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Destination Innovate Blog

Why you should never watch PFP (pay for play) speakers at a conference.

Our industry conferences are where most of us look to to be educated and add value. Unfortunately, there’s this little trend going on that’s relegating industry experts to pay to speak at these conferences. This is really good for conference owner’s pockets and really bad for the travel industry thirsting for knowledge.

Here’s why this is a lose/lose for both conference goers and the companies coerced to pay for the privilege of speaking:

  • If a company pays to have a speaking session, their motivations are shifted from truly creating an educational or transformative experience to getting a return on investment. Even the best intentioned speakers feel the pressure to make an ROI with attendees.
  • The best educators refuse to participate because… integrity. More often than not, you end up with someone who is not as experienced (aka has never actually rolled their sleeves up tactically) and is giving a 30,000 foot view of the topic at best.
  • No one in the audience is asking themselves “ how do I help this speaker make more money?”
  • The audience gets mislead, as these speakers are not going to recommend or educate on services they don’t provide. It’s myopic.
  • Professional educators and teachers are doing a job. It makes zero sense why they would pay to provide a service that’s valuable.

There are many other reasons, but the bottom line is we should demand more from our conferences. A stronger value, less sales pitches. I’ve spoken to my colleagues in the industry who also specialize in speaking to DMOs and they, like I, have made the decision to never pay to speak at a conference. So, if you want to see us back in the saddle at more events and doing what we do – servicing without sales and imparting decades of experience…you know what to do. Demand better. You deserve it. 😉

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