I really enjoy attending tech conferences. They give me the ability to learn new skills and techniques, network with other engineers in the web-based tech space, and find new ways I can be involved in the community.
I understand how difficult it is to plan large events, so my thanks goes out to the organizer community. Unfortunately, I also feel that the web engineering organizer community has dropped the ball when it comes to putting on a conference.
I select conferences to attend based on several factors:
- Time of the event
The third factor, the content of the conference, is actually the most important to me. If I can’t see who will be presenting about what before I buy a ticket, I probably won’t go. Yes, I understand a large part of the conference is the networking opportunity and being involved in the community, but there’s something that organizers don’t understand.
I give up a large chunk of my week (weekend or weekday, it doesn’t matter) to attend a conference. For many, there’s also a significant financial investment (either in the cost of the ticket, the cost of travel/lodging, or both). Considering the number of conferences on which I’ve gambled and bought a ticket in spite of a schedule filled mostly with TBA sessions – and been utterly disappointed – there’s little chance I’ll continue to gamble.
If you sell tickets before the speaker list is announced, I will not buy them. If you sell out of tickets before the speaker list is announced, I will not attend.
I love to speak at conferences. A selfish part of me loves to be the center of attention for 15, 30, 45, 60 minutes. A selfless part of me loves to give back what I’ve learned to the community – and continue learning through feedback in return.
But I also love speaking because it often means I get to attend a conference that would be otherwise unreachable for me.
Just last week I received, however, my latest rejection letter from a conference. This time it was a local conference, so I wouldn’t need an expensive visa or airfare to make the trip – just a bus ticket downtown. Unfortunately, the conference sold out of their $400 tickets days before the acceptance/rejection letters started going out. Also, despite the contacts having begun to flow, the conference agenda is still TBA.
I was offered a “last chance” ticket to thank me for applying (I’d still have to pay to attend, but could still attend). But with a completely empty schedule, there’s little reason for me to go. What will I get out of my $400 ticket and two lost business days attending the conference?
I have no idea …