How to Save Money at Conferences

Working in the web development industry, I get a chance to go to at least one conference, seminar, or training class every year. This way I can keep up with the latest technologies and our company benefits from my acquired knowledge. However, convincing the company my conference of choice is worthwhile can be a problem. As with anything, money is an issue, and the company does not want to spend more than it has too. I am sure this is the same everywhere, so here are some cost saving ideas you can pass on to those holding the dough.

  • Buy one get one free. Oftentimes, conferences offer better pricing for groups, or they may give you one free admission for the price of two.
  • Pay early. This may not be feasible for some due to when conference money is allocated by your particular company, but paying by a specific deadline will usually save you hundreds of dollars.
  • Take advantage of special conference hotel rates. Many times conferences will arrange special rates with area hotels for their conference attendees. Just make sure you mention this when booking your hotels. You may even be lucky enough that the conference organizers will handle this when you register so there are no mix-ups.
  • Share a room. Companies will save if you room together instead of getting separate rooms. Conferences usually encourage this so there is enough lodging at their chosen hotels for everyone.

Okay, so you have convinced your boss that it is worthwhile to go to the conference and have shown where you can save money. So how do you save money once you are there and avoid an expense being rejected? Read on.

  • Take advantage of conference meals. Some of the bigger conferences supply breakfast and lunch. No, it may not be your first choice in meals, but they are at the worst fair, and it will save you money.
  • Save your snacks. During or between sessions, conference organizers may supply you with various snacks and beverages. If these are prepackaged, you can stuff them in your bag or briefcase, eat them later at the hotel, avoiding the late night hunger, and urge to buy a costly snack.
  • Use alternative transportation. Usually your conference is in the hotel or close by. These are choice situations as they save on taxi or bus fare. Alternatively, if you brought a car, this will save on gas and the pain of keeping track of mileage. Some conferences offer a shuttle service if it is too large of a distance between the venue and the hotel to walk.
  • Take advantage of all conference contests. There are usually giveaways and other contests for filling out surveys and evaluations. You can win valuable prizes, so take the time to fill these out. One thing to consider is your company policy on gifts. Check with your employer if you are unsure.
  • Watch for discounts. Many conferences have books and other items for sale at discount prices.

Image courtesy of jimfrazier

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3 Responses to How to Save Money at Conferences

  1. ben says:

    There really is an art to convincing your boss that it is worthwhile to send you to a conference. It’s almost like a presentation. You need to show him or her what benefit they and the company will receive. It helps if you can show ways to save money as this goes to show that you are truly motivated to attend.

  2. Debbie M says:

    I often go to conferences on my own dime in fields that I want to be in but that I am not in yet, so of course my employer won’t pay. Except that I take paid vacation to do it.

    So I have no trouble meeting the early deadline for a cheaper fee.

    The main way I save money is on housing. I generally do not stay at the recommended hotel. One time I couldn’t find anything else, but once I stayed at a cheaper hotel down the street and twice I stayed at a hostel (they’re not just for youth anymore). Of course if the conference is nearby, you can stay at home.

    The other way I sort of save money is to make the trip my fun vacation trip for the year. Often the conference lasts for only part of the week. I take the whole week off and do sight-seeing the other part of the week. This way the transportation for my vacation is the same as the transportation to the conference.

    Look carefully at your housing/transportation combinations. For example, when I went to Disney World, I compared flying in, renting a car, and staying someplace cheap to flying in and getting free transportation to the cheapest Disney hotel. They ended up costing about the same, but the latter gave extra advantages like being closer to the park and being allowed to come or early or stay late at one of the parks each day. We also brought some food in our suitcases (nuts, etc.) because we knew we wouldn’t be able to get to a decent grocery store.

    I use all your other ideas (though I rarely save snacks) except I usually don’t know anyone else going to the conference to room with me. Another good thing about the conference meals is that it’s a good way to meet people and talk about things and get more good ideas.

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