Dear IABC: About that conference…

IABC badgeDear IABC,

You’ve had a tough year, but some of the decisions you are making baffle me.

Take this latest offer of earlybird pricing ($330 off! Only $1,100!) for next year’s World Conference. Why did you make the offer good until the end of November only, and only to the first 100 people who respond? You must be looking for a quick cash infusion, an easy $110,000. After all, the conference will be in Toronto, with many of the 1,700 or so members in that city alone probably eager to take up your offer.

Oh, wait, you are offering a discounted rate of $1,200 if we pay by December 31. Thanks.

It’s possible I’ve attended too many world conferences (you’re welcome), but I have counted on you offering one earlybird price about now, and then extending it into January. You didn’t do it last year (of all years!) for the first time in a long time, and I guess this is the new reality. Or maybe there is no one left in headquarters who remembers that this used to be a common occurrence. However, a chance to get a discounted rate later than November is important to me because I am a solo practitioner, and I try to keep my expenses for one year within that year. So if I’m attending a conference, I want to pay for it that same year.

Since I pay my own way, I’m also a little more sensitive to value than a corporate member might be. So I find it odd that I can’t really tell the value of the upcoming conference. Other than a listing of the session tracks — none of which are directed at independent communicators, despite our apparently growing numbers — there is nothing on the sign-up page to indicate this is a must-attend conference. Maybe you are counting on our past World Conference experiences to lure previous attenders like me back.

Speaking of indies, if you really want to encourage us to attend, when are you going to offer the chance to pay by instalment? Again, a corporate member might not find the price excessive, but it’s a big-ticket item for me.

Maybe I will kick myself after November 30 comes and goes and I have not registered. The conference is in Toronto, after all, my home chapter. I won’t have to pay airfare. I know many IABC friends, my tribe, will be there.

But I am on the fence. IABC, you still haven’t won back my heart. Frankly, you are barely trying.



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  1. Posted November 27, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

    You raise good points, Sue. I don’t understand IABC’s strategy on the pricing, either. As for not listing the speakers at this point — I can tell you that the deadline for speaking proposals was later than usual this year, so the roster of content is still being chosen (as far as I know!).

  2. Posted November 27, 2013 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    Good point, Donna – but all the more reason to extend the deadline, don’t you think? Or don’t even start actively promoting it until there’s more shape to the conference.

  3. Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    For sure. The deadline should be extended for several reasons this year.

  4. Roger Morier
    Posted November 28, 2013 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    I agree with you, Sue. I signed up already (it’s financially to my benefit to do so this CY), but it does seem like a remarkably short deadline. Most people won’t even start to think about the conference until the New Year, so it would be smart to give people a chance in January to save money + have more info on conference content with which to make a decision. Let’s see if IABC HQ is paying attention.

  5. Posted November 28, 2013 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    Well said Sue. With the growing number of face-to-face events, webinars and even informative twitter chats, I would think it’s imperative for a conference provider to break through the clutter with compelling and unique perks for its niche markets. I hope your post gives IABC some ideas and look forward to hearing about its response.

  6. Posted November 28, 2013 at 10:00 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for your comments, Roger and Leslie. We’ll see what happens after Thanksgiving!

  7. Claire Watson, ABC
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 9:55 am | Permalink

    Good morning Sue,
    Thanks for your thoughtful comments. We are listening and will have a look at the pricing structure.

    The Program Advisory Committee is just now starting its review of submissions for content, and you probably saw that we are trying some new formats this year to mix things up a bit. We do have some exciting keynotes signed, and have something special planned for our dominant female audience during the Foundation luncheon. Over the next short while we will be working on the website and sharing more information.

    As we shape the conference, I would be interested to know what kind of content independents would find most appealing. What would make you say “I have to attend – I couldn’t miss THAT?” Please send me some input and we will go hunting.

    Thanks again for your post – it’s exactly what we need to hear.

  8. Posted November 29, 2013 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Claire, thank you so much for responding, and so promptly. Let me collect some feedback and get back to you. I believe several independents have proposed sessions for either 2014 or 2013 and were turned down.

    While that’s great you have some “exciting keynotes” signed and special things planned, don’t you agree it’s premature to be asking members to commit when you haven’t yet reviewed content submissions?

  9. Claire Watson, ABC
    Posted November 29, 2013 at 11:08 am | Permalink

    Thanks Sue!

    I strongly believe that IABC must serve the needs of its audiences. To do otherwise would violate our own principles of aligning the needs of the audience and the needs of the business.

    While deadlines are important because they keep us on track, equally so is flexibility, responsiveness and collaboration. I always say “you ignore the voice of the audience at your own peril.”

    Very much looking forward to your feedback and hearing from our growing community of independents about what will engage and inspire them to get involved.

    We’ll work on that timing thing, Sue. IABC’s technology has been distracting, to say the least and we are a tad behind in terms of painting out the big picture for conference. Thanks for understanding and for getting behind this request. :)

  10. Posted December 6, 2013 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Thanks everyone for commenting! Anyone else reading this, your comments are welcome here, and/or please hop over to LinkedIn and weigh in there on what would make YOU say that #IABCwc14 is a must-do: Thanks!

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