[Podcast] Dr. Perrodin founded two major school conferences and thoroughly understands the teacher professional development industry. David is keenly aware that school safety conferences geared toward school administrators, school boards and teachers has devolved from showcasing best practices to a cash-grab exposition of the latest, greatest, flashiest safety gizmos and doodads.
DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode: https://tinyurl.com/SDP104-AUDIO
GONE ARE THE RESEARCHERS
Ten years ago, safety conference keynotes were reserved for motivational speakers and researchers. The strategy was to share an empowering story and then turn the stage over to people that were fluent in educational research. This wasn’t always perfect, but it often ensured empiricism over rhetoric. School safety conferences are sprouting up across the country and the presenters are now primarily on the response side of safety – and not specifically school safety. Conference seek folks from the FBI, Secret Service and the military. These folks are not school safety researchers, but their credentials are mesmerizing and they share interesting stories that seldom have anything to do with school safety.
HOW CONFERENCES GENERATE REVENUE
A market savvy conference coordinator will exploit numerous revenue streams. Here are four common sources of revenue: (1) Attendees registration fees; (2) Vendors; (3) Sponsors; (4) University credits or Continuing Education Units (CEUs). University credits have waned in recent years, but were very popular around 2011 and before when teachers could ascend the pay schedule by taking university credits.
EXPENSES OF OPERATING A CONFERENCE
Running a conference of fewer than 300 people is often more expensive, per person, than running a larger event. Bulk is better. Here are seven primary expenses of operating a conference: (1) Exhibition space; (2) Meals; (3) A/V equipment; (4) Presenter fees and expenses; (5) Marketing; (6) Staff to organize the event and process registrations; (7) Agency overhead.
TEN THINGS YOU CAN NEGOTIATE AS A CONFERENCE PLANNER
A charismatic, keen conference planner will find ways to maximize profits. Here are some strategies: (1) Finding keynote presenters that are already paid by their employer. This often applies to people working for the government. You can pay them a smaller presenter fee as they are double-dipping. Ironically, many of these folks have this feature built into their employment contracts. might double dip; (2) Promote the presenters books or products as marketing is valuable; (3) Buy their books in bulk and include them for drawings or to the first 100 registrants. Event coordinators will typically receive a discount of 25% off retail price when you purchase 10 or more books; (4) If 200 or more people to stay at the conference center’s lodging accommodations, a discount if often applied to the use of the exhibition hall – or even waived; (5) Comp the table space of nonprofit or start-up vendors if they will bring value to the event; (6) Require vendors to “donate” for keynote sessions prize drawings; (7) New or local presenters might agree to waive their fee for exposure as they seek to “break into” bigger circuit of presenting; (8) Selling breakout sessions to vendors; (9) During the off-season, the local chamber of commerce might offer incentives, such as dining or shopping coupons to attendees, to encourage hundreds of people to visit the community; (10) Turn attendees loose for lunch – works well if conference center is near restaurants.
BOTTOM LINE is that SAFETY CONFERENCES ARE CASH GOLD MINES!
There is no research to back that attending a school safety conference results in safer schools. Vendors are paying thousands of dollars to buy access to educators. A 2-day conference attended by 400 people can generate a net income of $100,000 or more.
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Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.
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Purchase Dr. Perrodin’s Book: Schools of Errors – Rethinking School Safety in America