So PodUK has been and gone, which still feels incredibly weird! I mean, around about 6 months ago, I was in a complete creative rut. I desperately needed a project to expend my creative energy, but couldn't find anything that fit; that wasn't fresh, new, interesting enough, or feasible. But then this <---- conversation happened, and in the space of five minutes, that all changed.
Fast forward to now, and the inaugural PodUK has been an amazing success! It still doesn't feel entirely real, and I can't do much more than thank everyone who turned out despite the snow, thank all our podcasters for their amazing shows, thank our sponsors for helping us give more to our attendees than we could ever do by ourselves, thank the crew for being utterly amazing and keeping everything on track, thank Millennium Point for being an incredible venue. I've managed small events before, but this is my first ever convention, and it's because of you all that it was able to work like it did.
There's a whole lot to talk about, but let's get the 'I'm an event manager and I see the faults first' stuff out of the way first, eh?
First of all, it's such a massive shame that the snow hindered attendance, but the fact is, ticket sales in general were driving me insane until January, as my crew can attest to! One of the hardest parts, bar none, of creating an event - harder than organising all the guests, harder than negotiating a venue, harder than sticking to a budget - is nervously watching and waiting for tickets to sell. 'They'll pick up closer to the event!', literally everyone kept telling me. And, what do you know, they did. We sold 2/3's of our tickets in January. So what have I learnt? Patience. Self-belief. Millennium Point, which could easily hold 400+ people, didn't feel as busy as I wanted it to, by a long shot, but those who did turn up engaged, had fun, and were chilled out, so far as I can tell! They were also just very, very lovely people :)
Some of the lovely people in question ^^^
Second, food. Oh man, food. Funny story: the local Papa John's was supposed to come and cater for PodUK for a few hours. That totally fell through at essentially the last minute, and there was nothing I could do about it. I felt helpless. Making sure attendees and guests are happily fed is so important to me, and it didn't happen. I hope next time we can improve on that. Still, I'm very grateful to Millennium Point's bar and cafe for helping to make up for it!
Third: MORE SIGNAGE. Too many people came up to me during the day telling me it was a difficult venue to find for me not to feel bad about not making more signage, or making a post telling you all how to get here. Next time, for sure. Sorry guys!!!
Okay, now for the good stuff.
My goal in creating a convention was to allow people to meet likeminded others; to make friends, to meet creators they love. I think, judging from social media, that's how it panned out. I couldn't be happier! Conventions are some of my most favourite places in the world because of the experiences I've had and the people I've met, and to be able to facilitate that for others like me makes me happier than you can know. <3
Also, if, as an event manager, you spend the entire day feeling completely chilled out, that's probably a sign that something's gone right in the planning. Everything ran to time (almost, but it got sorted when it didn't!), all the podcasters were incredibly professional and were exactly where they needed to be when they needed to be, stage changeovers went smoothly.. it was amazing. I was able to spend way more time than I thought I would watching shows, because there just wasn't much to oversee that wasn't already being dealt with by one of my amazing team. I still did 20,000+ steps during the day, up and down and up and down to make sure everything was running okay. And it was! There were a couple of tiny blips that you guys needn't worry about lol, but overall.. yeah, it was great.
Millennium Point were fantastic, catering to our every operational whim without any fuss and helping us whenever we needed it. JP, their in-house AV guy, was a monumental help toward the success of the day, as was Harry, the ops guy, and Tamara, who was our contact throughout the planning process, and absolutely integral to the success of the event. It was so fun watching everyone's first reactions to seeing the auditorium - much like, I would imagine, my own reaction when I first walked in there! Thank you again, I couldn't have asked for better.
Our featured podcasters were absolutely fantastic - special shout-out to How We Roll for keeping exactly to time, which I know is a challenging task indeed for live actual play sessions!! Our guests all came prepared, knew exactly what they were doing, and were integral in making the day the amazing success it was. Nobody came to me or my team expecting us to know all the answers, because they had them themselves. The Green Room was just a genuinely fun place to hang out during the day, and always carried a great atmosphere, which is 100% what you want for your guests! I hope we were able to cater to you guys well enough - I wish I had brought a little more food!
You can tell when you're working with guests who really care about the day, and that shone through with all ours at PodUK. <3 Every single guest put on a fantastic show, or an insightful, fun panel, or engaging workshops, or fun-filled meet n greets; I couldn't ask for more. I really couldn't. Sometimes it got a little overwhelming trying to keep everyone in the loop during the planning process, but to see it pay off so much makes it all extremely worth it <3
Attendees asked insightful, interesting questions at the panels, which was much appreciated by our podcasters. I'm glad you all enjoyed the catchbox by the way, (the yeetable foam microphone) they're a personal favourite of mine :D You all were also so respectful of each other, and of the guests, and of the space; we got compliments from Millennium Point on how nice you all were, so give yourselves a pat on the back ;) It's not a surprise to me - podcasting seems to bring about some of the loveliest people. I enjoyed talking to those of you I could during the day; not one of you were negative or demeaning in the slightest. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
Also - those who came from abroad to be here?! I am still blown away by that. I'm so, so humbled. Thank you. Thank you.
Present Communications, Hindenburg, The White Vault, GLProUK & Podlab. You all helped us create a better event :) Without you, we wouldn't have been able to do show bags, event passes.. things that help create a better event, overall. We can't thank you enough for deciding to sponsor this fledgling event and creating a better experience for our guests and attendees. Everyone, go check all these wonderful people out! We would very much appreciate it, and we're sure they would too :)
You know you're amazing <3 This would have been nothing without you.
Now, the question on everyone's mind: 2020?
We hope so!!!! We are all raring to go for another one already. But more on how that's all going to work later - we're going to need your help.
For now, thought, let's just sort of.. bask in this one. :)