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There’s always something to howl about

How does a success like REBarCamp avoid the shoe pinch of growing pains?

Rob Hahn is at it again. He likes to instigate, but since he’s so charming, I fall for it. However, unlike our Fred v Gene cage fight, this time I’m serious.

Rob thinks a clearinghouse for national sponsorships for Real Estate Bar Camps is a fine idea, and suggests BHG, or Trulia could step up to the plate.

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.

I vote eek.

I like the idea of BarCamp- loose, free, perfect fit for my brain. And I like that it’s organized by passionate people. I have years of volunteer experience under my belt- big, national organizations, and little local organizations. I can appreciate and respect the time and talent that goes into creating a successful event. My concern with Rob’s suggestion is the fact that sponsors do get preferential treatment. Often this type of arrangement is benign, as in local businesses contribute $20.00 worth of coupons to help fill out a PTO raffle, but we are not talking about that. Although, as an aside, if REBC organizers are not looking at the local businesses- local inspectors, local lenders, local photographers as participants (and maybe they do?) then they might be missing some extraordinary partnering possibilities. Looking at the REBarCamp/Seattle site, it’s all national sponsors. Getting local companies involved would truly be in the BarCamp philosophy, wouldn’t it?

Back to the point. Here’s the thing: Corporations don’t give to organizations, or un-organizations, out of the kindness of their hearts. They just don’t. They give because they expect something in return. Always. Their name here or there, their “presentation”, their branded junk, their “let us help you use our product” panel. BarCamps are free flowing and loose, the sponsor is twittering away with us, and golly darn-it, they are super nice! They bought us drinks at that other wingding- don’t you remember? What can it hurt if they become the go-to guys?

It hurts because you can’t speak out against the person who pays you. You tell yourself you can. You want to believe you can. But when someone is holding the cash, then if you have the backbone to speak your mind, you tone it down, you choose to demur, you talk around the sponsor, because you don’t want them to pull their sponsorship.

A strictly hypothetical example: Let’s say that Eric Blackwell decides to present something he’s passionate about at REBarCamp/Indy – no follow links and how they might hurt your business. Let’s say that the clearinghouse sponsor is, as Rob suggests, Trulia. Rudy B is a very nice guy, Eric B is a very nice guy, everyone involved in the organizing of REBarCamps are nice guys. No one wants to be a bad guy. On the other hand, Eric is adamant about teaching Realtors his thoughts and since BarCamp code says anyone can present anything, he proceeds.

Well, it just so happens that Eric’s presentation is so popular that he is now in demand all across the Tri-state area at BarCamps. Not only REBarCamps, but PodCamps as well have heard of Eric the Rockstar and now the Twitterboard is lighting up like mad with hashtags and, pay attention, an anti-Trulia virus is spreading. Not among Realtors, but among bloggers in general who understand the power of link love. So the eyeballs are banning Trulia, and faster than you can say “pulling our sponsorship”….

Okay, that’s an over-the-top hypothetical. Let’s think about a more true-to-life version.

Eric and Eric want to give a presentation on the power of link love, and the evils of no follow, but being uber nice guys and business men, they don’t want to offend any sponsors, so they give a watered down version of the presentation they really want to give, and the attendees pick up on the general atmosphere, feel that something is being held back, and in BarCamp fashion- they walk. All that information is still stuck in fine brains of E&E. But here is the really sad part- next year attendance is down. Long live REBarCamp.

Okay, I’m being silly, right? I’ve never been a BarCamp attendee and I don’t play one on TV. Tell me why I’m wrong. Any sponsorship is dangerous, but it’s necessary, I get that. So where do we find the balance? How do you pay the bills, not burn out your volunteers, and keep REBC from becoming one more Fish-In-A-Barrel Vendorfesk? Or, let’s say it’s not vendors, but the NAR, or local boards who want to jump on REBC in a big way. Are you entirely comfortable with that?

