Recently there has been a fair bit of talk about conferences and what they can and cannot pay for their speakers. If it were possible, we’d love to pay for all our speakers’ costs, but unfortunately we don’t have the financial wherewithal to do so.
This year we’ve decided to cover accommodation costs for all our speakers (for at least three nights). Speakers do not, of course, have to pay for a ticket to the conference. However, covering flight costs is a bit out of our reach.
At Frozen Rails we do our best to keep tickets affordable for a wide range of attendees (which is also why we offer discounts to students and Rails/Ruby contributors). The Ruby community in Finland is comparatively tiny, and the demand for Ruby conferences is correspondingly tiny too. We don’t think it is entirely unfair to say that Frozen Rails is essentially the only Ruby conference held in Finland.
We use a CFP to acquire most of our speakers and we get talk proposals from talented developers from all over the world (and very few proposals from Finnish speakers).
Paying for all our speakers’ flights would mean that we’d have to at least double our ticket prices, assuming that we could sell the same amount of tickets at those prices (and we don’t think we could).
While Frozen Rails is technically not a non-profit event, it’s also not exactly a money maker for us. We basically break even every year, at least as long as we don’t take into account the amount of time we spend on organising it. Kisko Labs is not in the business of organising conferences. Our main business is creating web applications for our clients. We do it because we think that the Ruby community in Finland deserves to have a local conference.
What’s more, most of our sponsors will only commit once we have a relatively full roster of speakers, which is fully understandable from their point of view. However, this means that until we have committed to specific speakers the conference budget hangs in the balance.
Rough ticket price breakdown
Cost of a normal ticket: 249€
- Ticketing fees (Tito): €5.00 (€241.00 left)
- Payment processor (Stripe): €7.50 (€233.50 left)
- VAT (24%): €60 (€173.50 left)
- Venue and catering (for two days): €130 (€43.50 left)
- T-shirts, posters, programmes, etc: €16.50 (€27.00 left)
Out of that 27€ that’s left of the ticket price (and what sponsors contribute), we have to cover flights for our two keynote speakers (we invited them so we can hardly ask them to pay for their own flights), hotel rooms for our speakers, and a bunch of miscellaneous costs which are bound to crop up.
And that’s before we even mention the time we spent putting everything together for the conference and the time that we don’t spend working on client projects during the conference (time that would otherwise be billable).
Frozen Rails will cover all our speakers’ hotels. If you want to make lots of money, don’t organise a small Ruby conference.Posted 7 months ago