My original plan was to write a follow-up post on BIGOmaha itself, and my take on each of the keynotes. Jason Fried says, “inspiration is perishable.” I don’t want to write about that anymore.

Instead, I think there is a lot to be said about *why* BIGOmaha turned out to be so awesome, beyond just the content of the keynotes.

Furthermore, I think anyone can follow some of the tactics Dusty and Jeff used to host their own regional conference and make it awesome. Here’s what you have to do:

Keep it intimate

When all the Ruby developers in NYC get together, or the new-media types congregate for SXSW Interactive, you get a crowd of hundreds if not thousands.

With BIGOmaha, albeit not by design but more because they’re just starting out, they sold out to their capacity of ~300.

This meant a crowd of locals (and a handful from far away), that got together at the conference and first felt a feeling of serendipity (“oh’re in Omaha and you love Ruby too?!”), followed by a feeling of intimacy since as this small crowd of cool people all went through the journey that was BIGOmaha.

Make it a journey

BIGOmaha was more of a journey than just a conference.

It started with an opening wine show along with a live band. Breakfast was served in the morning, we all travelled across the street for lunch, had a post-conference wine party and then had a closing party at a lounge come art gallery.

As we walked from event to event, ate food, drank, listened, talked and shared, it all become much more than just going into a conference; it became an experience and a journey.

Strange unknown faces or what once was just a Twitter username you followed became familiar faces and even friends. Sweet.

Think User Experience

To go from Keynote #1 to Keynote #2 for SXSW, I once had to take two escalators, and elevator and then jump into the staircase only to realize I was on the “wrong part of the building.”

The wrong fucking part of the building?! With BIGOmaha, even the bathroom signs had more thought given to it in terms of User Experience.

Be a gracious host

Dusty and Jeff didn’t look at their jobs as just throwing a conference together with hot speakers, I think they looked at it as hosting a party in their own hometown.

I felt like I was invited to their own living room, where they gave us a tour of their house, made sure I was comfortable, and took me to all the hot places in town to make sure I have a good time.

This not only made BIGOmaha great, but also gave it a humanistic feel, where it made a New Yorker traveling to Nebraska feel like I was visiting an old friend…rather than a strange city for some random conference.

With all that said

I think Dusty and Jeff came across an incredibly awesome formula for throwing a conference.

It wouldn’t have been as awesome as it was without their hardwork, but I think there is lots to learn from these two. With their techniques, I’d love to see a BIGNewYork, BIGAustin or even a BIGIowa.