendance and budget data compiled after the conclusion of the event. Despite being promoted as “the largest WordPress event to this day” with more than 3,000 expected attendees, WCEU 2017 fell short with 1,900 people on the ground. Attendees were 5% fewer than last year’s 2,000 in Vienna. Expectations ran high but organizers could not predict the 24% no-show rate once the event got started. This is more than double the 10% no-show rate for the previous four years.

The camp’s organizers do not have a simple explanation for the high no-show rate, but cite several factors, including a few dozen participants being denied visas, higher local sales, an expensive location, and putting tickets on sale too early. Approximately 60% of attendees were from nearby countries, such as France, Great Britain, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Ticket sales for 2017 were open immediately at the conclusion of the 2016 event in Vienna. Organizers found that tickets sold in the first six months had a 34% no-show rate as compared to 20% for those sold in 2017. As the event has often sold out in the past, prospective attendees may have felt pressure to purchase a ticket in advance without confirming the ability to attend.

Posting increasingly higher attendance numbers isn’t one of the goals of the WordCamp, but planning accurately for the number of people who will attend is crucial for resource and budget planning. When one in four attendees is a no-show, the plans for food, swag, venue accommodations, and other aspects of the event are askew.

Organizers did not mention Contributor Day attendance in the wrap-up report, but this may have been one of the most successful aspects of the event. It was held prior to the main conference days, which may explain the event’s unusually high attendance numbers. Organizers hosted 473 attendees for the 500 available contributors slots.

WordCamp Europe 2017 Cost 300€ per Attendee, Sponsors Covered 80%

WordCamp Europe’s wrap-up report also includes a transparent breakdown of the event’s 700k€ budget. Catering costs for lunches, snacks and drinks, made up 50% of the budget. However, organizers were limited to the venue’s catering partners, which blurs the line between actual food versus venue costs.

The team was unable to sell all of the sponsorship packages and was forced to reduce the budget by 149k€ along the way. WordCamp Central subsidized 10€/ticket and covered the final deficit of 28k€. The cost breakdown per attendee was 300€ with sponsors covering 80%, WordCamp Central 7%, and tickets sales 13%. These numbers show that the 40€ ticket price is a small fraction of the total costs required for an event of this size.

Organizers said they felt it was important to share the data for educational purposes but also 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.”

25 Comments


  1. Both Sponsorship and attendance costs(flights, accommodation, transport) were higher than usual even for people in living in the EU.

    If you add the recent terrorist attacks in city of Paris and other nearby countries you’ll get a better idea of the reasons attendance and participation was so low.

    I was willing to both Sponsor and attend(me and my family) this year WCEU but all this made it impossible for me.

    All in all this years WCEU in terms of cost for us seemed like an event not related with WP and its community, was way too expensive.

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  2. As a sponsor, I actually care very much about the number of people coming, the mix of people in the audience and the purpose they’re coming to the event.

    I think that the fact that WCEU organizers are not very concerned with who comes is a partial explanation to the fact that some sponsorship packages were left.

    Last year, we sent a big team to Vienna. Sending such a big team to Paris just costs too much, compared to the value we can expect to get from it.

    Sorry, but some of us (sponsors and attendees) are running on a budget and need to decide how we best spend it.

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  3. Sponsorship fees for WordCamp US and WordCamp Europe don’t let small businesses or even mid-sized businesses who don’t live exclusively in the WordPress space to participate proactively.

    Unless I’m missing something, the smallest package this years for WCEU was the newly introduced “Small Business Sponsors” – https://2017.europe.wordcamp.org/2017/03/23/wordcamp-europe-2017-sponsorship-exclusively-for-small-business/ – selling for 2500 EUR (or $2,839 currently).

