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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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[Tim] 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.

 

[Yago] A different POV on a company's offering is by no means a personal attack on its employees. If anything I have lots of things to learn from Ralph. That doesn't make me either a nice guy or not, I'm a businessman trying to make sense of the wave of conferences being offered, what is the cost of this, what is the benefit, etc.

This year I’ve attended so far NADA, Bootcamp, Digital Dealer, NIADA, and still have Driving Sales, another Digital Dealer, Autocon, and probably something else that I’m missing. I feel a certain obligation as a vendor to attend to these events and learn the most, but as the events grow in number I start to see the same people and the same information.

 

[Tim] 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.

 

[Yago] I’m glad that you don’t think that $15K is a good sum of money and that it brought you so much business. Maybe I’ve knocked in the wrong door and what Ralph should be doing is charging even more to true believers like you.

I did go to Bootcamp with 2 employees and didn’t ask for a discount even thought I only attended one class and my main purpose was to meet with some people and I could have done that outside the conference. I paid because I felt certain obligation to do that since Brian made a great investment to put the venue together. I paid the same as everyone else, dealers included, less than what Ralph wants to charge and it included meals and other nice upgrades (referring to the speakers) as well as this was a ‘established’ venue. I’ve never asked Brian for a discount but I took advantage of his early registration fees.

On a personal note I’ll say that I’ve over-attended Brian’s conferences because I’ve learned a lot from him as well as I’ve networked with great people so I wanted to pay him back by supporting his business. I did wanted to support Ralph in the same manner and got taken by what I thought was an unfair deal. Now that I’m reading your post I realize that I’m wrong and maybe Ralph should even charge more.

Note to other vendors: You can send a message to Tim via ADM’s system to thank him for next year’s price increases.

Note to Tim: If you are a start up… try paying less for things. Works better in the long run.

 

[Tim] 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!

 

[Yago] If you think that checking on a price is “bitching” you are for a rude awakening as you start to walk your new enterprise as a vendor. I’m price checked on everything I do by every client every day, and the day that checking doesn’t clear a good value proposition—I’m done.

The big booth at $6K (for reference same pricing as NADA!) comes with 2 passes. I did actually consider that. The problem is that I need 4 so again I started to doubt to which conference attend (back to square one).

 

[Tim] 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?

 

[Yago] It’s a great idea, I truly hope for Ralph’s success as I do like his personality, but executing is going to be a challenge. I think.  

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