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.”