Four Types of "Conference Hurt"
“Where does it hurt?” your humble blogger asked fellow attendees at the Specialized Information Publishers Association Conference this week in DC. I was collecting conference pain stories to use in my roundtable on “Conference Pain Relief; Developing or Fixing Business Models.”
As I suspected, the conference pain fell into four categories:
- Lost opportunity; the nagging failure to grow a conference business
- Lost sleep; anxiety and overwork associated with a conference or line of conferences
- Lost dollars; events that cost more than they took in
- Lost reputation; events that damaged the brand
Losing opportunity or losing sleep were the primary complaints of the publishers who admitted to experiencing conference pain . Few said they actually lost money but several said their margins didn’t seem consistent with their efforts. Damage to the brand was mentioned as a fear but not as an experience.
“Conferences have been my least favorite but most profitable line of business,” confessed one publisher. Fear of risk, distaste for the demanding nature of the business, and lack of resources were the primary road blocks to starting or growing a conference line.
Clearly however, conferences are worth getting right. Several publishers said their conferences were critical to their business and very profitable.
The future growth of events was reinforced in a general session when panelists John Suhler, CEO of Veronis Shuhler Stevenson and Don Pazour, CEO of Access Intelligence both strongly endorsed conferences and trade shows as paths to profits. Face-to-face is a fundamental medium.
Pain is the symptom of a flawed business model. The central point of your humble blogger’s roundtable was that there are countless ways to adjust a business model to your specific niche and that there is a profitable and relatively painless solution available to almost any information company.