29 May 2016

We are changing LAST Conference this year: Here is how and why.

TL/DR: We are making changes to LAST Conference to improve the attendee experience. Go check out the sessions you want to go visit on Lanyrd. And then go buy a ticket before they sell out.

LAST Conference is widely regarded and commented as one of the best industry conferences in the world.

I heartily endorse this belief. I have been organizing it with my friend Ed Wong since 2011 and we think we have got a pretty good set up going.
We ask people what they thought of each event a week or so later, and the huge numbers of actual responses, plus the very overwhelmingly positive comments we hear reassure us our initial design ideas were right. We have also been written up by several industry folks unilaterally declaring our event to be amazing.
We hear that people love the community vibe, the low fuss, non-corporate feel of the event. We hear things like our instructions to "vote with your feet" on sessions empowers people to explore and bail on sessions if they aren't useful or fit for the audience member. And the rich variety of sessions; games, workshops, talks make for a great day.  Plus meals and a drinks tab at the local pub that pull people together and provide a place to talk and exchange ideas with co-attendees. 
We have done all this for less than $100 a ticket, because when we originally set this conference up we were looking to help people at not-for-profits, government agencies, small businesses and startups who didn't have the budget to go to expensive training events and conferences.

Despite all this, we get some complaints.

The most frequent issue reported to us is that the volume of sessions on one day mean that people get frustrated with the choices they have to make and the opportunity cost of going to one session over another.
Scarcity equals value, right? 
We have a huge number of speakers and facilitators with lots of concurrent things going on. We charge the equivalent of an expensive lunch for a ticket. So don't we need to make something scarce? We designed the choke point to be the attendee's time. AT first we though that was a good idea - people will just have to come along to the meetups in town, and come back next year for another event.  

This year we are going to try to address the pain.

We have spread the conference over two days and we have asked a number of speakers to come back and repeat their session from the Thursday on Friday. Not everyone could afford the time, and sometimes we have swapped out speakers but hung onto the same topic. 
We also have (as of the day I publish this blog post) MOST of the sessions published on Lanyrd, which means you can browse through what's on and think about what you want to track and go see. Check out the handy features on the Lanyrd page that help you plan your event. 
So head along, enjoy yourself, and let me and Ed know how you think the conference is doing.

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