The SOURCE Barcelona Apartment Experience

August 23, 2011 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

It has come to our attention that some people do not realize exactly what Barcelona is, how it differs from other events (including our own Boston & Seattle events).

The first thing to know about Barcelona is that if gives you unparalleled access to the speakers, planners, and other attendees.  As in, you actually live with them for 3 days.

I’ll get to more about that in a minute.  First, what is SOURCE?

SOURCE conferences focus on bridging the gap between business and technology.  I recently conducted a survey about burnout and stress in the security industry.  We had 400 respondents and one of the most frequent complaints was how to communicate and apply the value of security in a business environment.  For those who are coming from the business end, recent hacks have really pulled the pants down on businesses who are not giving security the time, budget, and attention it needs.  It’s clear that these two populations need to get together and, in the world of Chris Nickerson and Andrew Hay, “hug it out”.

While there may not be a lot of hugging (at least, it’s not mandatory), SOURCE Barcelona definitely offers the ultimate networking experience.

When you arrive in Barcelona, you immediately head to Plaza Espana.  You’ll notice the Museu Nacional Art de Catalunya.  It’s the building that looks like this:

Yep, that’s our venue.

But you’ll head here:

SOURCE rents out almost all of the apartments in the building and we pack it full of speakers, staff, & attendees.

To some, the idea of spending this much time with people may seem daunting.  However, when you’re in Barcelona and you’re sitting with your roommates over tapas, sangria, cava, or beer and having in-depth discussions about security, life, security, philosophy, security, shared experiences, and more, you realize how valuable this opportunity is.  (Note:  When you register for SOURCE BCN, you can reserve an individual room or a shared room.  You can also request to stay with your friends or be put into the room assignment pool.  About a month ahead of time, you will get the information for the apartment number and the name –real and twitter- of your roommates.  We try very hard to assign roommates based on interests, background, etc.   Our attendees have not had a bad roommate experience yet!).

Last year, I shared my apartment with Christien “DilDog” Rioux, Barnaby Jack, Val Smith, and Ally Miller.  If you don’t know those people, you should. They are all awesome and talented security folks.  I knew that ahead of time, but got to know them on a deeper level.  During the day, we would attend the talks or roam about the venue.  Then we’d all shuffle off to the apartments for some quiet time before heading out to dinner with the other households.  Dinner was usually tapas and sangria in the Gothic District or by the beach (Taller de Tapas quickly became a favorite of the group).  After an amazing meal and a few drinks, some people would head out for more exploring and some of us would go home and chill out.  One of my favorite memories was sitting around the apartment, post dinner, talking with Val and Ally about their backgrounds and their lives and really getting to know more about them.  For more than I ever could in a passing conversation at a larger event.

Now, for the more practical side – while this all sounds great, how does it translate into the bottom line? How do you convince your company to send you?  Here is how:

Over the past year, I have seen the people who have attended SOURCE Barcelona build partnerships.  I have seen people who work for two different companies learn more about the services and products and assist in the purchasing of said items.  A 15-20 minute conversation at a networking event often doesn’t provide the opportunity to really get into what the other person is doing.  And if they do manage to pack it into an elevator pitch, you’re only getting the surface information.  The time and opportunities you have with the other attendees allows for natural partnerships and prospects to develop. People who may never have thought to work together, have the time to discover ways they can build partnerships and unions.

I could go on and on about the value of attending this event, but I’ll let others speak for me:

“First and foremost it was a unique experience. There was a huge bonding factor that’s missing from most conferences where speakers are left in perhaps “classy” but just as much as lonely hotel rooms. The ability to have a firsthand experience and honest discussion with fellow speakers spurs up some great conversations that industry analysis would be jealous to be part of.” – SOURCE BCN Speaker

“I stayed in the SOURCE Apartments and had the opportunity to share my professional interests and perspectives on a much deeper level.  My roommate was someone I knew on an acquaintance level, but never really got to talk to outside of the conference floor.  Over the three days together, we found that our professional interests overlapped quite a bit and her company could really benefit from the services my organization offered.  About 6 months later, her company became a client! If we hadn’t had the opportunity to get beyond the superficial layer of what we do, this may not have happened.” – SOURCE Attendee  

“For those of us who travel much of the year, we are used to the stale hotel rooms worldwide. They are a constant reminder of the mobile lifestyle and a painful deviation from home no matter how nice they are. I recently attended SOURCE BCN and was put up in an apartment instead of yet another hotel room. At first I was a bit unsure of sharing a room with people I did and did not know very well, but was quickly turned by its sense of home. I didn’t have the same old hotel soap, or the luggage abused carpet, or even the questionably cleaned hotel glass to be used for whatever purposes the last guest deemed needed. Nope, all that was replaces with a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and a nice living area. Even better, it was pre-stocked with people that I would love to just sit and talk security with. For the first time at a conference/work trip I felt a sense of being comfortable like at home (odd since home was about 5000 miles away). From the late night deep conversations to fridge raids and group “eat ins” … it was just awesome.” – SOURCE BCN Speaker

“This experience was amazing.  Instead of passing conversations in a bar or cocktail hour, I really got to know the attendees and speakers and gain a deeper understanding of why they were there. In return, they got a deeper understanding of me and what I was looking to do.  This ultimately led to share resources and building partnerships for months to follow.  Attending SOURCE Barcelona definitely opened up doors for me!” – SOURCE BCN Attendee

“The apartment sharing at SOURCE Barcelona was new to me, and it was certainly different.  While you would normally retreat to your room on downtime during a conference, the apartment allowed me to have much deeper conversations with the fellow speakers and it made the whole Source Barcelona experience very much worthwhile. Certainly, sharing an apartment with a bunch of strangers may seem weird but the common purpose for which we were there and the fact that we shared enough common interests made it seem more like a weekend out with friends. I personally loved it and look forward to a similar experience in November!” – SOURCE BCN Speaker

So, there you have it.  I know I may be biased, but I really do think this is an amazing and unique experience.  In a field where security conferences are a dime a dozen, this one will be memorable.

For more information and videos of the apartments, go to:



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