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I try to go to as many conferences as possible and regardless of how much I spend or how many people I get to know I have never asked for a favor; I pay my dues and I owe nothing. I believe that everything you take you must repay (unless it is given in kind to you) so asking for monetary favors is not my style.

 

But it bothers me a lot that I find things like this: http://www.autocon2012.com/registration

 

Dealers pay $695 and allied industry pays $1,495!

 

I understand that the conference needs to have more dealers and less vendors. Sometimes I have felt like a groupie by going to 3 Brian Pash’s events in one year, but the truth is that I could care less about Brian, the classes, etc, I just went to network and keep in touch with colleagues. Brian got paid anyway for my attendance. I thought that for that reason dealer principals have a 2X1 registration offer as an incentive. To further increase the price for a vendor to almost double signifies more than a way to encourage dealers, it is a way to discourage vendors from participating and thus keeping the relations/contacts/etc to the event planners. Could this be the reason why other vendors see this just as Ralph and his friends event and not a true learning event?

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Of course Ralph is more than able to defend the pricing policies of AutoCon but I thought that perhaps as a vendor I might better relate to Yago's concerns vs. appearing to support my friend Ralph and/or AutoCon.

 

Simply put, my understanding is that events like AutoCon are intended to allow dealers to meet their virtual friends in the real world to share best practices and listen and learn from vendors and various industry experts who have set aside any self serving agendas to support dealers who have invested their time and their money to improve their businesses - not to be sold something.

 

AutoCon - and other similar auto industry focused venues - are openly defined as dealer centric forums - not conventions for vendors.  They offer separate vendor forums that are clearly separated away from the learning forums that offer vendors the ability to sell their products and services for which vendors pay a premium to set up a booth or host a personal session which is clearly defined.

 

As far as the registration fees, you would be amazed at how expensive a full floor at a hotel with all of the asociated food, security, set up etc. can cost.  The risk to reward is high and allowing vendors to slip in the front door with the dealers to promote themselves without any of the related costs or risk is unreasonable.  That is why vendors who openly want to share in the sales value of the conference pay for exhibit space above and beyond the registration.

 

That said, the true cost of the Autocon is in the time and energy invested in attending by the dealers, the exposure of the promoters and those that decide not to attend who are not involved in the discussions that are the true marketplace.

 

After all, what are friends and AutoCon for!

Phillip,

I do understand your answers, but the risk-rewars has nothing to do with how much you charge to certain groups of people. I didn't complain about the price--no need for Ralph to defend that--but about the difference in pricing between dealers and vendors.

 

As a vendor you can't really promote yourself unless you pay to have a booth--you may meet 1 or 2 dealers at a bar and hook up some biz if you are extremelly lucky. I've been in quite a few of these and I've yet to find a way to get deals out of vendors that have a booth... (PM anyone that knows how to!)

 

Just because I request a fair and equal charge for all groups doesn't make this conference a "vendor" conference but it definatelly makes me less likelly to recomend dealers to go if I feel that this is a Ralph and friends conference only since I believe that attendees get a one sided story and not the best interaction and exposure.

 

 

 

 

Yago, I have to chime in.  Essentially, this is fair, to my view:  At a dealership, I get a break on attending, and that builds a very valuable audience; as a vendor, I then pay for access to that audience.  If we are charged all the same, then dealers are actually being asked to pay for access to THEMSELVES--vendors come to sell, dealers come to learn.  And accept that they will also be sold to.  So, anyway, I agree with this pricing difference, though perhaps the 2x is a bit much.  Regardless, setting the price to the audience lower than the ones that want to SELL TO that audience is very smart and right, to me.

It's a bit like me paying only a hundred bucks a month for my cable access and the TV media folks charging millions+ for access to me and the rest of the audience.  Make sense?

My $.02.  Thanks!

I still thnik that as a vendor there are few and far in between chances to get biz with a dealer but I agree with you to "pay for the audience" since for me these venues brought great partnerships and profits.

 

We are toguether in the fact that double is excesive.

