Why do we ask for registration fees since ProductCamp Berlin 2014?

We had a problem with a huge no-show-rate at ProductCamp 2013

For our last ProductCamp in September 2013, our registration rate wildly surpassed our goals. We first allowed 200 registrations, then added another 40 spots after we ‘sold out’ after 2 weeks. We had a waitlist of 200 in total, 16 of whom ended up getting tickets.

However, only 158 people showed up.

 

Don’t get us wrong, 158 was still an awesome attendance, some really cool and motivated people showed up, we had amazing sessions and it overall didn’t affect the quality of the day.

The problem is that that level of no-shows does impact planning to a large extent:

  • we spent way too much on food and drinks. We are sponsor-driven and we hate to waste money and food
  • there were still 200 people on the waitlist who could have come, but were unable, we could have admitted another 100 people. We even rejected people who asked us if they could come and volunteer.
  • those 100 people would have brought more sessions with them, improving the breadth of topics
  • you guys would have had 100 more people to meet, network with, learn from and make friends with

Hang on though. For any free event you must expect *some* level of no-shows?

Of course, it is a variable that every Barcamp or ProductCamp must manage. But had we known in advance our attrition level would be that high we would have admitted 400 people, in order to get 200 people to show up.

We want to discourage registration that leads to no-shows

We are realistic. Things will still come up on the Saturday morning of ProductCamp. Sick kids, work emergencies and hangovers are unavoidable.  And we know that a 10 € registration fee is not likely to change much. However, what we do hope is that:

  • having to pay 10 € will discourage people who register without having a strong intention to attend
  • being able to get a refund up to 48 hours before the event will encourage campers who cannot attend to refund their ticket, thus freeing up a ticket for someone who will attend

We have capacity for 200 guests. We are selling 250 tickets. Our goal is 25% attrition.

ProductCamp Berlin is still not-for-profit

We believe that ProductCamps should be not-for-profit. ProductCamp Berlin 2014 is still organised by volunteers and will still be funded by our wonderful sponsors.  However we do also understand that for regular campers, paying when registering is going to feel a little strange. We wrestled this decision and even consulted other chapters, some of whom had subsequently discussed, and rejected, the idea of a fee. In the end though, we decided in favour, and created the following commitment:

  • anyone who cancels 48 hours or more before the event will get a full refund (don’t worry, we will remind you via email)

All registration fees will be donated to charity

So what about the unclaimed cash? It goes to charity. And you get to choose which charity, well one of you at least. We will hold a draw at the after-party – the camper who wins gets to donate the money to a charity of their choice.

What do YOU think?

We asked the attendees of 2013 at our closing session what they thought about the problem, and people were in favour of the idea of a small registration fee.
But please give us your feedback. Contact us here.