Jun 09 2010
You have been reading all the live blogging and twitter feeds from #smx advanced, wishing you had attended, and possibly feeling sorry for yourself because you don’t have the necessary travel budget. Here are some tips on how you can plan for SMX Advanced 2011.
Let’s first look at the total package, you have the conference expense, which is always well over $1,000, then the airfare, hotel, transportation and eating out. We are talking about a $2,000 plus proposition, after taxes. Personally, if I am going to spend that amount of money, I would rather be with my family, at a resort or in an exotic city, not in a conference room with hundreds of search marketers. Since I do enjoy attending Search Conferences and always get great information I will share with you how I have managed to fit this expense into my tiny business travel budget and attend SEO / Search Marketing Conferences for the past 10 years. It saddens me that these educational conferences are not geared to support the small business owner and it is the corporate expense account that benefits. The example below is a sample of my itinerary for SMX Advanced 2010.
Five Cost Saving Tips For Attending Search Marketing Conferences:
- Conference Pass: Always buy your conference pass with the early bird deals. Sometimes the amount saved at the early bird price can pay your airfare. Since you are booking so far in advance ask about the refund policy for the conference. I have found most conferences have a 30 day cancellation policy, this fee may be a few hundred dollars.Many conferences have a student price and you have to be able to prove that you are a student.
- Travel or airfare: I always look for conferences that are close to where I live. This may not always be possible, I am in California near San Francisco and there are many great conferences to pick from every year. There are a few I like to attend, like SMX Advanced, that are further away and not so travel cost effective to get too. Therefore I may need to fly, airfare, most of you know how to find cheap deals with airfare, book well in advance or use your free miles. Kayak is a great website for finding good deals if you don’t have frequent flyer miles.
- Transportation – Seattle Lite Link Rail from the airport into town, costs $2.50, vs. I think the Greyhound hotel bus may be over $20.00, or a cab will cost around $40.00. I am traveling lite, so I don’t have a lot of luggage to transport and I walked from the Lite Rail to my hotel.
- Hotel – This can be a major expense especially in larger cities, no one wants to stay on the wrong side of town in a sleazy hotel. Most conferences have a sponsor hotel, or a hotel that is near the venue. I love staying at the hotel close to the venue, especially in Santa Clara at the Convention Center but sometimes due to expenses it is not possible. Many name brand hotels in most city’s have a frequent visitor program where you can acquire free nights.For SMX Advanced in Seattle, I am staying at a lower budget hotel that is 8 blocks away from the venue. It is a 20 minute walk to the conference center (downhill), granted it is not sexy, but I am saving over 50% or more on hotel fees. I am not on the water, but how many hours does one spend in your hotel room? Here are two hotels in Seattle to pick from: Best Western and La Quinta . I frequently travel with my dog and the La Quinta hotels are pet friendly and they don’t have a surcharge. I am a part of their points program, which rewards with free nights after so many points. They also provide free WiFi. It looks like the Best Western may be cheaper. They both have a AAA rate.
- Food – since I am writing this while attending SMX Advanced in Seattle, and staying at the La Quinta, it is a block away from a fabulous Whole Foods Market. In fact I think it may be one of the nicest Whole Foods I have ever been in. After the cocktail parties, I grabbed a bite and a beverage went back to my room, with a frig., kicked off my shoes and ate dinner for under $20.00.
- Bonus Yoga Tip: If you are into Yoga, there are a couple of yoga studios, one near Whole Foods in the Westlake Center and another next door to the La Quinta
Most that attend Search Marketing Conferences are much younger than I am so you might be thinking “whoa, this sounds old school and boring, I go to the conferences for the networking and the parties”. You don’t have to give that up, nice part is the beverages and food are usually included in your conference pass. Do your research, book in advance, pay over time and of course if you know someone in town, couch surfing can work too.
If you are a small business, budget minded how do you plan and afford your business trips?