The latest edition of WooConf was held on 6th to 8th April 2016, in Austin, Texas, and it was amazing.
Perhaps saying that it was amazing is not enough. It was super great, super exciting and mind-blowing. I’ll start from the beginning and tell you what happened.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far… ah, no sorry, that’s another story!
The first WooConf was in November 2014 in San Francisco, California. If you were able to attend, you know it was a great conference, and our first experience. At WooThemes we have an events planner that rocked it, but the A2E team also helped with details that made it amazing!
If you want to read more, check this WooConf 2014 Highlight blog post.
Where is WooConf 2015? For various reasons, including the acquisition of WooThemes by Automattic, we were unable to host WooConf 2015. But IMHO, it was totally worth waiting a year for the next.
The City – Austin, TX
This year, WooConf was hosted in Austin, Texas. The city itself has many beautiful places to visit and things to do.
And the food. Oh, the food… it was sooo good! Basically it’s like BBQ and tacos everywhere you go. But the more I visit U.S., the more I understand that Americans do not have the sense of measure. You can’t order just a sandwich or a small portion of BBQ. Well, you can, but it doesn’t matter because you’ll always get a huge portion of food! Whatever you order, it’ll be huge.
The Venue – The W Hotel
The venue hosting WooConf was the W Hotel. It’s a 5-star hotel in downtown Austin.
Attendees enjoyed a huge discount if they wanted to stay there during WooConf, and many did. The staff stayed there as well, and it’s one of the best hotels I’ve been to. It has everything you can imagine, every comfort, and the rooms are big and clean.
Even more, we branded parts of the hotel. In the lobby you could find banners with our logos and directions to the 2nd floor, where WooConf was happening.
You could go to the 2nd floor from inside the hotel or from the outside using the stairs.
From the stairs in the picture above, you reach the registration desk where our Ninjas and team A2E were waiting for you. Upon registering, you received a Woo swag bag with MailChimp socks, a ShipStation notebook, a stress ball by Simplify Commerce by MasterCard, the Small Woorld book by Prospress, and a Woo water bottle:
With your welcome bag, a notebook and a Woo pen, you were ready to hang out with Woo Ninjas, store owners, developers and WooExperts while waiting for the conference to start.
I spent a lot of time there, helping and talking with people and WooExperts. Knowing our customers in person is so valuable. Some were happy to meet us for the first time; some know us from other events.
When finished with questions at the Help Desk and with breakfast, it was time to head to the ACL-Moody Theater, the main room of the conference.
Everything here was blue and purple, with two mega screens on the side.
In the picture is the store owners panel with some of our speakers and the golden ticket winner. That was one of the many talks at WooConf. See the full list of speakers for which Woo will later publish all videos and slides.
It’s worth mentioning the brave Bryce Adams who showed us the power of WooCommerce webhooks. In a demo, he made a drone fly after receiving an order!
— David Bisset (@dimensionmedia) April 6, 2016
On the other side of the venue near registration and the Help Desk, there were two rooms for sponsors. Here you could chat, get free swag, and join giveaways to win a TV, iPad and MacBook Pro.
I spent time talking with sponsors, understanding what they do with Woo, what they expect in the future, how happy they are with our services and customers, and for swag as well!
In the first row from left to right:
- Two t-shirts from Prospress that I waited two years to get — amazing;
- A t-shirt from Codeable;
- A t-shirt from Prospress and SkyVerge, branded especially for WooConf 2016
- Woo staff t-shirt
In the second row:
- Word of Mouth Marketing book by Andy Sernovitz. Everyone attending WooConf got a copy
- Small Woorld by Prospress book from in the welcome bag
- Laptop stand by SiteGround
- Cigar from Chris Lema who hosted a CigarCamp in Austin during WooConf
- MailChimp chimp
- Woo water bottle from the welcome bag
- BlueHost water bottle
- ShipStation notebook
- SiteGround pen
- MailChimp socks from the welcome bag;
Missing from the picture are three t-shirts — one from Pay with Amazon, one from ShipStation and another from BlueHost — a phone battery charger by WPEngine, and a notebook from GoDaddy.
Yeah, that’s a lot of stuff. That’s why when I go to events, I travel with a half-empty suitcase with space for everything I bring home.
What’s a conference without an afterparty? Ours was near the W Hotel at the SpeakEasy and sponsored by PayPal and ShipStation.
We stayed late, talking with everyone, drinking special drinks named after us and our sponsors, and playing games:
An unforgettable moment from the afterparty happened when I was talking with Aviva and a guy came over, interrupted our discussion and said:
Oh my gosh! Are you that Nicola? It’s so amazing to meet you! I had a ticket, and you did a great job on it! Thanks for helping me! Also now I know that Ninjas are real, you are not robots, you really exist and are humans like us!
I love this feedback. And it’s the first time that someone recognized me at an event, and not because they hate me, but because they were happy to meet me!
And for those who didn’t know that there are real humans behind tickets, yes, we exist and we are like you. We like helping people, we like having fun, going to conferences and hanging with other humans.
To close the day, Aviva brought us to a local place to eat donuts and they were good!
WooConf 2016 was exciting because I had the opportunity to spend time with friends at A8C and people from around the world, meeting and drinking with sponsors and partners.
Thanks to everyone who attended and to all those who came to meet us. Thanks to Maria and Joel for organizing the event and to all those involved!
Thanks to our sponsors, as without them none of this would have been possible.
And thanks to all my friends at A8C — meeting and spending time with you is always amazing! The more I work remotely, the more I understand that working remotely is not all about working from your bed and in your pajamas. For me, the best thing about working remotely is meeting co-workers after months of not seeing them.
You chat with them all the time, and you have video calls, but meeting in person is different. Being able to hug or shake hands when you see each other is more personal.
Also when you spend only a week together every couple of months, you always see the best of them. You never hear them complaining (except about jet-lag) or upset or tired of you. They are always happy to tell you what they did during these months, and you get out the most out of the few days you spend.
See you at the next WooTrip and at the next WooConf!