    A slight comparison with three major WordCamps in the US and UK (again – expensive areas, high standard, large audience overall):

    1. WordCamp Boston 2017 – https://2017.boston.wordcamp.org/sponsors/call-for-sponsors/ – smallest business package $500 for 500-650 expected attendees
    2. WordCamp Miami 2017 – https://2017.miami.wordcamp.org/become-a-sponsor/ – starts at $325 for an Agency, over 850 people attended last year
    3. WordCamp London 2017 – https://2017.london.wordcamp.org/sponsorship/ – starts at £550 ($711)

    Granted, there are different perks included for each plan. The audience of WCEU is still larger than the other events. But the bottom line is that the entry fee for WordPress businesses is still hard to grasp for most businesses active in WordPress but still failing to generate mid-six, seven, let alone eight figures from WordPress services and products.

    Talking about inclusivity and diversity for attendees and speakers, discussing sponsors is worth keeping into account as well. We’ve already had a detailed and honest review of sponsorship value by Tony Perez here on the Tavern – https://wptavern.com/the-value-of-sponsoring-a-wordcamp-from-a-business-perspective

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  4. So nobody thought that Paris France is an expensive City?

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    1. Apparently not, lesson learnt as next year we’re heading to the Balkan’s! Ziveli! :D

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  5. $200 per person for food?

    700,000 euros = $800,000 US dollars, 50% of that is $400,000, divided by 2000 attendees = $200 per person.

    Wow.

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    1. Do consider that this isn’t as much “what the food costs”, but the cost of “food and staff serving it”. Aside from lunches there were all–day tea/coffee/snacks tables served and staffed . This adds up very fast and is often a large/mandatory component in venue services.

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  6. I wonder why the organizers don’t ASK those people who didn’t show up. I think the picture would become much clearer.

    For me the main reason not to go was the size of the event. I bought a ticket rather early but after giving it some thought I decided that don’t feel comfortable among a crowd of thousands.
    As a self employed freelancer who doesn’t get a refund from her boss costs are an issue, too. I have to choose carefully where I spend my travel money – I think I will go for the smaller camps in the future. There are plenty on very lovely spots ?

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  7. I think it will be good and handy to have a RSVP switch to counter no-shows; just like on meetup.com. It wouldn’t change the cost, but things can be arranged for food waste since just 800m from the venue hundreds of refugees were sleeping under the bridges. I really do hope they did something positive with the leftovers.

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    1. That’s a good idea. Also these no-show rates aren’t unusual for other industry events, we should oversell tickets beyond capacity.

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      1. With a comment like that, it shows that you’re completely disconnect from the real world.

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      2. That rate is slightly on the high side for free-ticket events, but would not be unusual. For an event where attendees had to pay for a ticket, a no-show rate of 24% is not typical at all. Not even close.

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      3. There are conferences that cost thousands of dollars per ticket that get a 25% no-show rate. It depends on who’s paying, when it is, where it is, whether there’s any penalty for not showing up (like not being invited back), and what’s going on in the world.

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      4. There are conferences that cost thousands of dollars per ticket that get a 25% no-show rate.

        source please @Matt.

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  8. Although, the venue itself was good. The area was really criminal and dirty. I walked there in the daytime and was really shocked. Eventually, the plane tickets and hotels and other expenses can easily make it the most expensive trip for a regular WordPress-guy without any guess on ROI.

    This is what I’ve heard from too many people including sponsors. In addition, many people did not understand why WP Foundation does not allow sponsors like Envato and Templatemonster (because they do not support GPL as much, as WP wants), but you can see Mojo Marketplace as sponsors doing basically the same in terms of GPL/non-GPL product policy…

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    1. Maybe because the GPL is not a policy but a license. And instead of going to court, the WP Foundation has chosen to use softer methods, for now…

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  9. I sold my ticket due to my fear of some terrorist attack. There, I have said it.

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    1. If you sold your ticket to someone going, then you don’t count as a no-show… DUH

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      1. No, but he is someone who bought a ticket and then decided not to go. The fact that he sold his ticket to someone else doesn’t change his motivation for not going. He just mitigated a loss he would have absorbed.

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      2. this article is about a 24% no-show rate.

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  10. I agree the conference should oversell and that no-show rate is well within normal ranges for larger scale industry events. As far as costs go, I found WCEU the value as a sponsor one of the best we have invested in.

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