I'm currently trying to decide whether or not to take my normal week's trip to Barcelona in 2010.
At one level, it's "obvious" - it's what everyone does, isn't it? And certainly I usually have an intense week of briefings, conference-style sessions, client meetings, dinners and (of course) late nights. Bits of it are fun, and bits of it are simply a hard slog.
I think last year I ended up having about 50-60 engagements of one form or another, plus extra ones at another conference (NetEvents) that started 2 days' earlier. I managed to find some quite cheap accommodation and flights, and I had at least one "paid gig" while I was there, so that made it worth my time financially. On the other hand, I spent a good % of the preceding month playing email and phone hockey, to set everything up - and probably turning down another 100+ invitations, having pre-MWC briefings and so forth. It's hard to work out the fully-loaded ROI.
This time, I'm debating whether it's worth it at all. I meet lots of companies and individuals at smaller conferences year-round, usually without their PR minders and carefully-messaged analyst-facing slides. Maybe a couple more of those - I get no shortage of invites to speak. And I don't usually go to CTIA Wireless or one of the Asian events, so maybe I should take a week out for one of those instead?
I'm not the only one thinking this - quite a few other firms and individuals either pass entirely (Apple?) or have scaled back their presence. This isn't because of travel budget either - it's just a hard-nosed view on what & where is the most effective use of *time* rather than cash. (The answer isn't in "virtual conferences" either in my view - they're uniformly dreadful and I usually switch off after the first hour, if that). And for all those traditionalists out there - sorry, if MWC went back to being 3GSM Cannes, it'd be a *definite* no from me.
I think I'm going to give it another couple of weeks. If by then I've got a few things lined up that are direct revenue-earners (moderating panel sessions, giving customer presentations, using it as a basis for a specific research effort) then it's a no-brainer. Otherwise, maybe I'll try an experiment and skip it for once and just set up an auto-responder on my email saying "sorry, not going".
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