BarCamp Hong Kong is the biggest unconference in town and we're proud to be part of it for the 4th consecutive year. Together with the ever awesome Ben Crox, we put together the whole event in a few weeks, and I have to say, it's been our toughest project of the year! A total of 940 people signed up, over 500 attended and 54+ sessions were hosted at BarCamp Hong Kong 2011 on November 12, 2011.
To avoid the heat, we decided to move BarCamp to mid-November this year and totally by accident we found the newly-completed Run Run Shaw Creative Media Centre at the City University of Hong Kong which happened to be available to us at that time. We were thrilled that we were able to host BarCamp there and the folks at the School of Creative Media have been extremely supportive and professional throughout.
We started by launching the official website, then spread the word with an EDM and various updates on Facebook and Twitter. On top of the usual signage and lanyards, we also designed a BarCamp T-shirt without any sponsor logos for the first time and sold a ton of them.
Instead of using multiple sign-up channels including Wiki, Google Spreadsheet and Facebook Event like in previous years, we wanted to find something that could help us better manage sign-ups and check-ins. After looking at a lot of other BarCamp sites, we went with Eventbrite and it turned out to be a godsend.
On the other hand, we also had to coordinate with the venue, sort out all logistics (like finding lunch caterer and a bar), the run-down and unfortunately also the huge task of finding sponsors in the last minute when the organizer in charge of that did not follow up.
On The Day
With Eventbrite, not only could we manage sign-ups easily, we were also able to accept donations, sell T-shirts in advance, setup custom fields for surveys and generate all kinds of reports that help us plan and run the event more easily. The killer? It must be its Entry Manager iPhone app — it made the check-in process not only painless but nearly addictive! I was amazed by how smooth the check-in was, and of course this could not have been possible without the help of our volunteers - big thumbs up to Ryanne, Vinci, Adaline, Maloney, Chris, Echo, Alan Lai, Water, Howard, David, Koala, Kwong, Marianne, Asuka, Brian, Eddie, Alan Ho and Polly!
This year we took the schedule wall and put it up online so there was much less "squeezing" at the physical schedule wall. The hard part? Entering all 54+ sessions into the online spreadsheet in 15 minutes when hundreds of attendees were eagerly waiting behind your back! It felt as terrifying as shooting zombies in The Typing of the Dead.
Personally, I wouldn't say the day went "perfectly" (there's no perfect in anything) but given the brand new venue and resources we had, I'm happy with what we have achieved. The CMC is not a traditional classroom building so we weren't able to setup rooms that were close to each other, and the security system also prevented us from keeping the room doors open for the flow of attendees walking in and out during the sessions. But overall I still think this is a fantastic venue and if we were able to host another BarCamp here, we would definitely be able to iron out a lot of the small kinks.
See you all again next year!
P.S. Be sure to check out our new side project - the BarCamp HK Wall.