WordCamp Europe closed out a successful event in Belgrade with 2,085 attendees from 76 countries. More than 800 others joined via livestream for a total audience of nearly 3,000 participants. A record-setting Contributor Day kicked off the event, followed by two days of conference sessions and workshops from 65 speakers.
A team of 54 organizers and 170 volunteers made WCEU possible, with 10 different organizing teams. Last year WordCamp Europe added a PR team and this year the event introduced an Attendee Services team to fill gaps in the organization. The operation ran smoothly, despite the conference being spread out across many rooms in the sprawling Sava Centar venue.
WordCamp Europe’s PWA (progressive web app) was the highlight of the new features and services introduced this year. It was a central hub for keeping attendees informed on what was happening at any given moment. Organizers also added new amenities, including a site health check station, Community Room, and info booth to handle attendee questions.
Gutenberg and Progressive web apps were the hot topics of this year’s WordCamp Europe. In addition to Matt Mullenweg unveiling a roadmap for Gutenberg’s inclusion in core, a strong contingent of designers and engineers from the team were present to educate attendees on Gutenberg’s architecture and the vision behind the project.
Many attendees were visiting Serbia for the first time and Belgrade delivered with its renowned hospitality and captivating nightlife. Attendees found no shortage of delicious options for food and drink.
Berlin to Host WordCamp Europe 2019
At the conclusion of the event, organizers announced Berlin as the next host city for WordCamp Europe, June 20-22, 2019. The conference, Contributor Day, and the after party will all be held at the Estrel Hotel and Congress Center, a venue with a capacity for 12,000 attendees.
Organizers said that Berlin’s accessibility, reasonable prices, and strong community were the final deciding factors for its selection as the next host city.
Behind the Scenes at WordCamp Europe 2018 with Lead Organizers Jenny Beaumont and Milan Ivanović
Hosting a volunteer-led event at this scale requires an enormous amount of effort from the organizers, especially those taking the lead for multiple years in a row. There is nearly no down time as the team is already planning for the next edition of the camp.
I sat down with lead organizers Jenny Beaumont, the global lead, and Milan Ivanović, the local lead, to get a look behind the scenes at what is involved in bringing WordCamp Europe to thousands of WordPress enthusiasts in one weekend. We interviewed them at the conclusion of WCEU 2017 in Paris. Over the past two years these leaders have developed a strong working relationship built on encouraging each other and keeping a positive outlook for their teams.
Beaumont said she was hesitant going into a third year for this role, as Paris was the project that captured her heart and motivation. After going through this event as the global lead, she said she discovered what she could bring to the role and how she could serve the team.
“The event has been their project,” Beaumont said. “My project this year has been the team, how I can really concentrate on this team, on its growth, on its health, on its sustainability. That’s what I learned in Paris – the importance of making sure that was part of the project.”
Beaumont and Ivanović explained the difference between the global and local lead roles, a structure that works well for flagship WordCamps.
“The local team is really about making it a good experience in this new place that everybody is going to be discovering for the first time,” Beaumont said. “It’s the hard work, it’s the logistics, it’s all of the small details, everything that’s behind the scenes that make it so you walk in as an attendee and it just feels like you’re at home. They do all of that hard work. The global role, as it has evolved, is really about being that sort of team care-giver, making sure that there is good communication happening, making sure the team is healthy and happy and motivated. Because you’ve got to get up and do this every day while you’re also doing your day job, and that takes a lot.”
WordCamp Europe had a strong impact on the local community with more than 400 Serbian attendees and 20 Serbian organizers. They worked to build awareness of WordPress in the local community ahead of the event.
“We used this event to grow our community and used our community to promote the event,” Ivanović said. “When we announced last year in Paris that Belgrade is going to be next, at that time we had five or six cities for WordPress meetups. Currently, we are in 14 cities and starting the 15th in July. WordCamp Europe and the conference itself was such a win for the whole community.”
Ivanović will return next year as the global lead for WCEU in Berlin. Beaumont is taking some time off after three years organizing WordCamp Paris and WordCamp Europe, but she hopes to return in some capacity in the future. They are working together with their team to publish a WordCamp Europe handbook that covers some of the important specifics of the event for upcoming teams. Check out the full interview in the video below.