Last year I wrote about how I survived my first conference. Well I’m happy to announce I was able to do it again. Using last years learning experience, and losing $20,000 put me in a different mindset for this year.
I learned about the very unfortunate situation regarding a room block. That’s where I ended up losing money. Had I not made that mistake I would have been profitable by about a thousand dollars. Not too shabby – but that’s not what happened. So this year I said “NO ROOM BLOCK!“. This, however, bit me because the hotel I had chosen for the event was so booked with other events, there weren’t any rooms for our attendees! So now I was screwed in the other direction. First I had too many rooms, and now I don’t have enough. Luckily for us, no one had a massive problem with this, since downtown Austin is a very tiny area and all the hotels are near one another. If we ever decide to go to another town, I have to use my knowledge from the past years of attendees to get the proper size room block.
When you book a conference, the hotel always wants you to use their AV company. When first discussing AV with the hotel, they asked what our budget was. I’m glad I got a quote from them first, because for everything I needed they wanted to charge us $8000! Luckily, thanks to a great tip from my friend Sweet John, I was able to rent everything we needed for $180! How amazing is a $7000+ savings.
I loaded the schedule this year with some amazing content. There were over 12 sessions each to help business owners and entrepreneurs alike learn to make their businesses better. Based on the feedback, I can happily say the feedback proves that the speakers chosen are providing the right kind of content. Without good content your conference will be a bust.
Last year, I remember not being able to enjoy myself as I was so worried about every little detail. This year, even though I was still worried, I knew that a lot would be fine without me worrying about it. I was able to actually listen to some of the speakers, and learn from their content – which was the entire point of the conference in the first place. I took full advantage of the staff at the hotel also to make sure everything was running smoothly. Need more water in your conference room? Ask the staff. Need 15 sharpies, an iced tea and to make sure there is 1 gluten free meal at lunch? Ask the staff. The event staff at the hotel are there for you to be annoying. They are used to it. Take advantage of that.
I followed the steps from last year and setup another pre-registration for next year. Doing this establishes the conference as not a one-off. After 2015, I was afraid that 2016 wouldn’t happen. And now with 2016 finished, I’m 100% sure 2017 is going to take place.
I’m not going to lie. Running a conference is a stressful project. It isn’t for the faint of heart for sure, but the reward is 100 fold.
Thinking about starting a conference or Appitalizing on your idea? Stay tuned for some more great insights, the return of the Appitalize On Your Idea Podcast and more. Also subscribe to the blog to get more great content right to your inbox!