Conferences are Expensive!

Rushabh Mehta, current Executive Vice President for Finance and Technology for PASS, gave a quiz today to see if any of the volunteers had any idea how expensive it is to put on a conference like the PASS Community Summit.  I'll have to admit that I was way off-base with my guesses.  For example, how much do you think those little bottles of water cost?  Yeah, they're "free" to you, or more accurately, included in the price of admission, but they cost PASS something.  When Rushabh first asked, I was thinking in terms of production costs and wholesale, so I'm thinking it can't be more than 15 cents.  Others in the room were more tuned-in, realizing that PASS pays retail, and were guessing between $1.00 and $2.00.  The real answer... $4.50!  Yeah, I know you can go buy your own, larger, bottle at the store for 99 cents, but you have to remember that when you rent convention space, part of the deal is that you will use their concessionaire (you can't just go to Costco and bring in your own stuff).  And they charge convention prices (kinda like stadium pricing... $8.00 for a hot dog).

So now that you know the pattern, here's another one to try... Included in your registration are two tickets that can be exchanged for beverages at one of the reception events.  How much do you think a single beverage ticket costs PASS when it is redeemed?  How about $8.50?  OK, we're on a roll now, so how much do you think it costs to provide food and beverages for the week (basically breakfast and lunch for about 2500 delegates)?  Would you believe $650,000?  Ouch!  Add in multiple tens of thousands of dollars for the WiFi connectivity (and support staff) throughout the conference center, Audio/Visual equipment and staffing, and several other key ingredients, and now you know where most of the money that comes in to PASS goes to pay for the conference itself.  Conferences are expensive.

As long as I'm throwing numbers around, here are a few more for this year's Summit.  As mentioned previously, there are about 2,500 individuals registered to attend the conference this year.  That is the largest summit ever, and a significant growth over last year's event, even in this tough economic climate.

And finally, there were around 500 session abstracts submitted for the 70ish available speaking slots.  Lots of competition.  So if you are a speaker who was selected this year, you should feel good about yourself.  You made the cut!  Congratulations!

posted @ Tuesday, November 18, 2008 10:08 PM

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