Tips for Travelling to Tech Conferences, Part 7

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Travelling to tech conferences can be exhausting, but also very rewarding in terms of gaining knowledge, networking with peers, team building and the overall sense of adventure.

In the last six parts of this series, I’ve given you tips on booking, packing and coping with Jetlag. Now, it’s time to take a step back and cover how you can actually convince your boss to send you to a tech conference, like TechEd, VMworld, MEC or LyncConf.


Tips to convince your boss

Simple math

In the end, every organization is about making money, breaking even or provide as much value as it can. Let’s put this lesson in economy to the test: As an IT Pro in Western Europe, you would make somewhere between EUR 30,000 and EUR 60,000 a year. Since your employer needs to adhere to regulations, you actually cost him somewhere around 1.2x that figure.

Now let’s tally the total cost of a tech event; it’s the trip, a few nights in an hotel, some transfers, some meals, the ticket to the event and, of course, the time you spend at the conference. It’s safe to say that the direct costs are close to 3x the ticket price of the conference, assuming you would take full advantage of the meals, discounts and services offered during the event. With an early bird price of EUR 1,995 excluding VAT, the total direct costs would be in the neighborhood of EUR 6,000 per person.

Now, depending on the business your employer is in, the VAT on the ticket price is not an issue.

This factor can be closer to 2.5, when room sharing is applied.

So, depending on what you make the total of direct and indirect costs for a week of tech conference is 10% to 20% on top of what you already cost your employer.

Now, for this 10% to 20%, your employer gets a more skilled, more networked, more experienced employee, that may deliver more efficient solutions to your organizations problems:

  • You get to ask questions to the industry’s most knowledgeable persons.
  • You gain knowledge on how to get the most out of your (customer’s) current technology and investments.
  • You gain knowledge on new products, that you may apply to build better solutions for your organization and/or your customer(s).
  • You get acquainted with people that you may ask questions any time.
  • You can get certified on technologies with significant discounts on exam prices and reduction of preparation time.

Your employer does not get a 10% or 20% more efficient employee; your effectiveness as an IT Pro grows by at least 25%. And that’s just effectiveness… how about your feeling of happiness and acknowledgement.

In times of crisis…

When you present the above numbers, many bosses will reply how the current economic situation doesn’t allow him to spend more money. While this may be true, there isn’t a better time to invest in people than during economic downturn. Think about it:

  • Since less people get invested in, tech conferences can’t charge the full premium price; They’ll risk not selling out. Ticket prices for tech conferences are typically lower in times of economic downturn.
  • In slow markets, tech companies need to put more appealing features in newly introduced products to trigger adoption. Tech conferences in the same timeframe as the launch of such new products are among the most effective in terms of gaining knowledge on new features and/or products that can make the difference for your organization and/or its customer(s).
  • Since less people typically show up at tech conferences during economic downturn, you get to spend more quality time with the speakers, IT influencers, industry experts and booth personnel.
  • Since your competitors stick with saying no to their employees, their business isn’t going anywhere. By investing in its people now, your organization will be ready to go when the economy takes a turn.
  • … and when business does pick up, you won’t have time to travel to tech conferences, since your boss doesn’t want to sell no to its organization or (potential) customer(s).

The happy few

Now, another scenario might be that your employer selects some of your co-workers to attend the tech conference you covet. This might get you down and you might feel unappreciated. Instead, interpret it as a motivational lesson. Stick to your plan, express your needs and wishes and ask what you might do to get into the group of the happy few. You might be surprised just how fulfilling working towards a goal can be… or switching employers.

Speaking of which… did you know that most employers typically spend a years salary on finding the right person for a job and get that person up to speed in it? You can easily convert showing up at the right time at the right place into a ticket for a tech conference.



The truly effective IT Pro is a happy IT Pro.

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