On October 14, 2019 I received an email that I had received a free tickets to ngAtlanta and NodeAtlanta conference for February 17-21 2020. NgAtlanta is a conference about Angular and has been around for the past 2 years. Node Atlanta was going to be the first annual one. Basically, two different languages coming together for a week of workshops and speakers. Full day workshops on Monday and Tuesday were to include topics such as: ‘Securing Node.js Applications The Right Way’, ‘Microservices and Serverless Development’ and ‘Full Stack Serverless with React & AWS’. On Wednesday-Friday there were to be topics from speakers such as: ‘Teach the Geek to Speak: Public Speaking for STEM professionals’, ‘JS � Character Encodings’, ‘Effective Micro Services Architecture In Node.js’ and many more.
I booked my flight and hotel at the end of December 2019.
On Friday, January 31, 2020, I received an email from Pariss, creator of Black Tech Pipeline and whom I had won the conference ticket through, stating that the conference was cancelled. Initially I was upset – I booked my hotel through a third party company, Agoda (I don’t recommend unless you can really get a cheaper rate). When I booked my hotel for the week of the conference, I saw that my booking was Non-Refundable. I didn’t think too much of it because my thought was that I’m going to go to this conference. Hearing the news that the conference wasn’t going to happen, my heart sank at the thought of not getting my money back. I also thought to just go anyway but then I thought What am I going to do for a full week in Alpharetta, Georgia? and also thought of the additional costs I’d incur if I did go – I would then be responsible for all my meals, getting around town (via a car rental or ride sharing) and on top of that, the thought of going “just to go” didn’t sound appealing to me.
In regards to my hotel reservation being non-refundable – I called them yesterday and explained the situation and they were able to refund me my entire funds (There will be an update if anything changes here). I was able to cancel my flight ticket which I’m sure I’ll be using for another trip I’m taking in the coming months.
The conference organizer initially sent out tweets which didn’t take too well with some conference hopefuls and the tech community. How you handle an event cancelling makes all the difference though and Zack, the conference organizer, did not initially handle it with grace and caused many people to be upset on twitter. There were no refunds given for the conference tickets. Yikes! I was grateful that I had received a free ticket. I felt compassion for those who had shelled out money on a ticket (I don’t remember the cost of each ticket). Ultimately, the conference ended because of funding – any event takes a ton of work and funds to make it happen, a conference takes even more and unfortunately for the conference organizer, he wasn’t able to help raise the funds it took to make the event happen.
Eventually, he did write a blog post, which he admitted that he should have done to begin with, apologizing to the community and spelling out exactly what went wrong in terms of funding and sponsorships. At the end of the blog post are alternative conferences where the conference ticket for this event can be used – Which is nice but for me none of the other conferences appealed to me or were for future dates in which I am unable to attend. Here’s a link to his blog post if you’re interested https://medium.com/@NgAtlanta/closing-ngatlanta-nodeatlanta-61d0ad887fb.
As of February 6, 2020, the websites for ngAtlanta and Node Atlanta have yet to be updated with information stating it was shut down. Even further, both twitter accounts have been closed. This is unacceptable, people need answers. If someone finds their way to either website and attempts to buy a ticket it just says Sold Out which we know isn’t true and further you can’t take to twitter outlets to find out what happen, it’s a broken trail. I understand they are receiving major backlash, namely the organizer, but you have to at least make sure your online presence speaks to what happened and why the event is no longer happening.
Overall, this entire situation could have been handled differently and in my opinion if you didn’t have the funds a month ago, I don’t understand why there was a reason to drag out telling people what was going on, namely the people involved in making the conference happen. Further, I felt this conference had a lot going on – A conference for a full week, there are few and far between that can pull that off, having sponsors pull out when they were contributed tons of money and not having any alternatives. The whole event was risky to put on. I appreciate the effort but would have liked to have known of cancelation sooner than two weeks before an event is supposed to happen.