I’m not a particularly greedy person but I just can’t stand seeing
others getting money for old rope. I’m talking about conferences. What a
All you have to do is think of a topical subject, call up a dozen of the
usual suspects and convince them to speak. Print a brochure and wait for
the money to roll in.
Charging pounds 700 per delegate for a two-day bash seems about the
norm. Fifty or so delegates should net you around pounds 35,000. Deduct
from that the cost of a vile, dingy hotel room in a long-forgotten
corner of town and an inedible lunch - and there’s your profit.
Of course, I forgot the cost of the speakers. No, sadly, I didn’t.
Despite their obvious credentials, a bottle of sparkling wine each seems
to be the going rate for their services.
But surely the conference chairman gets a proper fee?
Well, no. As the chairman, you tend to put in a full day’s work: 20
minutes of introductory remarks, introduce the speakers, stay awake all
day and try to pull it together at the end - and for what?
It’s not that I want the money, but a bottle of own-label champagne
seems a pathetic reward.
So I reckon these guys are making at least pounds 20,000 at a time. To
make it worse, there are dozens of these things going on every month
and, because so many are without profile or status, speakers frequently
can’t be bothered to put much into their presentations.
They pull something off the shelf - or get a junior to write it - and
then busk their way through 30 dreary minutes. The delegate lists are
hardly sparkling, either. Often you’ll find yourself addressing a group
that is unlikely to lead you to that elusive new-business pitch.
On the other hand, it always seems churlish to say to an eager planner
or account person anxious to build their career: ’No, you can’t go to
this fine conference on ’valuing brand equity in the pharmaceutical
industry in the new millennium’ because it’s a scam and you won’t
actually learn anything.’ So I suppose we have brought this on