Obie Fernandez is attempting to put together a conference for (Rails) business entrepreneurs at the moment, and I wish him the best of luck with it.
One aspect that really stands out, however, is the price tag. Obie has asked people to state how much they might be willing to spend, and gives options up to $5000:
Registration price is probably going to be a minimum of $2000 since I would like to book a great venue with top-quality food, conference facilities and amenities. Speakers may receive discounted or waived registration depending on the amount of support we get from sponsors.
Now, I’m familiar with the justification that conference price tags are easily offset by increased client revenue, but that doesn’t automatically mean that conferences should be expensive.
Obviously my opinions are quite clear on this subject, but it’s worth reiterating. All a conference really needs to do is gather people together in the same space, and provide a set of tools sufficient for them to share ideas. Those tools might be a projector and whiteboards, could be wifi, or could just be loads of free beanbags.
I don’t go to conferences because I want to stay in a luxurious hotel, or eat sumptuous lunches. I do that anyway, but on my own time ;). This is not to say that I want to be sitting crossed-legged on a splintery floor and eating gruel for lunch, but I think there’s a balance to how much of the typical conference trappings we actually need and are worth paying for.
This isn’t a rant against Obie’s idea - the conference sounds like a great idea, and having launched into that vague sphere myself recently, I would certainly like to pick the brains of the kind of people he’s looking to attract. I just don’t know if I could ever justify paying $5000 for it, and I wonder if setting the price so high will result in many smaller business-people finding it difficult to attend.
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