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DrupalCon Europe: Co-creating a sustainable and valuable event

August 30th, 2017

The Drupal Association is honored to be the stewards of DrupalCon - a program created by the community for the community. It serves many goals ranging from uniting, growing, and strengthening the community to leveling up Drupal skills to accelerating contribution.

This year the Drupal Association has been focusing on DrupalCon Europe, so we can better serve the European community. While we certainly hear good things about the event from attendees, we also hear many comments like “it is too much of a US event” or “content isn’t appealing enough” or ”it is too expensive” or “there isn’t enough business value for sponsors” or “it’s not rock and roll enough”.

We see this play out in the attendance numbers, which decreased 14% on average each year since DrupalCon Amsterdam in 2014. Sponsor revenue decreased as well. And thanks to a more accurate financial reporting approach launched last year, we can see that DrupalCon Europe lost over €200,000 per event for the last several events.

This isn’t a sign of Drupal’s health. It is simply a sign that this event is not meeting the community’s needs. We can tell because European Drupal events grew in number, attendance, and type over the last few years. The community clearly wants a different kind of experience.

Drupal Association staff like Amanda Gonser, Program Manager, and Rachel Friesen, Director of Events, come to work each day simply to serve the community and create a DrupalCon experience that delights and helps people feel empowered to move Drupal forward. It pains us knowing that DrupalCon is not hitting the mark for the European community. And, it also pains us that we aren’t able to host DrupalCon in other regions like Asia or South America because they’re not possible with our current operational model for hosting events.

For staff, producing  a special DrupalCon experience is more than a job, it’s a personal mission. So, we are putting a lot of care into figuring out how to make DrupalCon Europe better.

To come up with an event concept that is sustainable and loved (or provides unique value in business speak), we met with many European community members over a period of 10 months and even put out a community survey to gather input. Together, we worked through a process to find a better path forward.

It’s time to open this discovery process up to the greater community so you can understand at a deeper level the problems we are trying to solve and the process we’re using to solve them. Then, we want to discuss the options that we have identified so we can find the best path forward for DrupalCon Europe. I know that together, we can create a sustainable event that strikes at the needs of the European community.

To share the information we’ve gathered and to foster discussion, I am launching a blog series. Starting with this post, it will cover the following topics:

  1. The problem we need to solve for financial sustainability

  2. The problem we need to solve to create unique value

  3. Results from a proposal based on community input

  4. A new path forward for DrupalCon Europe

I encourage discussion in the comment section during the blog series and I will host BOFs at DrupalCon Vienna so we can talk through a path forward. We encourage members to read this blog series so you have as much background information as possible to help inform these discussions.

Thank you for caring about this important community event and giving input into what it looks like in the future.