Most vendors that perceive themselves as a market leader will have a major annual event (some will even have multiple events in different geographical locations).
Here are few of these major events that come to mind:
And every year we come around to the registration and scheduling of sessions to these events, and they almost always suck…
(I am going to use re:invent as the victim here - but I am sure that the experience is probably the same with most conferences)
- The Mobile App sucks.
- The registration process is annoying.
- When sessions open for scheduling - the site crashes.
- Scheduling sucks.
- The lines are horrible.
- Transport sucks.
- Food sucks.
There are more than enough things that one could find wrong with the way things go at a conference - and I am not diminishing the problems one little bit.
I would like us all to view it in a different perspective.
The companies that hold these events - are tech companies. They are great at selling technology, great at creating some amazing technology. An of course they also have people that are in charge of events and marketing - but it is not their core business.
I do not underestimate the impact a good event can have on your product - or how a bad event can damage a company's brand - that is why companies like these spend many millions of dollars on events like this. But again that is not what they are trying to sell, they are not trying to sell an event. They are not event planners, this is something we seem to forget from time to time especially when things are not optimal (another polite way of saying that they suck).
They outsource the events to an external company.
The signs, the transport, the advertising, the venue, website, the on-site services, scanners, the food - and yes - even the mobile app. All of these do not belong to any one of these companies they are all provided as part of the service that another company sells to these market leaders.
It does not make sense for any of the large vendors to bring up an event all by themselves. For an event that is sometimes no more than 5 days in a year - they will not maintain all the dedicated resources (physical, human and virtual) for just one event.
So it make sense to outsource it all. And they do.
There are always things that can be improved. The app could be better (this year there are significant improvements in the re:Invent app experience 😃 ) The registration could be better, the directing of human traffic at the conference could better, the list could go on and on.
Is IS the job of the tech vendor marketing teams to demand from these event companies to improve from one event to another and get better from year to year. To make sure the food is better, improve registration, make sure that the (also human) traffic flows.
If I look at this from a technology perspective - it is a classic case of consuming something aaS (As a Service). AWS provides us with infrastructure, and they maintain software. but they do not employ all the people that put the chips on the motherboards of every server in their datacenters. They do have people that provide input into the design of the servers - in order for them to operate more efficiently, and in turn provide a better service to their customers (you and me).
I would not expect them to have chip designers or assembly plants on the payroll to allow them to run their business. They outsource / contract that work from a 3rd party.
They contract / outsource their event management. All the big companies do - it makes perfect financial sense.
Does that mean we should stop bitching about the food, the lines, the app? Hell no! By providing constructive criticism (or complaining) we make things better, because that is what we the customer demand. And these event management companies - will hopefully improve.
Some food (pun intended) for thought - when you are your next conference.