Journerdism

Will Sullivan's guide to mobile, tablet & emerging tech ideas

Jeff Jarvis gives the conference business a wedgie.

And he’s totally on point. Networking and a couple Heinekens are not worth dozens of Benjamins.

Take, for example, this week’s SIIA conference in New York. I already bitched that these bozos wanted to charge me $500 to attend their full conference after speaking on their panel. The speakers are the content for these unevents, and to have the chutzpah to try to charge the content providers appalled me. I tried to drop out of the panel, but the guy who organized it — unpaid and paying to attend the event himself, the poor shmuck — would have been left holding the empty chair. So I’m doing it. But I’ll do it growling and fomenting revolt.

Look at the basic economics of this conference:
* 400 are attending at $1,100 to $1,700 each, which adds up to $440k to $680k. So let’s average that out at $560k.
* The 14 sponsor slots bring in $20k-$5k each for the privilege of handing out junk mail sans postage. That adds up to $140k (though one $15k slot is still open).
* The total: $700k. (And that doesn’t include membership fees to the organization that range from $850 to $125k per year.)
* So let’s give them $100k for the venue and coffee.
* That leaves $600k for content.
* There are 50 speakers. That means $12k per speaker. Hell, $5k would be nice. $1k would be something. $500 payment instead of a $500 fee would at least be polite.
But, no, the attendees and speakers are foolish enough to enrich the organizers to the tune of $700K, gross because they are a captive audience.

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