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It Would Be Nice to Have a Central Clearinghouse for RE Bar Camps

February 26, 2009

[Because Teri Lussier hath commanded me to do this post, and her wish is my command.]

RE Bar Camps are one of the fastest growing events in the real estate industry.  What the hell is a RE Bar Camp?

Well, start here.  The first one was put together by Andy Kaufman, Brad Coy, Mike Price, and Todd Carpenter in July of 2008, prior to Inman San Francisco.

It is, basically, an “un-Conference”.  Any number of people get together with no preset agenda, no preset speakers, no preset topics.  Then, anyone can basically post a panel or a presentation or a discussion topic, and whoever wants to go participate just goes there and does just that.

It’s very fluid, very dynamic, and the format lends itself extremely well to a give-and-take, open-discussion that is so sorely missing in other event types.

I’ve now been to a couple of these RE Bar Camps (hereafter, “REBC”) and they’re really quite fun and educational.  It helps that all the REBC’s so far have been free to attend.

As a result, there are REBC’s popping up all over the country.  Next week, I’m going to Virginia for REBCVA.  I missed going to Seattle, but looking at Phoenix, Los Angeles, maybe Houston, and there are REBC’s coming up in Portland and Denver as well.  I suspect we’ll see more.  (Although I’m still waiting on REBC Virgin Islands and REBC Oahu.)

My employer, Onboard Informatics, has sponsored a few and will sponsor a few more this year as well.  We support the REBC movement itself, and frankly, the sponsorships aren’t very expensive.

They are, however, from an events standpoint a bit of a pain.  Because each REBC is organized by an ad-hoc committee of volunteers, each and every sponsorship is a separate thing we have to work out.

At the same time, it would be a bad thing to deprive each local organizing committee of their passion and their commitment.

So I’m thinking, what would be great is some sort of a single, national (global?) clearinghouse for things like sponsorships.  Such a clearinghouse makes it easier for national players to sponsor REBC’s — I could see someone like BHG willing to step up with a national sponsorship.  So could someone like, say, Trulia.

Such a clearinghouse could also help the local organizers get bulk discounts on things like tags, T-shirts, posters, and other supplies.

I don’t think it should become the organizer, or start putting rules and such into place (except the obvious unavoidable ones, like “don’t run off with the money”).  But it would be helpful for those of us interested in sponsoring REBC’s.


5 Comments leave one →
  1. February 27, 2009 2:50 pm

    I like this idea, too, but I think it would be met with some serious resistance.

    The general BarCamp movement (as opposed to the RE Barcamp movement), has no such clearing house. So this would make RE BarCamp something different.

    In fact, I don’t know of any other such organization out there that does what you are proposing. Podcamp doesn’t, Ignite doesn’t, etc.

    Like I said, it would make RE Barcamp a different animal. That doesn’t make it a bad thing, but it means that people would have to be willing to accept such a change.

  2. brandieyoung permalink
    February 27, 2009 5:08 pm

    I like where you’re going with this… and, I think it can work.

    I’ve planned many more events than I care to (or can) remember. It’s actually not that difficult to negotiate if you know who/how to.

    Perhaps it can be a matter of a person local to each event with an event planning background volunteering their time to keep all the plates spinning. Still lots of nits, but any event is always a just a plethora of details to pull together.

  3. February 27, 2009 8:33 pm

    Having organized the last seattle rebarcamp w/ rich at AR, I think what rebarcamp needs is to simply be a non profit with its’ own bank account. The headache with organizing was definitely collecting money from everyone via my own personal paypal account and then trying to pay the lunch bill, tshirt bill, signage bill, etc with that money. It would be ideal to have one secure payment system that would give receipts to sponsors. Then some central person(s) could then write a check to the local organizer for all the money raised for their event, or they local organizer could bill things to that central bank of account somehow. And the leftover would go back to the rebarcamp organization as a whole to be put toward the next event. Just my 2 cents…

  4. March 4, 2009 3:06 am

    I concur with my esteemed colleague from Zillow. What I think would be more helpful would be a comprehensive organizational kit online so future organizers would have a complete step-by-step procedure/best practices to follow. The beauty of REBC is that no one sponsor has a monopoly over the event. We need to get more sponsors involved in the process so they’re aren’t any budget shortfalls, and we need to put some money in the pockets of Todd Carpenter and Michael Price for all the work they continue to do on behalf of these events.

  5. Stacey Ret permalink
    March 5, 2009 9:15 am

    I have been in the real estate event industry for many years and from a sponsorship standpoint, it would be beneficial to both parties (companies and RE Bar Camp) to have a centralized clearinghouse.

    Currently, companies are committing to the REBC’s on an individual basis, sometimes committing more dollars to one city than another. Imagine if the sponsorship portion was centralized and the individual in charge of the clearinghouse could create a tiered sponsorship package, selling marketing opportunities in more than one city. It’s a give and take – the company could commit a certain dollar amount and be able to strategically plan for the events. This is not to say that a company would begin spamming the attendees, this is about being strategic with dollars and being able to track where money is going (kinda a big deal when spending company money) and whether or not it is worth the spend. Additionally, it allows the sponsor to choose cities where they may be able to send a representative versus just sending a check.

    I would have been thrilled if I had a list of REBC cities, all with confirmed dates, back in January (I just happen to work with Rob!). I probably could have committed more sponsorship dollars on a national level in January than I can on an individual level throughout the year. Our budgets are submitted in October and once they are allocated (and sometimes spent) it’s quite difficult to get them back. Each event that is approved must have goals and objectives attached. We then track those events and qualify them for the following year.

    If REBC were centralized, we likely could have sent a large check and we would have an internal marketing plan surrounding the REBC movement.

    More benefits for REBC? If the clearinghouse had a seasoned event planner, they would know how to work with a national chain to negotiate meeting rooms, food and beverage costs, hotel room discounts, A/V costs, parking, etc. Although not all REBC’s are held at hotels, centralization could help with reducing costs with those meetings that need the hotel room.

    There is a lot of possibility to reduce costs and increase revenue.

    Maybe the centralization isn’t appropriate for right now, but with each one becoming more and more successful, it might become necessary.

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