tl;dr: Plan for failure: speakers who don’t show, doors that shouldn’t be locked; equipment malfunctions; etc. Back up your back up plan.
Expect the unexpected. Please.
Even the best-planned event is subject to the whims of fate and the inconveniences of things going wrong. You will want to have a variety of backup plans to cover any contingency, to reduce your risk of having something throw you for a loop during the WordCamp.
- Make sure to ask the venue about construction. If there will be loud noise, it won’t be very enjoyable.
- What happens if you get to the venue and the doors are locked?
- Are there enough restrooms? What happens if a restroom is out of order? Are there additional bathrooms nearby that can be used?
- What happens if the venue loses electricity? Do they have backup generators?
- What happens if the venue’s wifi goes down? You should have a venue contact you can reach on a weekend PLUS a wifi contact that you can reach on a weekend.
- If the projectors/microphones start having problems, will there be A/V staff on hand to fix things?
- If a speaker gets sick, do you have someone who can fill in on the same topic? For out of town speakers, what if they miss their flights?
- If there’s a disruption with local mass transit or a road closure, will people still be able to get to the venue? What alternate routes would you suggest. Have maps prepared in advance so you can put them on your site if needed.
- If the food is never delivered, or arrives and has gone bad, or you run out of food before everyone’s eaten, what will you do?
We often say that WordCamps are the embodiment of the WordPress open source project and community. Take a page from the guidebook of the WordPress core developers, who like to say, “I need a backup plan to the backup plan, to back up my backup plan.” Try to think of everything that could possibly go wrong, and prepare for it.
Past WordCamp Organizers: Have you had something unexpected happen? Tell us about it in the comments, so new organizers can learn from your pain and think about your situation when developing their backup plans.
Tip: Here is a quiz on this article. Read quizzes page if you have any questions about quizzes and how to navigate them.