CoIB‘s post this morning brings up another good point about conferences – maintain interest. Don’t burn out your excitement planning to get there. Leave some thrill for the days you make new friends, get inspired with new ideas, and try to absorb information like a sponge. Yes, planning is fun, but the point of any conference is to meet peers and learn something.
I’ve experienced burnout as both the planner and the attendee. It’s tough to keep people interested after you let them know registration is open and they register. They either forget about it or they do everything there is to do on your website in a week and then forget about it.
Last year’s SXSW was a good example of burnout before the conference started. They opened up registration in September for a conference in mid-March. I was an early-bird and tried to learn everything I could about the events at the conference, the location, other events happening, etc. By October I was burned out. I didn’t think about it (or tried not to) until February. During my initial sweep I registered for the newsletter, subscribed to the RSS feeds, and registered on the somewhat anemic social networking site. Not much traffic came through until January – then it trickled in. My interest grew again and I started to pay attention to details like schedule changes and planning my schedule.
This year, at HighEdWeb 2009, the build up has been gradual. They have a social networking site (ning.com) that keeps my interest. Then there are tweets to keep up interest – even after the early-bird deadline.