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  • 32 comments

    32 Comments so far

    1. Eric Blackwell February 27th, 2009 8:46 am

      While I have never been known to not speak my mind and Bramlett doesn’t mince words either (grin – hang out with him for a day or two, or ask his opinion on something ;-) ), I can TOTALLY understand the underlying concern and appreciate it.

      Does sponsorship = safety from criticism. That conundrum is real enough…then you get it’s uglier and trickier twin sister: does sponsorship = the APPEARANCE of safety from criticism.

      Either way is a less than optimal result IMO. How to solve it? I wish I had the answer. It is one of the reasons that I really like the idea of Unchained this April.

      Wanna pick my brain? Connie Chung style? Off the record? Just between us? (grin)The opportunity is totally available in that 24/7 kind of format.

    2. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 9:02 am

      Eric-

      You just reminded me of a third twisted sister- the risk of upsetting organizers.

      Andy Kaufman, Brad Coy, Todd Carpenter are three of the finest guys you’ll meet. So you personally know how hard they worked to put rebc/sf together, and they should be proud of their accomplishment- they sparked a movement! Would it pain you to think that by firing away, all barrels, you may run the risk of ruining things for them? Would that give you pause, or make you tone down your presentation?

      It’s very tricky. And your offer of speaking off the record, says that perhaps you would be hesitant to step on toes. I would be, I admit it- those particular toes at any rate. :-)

    3. Thomas A B Johnson February 27th, 2009 9:41 am

      Todd Carpenter could access his new employer’s deep pockets(our money) and sponsor a traveling NAR-ReBar Camp. Complete with live streaming and online archiving to build the NAR BarCamp content for all the members. Venues? The Realtor Board Palaces across the country. Get something relevant for our dues…

      Todd?

    4. Mark Green February 27th, 2009 9:51 am

      In a former life, I sold display and online advertising for the Miami Herald and Los Angeles Times. And it was rule #1 that an impenetrable division between church and state exist – advertiser dollars absolutely could not influence objective reporting.

      That is, until newspapers started feeling the financial pinch. The demise of newspapers you’re hearing about today is nothing new – we at the Herald were experiencing declining circulation even in the mid-90′s. Slowly but surely, the advertising department would win internal battles over ad placement. That’s where it all began. For example, historically “Page 1″ is off limits for advertising – but the USA Today placed their little 1×1 ad on their P. 1 and then your local dailies began following suit.

      If you think that an editor doesn’t think twice before flaming large advertisers, you’re fooling yourself. Happens all the time now. The industry has basically been whoring itself out for years.

      The thing I L-O-V-E about web 2.0 is that the new breed isn’t scared to “have a take” – fallout be damned. Advertisers/Sponsors want eyeballs. If their product sucks and someone like Greg Swann calls them out for sucking, I think it’s up to the sponsor at hand to do something about it. And by “do something about it” I mean get better. Take the criticism and use it as motivation/fuel to build a better mousetrap.

      So I guess what I’m saying is that REbarCamp ought to get their revenue where they can – and without apologizing for it. National sponsors, local sponsors, whatever. But these sponsors need to know that they’re entering a new world where people are going to “have a take”. Thick skinned sponsors will get it, sponsors with inferiority complexes and thin skin won’t… and they’ll be gone in three years.

    5. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 9:55 am

      Thomas-

      You would be comfortable with a NARCamp? in lieu of REBarCamp? Do you think the content would be changed?

      I’ve not been to BarCamp. I don’t know how unaffected it is, but I know that it’s hugely popular, which means that it’s an opportunity for someone to step up and solve basic funding problems that are inherent with these things.

    6. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 9:59 am

      Hi Mark-

      >Thick skinned sponsors will get it, sponsors with inferiority complexes and thin skin won’t… and they’ll be gone in three years.

      We hope.

      Is that possible? Because even that type of sponsorship is still highly unusual, isn’t it?

    7. Greg Swann February 27th, 2009 10:45 am

      > If their product sucks and someone like Greg Swann calls them out for sucking, I think it’s up to the sponsor at hand to do something about it. And by “do something about it” I mean get better. Take the criticism and use it as motivation/fuel to build a better mousetrap.

