Event coordinator’s skills essentials: don’t panic during Wi-Fi failure on a Hackathon
While dealing with events for thousands of people it’s hard to avoid surprising plot twists. Is negligence to blame for unexpected problems at the events? Surely, not everything can be foreseen the mistakes happen and often it’s the human factor that leads to the biggest fails at events. Such a scenario can be scary for any type of events, but imagine: what if you’re running the record-breaking hackathon and the internet decide to not cooperate? What to do then? In this article HackYeah organizers’, with their event coordinator skills, unveil this secret.
Every event manager probably knows the scenario. Day zero, everything’s buttoned up, the venue prepared to the finest detail and yet… something goes wrong. Immediate actions and solutions let the event still be a success, but the stress is high. Now, let’s imagine that the event gathers thousands of people, things are a bit harder, right?
A large gathering of people create a lot of management problems (even if your event coordinator skills are on point) – you need to take care of the venue space to fit all of the attendees, care about the security matters and the list goes on and on. Recently, yet another aspect started to give organizers sleepless nights – internet at the events.
Internet at the events matters a lot
We live in times when access to the internal, dedicated network is one of the most desired features of live events. However, in case of big events, it’s hard to be sure that the applied solutions will be enough. Too intense net traffic that contributes to the network failure can ruin even the most enjoyable event and cast a negative shade at the organizers.
With events becoming more and more popular, companies learned how to manage the matter of providing a decent Internet connection to attendees. The quality of such services improves and the solutions are more innovative than before. However, sometimes a human factor and unpredictable behavior of participants win over the well-prepared logistics. This is why, sometimes, even the all-bottomed-up event can fail in providing a network to its attendees.
Obstacles come unexpectedly, especially when dealing with wild crowds
The situation mentioned above isn’t just a bad dream of every event organizer. It’s a real-life evidence that proves the accuracy of placing Event Manager among the most stressful job positions in the world (according to Forbes, which gave it a noble 5th position). Even if every point at the organizers’ checklist is checked you can’t lose the focus and be prepared for unexpected. But from the start, listen to the story from the 2017 edition of Europe’s biggest hackathon – HackYeah.
For those of you who never heard about a hackathon, we’re here to explain. A hackathon is an event which gathers web developers who join the forces and engage in collaborative programming. Now, when you know that, the importance of an efficient internet connection that would allow to fluently carry on programming operations is rather obvious.
HackYeah organizers aimed high, you can’t argue with that. As if creating hackathon wasn’t a complicated matter itself, they decided that their event will break the record. This way, just like that, they wanted to organize the biggest stationary hackathon in Europe.
The event, which took place on the 28th of October, was a great success. The record was broken – HackYeah gathered about 2000 people crowd. Not a bad result, especially when you think about the aura. Let’s be honest, late autumn evenings are better to stay at a warm and cozy home than traveling to the all-night-long programming contests, but there they were thousands of developers ready to bring them skills on!
But there came a surprise…
Too many devices can kill you (or at least your Wi-fi signal)
HackYeah 2017 was a marvelous success, an unprecedented one, with a crowd of satisfied attendees. We even interviewed its organizers to find out what was standing behind that success! But there’s a catch. At a hackathon, where the Internet seems to be a key feature, the internal network failed.
While you may think that’s a foolish mistake, an inexperienced organizers’ oversight you couldn’t be more wrong.
‘We did have a fair experience in organizing such big events. At the occasion of 4Developers, where the number of attendees was close to 2000 people, we provided a Wi-fi network which worked just fine despite the massive number of participants. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case at HackYeah.’ – says Marta Kowalska, Project Manager of HackYeah
The problem didn’t lay in the flawed network service. It was a different profile of attendees that made the difference and made a proven solution to fail.
‘We didn’t take into account that HackYeah will gather individuals who, in the majority, come with their own devices like hotspots, routers and so on. It was just too much for our prepared network, we couldn’t do anything else but try to hand out the cables to everyone who had problems with connection. We learned our lesson and now we know that it should be cable internet from the very beginning’
This situation is a perfect example of how real life can verify the extremely experienced organizers’ proven solutions and efforts. The human factor can really mess up with plans and the quick reaction is crucial.
Embrace your fails to become a pro
While the Internet was playing tricks with HackYeah’s attendees, its coordinators roll up the sleeves and started to give out the emergency cables to those with Internet problems. This way, as quickly as possible, the problem was under control. The positive atmosphere and top organization contributed to the event’s great success, but surely it will be remembered.
“We learned our lesson – even if we’d done more testing we couldn’t predict the situation. There’s no room for such mistakes now, so at this year’s edition of HackYeah participants will have access to the individual cable Internet at the standpoints.” – comment Marta Kowalska
HackYeah’s organizers were lucky to tame the Internet beast so that the problem didn’t have a significant impact on the overall opinion about the event. Also, as Marta says, it’s was a good lesson to learn. After all, mistakes are the best stimulus for development. As a result, you know what to improve and that ensures even better results next time.
How to make sure that an event fail will be your best teacher?
Sure, it’s easy to say that the mistakes have educational value. Harder to really get the facts into one’s head, right? Yeah, we all been there. However, to avoid, as I would call it, “a waste of failure” and effectively get the right conclusions you need to know what failed.
With HackYeah the thing was easy, they knew exactly why the problem occurred. But what when the reasons for your event’s lack of success aren’t that clear? One good idea is to have dedicated teams for separate event areas. This way they’ll monitor the course of actions and will be able to tell what went wrong.
Alternatively, you can use event management, such as Eventory, to have everything under control in one place. It can be easily integrated with other tools, such as beacons (with their help you can, for instance, become a legal staler and track the weakest, unfrequented points of an event, how awesome is that?) Also, in case of internet problems, you can easily communicate with participants and try to solve the ongoing crisis. With more delicate and hard to define aspects, run a survey. It may be hard to read negative opinions in the data gathered from it, but trust me – what now may hurt, later will be beneficial.
In the event industry, there’s no such thing like a perfect event. An event that entirely went as planned is not a real event. This is why we need to embrace those little mistakes (or quite key ones, as in the HackYeah’s case) and do our best to firstly control it and secondly – do better next time. Just like HackYeah did with its cable internet for participants! Now, advice to us all – don’t whine in the corner and learn from those fails, shall we?
HackYeah 2018 is nearly there, breaking yet another record (a world one). This time the event will take place on 24th-25th of November, with the aim to be the biggest stationary hackathon that was ever organized. Ever. We’re sure that this time, everything will go smoothly and if you want to try your hand you can still register! Eventory will be there too!