Free Advice for Organizers of PubCon, SMX, and SES

I’ve been attending these conferences for several years now, just thought I would give some free advice to help the conference organizers of PubCon, SMX, and SES to get more registrations, and more people coming back every year.

1) Big Bucket of Bacon

I know this sounds a bit odd, but bacon has magical powers. Not only does it make your nose tell your brain to follow that smell, but your brain remembers that smell and will do anything to pursue it (even pay $995 to go to a conference). What would a bucket full of bacon cost to add to all those danishes and bagels? A few hundred bucks? I bet you’d get at least 2% more people registering just for the bacon.

2) Wi-Fi that works

I can count on half of one hand how many times the wireless has been (a) working and (b) faster than dial-up at these SEO conferences. Wi-Fi should be sponsored by a company and actually work (even when everyone in the conference is using it!). I feel bad for a company that sponsors the wi-fi and it doesn’t work, how does that fare for their reputation (and the conference itself)? For this reason, I have a Sprint card that I plug my laptop in that is actually reliable and gives me fast Internet. I just can’t ever depend on the Wi-Fi at any of these conferences, which is quite disappointing.

3) Speed Sessions

You know how they do that “speed dating”? How about you try out new speakers and give them 3 minutes to share what they can on a subject. Gives them an opportunity to speak, gives us a chance to hear from new speakers and get valuable content. Everyone wins! Then the speakers that everyone likes the most get invited next year for a full presentation.

What is some of your advice for SEO conference organizers?

4 Comments

  • Brett Tabke says:

    Very Cool.

    > bacon

    A plated breakfast is around $25 a plate. As shocking as it sounds, food for 3 days runs around $200 a head at the convention center. It is a tough dance keeping the conference afforable (cheapest in the entire industry) and providing some higher caliber perks like double shots of coffee. This year, we obviously went for the coffee!

    > wifi

    Yep, the first day caught everyone flat footed. We had no clue demand would be five fold what it was from last year – not even a hint that it would. Last year we had a max of 65 users at anyone time. This year it was 265. We had no way of knowing that. The growth in wifi phones and the numbers of laptops caught us completely by surprise. The trouble was that the first day of the conference was vetrans day. That is a union day off. There was no one down in the dmark to try to update the routers. Wednesday and Thursday were solid all day. We had to up the numbers twice more. Either way, we apologize for being an issue the first day.

    >You know how they do that “speed dating”?

    We tried that about 3 years ago at a conference and got some pretty nasty feedback about it.

  • Dr. Pete says:

    Unfortunately, having been on the conference side of the business, I can tell you that #2 isn’t the organizer’s fault. Convention centers usually have contracts with service providers that lock in show managers to one internet provider. Often, in my experience, that monopoly means jacked-up prices and poor service. I’ve been at shows where the exact same wireless service was (1) free in the lobby, (2) $14.95 on the conference floor, and (3) $200 for exhibitors. It is, in every sense of the word, a racket.

    I’m all for buckets of bacon, though 🙂

  • As a vegetarian, I’m not so into buckets of bacon. Unless you go the fake bac’n route as well, and then that gets complicated.

    However, I’m intrigued by your suggestion about speaker trials. While I’m not sure the method you proposed is the best way to go, there needs to be some sort of speaker feedback system; just because you spoke last year does not mean you have an automatic in.

    An opening day panel with hopeful new speakers and some kind of interactive forum could be cool. Or not. I’m sure I don’t have the answer, but someone could come up with something different that would allow fresh voices to present a new spin on old topics, or try out some new ones.

  • @btabke, I’m not asking for a “plated breakfast”, just a big bucket of bacon that I could grab a few pieces out of, the rest of the breakfast is fine. 🙂

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