Conferences are fun. And invigorating. New skills, fresh insights, and expanded contact networks. A chance to travel to a new destination. And let's not forget conference bling (aka free souvenirs for those left behind).
Although well developed conferences are an investment in employee skills and corporate profiles, they also have a cost. The cost of attendance, which may include conference registration fees and travel expenses, is one cost. The cost of diminished productivity due to time away from the office is another cost.
To optimize the benefits of conference attendance, it is quite helpful to see the entire agenda, in a grid format. listing concurrent sessions for each day of the conference. And to see this agenda at least eight weeks prior to the conference date. So reasonable hotel and airfare rates can be secured. Attendees generally understand that speaker schedules may change and some published sessions may shift or be replaced. Although we may all have a favorite brand of vehicle that we have consistently purchased across multiple decades, would we invest in a new model without first taking it for a test drive? Why should we precommit to a conference without knowing specifically what professional development opportunities the conference will offer?
Perhaps to camouflage this issue, some conferences develop websites with a cacophony of color, teasers, videos, podcasts, discount incentives, and other enticements to make us want to "drink the Kool-Aid" of a particular conference. Yeah, we get that we'll have fun at the conference. But we want some nuts and bolts descriptions of what will be offered at the conference before investing in attendance.
Have you got any thoughts regarding how to improve this situation? If so, please leave your comment here.