      I really like people who respond that way, but, man, they’re thin on the ground. I’m fending off a plague of frogs this morning from self-appointed NAR trolls who are barely distinguishable from bubblehead trolls.

    8. Jay Thompson February 27th, 2009 11:33 am

      Interesting post Teri! As one who is up to my _ _ _ right now in planning REBC Phoenix, I can assure you sponsorship is a very real concern.

      We’re reaching out to everyone, national AND local. And we’re not confining ourselves to just those in the real estate realm. Tech, social media, marketing, whatever. One of the cool things about RE Bar Camps is they (IMO) can “transcend” pure real estate (though ultimately it all ties back to RE if that makes sense).

      I’ve been to two RE Bar Camps and can honestly say I got more out of those single-day events than I have any other conference.

      But money is a necessary evil to pull one off. Primarily for the venue, secondarily for things like marketing expenses, name badges, and sundries and “comfort” items like t-shirts, food, coffee, etc.

      It’s been an interesting experience drumming up sponsors, and we’re only a few days into it. The idea of a “clearing house” is interesting. Believe me, it’s a LOT of work tracking down sponsors. Those that have sponsored before understand what a REBC is, and what they get from sponsoring (which isn’t really tangible – it’s largely “good karma” and ostensibly “exposure”, which is difficult to place an ROI on. Trying to explain a Bar Camp and the benefits of sponsorships to more localized potentials is much more difficult.

      So maybe a clearing house would help, but I like the “independence” of Bar Camps — that’s a lot of the appeal (for me). I’m not sure if a clearing house would hinder that, though I’m suspicious that it would. On the other hand, anything that would make securing “sponsors” easier would be welcome.

    9. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 12:15 pm

      Before I get to the main point, Jay- I would think that offering a local photographer an opportunity to present would be a great win/win for everyone. You wouldn’t have to offer up a sponsorship in addition, but of course, that wouldn’t hurt, although now we are treading dangerous water. We all complain about bad photos, and photographers love to share, and if they have the opp to network? A great addition to a line-up, in my mind.

      I know that getting this stuff together is a full time job- and you can’t pay bills with good karma. damnit.

      >I like the “independence” of Bar Camps — that’s a lot of the appeal (for me). I’m not sure if a clearing house would hinder that, though I’m suspicious that it would.

      I suppose you have to decide where you can flex? I don’t know how you can do it and make everyone happy, and so who are you going to tick off?

      It goes ’round and ’round…

      Unless… Everything is transparent…As Mark suggests- sponsors know upfront that they may not like what they hear. And everyone knows who is doing what and for how much? Sponsorship levels and what monies went where? That would be one way

      Or, perhaps this isn’t it a real problem to organizers? I told Rob if he wrote the one side of the argument, I’d write the other, but maybe there isn’t an “other”. :-)

    10. Brad Coy February 27th, 2009 12:34 pm

      Love the rematch, Teri. Although I”m a big fan of the musical, this is something I can get into ;)

      The Seattle and Houston events were the first of four that have had no real attachments to a bigger event. My feeling is that the more localized these become the more localized the support will be as well. That’s not to say that a bigger name would not want to lend a hand in numerous events being as the sponsorship level is generally an easy number at $250.

      As far as “playing nice” overall. I must say that I have seen some of the most frank and honest discussions take place in some of these sessions – a unique opportunity.

    11. Brad Coy February 27th, 2009 12:49 pm

      >the risk of upsetting organizers

      When are you not at risk of upsetting someone by speaking your mind?

      >As Mark suggests- sponsors know upfront that they may not like what they hear.

      This is verbally conveyed to anyone getting involved with support. Being a work in progress, at some point we will have it up on the site in text as a template for future organizers to use.

    12. Daniel, The Real Estate Zebra February 27th, 2009 2:08 pm

      I think that RE Barcamp has a tremendous advantage over something like a newspaper, or any other such organization that might rely upon sponsorship–

      RE Barcamp rose from nothing, and could just as easily return.

