Making Conferences More Affordable
I know some of you have expense accounts and can travel on the company’s dime as it were. Unfortunately, some of us have to come up with our own dimes. I speak about a breed of learning and development professionals known as freelancers. We do need to sharpen our skills by attending training and conferences like the Adobe eLearning Conference happening next week in Washington DC, or the Adobe Learning Summit that happens in the fall in Las Vegas, NV. Unfortunately places like Washington and Las Vegas are not exactly inexpensive places for those of us who have to foot our own bills. Also, these money saving tips are not just for freelancers as well. You L&D manager might agree to send you to Washington or Las Vegas but only if you can demonstrate how you can keep it more affordable for the organization. Here are 6 of my ways to make these types of events more affordable.
Pick conferences that are affordable, to begin with. For example, choosing the Adobe eLearning Conference in Washington DC or the Adobe Learning Summit in Vegas are good choices because these conferences are entirely complimentary. In addition to the complimentary registration, Adobe will provide you with a great breakfast and lunch while attending the conference. These are two meals you won’t have to buy that you might have to at other conferences.
The conference is usually at a larger hotel that has conference facilities. These are not usually inexpensive places to stay. Do your research as to where you can stay nearby that will make it more affordable. If you are staying an extra day, try to find a hotel that includes a complimentary breakfast so you can save a few dollars as well. Consider the parking situation if you’re driving. With the price of parking in a downtown hotel, it might be worth leaving your car at the inexpensive hotel and catching an Uber instead. If there are other nearby, consider sharing a ride with them also.
You don’t have to fly first class to get to your conferences. I fly economy and while I have my prefered airlines, I’m not afraid to look at other carriers to see if I can save some money here and there. Use services like Expedia or Priceline where you can compare rates across many airlines to find the lowest price possible. Also, consider alternative times to fly. Sometimes I’ll choose an earlier or later flight just because it might save me a few bucks, but consider the money you might spend waiting in an airport for a later flight. If you save $30 but have to buy a meal while you wait, it might not be worth it.
Obviously, you will have to buy some meals while you are attending a conference. do some research ahead of time and find out what restaurants are nearby your hotel or the conference facilities. It’s great to try new restaurants and perhaps treat yourself from time to time, but there is nothing wrong with grabbing a sandwich at a sub shop or picking up some cheap eats at a local taco shop. I’ve also picked up a prepackaged sandwich and a bottle of iced tea at a nearby pharmacy. Nothing too terribly wrong with an egg McMuffin either.
Apps & Memberships
Here is one you may not have thought of. There are sometimes apps for the city or the hotel chain that can save you a few dollars. For example, Marriott offers free Wi-Fi to guests who are members of their loyalty program. At what the hotels can sometimes charge for in-room Wi-Fi this can really be worth it. Another App you can get on your phone or tablet that could come in handy for Las Vegas is the myVegas series of apps. This app allows you to play Vegas-style slot machines without spending any real money. You can actually accumulate points that can be traded in for complimentary nights in the hotel and discounts off restaurants and other activities. Please just be careful of the in-app purchases.
And the last thing I want to mention is that you can volunteer yourself to participate in the conference. Prior to the first Adobe eLearning Conference in Washington DC, I reached out and volunteered as a speaker. They accepted my request to help out and have invited me to the live events a total of seven times. As a speaker and frequent participant of the Adobe eLearning Community, they cover many of my expenses to these conferences. I’m not saying that everyone can do this but if you are an influencer in the Adobe eLearning Community, it’s worth looking into and seeing if they want your help for the next conference.
So there are just a few ideas that you can implement to save a few dollars if you’re footing the bill yourself. I’d love to hear other suggestions that you might have. Please put your comments below and perhaps we can keep this thread going for some ideas for Vegas in the fall. Looking forward to seeing all of you in Washington and Vegas.