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Problems at BlogWorld 2009: part 2, attendee’s perspective

December 3, 2009

As a second-time attendee to BlogWorld back in October, I was surprised at the feedback I was hearing from paying customers. This is the event’s third year, and it was held in the same location, the Las Vegas Convention Center. Surely the growing pains had mostly been shed by this point.

And yet, one person after another would tell me — unsolicited, mind you — about the little quirks, the small problems that take a potentially great experience and downgrade it.

I have contacted BlogWorld, specifically CEO and co-founder Rick Calvert, repeatedly about these issues in the six-plus weeks since the conference ended. You can read more about it in Part 1.

blogworld tweet

I had the privilege of speaking at the conference this year, so my $1,195 pass was on the house. But if you’re planning to go, consider these issues, and whether they’ll continue to worsen if the BlogWorld staff ignores them.

Repeating what I said in Part 1: A social media conference should heed its own message about addressing consumer concerns early on.

In Part 1, I reviewed problems with BlogWorld 2009 from a speaker’s perspective.

• • •

blogworld tweet

This is the second half of the e-mail that went to Rick Calvert on Oct. 25, 2009:

Part 2 is about feedback about the 2009 conference itself.

Because BW [BlogWorld] doesn’t have a formal survey for overall conference feedback, I wanted to share my own observations and those of fellow attendees.

While the content and the networking were great as always, problems with logistics diminished that experience significantly. I don’t know if these figures are correct, but if the number of BW attendees doubled from 08 to 09, and the staffing remained at the same size, this is probably the first area that needs to be addressed.

blogworld tweet

Here is a laundry list of problems that occurred during the show:

  • Registration computers not running from the start on Thursday.
  • Lunch tickets not available from the start on Thursday.
  • Signage not in place from the start on Thursday.
  • Poor audio at the Thur lunchtime keynote. I’ve been told other Thur sessions also had audio problems.
  • Signage, chairs and books not available at the book signing table on Fri morning.
  • Confusion over who or where to turn in completed speaker evaluations.
  • Many sessions had title only, with no description of what to expect, either on the Web site or in the program.

blogworld tweet

Also, before the show:

  • Web site did not have simple PDF to download program sessions. Some attendees would like option to print compact version of full schedule and mark on paper (not the same as lengthy print option of full schedule.)

I believe one solution may be to hire a firm to handle the conference planning aspect. I met just such a vendor Saturday morning.

Another attendee said she would love to help with publicity and media relations. She said that breaking news from the conference should have higher visibility and coverage.

Again, this is not intended to be a bitch-and-moan list. These are problems that can and should be fixed for next year.

blogworld tweet

I would be happy to discuss any and all of these issues I’ve raised at your earliest convenience. My cell is 205-xxx-xxxx.

Thank you for your consideration.

Wade

• • •

blogworld tweet

• • •

You can see the first half of the e-mail to BlogWorld in Part 1.

• • •

Thinking about attending BlogWorld? Some questions to ponder:

  1. What should a BlogWorld conference attendee expect for $1,195?
  2. How should attendees bring up service problems to BlogWorld staff before, during and after the event? Evaluation form, call, e-mail, blog post, tweet, etc.?
  3. How important is it that sessions have full title, presenter and description in advance?
  4. For those who have attended BlogWorld, did you get your money’s worth?
  5. Should a social media conference be held to a higher standard when it comes to communication and customer service?

What was your BlogWorld experience? What went right, and what could’ve been better?

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13 Comments leave one →
  1. December 3, 2009 4:36 pm

    My main problem with BlogWorld this year was that I pitched a panel very early on, and they didn’t keep to their promised schedule in informing folks which panels had been chosen. It was put off repeatedly and I never got a firm answer until about September, which was a problem for the panelists I’d chosen because a lot of them were waiting to hear if their registration was comped before they booked their travel, and that’s pretty late in the game to do that. They also promised a discounted registration for everyone who pitched a panel, and though I requested it, it never materialized.

    I understand when things don’t go as planned and decisions need to be put off, but a bit more communication on their end (and responsiveness to emails inquiring about the status of things) would go a long way.

    • December 4, 2009 11:11 am

      Thanks, Annie.

      It sounds like BlogWorld needs to give answers on panels sooner, be clearer about what compensation will be available for panelists, and better communication overall would solve the issue. Is that correct?

  2. December 3, 2009 6:10 pm

    I think all of your points in your first post were valid Wade as are these points however many of the issues you have raised in this post are beyond our control or are just normal occurrences at any event our size. I will do my best to explain here.

    The Registration Computers were up and running and tested on Wednesday. For whatever reason there was a problem Thursday morning first thing, but it was fixed within 20 minutes. It happens at events all the time. We registered 900 people on Thursday, 400 of them within the first hour and a half of registration being open. That’s a very good turn rate for any event.