      What I mean by that is that the first RE Barcamp, in SF, was done with support from multiple sources, many of them individuals (like myself). For that event, there were not big sponsors. In NYC, we kinda broke the mold (out of necessity, more than anything), and some sponsors came forward in a BIG way.

      Now, let’s use your example– Let’s say that happens, Trulia is ticked, takes their ball, and goes home.

      So what?

      An RE Barcamp can pop up just as easily without big sponsorships as it can with them. It just means that perhaps that way of organizing things won’t work going forward. Heck, every RE Barcamp can do it differently. That is the point.

      “RE Barcamp” isn’t an entity of its own. There are just a bunch of folks who want to participate. It is up to them, individually, to decide how and where to direct that participation.

      As far as NAR being involved with RE Barcamp San Diego, I have been all for it. Mainly because it is a chance for NAR to put up or shut up. It is high time that NAR stop “talking” about transparency, openness, and innovation, and start “being” about those things. If NAR gets involved and effs the whole thing up– that’s on them, and people will proceed accordingly in the future.

    13. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 2:31 pm

      Brad-

      >This is verbally conveyed to anyone getting involved with support. Being a work in progress, at some point we will have it up on the site in text as a template for future organizers to use.

      Thank you for a peek into the inner workings of rebc. Having met you and Andy and Todd, I kinda figured you all were on the ball about how to keep things as frank and honest as you can.

    14. Teri Lussier February 27th, 2009 2:43 pm

      Daniel-

      >In NYC, we kinda broke the mold (out of necessity, more than anything)

      Care to expand on that? I didn’t follow the NYC camp.

      >“RE Barcamp” isn’t an entity of its own.

      Well, maybe. Maybe not. I understand that’s it’s whoever wants to participate, and it’s not corporate, but it’s getting a brand, isn’t it? So we are beginning to have certain expectations for what is going to happen there, arent’ we?

      >If NAR gets involved and effs the whole thing up– that’s on them, and people will proceed accordingly in the future.

      I would think that would depend on how involved they get and how seriously they eff things up. This could very well reflect on the rebc brand, not in a good way. So what? We move along? Because the people who put their blood, sweat, and tears into this are now having to rebrand something else. But. Maybe that’s not a problem. And it’s all hypothetical.

    15. Jay Thompson February 27th, 2009 2:56 pm

      > Care to expand on that? I didn’t follow the NYC camp.

      I’m not Daniel (obviously) but can speak to it a little as I was on several planning calls and attended.

      REBCNYC came about on very short notice. And as it was situated in Manhattan, space would have been extremely expensive. Inman stepped up and provided the space and BHG was gracious enough to provide lunch. As a side note, there was not a single “push” from either of the entities during Bar Camp — no sales pitches, no press to register as an Inman Premium member, no “BHG is the greatest” talk. Despite their contributions, they didn’t take over or hold any expectations.

      I agree that “RE Barcamp” is becoming a “brand”, of sorts. It’s really more of “an experience” than a brand. I’ve attended two physically and participated in some live streaming of two others. They are each very separate, very distinctive things. About all they really have in common is the name and similarities in logos. As there is no pre-established agenda, what makes each bar camp are the people there, and what they want to talk about.

      If NAR comes in and blows it at REBCSD, then I can’t see that damaging the REBC brand/experience. Damage NAR, maybe and Lord knows they don’t really need that. But it wouldn’t turn me off one iota to future REBCs.

    16. Matthew Hardy February 27th, 2009 3:13 pm

      I love the way you write Teri; your pleasant personality comes through wonderfully. Mine are general thoughts relating to questions you’ve raised…

      “Transparency” has already become a bludgeon. Marriage/friendship/commerce has always meant taking the good with the bad – why? Because no one is 100% “good” and as soon as someone says: “well, I’m 100% good in this area” someone else will find an area where that someone is not 100% good. Does this mean that standards shouldn’t be raised? Of course not. But “standards” raised as battle flags to war against others just becomes a new religion with the concomitant inquisition and “cleansing”. Fighting children are rightly admonished to “grow up” because maturity calls for respectful discourse. The ethic of reciprocity might be stated here as “criticize others as you would like to be criticized”.

