Why conferences cost so much

Great post on AndyBudd.com on why conferences costs so much:

Let’s assume that this $1000 a ticket conference happens over 3 days with 3 tracks and attracts 300 people. That would indicate an income of $300,000. However once you’ve taken off transaction fees you looking at closer to $275,000. Let us assume that the venue day delegate rate is $100 per day which is actually quite low for a major conference venue. This brings the coffers down to $185,000. As a conference organiser you also have to pay the day delegate rate for all your speakers and volunteers. So let’s say there are 10 speakers per day and 10 staff. That brings your balance down to $173,000. If you pay each speaker $2,000, fly them over for $2,000 and put them up in a $250 per night hotel for 5 nights, that brings it down to a scarily low $15,500. Now let’s assume that wifi is charged at $10 per head, per day. Let’s also assume that the AV set-up is $5k in total (which is very cheap). This brings you down to a profit of $300.

The truth is that conferences are hugely costly to run and what seems like a massive profit to the untrained eye quickly fades to nothing. So what does this mean for conference organisers. Should all conferences be a single day long and only feature unpaid and inexperienced speakers? Should they all take place in second tier cities in low cost venues and force attendees to bring a packed lunch? Or should they be scrapped altogether, in favour of paid for content on a tutorial site as the folks behind tutsplus (an ad supported and paid for content tutorial site) would have us believe? Personally I think not.

Read the full post, Conference Nonsense.

3 Responses to “Why conferences cost so much”

  1. Roy

    It should not cost a lot of money to get good speakers. A good network and some intelligent persuasion will do.

  2. Cassie

    Scott —

    Thanks for the link to Andy Budd’s article about hosting conferences. As someone who’s put on a small conference, I couldn’t agree with him more. It seemed like a relatively easy way to make money. Hah! Our organization benefitted in many ways from the conference, but finances weren’t one of them. I was happy that we broke even.

    — Cassie

  3. Jim

    1000 bucks for 3 days conference is also quite “cheap”, I’d expect 2000 bucks or more.

    Then the calculation isn’t that scary ;-)


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