In my last post, I made a criticism of conferences and the way they manage (or don’t) their discussion/networking groups. What led to that post is this: I was discussing conferences with another person in the industry. We were thinking of meeting at a conference and trying to determine which one it might be. As we went through various conferences, between the both of us, we seem to have been to all the appropriate conferences. In addition, there are quite a few we’ve both been to.
In our ensuing discussion, I was somewhat surprised that we both had nothing but negative comments on specific conferences that were somewhat expensive. Our consensus seemed to be that there are very few conferences that bring value and the price of the conference has no relationship to its value. You can’t look at an expensive conference and assume it will make sure it brings value nor can you look at an inexpensive conference and figure you’ll easily get value for the low price. You almost have to either go to them to try them, or ask around to find which ones are worth your time.
With that, I know I felt a bit frustrated. Actually, I’m often offered free tickets to conferences so the cost of the conference doesn’t matter that much to me (since I’m usually not paying for it) but conferences tend to be expensive merely to attend. In that, it really burns me up to spend a small fortune to attend a conference and get little to nothing out of it.
Some conferences have talked about creating ongoing opportunities for attendees to learn and network but I don’t think any of the conferences have actually made that happen. It would be one way to add value in these times when many companies have cut back on their travel due to the expense. It’s become harder to justify the expense and conferences seem to offer less value to attendees.
With that said, it’s hard to please everyone. Attendees consist of exhibitors, sponsors, media, end-users, consultants and probably some others that I’m not thinking of. It’s extremely difficult to create an event where all parties feel there’s a good value. Still, that’s the job of the conferences.