      Media used to be followed because it was reputable. Now, it’s followed to collect data points to be compared against data points found elsewhere. Personally, I do not BELIEVE anyone; I believe my own experience and trust it to know when to flip the accept/reject switch (commonly referred to as the “smell test”).

      Everyone – EVERYONE – has an agenda: their own. This is everyone’s person-right and duty to themselves. I bet even Mother Teresa does a few things that are really, really nice, yet still advances her own work in ways unrelated to the act of kindness itself.

      Our new administration set certain ethical standards they themselves discarded with the argument: “but he’s a really qualified guy!” Should they be applauded for striving for a higher standard, or derided for not adhering to it? Strict us-versus-themmers have an easy answer – and one they’ll probably change later.

      Buyers and vendors in every industry have at heart, a symbiotic relationship. The best are fostered for the general welfare; the worst are not. But it is always a matter of degree. When I was a younger man, I was an absolutist about things having to do with other people. I am still, somewhat, an absolutist concerning myself, yet happily, less so with each day.

    17. Brad Coy February 27th, 2009 4:32 pm

      >Thank you for a peek into the inner workings of rebc.

      Thanks for the discussion and feedback here, Teri. I always appreciate your point of view.

      With regards to the inner workings of RE Barcamp, there is not a whole lot to hide. For anyone interested in researching further there are videos, recorded conversations, and posts found on the main site http://rebarcamp.com/

      If anyone is curious beyond what is available there, they could certainly get in touch with any of the organizers found on the site and schedule a Q&A conference call to help out.

      The idea is certainly not for everyone. But what I really do like is the opportunity to exercise choice. If you don’t like what has been put on the loose agenda prior to showing up, then plan your own session. If you show up that morning and find out that you don’t like what is going on, then grab a few people that want to talk about something else and create another session. If you find that the whole thing is bunk and it took taking time out of your day to make it down to the event, then leave. Your time can’t be refunded, but the admission was free.

    18. Thomas Hall February 27th, 2009 5:37 pm

      Teri – great post, thanks. Rather timely for me as I have been thinking about getting involved – actually even trying to organize – a barcamp for Chicago. Who’s game?

    19. Sherry Chris February 27th, 2009 5:48 pm

      As one of the sponsors of REBCNY, and in the spirit of transparency, let me jump in to the conversation… I offered to help because the location was on our home turf, I wanted some of team members to attend, learn and participate, and I wanted to give back something in return. We ended up with the lunch, which ended up fitting into our small budget perfectly. One of the things I said up front was no grandstanding, no presentations, no selling anything. As it turned out, I wasn’t even there myself, but 2 of our team members were, and they made some new friends and learned a lot. A number of people reached out to say thank you for lunch, which was great. And that was it, and in my opinion that is all it should be. If it begins to turn into a one day trade show it has lost it’s innocence, and the people you want to be there with will stop attending… We have been approached to help with another Bar Camp this spring, and we agreed, under the same terms.

    20. Teri Lussier February 28th, 2009 4:49 am

      Jay & Brad-

      I really appreciate you jumping in here. I hope this post doesn’t come off as accusatory because the point was to foster discussion and learn.

      There is an disgusting predatory undercurrent in this business that has to be guarded against and fought…

      I love the independent nature of rebc, and I would hate for that to be compromised, even, and maybe especially, under good intentions- a very easy thing to have happen, and I’m speaking from my volunteer experience, not anything I’ve observed from rebc.

    21. Teri Lussier February 28th, 2009 4:51 am

      Thomas-

      Chicago is a do-able drive for me. Depending on the weather that day, I just might make the drive to a rebc/chicago!

    22. Teri Lussier February 28th, 2009 4:56 am

      Sherry-

      Thank you for the comment. I was hoping to hear from that side of the table.

