You may be new to Laravel, or maybe you are seasoned. Wherever you place yourself on the experience spectrum, Laracon is a conference you should be considering. For me, Laracon was a blast! But, I can’t answer the question “Should I consider attending a Laracon?” for you.
I recently had the opportunity to attend Laracon 2023 after a 3-year tech conference hiatus. So, I can give you my thoughts on the conference overall. From there, you are welcome to use my story as you tally the pros and cons of attending a Laracon.
My story is framed as an “analytical opinion” of Laracon – it’s not a rating. You will not hear me say, “They crushed it! 🤩” or “What a shame! 😡”. I won’t hype or bash Laracon – though I will say I had a blast. Too much goes into event planning and hosting. It is HARD! Behind the scenes are many variables you can’t control, and a TON will go wrong.
Expectations set the baseline when attending an event. An event meets expectations if expectations are sky-high and your speakers get standing ovations! If expectations are set to “garbage,” and the catered launch is subpar, the event exceeds expectations!
So, where should you set expectations for a Laracon? Well, there are a few things to consider:
Laracon is a tech event. It’s not an event where John Maxwell is presenting. If your expectations are set to “Laracon is a tech event,” you will enjoy yourself. I had a blast!
When presenting to an audience, nerds like you and I tend to use tons of slides and lots of data. For tech, is not bad if the speaker has an engaging personality or a compelling storyline. However, we nerds do not tend to be good storytellers and often lack charisma.
At Laracon 2023, several speakers owned the stage with charisma, which is NOT expected at tech events. Other speakers were not so inspiring as they were knowledgeable experts, and their material was good from an educational standpoint.
Further, you can’t talk about speakers without talking about the audience. Every speaker received a positive opinion from the audience through multiple occurrences of applause or engagement.
Finally, all the speakers (Taylor included) were very available to greet and shake hands with. There were tons of opportunities to meet speakers.
I don’t come to an event with the meal top-of-mind. At events, the meal is fuel to keep me awake and happy. However, because a meal is a shared experience, it becomes a catalyst for building relationships. If food is subpar, the relational opportunity can be missed.
Laracon did launchs well. Every diet was accounted for, and the venue in 2023 had easy access to alternatives outside the event space. Because Laracon had great conference food options, those that wanted could gather with new or learned faces and build relationships.
Networking is a tough nut to crack at events. You must embrace the awkwardness of dropping into an existing conversation or speaking with someone who might not make eye contact. Networking is not a “smooth” component of any event I have attended.
Networking has many facets that the event planners can and can’t control.
- Your ability to ask good questions.
- Your ability to listen.
- Your ability to drop into a group and shake hands with an individual.
- Your mood.
- The event’s venue acoustics inside and outside the building.
- The event’s allotted time for networking.
- And more.
Laracon 2023 100% covered their end of networking facets. They had generous outside space for groups to talk (it did rain a lot, but that was not under their control). At points, the inside space was almost too loud to hear the person you were talking with; but this was partly due to the open layout of the venue and not so much Laracon itself. Finally, Laracon assigned 2.5+ hours for networking on the schedule each day.
Venue is the most significant logistical element of an event. You need a venue before you can do anything else. The Laracon venue in 2023 demonstrated their considerations of many logistical pain points.
- Parking was plentiful.
- Lodging was nearby.
- Access to roads was great.
- The venue was an accommodating, open layout.
- Getting a badge was painless.
- There were mechanisms to get attendees to engage with vendors.
- The media team didn’t have any major issues.
- And more.
Will I Go Again?
Absolutely. Laracon was a blast, and I think you might have a blast if you set your expectations properly.