Yago, I just got into my hotel in Fort Myers, FL after going out to dinner with Scott Davis and his wife... Scott is a supplier who owns DrivingLoyalty (formerly Bull Dog Marketing) and is a friend whose insight, wisdom, business acumen and intelligence has drawn me to him.  We talked about a lot of things, but my main agenda item was http://AutoCon2012.com and the topic of costs and benefits received was top of mind.  I certainly understand your point, and although I have never complained about the pricing difference, there have been many events I have attended on behalf of a dealership I was working with in order to get the lower rate.  Personally, I abhor the use of the word "fair" when it comes to pricing matters, because in the good old USA we have this concept called "free enterprise" and "what the market will bear". Obviously, if a product, any product is priced too high, not enough of the intended customers will buy it.  I am not going to apologize for the pricing for AutoCon 2012 because there was a lot of thought and research put into it, and a lot of plugging numbers into spreadsheets.  I would like to point out that the supplier registration fees are being used to fund dealership employee "full ride" scholarships.  There is no profit incentive compared to the desire to pay the way for many dealership managers who otherwise would not be able to attend AutoCon 2012.  

However, I understand your concerns, and your source of irritation... I like you as a person, consider you a friend and will work with you.  How about making a deal? After all, we are in a business that does make deals happen when that is what it takes to make business happen. How does this sound; you get ten dealers (no charge), or dealership employees ($695) to register and attend AutoCon 2012 and I will personally pay for your registration fee? ($1,495) And, if that is not "equitable" I am willing to listen to what you have in mind... You KNOW I want you to attend AutoCon 2012, so I am a highly motivated seller!

Ralph,

I will promote AC'12 because it is a good thing for dealers to go, not so I get a free ride. The value they get back over time is 100 times over the cost of attending the event, I would never put that up for discussion. I had no intention to stop promoting the event as I believe it helps all of us to have a dealer body that understands digital better and that they will get a better value here than in other venues like Digital Dealer or NADA and with the exception of Driving Sales (I consider that one a must go and I hope yours becomes that too).

Lady luck (and some hard work) have smiled to me so also don't need a free ride nor I would take it knowing that I can afford it and that you now many upcoming young people that can't and would love to attend. Please use your funds for whoever is in the most need.

I understand free enterprise, this is a great investment and it needs to produce just like my business and the dealer's facilities. I did perhaps take this personally because I've been promoting your event to everyone that I know and I felt stupid when I went to register thinking to bring 4 of my guys so they also gain from the experience of meeting people like you and realized my bill for just AC'12 was going to be after plane and hotel close to $15,000. But it is what it is, I'll probably go with my boy Geoff (he will have my back when I stop you verbally again).

What about having a group vendor discount? If you have space I wouldn’t mind doing that either, but again your current offering had to few attendees per space registered. I'm all ears. I'm all in. And I expect to pay my dues just like everyone else.

 

Yago, We will make you a deal for 4 or more people from your company... Call me at 505-301-6369. Let's make a deal!!!

You at NIADA next week?

No... I will be at PCG's Pit Stop in New Jersey.  Right now I am at Rick Case Honda in Florida.

That is a fair deal considering how other conferences that have been watered down digital disasters (in the words of Ziegler) have been overcharging.  Why can't a conference that has real value and is run by real credible people without  crazy egos cost as much?  I stand behind this conference because it is a wake up call for the industry.  This will set the bar on how a conference in this industry needs to be created.

Stan, we appreciate your support and you can be assured that AutoCon 2012will raise the bar in such a manner that other conferences will have to improve their delivery by trying to copy a lot of what we are doing, in some cases trying to copy features we have already announced at this point! To me, imitation is not only a form of flattery and our competition's endorsement of AutoCon 2012, it is also confirmation that what we have learned and applied to AutoCon 2012 is relevant and valid.

My change for a dime...

I really don't understand why this warrants a post. I'm sure Yago is a nice guy and this is in no way a personal attack on him. I just don't get it. I'm a tiny start up company. I shelled out $15k to get my staff, marketing materials,etc and pay for booth space at Bootcamp in May and I have to say it was a great investment. Over 200 dealers in attendance; great speakers; dealers were engaged. And as a vendor, I have to say it was an equally great experience that will yield tremendous ROI for our small company. 

I just can't even get my mind around a bitch about a $1,500 registration fee (that is free with booth space). With a chance to network with potentially 1,000 dealers? You kidding me? I'll take 2!

Hell, Ralph ought to figure a way to have free registration for ALL dealership personnel and put it all on the vendors. Where else do you get an opportunity to speak to real decision makers live who already told you they have an interest in what you do?

mind=blown..

-M

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