      >If it begins to turn into a one day trade show it has lost it’s innocence, and the people you want to be there with will stop attending…

      I couldn’t agree more. Daniel indicates that people will move along, but there is a serious price to pay when something like this looses its innocence.

    23. Teri Lussier February 28th, 2009 4:59 am

      Matthew-

      Thanks for weighing in. I am going to take up your comment in another post, as you’ve raised a few issues that are important, but I think a bit more complex than I was intending with this.

    24. Teri Lussier February 28th, 2009 10:39 am

      I changed my mind.

      Matthew-

      No one, that I know of anyway, expects perfection in others. But everyone, that I know of, chooses the imperfections with which they are willing to live. I want to surround myself with people who share certain core beliefs- as I’m sure, do you. So if you believe strongly in honesty, you will not associate with liars, as an example. You may not blatantly reject those people, loudly, in public, but you reject them some way.

      We are all flawed human beings. The key, I believe, is to learn to be upfront about those flaws you can live with, and which flaws you reject. To say out loud, in public, I am willing to accept this, but not that, or I will compromise here but not there, is hardly childish and a favor to everyone. Now I know what is important to you. Now I know whether we can trust each other. Now I know whether to be on my guard against you. I do need to know whether the people I call friends have the same value system, I do need to know whether my husband shares the same values.

      It’s no crime to be on our guard against those things we have determined to not be in our best interest. Transparency allows us to reject the worst in each other but, it also allows us to celebrate the finest we can offer. When did that become something to be avoided?

      …Unless I’ve misunderstood your comment.

    25. Geno Petro February 28th, 2009 10:55 am

      I’ll wait for the movie.

    26. Matthew Hardy February 28th, 2009 11:24 pm

      I think all I was saying, Teri, is that there seems to be a current in general discourse that assumes the worst in some before reality has even manifested itself.

      Let me use your example of the term “liar”. I remember when the word “liar” was an extremely strong thing to say and was simply not used to the degree it is today. Today, people are accused of being liars for simple disagreement on how to achieve things. But how does one defend against being called a “liar”? (Believe me, I am NOT defending lying!) In a literal sense, is someone a liar if they are, in the present tense, lying now? Or is someone a liar if they have ever lied? Or, is someone a liar if they lie a lot? Or, are they a liar if they lie about something really meaningful?

      It seems to me, that we’ve moved into a very course time in our history. Perhaps because we’ve seen so much to cause us to be cynical, we’re getting more typical in segmenting fellow humans and countrymen into neatly defined “bad” and “good” groups; a kind of balkanization.

      I do agree with you wholeheartedly that personal real-time discrimination in our own relationships is normal life. I am saying, however, that our public discourse seems to have become less evolved rather than more and I know we can do better.

      First and foremost, I’ll be plain in stating that I think spending any time psychologically guarding against anything is worse than a waste of time; it is actually deleterious. And for me, it’s a time-spent thing. For comparison, imagine the feeling when you’ve got a big deal about to close. All of the right things are coming together; you know you’ll make good money and be able to do good things with it. It’s a real high and it’s (obviously) very productive. Compare this to the time spent refining your position on some error that’s going on in your office or company or industry. This is not productive. Straining to determine transparency cred everywhere we look is the adult version of “I’m better than you”.

      Examples and ideas on how to be great in real estate is what I want to hear. Things that will inspire positive action for personal, then ultimately, societal good are the topics I value. I love it when someone shows others how to fulfill their best and thankfully this is something you’re good at.

    27. Teri Lussier March 1st, 2009 3:39 am

      Matthew-

      hmmmm….So… that means we should put you down as a “yes” to a clearinghouse? :-)

    28. Bob March 1st, 2009 9:32 am

      With all do respect, the clearinghouse is an awful idea.

      The spirit of a barcamp is one of local involvement where sponsorships are capped. No one sponsor should be depended upon or needed to “come through in a big way”.

