When free backfires.

I had a good time at SOTR, a couple of us went from work. Got to see Kevin and Andy again along with Serge, Terry, and Darren Pywell, we even had a presentation in German from Sven Ramuschkat on CF and AIR. All in all the presentations were good and informative.

I do, however, have a few critiques, not at the conference itself, and God forbid directed at Andy or Kev.

Out of the 47 people who registered only about half bothered to show up (you know who you are!). The question is why? The only thing I can think of is because of the price. Adobe was the main sponsor of the event, basically bought the entire event for the good and the bad. Free, in my opinion, is a double edged sword. Its great because you don't have to pay anything, but in the same token its much easier to change your mind about going when there is no "insentive" forcing you to go. If you had to fork over $60 for the conference (a bargain in my opinion) then I would be surprised not to see a much higher turnout percentage, after all its $60 on the line.

Yes I know I said I had a few critiques, but after typing it all in and re-reading it I feel that voicing my critique here is not productive.

I do want to say that a big highlight of the event was finally getting to meet mrsfuzzyorange. As a non-geek she still manages a sunny disposition in the middle of swarming total geekness and talk of reach-arounds.

Happy Coding...

7 Comments to "When free backfires."- Add Yours
Andreas Schuldhaus's Gravatar I totally have to agree with you. For me personally, travelling from Vienna to SOTR Munich payed off. Although, I had spent some time watching the recordings of the Adobe Max presos of Serge and Terry the week before, there was a lot of information new to me, I had a fine time and enjoyed it very much. In the morning I was also a litte bit disappointed that only 55% to 60% showed up, but this didn't spoil the pleasure. Looking forward to whats going on in Zurich and Amsterdam. Both of which are "sold" out. Let's see.
# Posted By Andreas Schuldhaus | 10/21/09 12:01 PM
Brian Rinaldi's Gravatar Have to agree 100% that this can backfire (though CFinNC apparently pulled it off without a hitch). After seeing the no-show rates at the local AIR bus tour years ago, I fought to have my first Flex Camp not be free (we were the first one that wasn't). However, if you are going to do free, you just need to make sure you overbook. Even with paid admission, my events have run between 10-20% no shows. I figure for a free event, you have to double it. So you can at least overbook by 25-30% and still be safe.
# Posted By Brian Rinaldi | 10/21/09 3:04 PM
Gary Gilbert's Gravatar Perhaps next time charge $100 bucks to attend, and if you stay till the end you get a refund of 50% :)
# Posted By Gary Gilbert | 10/21/09 4:16 PM
andy matthews's Gravatar I was at CFinNC this last weekend. From the numbers I heard, there was about 40%-50% droppage. I heard there was 260 people registered, and there only appeared to be about 150-ish in attendance. The numbers dropped quite a bit on Sunday, to around 80-90.
# Posted By andy matthews | 10/21/09 7:27 PM
Andy Allan's Gravatar This is definitely a tough one to pull off. The whole reason behind Scotch on the Road (rather than on the Rocks) was because we knew that with the economy still in a wobbly shape, we wanted to take the hit on the financial burden and bring the conference to the people.

Considering folks would still need to travel, we made the event free to try and save folks as much money as possible.

As all of us who have ran free events know - it doesn't always work.

In regards overselling, unfortunately Munich wasn't "sold out" so there was no chance of that. Zurich was "sold out" and although we had maybe 5 or 6 no shows - need to double check - we were still 10 more than the original ticket allocation. So today worked great.

We've got Milan on Friday, and found out today that there is a national strike in Italy so it's looking like we may have a really bad turnout - we'll see.

For next week, Amsterdam, Brussels and London have all sold above their initial ticket allocations so we'll see how that goes.
# Posted By Andy Allan | 10/22/09 1:18 AM
Gary Gilbert's Gravatar Great to hear that the other locations worked. Perhaps it was just a number of different factors that contributed to the turnout in Munich. I know there were a lot of faces that I didnt see this time.
# Posted By Gary Gilbert | 10/22/09 9:21 AM
Andy Allan's Gravatar Just to give an update on the tour. We still have London today, but every location other than Zurich has had a 50% turnout.

So it does appear that free events don't work. I'm sure there are other things we could have done to increase the turnout, but one of the messages across the entire tour was that people (the attendees) were worried they wouldn't be able to follow closely enough - remember all the sessions were given in English.

On the plus side, we've had nothing but positive reviews.
# Posted By Andy Allan | 10/29/09 5:52 AM

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