Why do people wait? Please help me sleep!

As a purveyor of fine conference programming there are several things that cause organizers angst as the months and days count down before an event.

The top “anxiety” revolves around how many people are going to attend. No matter how big or small the event, everything revolves around people.  Like anything else it is all about budgets and numbers.

Why the anxiety? There are huge financial implications, no matter what the size of the event.

The anxiety:  Every year people seem to be registering later and later for conferences and tradeshows. 70% of the people register within the last 45-60 days, despite “early registration incentives”.  It keeps organizers up at night.

The angst: We contract for hotel room blocks, transportation, meals, entertainment, audio visual, etc. based on anticipated attendance.

Some event costs are variable others are not. ALL have minimums which drive negotiated hotel room rates, internet fees, etc. The hotel /facility contracts for a minimum total spend.

  • Event organizers negotiate with hotels to get favorable rates for conference attendees. If at least 90% of the rooms are not sold, the organizer is responsible for the remaining rooms.
  • Food at conference centers, hotels and convention centers is outrageously expensive which is why few events provide lunches or  have multiple networking events as part of registration. A box lunch, $20-24 plus tax and a service fee.  A buffet or sit down lunch, a lot more.
  • Any event that involves hot food and alcohol is expensive. A “networking event” three hours in length, with open bar and hot food, $80 -120 per person, depending on menu, plus 22% service charge.
  • Renting a LCD projector ranges from $600-750 per day at a hotel/convention center depending on the lumens plus screen, cart, support, etc. Multiply by 6-7, one for each session room and number of days.
  • Many of sponsored events are subsidized by the organizers as marketing dollars are getting harder and harder to get.
  • Organizers don’t make “tons of money” on events contrary to popular belief. A $250k event may yield 20-25% after expenses, not including staff costs to organize. Lot of work . Labor of love.

Please help me sleep:  If you can answer these questions I may be able to come up with a solution that could be mutually beneficial. (send me your thoughts and I will give you an additional $100 off conference registration)

  1. What decisions drive when you actually register for events?
  2. When do you start looking at events in terms of time?
  3. What could we do as organizers to incent you to register 60-90 days ahead of an event?

The plug: The 2012 Xplor Conference and Vendor Forum taking place March 27-29, at the TradeWinds Island Grand on St. Pete Beach includes: 70+ educational sessions, (3) lunches, (2) networking events and a vendor forum that features 32 of the best vendors in the industry.

Full conference:  Early registration:  $795 member/$995 non-member Regular registration: $895 member / $1145 non-member

Registration open December 1 at www.xplor.org , click on 2012 Xplor Conference and Vendor forum.