      Leave it to the RE space to screw up something pure. Taking a barcamp and turning it into a brand doesnt help anyone. It doesnt need to be a production to be done right. Find a local “non- real estate” themed word camp and attend one, and you’ll learn at lot.

      The original barcamps were about sharing knowledge and the different applications of that knowledge. If Eric were to do a presentation on dofollows, it wouldn’t be considered an issue if someone else did one on sculpting PR via the use of nofollows. However, at a RE bar camp, if I were to show you how to rank better so as to make more money by using the no follow, chances are I would be trashed as a shill for an entity like Trulia.

      Going down this path, RE themed bar camps are doomed to become far less than than what they were intended to be.

    29. Jay Thompson March 1st, 2009 11:57 am

      Bob wrote: “However, at a RE bar camp, if I were to show you how to rank better so as to make more money by using the no follow, chances are I would be trashed as a shill for an entity like Trulia.”

      Bob – With all due respect, how many RE Bar Camps have you attended? I’ve attended two, and watched parts of 2 others on a live stream and haven’t seen anything even remotely close to what you are saying happens at REBC’s. No one has ever been “trashed” for expressing any opinion at the REBC’s I’ve attended. At which REBC did you observe this type of behavior?

    30. Rob Hahn March 2nd, 2009 7:40 am

      Hey, this wasn’t quite the beating I was expecting, Teri. :)

      Okay, two quick points.

      One — we need to distinguish between what I suggested (“national clearinghouse”) and what y’all are talking about here (“does accepting sponsorship = selling out?”). We’ve sponsored three REBC’s now at Onboard, and am looking to do more — but, my Events Director is getting annoyed at having to try and keep track of eight or nine different people, with different bank accounts, with different vendors, and the like.

      So my suggestion was purely pragmatic: to make it easier for sponsors to work with organizers, a central clearinghouse would be good. If you choose to accept sponsorship $$$, then a central clearinghouse = teh good. This is indisputable.

      What is disputable, and is being disputed, is whether REBC organizers should take sponsorship money (especially national dollars, like ours) in the first place. So…

      Two, does accepting sponsorship money = selling your soul? I know I’ve never thought of it that way, nor do I expect that attendees of REBC that we sponsor will keep their traps shut when it comes to criticizing Onboard. But it could happen, sure.

      I think I can provide my perspective (which I know is shared by my team) as a sponsor. Right now, honestly, the money is little enough that we’re doing it altruistically. We love the energy, the enthusiasm, and the opportunity to talk about our stuff and topics we find interesting with other realestistas. A couple of hundred bucks here and there isn’t a big deal to us, and we’re happy to help without much of a “ROI”.

      However, if the costs got bigger, we may start to think differently.

      The format is also relevant. If someone gets up at a REBC and trashes Onboard, I can just pound on him (verbally, of course, I’m a lover not a fighter) until he recants. In other words, criticism can be handled through discussion and dialogue.

      It’s quite a different thing than when you’re at (let’s say) Inman, and the speaker on the panel trashes you. Then you can’t really respond, you can’t really put up your own session, etc. There’s definitely an “air of authority” that other conferences cultivate that REBC’s lack. If a speaker at Inman trashed us, then yes, we’d likely be extraordinarily upset, since there is no real venue to respond or correct the record.

      -rsh

    31. Bob March 2nd, 2009 3:42 pm

      Jay, I didnt mean at a barcamp, but online from some within the RE.net.

    32. Rich Jacobson March 4th, 2009 1:26 am

      There are several things we need to do in order to ensure the effective success of these events:

      1) Solicit greater sponsorship involvement from local companies & regional brokerages. Windermere is sponsoring the Portland event. We need to see more of this…

      2) Better promote these events to the uninitiated – the vast majority of our industry who haven’t stepped into the social media waters.

      3) Create a comprehensive on-line manual that provides helpful step-by-step procedures/best practices on how to organize these events.

      The beauty of the REBarCamp experience is that no one sponsor/group has a monopoly over the event. It’s a conference for the people, by the people.