I was lying down with fever and a cold, which I have already felt coming in Nottingham. Friday evening I crashed and crawled out of bed yesterday. Email, to do’s and work is piling up, but if I wont write this personal review of the event now – which I’d like to as I like Geri Coady and Simon Collison (aka Colly) – I will never do it.
When I attend an event, I always wear two hats: the hat of an attendee and the other hat of someone who organises and runs events myself. Some of the details I sometimes see are not what usually attendees see on a first view. And also often I have to remind myself, that I might have seen speakers multiple times already, where some of the delegates just attend their very first event. A very important factor – if not most important for me personally – is, if I leave the event with an overall good impression. Not just the talks where good. Not just the organisation was well done. Not just the atmosphere was friendly and welcoming. But: all this together has been a great package.
For those who don’t like to read longer texts: New Adventures had all this above and more!
The Fear of Not Selling Out – and How This Does Not Matter for New Adventures
I have been at all four New Adventures conferences. From 2011 to 2013 and now in 2019. It took Geri and Simon a long time and really a lot of thoughts (and guts!) before they decided to bring New Adventures back to life. Not only are a lot of events suffering from not selling tickets as quick as they used to, but bringing an event back after six years, an event with a very hight reputation … chances are high you can only loose. People who were at the old edition might compare the event with the good old time, where new attendees who heard “how great the old edition of this event were” are coming with such a high expectation already. So the pressure surely is high.
I have had a couple of conversations with Colly and early after announcing the event and and starting to sell tickets, he had the feeling as if tickets would not sell as they used to in former years. Colly is a person, I think like me, who has a good gut feeling about things like this and therefore he made sure to be prepared to go an extra mile to draw attention to this new event. Yes, a new event, as six years in internet time mean that there might be a lot of people who might have still played with Lego or Playmobil back when the first year happened. People who used to come might have gotten children, moved away for job reasons and to on.
In short: how do you advertise and sell tickets to a group of people that mixes of past delegates and (hopefully) new people who like to come?
I certainly know the fear of not selling out. Even if I am fortuned enough to sell out for the past 8 years, I never, as I often say, take it for granted that the next show is going to sell out again. I always fear Will I sell enough tickets to pay the bills at least? I can only imagine, all the things that Simon and Geri planned to do for the attendees and how they have to re-think their ideas and plans every now and then, when they hit the next level to being able to pay something they wanted to do for the people at the event.
Because of the headline you might wonder: was it sold out or not?
No, it was not. And where I wish it would have been, to get both organisers the money they deserve, for the event itself it was of no interest. I have been at events, where empty seats create a strange atmosphere. Where it feels as if the room is empty and the certain spark of enthusiasm and love does not jump over from the stage to the audience, but in Nottingham? No. It did not matter at all, that a few seats were empty. But it felt wonderfully warm and the atmosphere was positive and great!
The Opportunity to Curate a Full Day of Topics
I won’t write about every single presentation and other people have done a great job here already (here, here and here for example), but I wanted to quickly say, that Simon had a good mix of well respected and known speakers and new faces on stage. When I have seen the first round of announced speakers in the beginning I was a bit sceptical, but I was wrong. Topics and presentation quality were excellent and did not disappoint at all. Most of the talks had a great message, pushing everybody into a positive future, but making us aware, that we have a job, where we are responsible for what we design and create, but also that we are builders and creators of things, which means, that we have the option, the tools and – hell yes – the obligation to change things!
So well done with choosing some very important and motivational topics for this day!
The Fun of Being the Host
One part that I hugely enjoy also is, to be the host of an event. As much stress and work as it is, it pays so much back, to have the opportunity to welcome people from all around the world and create a welcoming and friendly space and atmosphere for them.
Also here, I can only say that Geri and Simon made a fantastic job. All the fringe events around the main event, the care and – of course – their friendly personality have shined through.
Not in a Million Years Aka Maybe
So, was that a one-off show or will New Adventures return? If you ask the attendees, I bet there is an overwhelming majority of those who directly say yes, bring it back.
When I asked Simon on an evening before the event he said …
Not in a million years!
… which over the time of the event and until after the event turned into a subtle Maybe. Let’s see how we feel afterwards and if people would come back.
All delegates gave feedback to the question, if they would return next year. But those things have to be taken carefully of course. Everybody at the event is on an emotional high and surely tends to say yes. An event’s organiser now has to evaluate the answers and come up with an interpretation on which she/he can base a decision to run or not run another edition next year. One year is a lot of time and many things can change, which might lead to a different answer than the one given on the piece of paper, when Simon asked.
But if you ask me, New Adventures should be back. We need more events like this, who inspire and motivate. Where the people behind the event care. And New Adventures just hit a time to come back, where running events is not the easiest thing you can do and times are a bit difficult (for too many reasons to write about this right here).
Next to this, I have had a fantastic time and I met so many people I know since years, plus I had the chance – and used it – to meet many new people and chat about a lot of different topics. Wonderful.
So yes, Geri and Simon, bring back the show next year. I love kicking off the year in Nottingham. At New Adventures!
A different perspective from friend and fellow event organiser, @marcthiele, acknowledging some of the fears and challenges we faced this time around.Continue reading