Somehow, I had never attended a Blog World until last week in Los Angeles. I came close a couple of times, but couldn’t make it work until this time.
Overall, it was a great event and I’m going to make every effort to attend the next one in June of 2012. Inevitably, Blog World draws a lot of comparisons to South By Southwest. While SXSW is easily 10 times bigger in scope, I found the networking at Blog World to be better, because most of the same people were there, but in a much smaller space. For example, I got to catch up with Chris Brogan and Scott Monty at Blog World, even though they had been at previous SXSWs, and I’d missed them. Other vets of both conferences told me the same thing, that you’ll meet more people and have better conversations at Blog World. They were right.
One thing that I really appreciated from Blog World was offering free shuttle service from all 4 partner hotels. This alone probably saved me $100 or more on cab fees. And on top of that, @YouCast offered one of the smartest sponsorships I’ve ever seen at a social media conference: They offered FREE shuttle rides from LAX to all 4 hotels, then return service from the hotels to LAX when attendees left. This saved me another $100, and guess what, You Cast is one of the few sponsors I remember from Blog World, and the only one I am blogging about. Bobby and the team did a great job with this.
The Sessions: Sometimes More is Less
If there was one area where I think Blog World fell short, it was the sessions. Not the quality, but there was simply too much to choose from. The sessions I did attend were all pretty good, in fact several of them were great. But attendance was low in almost all of them. When you walk into a room that seats 200, and 15 people are in the audience, you cannot help but form opinions about the topic and presenter even before the session starts. What made matters worse was that I began to notice that about 20 mins into every session, attendees started leaving. My guess is that they had at least 2 sessions they wanted to see at that time, and if the one they picked wasn’t amazing to them, they left to go to their backup choice.
Another problem with having so many sessions running at once is that you need a LOT of rooms to hold them all. That means that you literally need a tour guide to find some of the rooms. For example, the room where the Live #Blogchat was held was at the end of a LONG hallway and then wrapped around a corner. There were no signs and it was really isolated. We still had a great turnout, around 70 people, but I tweeted several times exactly where the room was. Another session I attended had 10 people, and as soon as I walked in, I could tell that the panelists looked totally dejected at the low turnout. I get what Rick and the Blog World team were trying to do, they were trying to make sure that they had all the blogging topics covered, as there were a ton of niche blogging areas/topics featured. But when there are only say 30 people interested in a particular niche at an event, and you give them 14 other session options in the same time slot as their niche, well you are going to have a low turnout.
The Parties Were a Very Pleasant Surprise
In keeping with the comparison to SXSW, I have to say that I absolutely HATE most of the parties at SXSW. Usually, these are held at a bar with loud music and a few hundred geeks standing inches from each other screaming as they try to have a conversation. It is painful to watch, and a miserable experience. But the parties at Blog World were far better. I missed the closing party, but attended the opening party and the one on Friday night. In both cases, there were a ton of nice comfy chairs and couches to sit at. There was loud music, but it wasn’t TOO loud. It added a nice sense of background, but you could still be standing next to a group and have a chat.
Overall, I think Blog World was a great event
No, it wasn’t perfect, but I think the experience as a whole was a good one. And even with the issues I did see, such as way too many sessions at the same time, I think Rick and his team had the best of intentions. If you want to spend a couple of days having amazing conversations and attending a few excellent sessions and parties, then Blog World is the place for you. And who doesn’t want that? 😉
If you attended Blog World, especially if it was your 1st one like it was mine, what did you think?