First off, if you’ve gone to a 360|Flex event or plan to someday, go answer this three question survey. Your answer will impact how Tom and I do business, and we spend your money at future events.
Since starting the planning efforts for 360|Flex Europe, and our as yet unofficially announced East Coast event, things have come up that completely surprised me.
I’ve been to many MAX’s, a DevCon (Macromedia), a CFUnited, a small event held by the SoCal CFUG, probably one or two others. As best I understand it, speakers speak at these events as a way to give back to the community that they come from. Aside of a few cases, this seems to be a universal concept, and speakers are honored to be doing it. All events pay speaker registration, some pay more. But the privilege of speaking not to mention publicity, new friendships and business arrangements that can come from it, make it all worthwhile. Or so I thought.
This vibe of "giving back" seems absent in Europe. I’m not mad about it, nor do I begrudge those that feel this way, their opinions. What I do get angry about is that Tom and I definitely failed one major business rule, we didn’t do enough due diligence. We relied on others, and while advisors are great, we need to make our own decisions based on our own research. As a rule, Tom and I agreed, we’d rely on ourselves to do the important tasks, and outsource to other pros the things we know nothing about. Picking a location is something we know a little about and something we like to do, we should not have let ourselves be swayed.
Paying for speaker’s airfare and hotel simply isn’t in our budget. Sure we could raise our prices to $1,000, then we’d have money to burn, but that’s not our model. However, to a tee, each person we’ve tapped to speak in Europe has wanted hotel and airfare. Tom and I make no money doing 360|Flex. If there’s money at the end of an event, it goes into the hopper, maybe we go out for Steak one night to celebrate, that’s all there is too it.
As Tom mentioned, our expenditures on food have been questioned. We’ve been told the food we provide is some of the best conference food around (having just been to MAX, I would agree). In the course of our last two events, only one speaker in San Jose wanted to be comped airfare and hotel expenses, we declined. We did have a kick ass BBQ one night, and a great adobe party the next. In Seattle we had a welcome reception for ALL attendees, on Sunday. If we’re to start paying speaker costs, something has to go (hence the survey).
I’m not a very religious person, except for my ritual sacrifices to the flying Spaghetti monster, that is. But there’s one book, and guiding principle that I am almost maniacal about, just ask Tom; The Cluetrain Manifesto. I even carry it in my bag where ever I go. I think all businesses should follow it’s easy and common sense dictums. I try to, that’s why Tom and I are so transparent. Attendees, if they care. need not wonder how much it costs to do the event, they need not wonder how much we put in our pockets. Email the coordinator of each conference you attended this year and ask for a rundown of the costs and income. See what kinda response you get. I don’t believe in keeping that information secret.
It strengthens our relationship with our customers (you) to be honest and up front. No business is ever weakened by answering to it’s customer, ever.
If you’ve made it this far, thanks. Because, all that said above basically means, that Tom and I aren’t in this for glory, we’re not in it to get rich, nor are we in it because some one is paying us to do it. We’re in it to strengthen the community we’re both a part of, We’re both Flex Developers.
So take a minute, help us better serve you, after all the conference is for the community, not us.
Fill out the 3 question survey.