Gnomedex: The $1300+ Blogger Conference!

Now, I’ll admit that I’m definitely on the outside looking in of the blogging/web 2.0 community.  While I manage very large sites with a ton of users and reach, I’m still on the periphery.  Why?  Well, I live in Michigan.  Not exactly a state known for it’s thriving IT industry.  If you go beyond IT services that support manufacturing companies, you can probably count on one hand the number of companies doing anything significant with online communities or digital media.

Yes, I’m a bit of a victim of geography here, and even though it’s all online now, it’s all IM, Twitter, email and blogging, proximity is still important.  So when I see events like Gnomedex coming up, I’m interested because it could be one of the few opportunities I have this year to actually network with other people working in my field.  And in this nebulous profession, professional networking is king.

Gnomedex struck me as an interesting conference to attend with its focus on blogging, podcasting and other personal media, the stuff that’s really sweeping the ‘net at the moment.  The really interesting tech and approach to information distribution that will become pretty standard for regular users in 5 years is what this conference focuses on now.  And there are some pretty impressive names attached too, with folks from CNN, Amazon’s AWS initiative, Google and a selection of people to know around the blogging world.

I’d love to go.  It would be a wonderful opportunity to meet people, get some new ideas for JoeUser/WinCustomize/ImpulseDriven.  Plus I think it would be a blast.

But I won’t be going.  Why? 

It costs a damn fortune!

The conference, just to get in the door, costs $600 (if you’ve attended a Gnomedex in the past, you get a $50 discount).  Now, that’s a pretty hefty price to begin with, but what if you’re from out of town?  Well, then you have to factor in plane tickets and a hotel.  I just did some quick checking via travelocity, and looked over the hotel list close enough to the conference so I wouldn’t have to rent a car…

Leave August 21st, return August 23rd:

  • Plane Ticket: $373
  • Hotel: $389 (before tax, this was one of the cheap ones)

That brings the base cost of the conference to $1,362.  Funny enough, that’s how much I paid in taxes this year.

Unfortunately this doesn’t include the incidental costs like dinners, drinks with folks you meet at the conference, or anything you may need to pick up while there.  From what I’ve been told about Seattle, and about these sorts of conferences, I could probably safely add another $300 or so to the bill.  So now at a conservative estimate I’ve passed $1,600.

Of course I could do things like find someone to split a hotel room with, and probably just not do the dinner/drinks thing, but after a point the cost cutting gets in the way of what these conferences are about: meeting folks in the field.

I could probably swallow the travel costs if the conference pass didn’t virtually double the cost.  It almost seems like the pricing is setup to keep out people who aren’t either on that side of the country already, or who don’t have a corporate card to cover the costs.

Maybe someday there will be a tech conference here in the midwest….

Yeah, right.