So I was working a booth at Software 2008 this past week, and it was quite an eye opener. Obviously Tom and I don’t put on events of that scale, and frankly that’s not our dream.
The sheer size and scope was almost unthinkable, as far as our events go.
What really got me, though, was the treatment of sponsors/exhibitors.
Tom and I have had our fumbles, putting the expo area in a room in the corner being the big one to date. But we never kept them from eating or drinking.
At software 2008 when lunch was served (only to full priced attendees) exhibitors weren’t welcome. We had to go to a snack bar (with the other hundreds of “expo only” badge holders and exhibitors) where the lines were over 30 minutes long. OK well maybe they don’t provide lunch, whack, but you know.
5pm rolls around, conference ends for the day, food tables are set up (they were unguarded), bars roll out, bartenders start trading drinks for drink coupons (worst idea in the history of the universe, the drink coupon). Coupons which exhibitors didn’t get. Okay, come on! The attendees are eating and drinking and mingling right in the expo hall and exhibitors don’t get to participate?
To her credit, one of the CMP’ers (Names withheld to protect the innocent) snuck us two drink tickets, but really?! 1. Drink coupons? 2. Only for full price attendees? That’s just crap.
One might argue the cost of providing drinks and food for exhibitors, and even “expo only” attendees is cost prohibitive. I call bull shit.
The booth I was in, $10,000. Not including the chairs, the carpet, the tables, who knows what else. Take 200 dollars out of that, and there’s a damn nice lunch both days. Take another hundred out or so, and that exhibitor should be able to drink just fine.
Oh, and this booth was the smallest option, there were larger, and I’m only talking about Software 2008, not Interop.
I just don’t get it. Exhibitors are one of the main sources of revenue for conferences, and the treatment was really kinda crappy. I hope as Tom and I grow 360Conferences, we never go down this path!