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Sep 04, 2012

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Steve Johnson

The problem is that there are many more people proposing to speak than there are places, so given a free market you would expect the prices to go down. OK, so it's not a free market, but you get the idea.

Autodesk is obviously looking at this from a purely cynical commercial point of view, trying to make the most money it can in every area it can. However, this may not make sense beyond the first year or two of penny-pinching if the quality of speakers drops significantly enough to discourage attendance. If this happens, it will be a tough job to recover the reputation of the event.

I wonder if Autodesk would have any objection if speakers had a tip jar by the door, or passed a hat around during the presentation? I would have thought a top-notch presenter could make enough to cover the drinks bill, at least.

Kevin Quigley

Out if interest what do any of the other companies offer at their events? I know SolidWorks offers free entry etc but no mention of money as far as I know. I've only done one of these events years ago. No money changed hands and I even had to pay transport costs myself. I was younger and more stupid.

Now my policy is simple. If you want me to take time out you pay me like anyone else does at the same rates. After all it is lost income.

Ralph Grabowski

This is what is forgotten by the staff who work at large corporation putting on these multi-day events: they get paid for being away from the desk + have all expenses refunded.

When a self-employed person travels to one of these events, he earns $0 while away from the desk, and then goes into the hole financially from the travel and convention expenses.

The speaker who pulled out of AU tells me he calculated he would lose $1,000 by attending, even after being paid $500 for speaking and being on a panel.

Steve Johnson

It's a lot more expensive than that if you take everything into account, particularly for speakers from outside North America. One year I submitted proposals for four classes. Even at the old rates, and even if they had all been accepted, I would still have been out of pocket to the tune of $2000-$3000.

That's not counting the many hours of preparation work involved in creating and rehearsing high quality technical presentations with professional-standard class notes. Factor that in at commercial rates and the total cost to me of speaking headed for five figure territory.

That cost would have reduced if the same basic presentations were repeatedly accepted over multiple years, but that's a gamble and it's still a very steep bill for the admiration of my peers. Even at the old rates it made little sense; at the new ones it makes none. Not to me, anyway. To those peers who have decided to make the financial sacrifice involved in speaking, you have my admiration.

AU is a great event and I love being there and catching up with people. However, the only way attending makes anything like financial sense for me is if Autodesk foots the bill for flights, accommodation and entry.

This happened in 2006 when I was a Beta program contest winner (this is back when Autodesk cared about encouraging users to thoroughly test its software). I was still down by more than $1000 due to lost income and sundry expenses, but it was well worth it.

Ralph Grabowski

These high expenses explain why many convention sites include "Reasons to Attend" and "Justification Letter to Your Boss" sections. Virtual AU seems to be the way to go, so long as you get one of the free passes.

Rick Graham

It is hard to justify, when your employer sees things as "AU Beer blast" in the brochure. Plus, the cost is getting so prohibitive and keeps on rising, even during lean economy, the price increases as well as flights, etc.

Plus, they don't give you nice t-shirts any more. ;)

But seriously and truthfully, As much ad I enjoyed AU, I can get my questions answered via blogs and discussion boards, watch tutorials via Youtube, etc. - for free. Sorry, my honest opinion.

David Koch

I suppose for a certain small subset of speakers who use the cache of being a speaker at AU as a credential to support their consulting business, or who work as an instructor for a reseller, it may still make financial sense.

And for individuals like me (who presented once, back in 2007), with more time than money, you can look at getting the conference pass as compensation for the time and effort required to prepare a class. But it would be hard to do that year after year, if there were no additional benefits (other than the admiration of your peers - trying paying for a meal with that).

Alfredo Medina

Yes, Autodesk is not paying for virtual classes, and not paying for the first lecture or lab class. BUT... hold on there. AU is not just about classes. In AU 2010, I met someone there, and since then I have been producing work for that company, which has represented some good amount of money and interesting work for me during two years. So, I don't care if Autodesk does not pay for my virtual class. I go there and try to make contacts for future work. That's what really matters about AU. If you miss all, and stay home, just because your calculator gives some negative numbers when you subtract the cost of flight plus accommodation minus what Autodesk gives you for the class, you're looking at the whole thing with a very narrow point of view.

Ryan Baker Cameron

It would appear the free 3-day pass is back for 2013. I agree with Alfredo, you make connections and have an opportunity to get some work done.

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