In my experience, conferences fit into one of two categories; interesting, or free. There’s some brutal capitalism at work on the conference circuit – the best speakers come with a hefty price tag, and attendees must foot that bill (plus a little extra sugar for the conference organisers). The TED Conference – often seen as the high watermark of moustache-twirling intellectual getaways – will set you back the price of a decent family car (although the independently-organised TEDx Brighton – taking place this October – will only set you back £30).
For those of us without thousands to burn on conference-going, Brighton’s own Kelvin Newman has hit upon a model that keeps the quality high, but eliminates the price of entry altogether.
The model is, for lack of a better term, a love-in. Speakers do not take a fee, attendees are not charged, and those companies which can afford to sponsor the event cover the cost of the venue, plus a kitty for a few drinks afterwards.
The model seems to be working – Newman now has three biannual conferences on his calendar.
On Friday 13th September the largest of the three, BrightonSEO, will once again take up residence in the Dome, forming one of the tentpole events of the Brighton Digital Festival. The conference attracts attendees from around the country, some from even further afield, and is one of the few must-attend event in the industry – this year it sold out in just twenty minutes! You’ll get an informative and entertaining day, a complimentary drink at the end, and you’ll still be able to afford that new car.
Follow Jon on twitter: @Jn_Norris