Cancel all real world conferences

What an ignorant statement to make. But an easy one to make by people that are only concerned with the populace simplistic view of how the world works. I am no genious on economy, but I also try to understand some issues rather than have knee jerk reactions and jump on the mob mentality bus! I was taken aback by Nick Wilson over at Clever Zebra when he posted this:

It’s practically blasphemous to even suggest that corporations should give up face to face meetings, but they should. Like it or not, this is not the time to be spending hundreds of thousands of dollars a year on physical meetings when there are rich, viable and practical alternatives.

I’m not suggesting face to face is without value. I am suggesting that for the vast majority of corporate meetings, including conferences, exhibitions, team meetings and training, it’s irresponsible, and wasteful.

Now to be fair, he did say people should look at alternatives. But this mentality led me to lose my cool with this:

I have agreed with many things you have said and am a HUGE proponent of Second Life (paying $3,000 USD a month for my presence in there is proof of that).

But this is an incredibly myopic and simplistic viewpoint. The vast majority of conferences are not a waste. There are examples of waste and often those companies fail in time. But the number of meaningful conferences far outweigh what you mention.

For example, a lavish conference in Hawai’i with a golf package and fine dining may seem excessive. That conference could cost close to a million dollars. Gee, that seems like a waste. But . . . those type conferences are held as motivators and rewards, typically for sales. So if the one million dollar conference generates 10 million in sales, is it wasteful? That 9 million in sales is real money for a real company to pay it’s employees and invest in it’s development.

The conference property employs 100’s of staff for these events. Those are real jobs. The profits generated by the company as a direct result of their conference is money that flows into the economy. How is taking that away helping that company keeps its employees?

Las Vegas is a great place for these types of conferences. Call up Sales Managers at the big properties and ask how many people they have had to layoff because congress and other pinheads state that these conferences are wasteful.

There is a place for real conferences and virtual ones.

If we take away real conferences, I also suggest that we all ride inexpensive bicycles and work from home. Cars are wasteful, so let’s be done with the big three auto makers too. Who needs office buildings and the construction industry and all the services that go with that?

Maybe we should all wear matching blue uniforms, after all, suits are pretty wasteful too. And restaurants? What a waste there! All we need is a simplified diet, maybe just rice. That way we could dump lots of farmers and the vineyards too, no one needs to drink wine after all (bye bye bottle manufacturers, label makers, graphic artists, distributors, stores, trucking companies, box manufacturers, etc).

Am I upset by your narrow view? Yes, I know many people that have been laid off in this industry. They are very real people that spent money in our economy as a direct result of conferences.

That’s my rant, I often don’t get riled up.  Maybe if I followed that advice I would save money?  Let’s see I am spending $4000 of my own money speaking at conferences this year.  I could stop using mini Moo cards, not fly, not stay in hotels, not eat out while onsite.  In fact, I could stop spending that $3K on Second Life since that is what I talk about at conferences.  Wow, that’s $40,000 this year I could save and not spend in our economy!  That really makes sense to me.

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