I’M ONLY A PUNTER BUT

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 scam.

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

scam.



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

ourselves.



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