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The Massive Irony of Today’s Conference Scene: High Cost Equals Low Value

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I can’t wait for Destination Summit. Seriously.

It’s a ton of work, but it’s the conference I always hoped would exist for one, simple reason:

The speakers don’t come from a corner office or a billion-dollar brand, they come from the front lines.

It seems like a small tweak, but when you look closer it’s huge.

The Old Way
Traditionally, speakers are chosen based on three criteria:

  • The prominence of their name and title.
  • The prominence of their employer/company.
  • How “dynamic” they are as a speaker.

Sounds great, right? Except if the goal is to deliver value to the audience in the form of things that help them do their jobs better, it fails miserably.

Why? Because…

  • The more prominent their title, the less first-hand knowledge they have about any one aspect of their team’s efforts.
  • The more prominent their company, the further that prominent titles takes them from the actual hands-on work.
  • The more dynamic they are, the less they have to rely on the quality of the content to captivate the audience.

That’s not to say they aren’t entertaining or motivating – they are – but without front-line experience and knowledge, without the need to rely on their content, you get something general, vague, funny perhaps, but ultimately not relevant or useful to attendees like you and me.

The Irony
Ironically, these are also the guys who cost the most to bring in. In other words, event organizers pay the most for the speakers who deliver the least value.

What we really need are the people who are on the front lines. Whose content is so useful and interesting, they don’t have to awkwardly over-enunciate and come with a TED-esque hand-gesture library to keep us captivated.

That’s what we’ve done with Destination Summit. And that is why I love it.

This Year, More of the Same
Here’s a small glimpse at who I’ve got speaking in just the sessions I’ve been planning:

  • Halley O’Brien, who uploads lots of videos she creates, is going to talk about best practices in native uploading to various sites for the videos you create.
  • Steve Wright (with MJ Legault), whose crazy successful marketing has led to support for nontraditional and even more successful marketing, is going to talk about nontraditional marketing
  • Brian Elliott and Kurt Kinscherf, who spend all day helping resorts get the most out of email, are going to talk about how to get the most out of email.
  • Joe Myers, who has designed and built dozens of responsive resort sites, is going to talk about how to keep your responsive site running like a champ.
  • Jamie Ippolito, who is building a way to customize entire website experiences with visitor-specific transactional data, is going to talk about how to customize websites based on user-specific transactional data

See where I’m going with this? No “big names”, no billion-dollar brands, just content from the front lines that is so clearly relevant and useful to you that it doesn’t matter what letter their title starts with or how a planning committee would rate their “stage presence.”

One Last Note
One last thing. I am ridiculously frugal. Even when travel costs are going on a Ryan Solutions expense report, I don’t buy/spend on things I would buy if it were my own money. I have a half-dozen receipts for $40 hotel rooms that can confirm this is true.

That said, I also don’t feel comfortable telling you to put your brand’s travel/conference dollars toward something that I personally wouldn’t attend.

But I’m taking a post today to tell you this because this is a conference I would go to. It delivers value. It helps you do you job better. It gives you tools that you can take back to your office this summer, plug into your strategy, and improve the marketing for your resort.

I hope to see you there.

About Gregg & SlopeFillers
I've had more first-time visitors lately, so adding a quick "about" section. I started SlopeFillers in 2010 with the simple goal of sharing great resort marketing strategies. Today I run marketing for resort ecommerce and CRM provider Inntopia, my home mountain is the lovely Nordic Valley, and my favorite marketing campaign remains the Ski Utah TV show that sold me on skiing as a kid in the 90s.

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