    Lunch Tickets were available first thing Thursday morning. I am not sure what the confusion was there other that some temporary staff possibly being confused in the morning. This is a fact of life in events at convention centers. We are forced to hire staff from the official venue agency and there is always some weeding out of bad staff, and additional training despite the full days training they receive the day before the show.

    All signage was in place Wednesday night.

    There definitely was an audio problem with the Thursday afternoon keynote. Unfortunately these things happen sometimes. We had Freeman AV staff and the Las Vegas Convention Center staff working on fixing the problem the moment it happened. We would have delayed the keynote to get the problem fixed if we weren’t on such a tight schedule.

    I was not aware of this issue on-site, but I know the chairs and tables were set Wednesday night. I saw them myself. Which is even more confusing that they wouldn’t be available Friday morning unless someone made off with the chairs which does happen. The book store was located directly adjacent to the book signing area. I’m not sure why the books wouldn’t be available.

    Can you tell me who was confused about where to turn in the evaluation forms? We had very knowledgeable staff on-site and you are the first person to mention this. We had a significant increase of evaluation forms turned in this year over 2008. Again temporary staff can get confused no matter how many times we explain the process to them but we always have our own staff there to support them.

    As to the session descriptions, that’s definitely true and goes to the problem we addressed in your first post.

    We did have one page handouts available for each day’s schedule on-site at registration, at the publication bins, and in the seminar area.

    • December 4, 2009 11:23 am

      Rick,

      I appreciate your insight and feedback on the problems at BlogWorld. Let me see if I can clarify some issues.

      * I didn’t witness the problem with the registration computers first hand. If it was a temporary glitch, it happens.

      * I heard about the lunch ticket problem from several people, even ended up giving away one of mine. I don’t think attendees knew if lunch was offered, where to get it, if it was free, and how to get a ticket. An advance e-mail or Web notice could help clarify these issues.

      * An attendee told me that he/she saw signs going up Thursday morning after the event had started.

      * Compounding the audio problem during Thursday’s lunch keynote was a BlogWorld staffer berating attendees for talking during the keynote. I believe they were talking because they couldn’t hear a thing. Their silence would’ve meant nothing, since they still wouldn’t have been able to hear the address. It’s one thing to tackle audio problems, quite another to shift the blame to paying attendees. It definitely left a bad impression on many of us.

      * The author arrived to find no chairs, no books and no signs. He had to find a staffer and get everything into place minutes before his signing.

      * When I would ask about who or where to turn in evaluation forms, staff members would often be puzzled by such a question. It wasn’t clear if they should take them, and what would happen to them. No boxes or bins were set up to collect them passively (I seem to recall there were bins in 2008). I felt like I almost had to put the form in their hands to get them to take them.

      * In my opinion, the one-page schedule handouts were poorly designed, offered little or no information and seemed to duplicate the program books. I certainly felt like I got the short end of the stick here, since my program title was on those handouts, but didn’t match what was in the program.

      I think you’ll find if you do more research, you’ll uncover other attendee problems, suggestions and compliments. I’m just one opinion.

  3. December 3, 2009 8:59 pm

    Again this is very constructive and I think we can take this feedback and make the best of it for 2010. I am really looking forward to discussing this further on Blog World Expo Radio tomorrow (Friday, December 4, 2009). If anyone else wants to weigh in please feel free to add your comments here or join us for the show at http://www.blogworldexporadio.com

    • December 4, 2009 11:28 am

      Thanks, Jim. Looking forward to talking with you and your listeners.

  4. December 4, 2009 5:27 am

    I wrote this on one of the conference response forms but seeing as bwe organizers are sure to read these comments, I’ll post my foremost suggestion here.

    An additional track to consider is a Blogging 101 track. While I have been blogging for almost 5 years and have a substantial following, you’d be surprised how little I know about pretty much all other than posting. It’s scary, actually.

    My husband and I attended bwe to get a better handle on both the business and technical end of things and found right away we were in over our heads. Most sessions were 301 and 401 courses. (Wade’s was a 101/201 and quite helpful.)

    We did learn some things, but mostly via osmosis and repetition of thought in various sessions. I do plan to come back next year, but dialing down some of the sessions – even a 1-day track – for newbies or old dogs who want to learn new tricks would be most welcomed.

    Thanks for your consideration.

    • December 4, 2009 11:29 am

      Thanks, Jill. I certainly enjoy going to the beginners’ seminars at BlogWorld because I’m still learning along the way. Good suggestion.

  5. December 10, 2009 3:03 pm

    Wade – Overall, I also enjoyed BlogWorld immensely, but you are correct about these minor annoyances. Quick-fixes on these issues should help make the event more successful next year. It will be interesting to see how many are remedied.

    • December 11, 2009 12:34 pm

      Pat, thanks for your comment. I talked with Rick yesterday to hear what solutions they have in mind. Hopefully, they will address the issues raised here and by others.

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  1. Problems at BlogWorld 2009: part 1, speaker’s perspective « Birmingham Blogging Academy
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