I love speaking at conferences. I get to meet new people, I sometimes get to visit a new city. But I’m sad to say that I will not be speaking at the North America or Europe VMworld events this year, even though I was accepted.
My reasons are pretty basic. VMware (who puts on VMworld) has decided that they will not only, not pay their speakers but they expect their speakers to pay their own costs to go to the event. VMware expects me as a community speaker to pay for my own hotel and airfare to get to the conference.
VMware doesn’t even give speakers a full conference pass, the speaker gets a day pass for the day which they are speaking.
Now in reality for the North America conference my flight costs, probably aren’t all that much as I’m a short flight to San Francisco from San Diego (I’d actually be coming from India from another conference so it’d basically be a flight change fee). The hotel for the conference will probably be in the $300 a night range I’m assuming. VMware will pay for one night in the hotel if I’m giving two sessions, which is what was selected for the North American conference.
For the European conference things get even worse. I’m expected to pay for my own international flight from California to Spain, and I have to pay for my own hotel as only one of my sessions was selected for VMware Europe. So according to them, apparently I should just fly in give my talk and fly out the same day. That really doesn’t seem like it’s
conductive conducive to me giving a good presentation. There’s a 9 hour time difference between here and Spain, so I’d need at least a couple of days to dejetlag. Those jetlag days, I’m used to paying for those myself as that’s pretty normal.
So on top of not billing clients for two weeks (assuming that I actually attended the full conference, and if I’m going why wouldn’t I want to attend), I’m expected to pay thousands in flight and hotel
(not to mention a full conference badge so I can attend the rest of the days) for the privilege of presenting at a conference.
Now yes, I’m a consultant so if you went to the SQL Server booth at Ignite or if you’ve been to the PASS Summit the last couple of years you’ve seen my in my booth, but at VMworld I’ve got zero chance to meet attendees unless it’s after my session. So time to really network and meet people, and yes drum up business (here’s a little secret, this is why consultants go to conferences). So where’s the upside for me? I get to say that I spoke at VMworld? Big deal.
So needless to say, I’m not willing to drop $10k+ (between not billing, flights, hotels, and a conference pass) for the privilege of speaking at a conference that VMware makes a ton of money on (I’m guessing several million dollars at the least).
UPDATE (2015-06-18): After reviewing the speakers portal some more, I’ve learned that external speakers do in fact get a full conference pass. So I’ve updated the post to reflect that.