A rant about conference organisers

I was invited to chair day 2 of the Social Media World Forum in Cape Town on June 2. I agreed even though there had been no talk of a fee. Keep in mind that I am a professional speaker, so its like expecting your lawyer to work for free. I did so because there are a couple of people on the programme I wanted to catch up with and didn’t mind donating my a day to be in Cape Town to do so.

Now this is a conference for which delegates need to pay around R5000 to attend – a profit making concern.

When I sent a mail to confirm travel arrangements I got a reply telling me that there is no budget for travel and accommodation, sorry for you.

Why do we let conference organisers get away with this? They make money by packaging content provided to them by the personalities on the stage, they market it by selling the people on the stage and now in this case they are actually asking me to not only to forego income that could have been earned on that day in my consulting practice, forego the fee, but even to subsidise their costs on top of it. The least they could have done is fly me down on low cost airline Kulula and offered me some sort of accommodation.

This comes hot on the heels of the Thinking Mobile conference in which the organiser, delivered close to no audience to my talk, charged delegates a fortune, messed up my logo on the website and when I pointed this out showed zero concern. His rating system gave me a high response for my contribution, I would give him zero for his part of the deal.

This is in contrast to the IMC conference and The Advantage stand at Markex both of whom are going out of their way to generate a return commensurate with the speakers input.

The reason is that they take advantage of us because we allow them to. 

From now on conference organisers – if you want me to speak you need to guarantee your part of the deal – for example if you say there are going to be 300 people in the room and there are 7 you will get a bill pro rata. 

In fact better still please get a sponsor.

I will deliver to my audience – I care about them.

Posted via email from Organic Marketing…

Posted on May 24, 2011 at 2:07 pm by Walter Pike · Permalink
In: Uncategorized
  • http://twitter.com/randjes Adrian Schofield

    100%, Walter!  I usually demand a fee, even if a token, to ensure the organisers take me seriously.  And I certainly would not travel beyond home territory at my own expense.  As you say, too many speakers like the sound of their own voices, so the organisers get away with it.

  • Rays

    Hi Walter

    I do not think it's the conference organiser… they just work for the conference owner who sets the rules.  I always research the history of the event and who owns it.  If its a conference production or media company who is taking the profit I charge my normal fee.  If its a legitimate association or company meeting I look at the promotional benefits from my involvment and charge accordingly.  I never pay my own expenses!

    Regards

    Ray