WordCamps and "cheap conference entitlement" syndrome

(Leland Fiegel) #1

This just caught my eye and thought it was worth discussing.

The other day, WPTavern posted about PodsCamp (organized by Pods developer and WPChat member, @sc0ttkclark).

Almost immediately after posting, somebody balked at the price in the comments:

$50 for a ONE day conference?

The average WordCamp is $30-$35 and many are TWO days.

The average ticket costs of a WordCamp are insanely cheap compared to some other industry conferences. If anything is prohibitively expensive, it’s the transportation/lodging, especially if flying internationally or cross-country.

It’s not free to run a conference, and the cost seems more than reasonable and totally justified. I hope Pods gets enough sponsors and ticket sales that they won’t be running it at too much of a loss.

Your thoughts?

(Mark Senff) #2

If you complain about $50 for a 1-day conference…ugh. Most other conferences that I would be going to if it wasn’t far away (CSS Dev Conf, Full Frontal, CSSconf, etc.), are usually hundreds of dollars for 2-3 days. Not an exception to see conferences that break the $1000 mark.

Just because WordCamps are on the extreme cheap side of the spectrum (I believe they are literally the cheapest tech conferences around), doesn’t mean that everything that’s not as cheap, is a rip-off. Of course, this is because it’s connected to the WordPress/Automattic culture: open source, free, no profit, and so on.

If you’re going to set a pricing standard for conferences for yourself, don’t use the cheapest conference around as a reference point.

(Knut Sparhell) #3

I was surprised the ticket was only $50, since this is not a WordCamp.

(Jordi Cabot) #4

The software conferences I usually attend are usually between 700-1000 USD (for 2-4 days) so I’d say 50 USD is a really good price

(Joel Warren) #5

I’d go the other way and say it’s too cheap, for $50 it might not even be worth it. If someone’s running an event and trying to keep the costs down so the event tickets are cheaper, is it going to be the best experience?

I’m not saying that that’s the approach that these cheaper events are going for but it makes me think twice.

Sounds silly but charge a bit more and I’d think it’s better value (especially if it’s cutting into normally billable hours)

(James Huff) #6

It’s a major peeve of mine, so I’ll keep this observation brief.

We seem to have a community split around ticket prices and subsidies.

On one hand, you have the people who balk at the WordCamp guidelines and the funding that comes with them. “Why can’t we have better self-sustained conferences without the need for the funding and guidelines that come with it?” they ask.

On the other hand, you have the people who balk at a $50 ticket price, a mere $20 more than an average WordCamp ticket. “Why can’t you be $30, like WordCamp?” they ask.

See the problem there? It makes me sad.

(Scott Kingsley Clark) #7

You can sign up and send more than the ticket price if you’d like – http://podsfoundation.org/donate/


The event is operating at a loss (I chose a cheaper ticket price than I should be charging) because I wanted to be sure as many people as possible could attend who would like to.


Let’s not forget how many people balk at paying $2.99 for an app as they stand in line for a $3.99 coffee.

(Joel Warren) #9

Kudos to you, just another quick point on this: I think it would be worthwhile to have a follow up email to people that attend to ask if they found value in the conference and would like to contribute. Sometimes it’s hard to see the value up when signing up for something

(Jeff C) #10

Would be cool if y’all helped me by listing ticket prices for other software conferences, especially open source ones. That’s data I’d love to use in an upcoming post.

(The Dragon) #11

I think the reason so many people are split on this is because of how people differ when it comes to time and money. From my perspective, you can make money back, but you can’t get that time back. I don’t use PODS, but I took a look at the schedule and speakers. My quick take is $50 would be a steal.

(Leland Fiegel) #12

An Event Apart is a big one. Conferences passes are typically over $1k:


Not specifically an open source software conference but covers open web standards and the like.

(Jeff C) #13

So, I took it upon myself to do some research and discovered a few surprising results. One being that the cost of WordCamp tickets without external funding sources should probably be near $90-100 to cover most events to at least break even. Found out some other things as well.

(Mark Senff) #14

I see what you mean Joel, and even though I don’t think so myself, I’m sure that’s a very important point.

Some businesses think that WordPress would not be a good solution for them, simply because it’s free. They’re scared that they get what they paid for, so to speak.

And the same goes for WordCamps, and other cheap conferences, for some people. “If it’s that cheap, it can’t be any good!” It makes sense, somehow.

I personally don’t think I get what I paid for (it’s a lot more) but I see why people would think that.

(Charles Stricklin) #15

The whole “unconference” movement was supposed to be a much more informal, low-cost sort of gathering, where people with information to share could share. Even when I organized WordCamp Dallas, the $20 we asked for is worth about $17 today, and we provided a free lunch, a t-shirt, wifi. and a small party the night before. I paid for one of the speaker’s hotel room out of my own pocket. That was all because the sponsors ponied up the money and even then, we lost a little money. So, all in all, it was really just one, big gift to the WordPress community,

If you’re doing a conference right, and you mean to make money, first I’d say, “Good luck!” I’d imagine conferences are to speakers what concerts are to most major musicians: You probably won’t make much money from ticket sales, but you’ll expect to recoup your money on book sales and/or new clients.

So to those who balk at $50, if they don’t buy at that price, it’s probably better that way. In the end, the free market will bear what the free market will bear. If you’re not delivering at least $50 worth of value, no one will be willing to attend your next conference. If they’re not willing or able to spend $50 today on something that’s worth $50 or more today, then they’re not in your target market.

Free markets for the win!

(The Dragon) #16

Looks like tickets for WordCamp San Francisco are on sale. I noticed the Live Stream plus T-shirt is $18. Looks like even the shirts are subsidized;-)

(Kalen Johnson) #17

Pretty good price, I’m pretty content checking out WordCamp SF from the comfort of my couch :slight_smile:

(Jeff C) #18

Kudos to being one of the first to help pioneer WordCamps. They were events in their infancy at the time and didn’t have much financial support from the WordPress Foundation.

(Jeff C) #19

While the Hallway track (which doesn’t exist) is the best part of WCSF, you’ve probably picked the best spot to take in all the action. You get to soak in every session without having to worry about going to the next room or something.

(Scott Kingsley Clark) #20

Talk about cheap entitlement, simply by walking in the doors and contributing back to WordPress with a little bit of time (Contributor Day is free for anyone to come), you get to go to Six Flags that evening! I wonder if this is going to spread…