(Conference) Stand and Deliver

I’d love to right a blog about the first single I ever bought with my 14th Birthday money, but in truth I’m not a real muso.  My sister borrowed the single (Stand and Deliver), left it on a radiator and it melted!!!  To be fair she did replace it.  Sadly with Rod Stewart – Do you think I’m sexy.  My brief love affair with music ended!

No I’m writing about conferences and conference stands.   I read this blog and it got me thinking from an industry point of view again, but hopefully with the profession in mind.

I’ve stood at many an empty conference hall feeling like the guy from Greenpeace walking along Edinburgh’s famous princess street.  Lots of people all trying to avoid any sort of eye contact.  The last one I was at finished it for me – it simply wasn’t the right thing to do.  The problem is these events need funding, and typically the people who pay for the profession’s events sit in the industry.  I really don’t have a problem with that, but then the organisers are caught in a trap.  How to keep the sponsors happy, but then make the material relevant to it’s intended audience.

More and more these are turning into industry events,  most are called that, and therefore become less relevant to the profession.  As a result I would be less inclined to support them. The audience is essentially a bunch of people from the industry talking with varying degrees of knowledge and authority about what the profession needs.

I can speak with reasonable authority on the industry and pretty strong authority as a client.  Whilst I have my views on the profession Im not actually in it.  I’ve never ran a small business, and I’ve never advised a client, or had the responsibility to ensure someone’s life goals are met.  So why are the conferences so dominated by industry and lacking in the professions?

The blog I read makes some great points, but the challenge is most of the people running these need to do it for a profit.  And the sponsors want to feel like they get the right amount of air time on stage and the best stand.  Do professionals really want to hear what most people in the industry are saying at these events? Do professionals really want to visit a stand and collect lots of goody bags with things they will either give to the kids or throw away at the first opportunity?

The issue is simply

  1. There are too many industry events and not enough professional ones
  2. The profession is too splintered to have a single professional conference, so that impact gets diluted
  3. These events can be expensive to run and someone has to pay – the profession either can’t or wont

So how about it we just had one professional body to represent the profession, not 2,3 or 4.  Those in industry paid a premium to that professional body, the premium based on the value the profession gave to them.  The profession ran it with only very limited industry speakers.  As for the conference stands – either get rid of them, or dedicate an afternoon to them.  And yes get the guys in relevant to the profession, not the industry.  The industry may even learn something themselves and perhaps better partnerships between platform/product providers and technology/solution providers may emerge.

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2 thoughts on “(Conference) Stand and Deliver

  • Firstly, I’ve just confirmed we will be sponsoring one conference today, so I’m not entirely negative about them. But you are right in much you say. I’ve been involved in running the odd conference and it is a nightmare. You will run up costs of £200-£250k for a big event to compete with the other around. To cover the cost you need to ask for a lot of sponsorship money. The sponsors rarely get good value for them, as the delegates want to miz with peers not sponsors who are typically manufacturers. I should add, we never made a penny from an event, always lost money as it’s really hard to control all the costs as well, even before we include our own time organising. I don’t think anyone realises the time and effort and money which is invested. As a result we don’t really do them any more.

    Reply
  • Firstly, I’ve just confirmed we will be sponsoring one conference today, so I’m not entirely negative about them. But you are right in much you say. I’ve been involved in running the odd conference and it is a nightmare. You will run up costs of £200-£250k for a big event to compete with the other around. To cover the cost you need to ask for a lot of sponsorship money. The sponsors rarely get good value for them, as the delegates want to miz with peers not sponsors who are typically manufacturers. I should add, we never made a penny from an event, always lost money as it’s really hard to control all the costs as well, even before we include our own time organising. I don’t think anyone realises the time and effort and money which is invested. As a result we don’t really do them any more.

    Reply

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