What I've learnt from hosting UXVN 2020

The event has finally closed. After the closing, the first thing I want to do is to send my deepest gratitude toward Zoey, Thao, Sean, Tien Vi, Duong Le, and Giang for being with me until the final day of the event. That meant a lot to me. They wouldn't know. This letter is personally what I have in mind and also straight open to all the facts that had happened during the planning phase.

The Journey

The journey was up and down for me personally and emotionally. There was a time that I was so upset and really didn't want to do anything for the event. I even thought that the event would not bring any value to the attendees. But then, I kept receiving messages from Zoey asking for opinions. She kept doing things on her side, pushing the event forward. I dragged her in; I should not leave her alone, so I need to continue the work.

Things then started to become better when Thao pinged back. To give more context, I asked Zoey to join the organization team at first, then began to look for more volunteers later. Thao is one of these volunteer applications that I invited to join. But rarely anyone of them reacted. One of the main reasons was that I haven't got a proper plan or a clear action list for the volunteers. I do believe that the problem was from me. I am more of a "just do things". Zoey is different; she pushed for plans, action items, she is definitely more organized than me.

With this situation, when things seemed to be only Zoey and me trying to make the event possible, the reply from Thao was my new hope. I remember I was asking for some feedback for the content I wrote on the event website, Thao gave me some suggestion, and I realized she has excellent writing skills. Then we have Tien, Sean, Giang, and more people joined. We started a team, which should be considered as A-team.

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The values

I spent 5 days just to think about the tickets' pricing. I asked around for suggestions and opinions and got many different views on this. I was in confusion, in two minds. Then I remembered back to 2018 when I first hosted UXVN Festival, about all the values that I wrote down for UXVN. This helped me to focus again. I could possibly put the pricing aside and focus on the quality of the event. After all, I really didn't think I would sacrifice the values I trust for a thousand attendees.

And it turned out to be so true. When Tien joined by invitation from Zoey. He created a Figma hangout place for us. I was skeptical due to the conflict with our sponsor Adobe XD. However, the hangout space was one of our most engaging and meaningful features. It shows a strong message about our community. The people who joined will be the ones who define the community. The hangout space consists of awesomeness and creativity. It flashed back to the comment from Mos Dang, one of our speakers and supporter since the early days. He said to me in the UXVN2019 event:

"I see a great pack of audience you got here, I never saw an audience like this in any event that I've attended before.".

It's still valid for UXVN2020. The hangout space Tien created just brought the quality of the event to a new level, where we can actually connect people virtually, which we thought would be so challenging to do, compare to physical events. But we did it!

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The inspiration

I failed my team. I should listen to Zoey about the backup plan to use Zoom. I was too confident; I even used my gut feeling to make the decision. I should listen to Thao when she suggests we could do a pre-record. I chose not to. My teammates were so scared about the event platform. They were worried, what if it fails?

It failed, or I failed.

The next day of the event, Sunday morning, I woke up, and I thought I could do it all over again if I got the chance, even I felt completely exhausted.

I learned good lessons from my team. They inspired me, not only my teammates but the participants on that day, from attendees to speakers. Inspiration is an important aspect for me in my work. I feel grateful for the fact that I got all the inspiration I need.

The profit

Many people think that I got a lot of money from the event personally. Many assume that the ticket price is high, we are going virtual, so there is no cost to rent an auditorium and other logistics works. It's not entirely true.

I provide the budget below, but let me give a quick example of why it's not true first:

Cost for renting Dreamplex auditorium in 2019 including all Setup for 250 attendees

$1,397

Cost for Swapcard platform

200 access passes x 7$ = $1,400

3 Sponsor booth x 100$ = $300

~98 additional access passes x $14 (Swapcard double the price) = $1,372

Total: $3,072

I think you got my point right. Here is the full budget