So You think Tech Conference is Overpriced?

Jecelyn Yeen
Apr 8 · 6 min read
but… everything else cost money

That’s why you don’t see many tech conference in Malaysia, especially 100% independent one.

I am writing this article in the context of Malaysia conference, specifically the one I organized — NG-MY.

This is a semi-ranting post — It takes 5 min of your life, read at your own risk.

Background

I am organizing a two days Angular conference in Malaysia — NG-MY. It is the first and only Angular conference in Southeast Asia.

The conference price at RM 238 (about USD 60 / EUR 47) with early bird at RM 198.

NG-MY conference ticket price list

Why is this so expensive? They should not charge this high!

I got this question a lot, to a point I stop reasoning about that. Honestly, I am tired to answer the question. Let’s me just put this into an article.

What’s the conference offer?

It is fair to ask this question. Let me list down what’s the conference offer:

  • 2 days worth of knowledge, 30+ awesome speakers from all over the world — check the speaker list. For people who like big names - we have speakers from Google, Amazon, KLM Airlines, Google Developer Expert (GDE) and Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP).
  • 300+ like-minded developers, meet and connect
  • 2 days meals — including breakfasts, lunches, teatime
  • Swags — A good conference must have t-shirt & swags. Yeah, we got that.

What’s the cost of the conference?

Glad you ask (thought you don’t). Let’s list down the cost:

  • Venue & Meals — In case you don’t know, if the event is organized in hotel, it cost minimum RM 150 ++ per pax per day. Though this conference is not in hotel, and so lucky we got support from Sunway University, but that doesn’t mean it is free. And definitely, your meals still cost.
  • Speaker flights & accommodations — Look at the list of speakers we have, we have speakers from US, Europe, etc. Glad that some of the speaker travel costs are supported by their company, but many don’t. A single long distance flight ticket easily cost RM 3000 ++. Let alone the accommodations for each speaker — 3 nights at 4 star hotel.
  • Swags — Printing t-shirt and swags, or even your lanyard and tags, are not cheap.
  • Decoration & miscellaneous— Logistics, shipment, decoration, and others
  • Scholarship — Offer monetary support for people from Southeast Asia to attend the conference — flights, accommodation, conference tickets, etc.

The list is not over, yet. One thing, I did not list, but it is the most important one — is the effort, the human works to get this conference done. Every member of the organizing team has full time job.

We work on this on our free time, because we think Southeast Asia deserved an Angular Conference. We DID NOT get paid for doing this.

Human efforts is often underestimated and underappreciated in Asia because people love cheap labour and think that should be free. How to #wawasan2020 lah like this!?

Worst, for me personally, as a freelance consultant, time is money. I charge customer base on the time I spent on project. Organizing conference impacts my income, because less time for project. That is okay, I sorta expected that (though it take up much more than I estimated).

You might have thought organizing conference is easy. Wait until you do it then we talk.

So, is it expensive? Mathematic 101.

Let’s do a really simple Mathematic, assuming you are purchasing standard ticket RM 238. You paid for:

  • 2 days meals — RM 40 per days * 2 = RM 80
  • 2 days contents— assuming RM 10 per speakers * 30 = RM 300
  • Venue, t-shirt, swags, decorations, flights, accommodation, scholarship, efforts…

I don’t even need to list down the details costing, the price is already RM 380 — the ticket easily cost over RM 500+ as you can imagine.

Find a two days tech conferences around you (closest you can get probably is Singapore) with similar scale, quality and content. Compare the price yourself.

Well, you are right, but…

Some told me, yeah, but… Google Developer Group (GDGKL) and Microsoft events cost much lesser, less than RM 50.

Oh, did I told you that I am the main organizer of Google IO Extended KL 2018? It cost only RM 12 for a full day programme. Also, that event become a mould (model) for a few full-day events after that.

That is cheap because from the event title you know already — these events are supported and got funded. They are cheap because someone paid the price.

Probably because of that, you expect other conferences should be of that price as well, with swags, foods etc. 😆

That’s why you don’t see many independent tech conferences in KL lo, I mean, it is quite impossible with that price if not getting fund / sponsor.

Let me list down a few community tech conferences we have in Malaysia in the past:

  • Pycon MY — partially supported by the Python Software Foundation, 2 days ticket price RM 160 — RM 200
  • Ruby MY Conf — ticket price ranging from RM 150 — RM 350
  • Wordcamp KL — A one day wordpress event ticket price ranging RM 70 — RM 250
  • BigIT — Not a community conf, also not sure if this consider tech conf, ticket price cost RM 600+

Dear Malaysian, I really want to say, you don’t pay a lot but your expectation is damn high wei.

Conferences in US, Europe or Singapore easily cost more than USD 500. Some are even over USD 1000.

You can say “I rather sit at home and watch Youtube video of those talks”, but remember that, someone paid the price for that video.

Talk so much, why are you not charging RM 500+ then?

It is because NG-MY goal is to make this conference affordable — purchase it by yourself or you asking your boss to buy you one.

That’s why we find sponsors to lower the price of the conference — and this process is not easy. It takes a lot of effort, time and energy.

I am sorry that it is really impossible to be be RM 50 lah bro.

The takeaway

It is okay that you think the conference is not for you. It is completely fine if you are not coming and not willing to pay the price.

However, stop judging and pointing at me saying that “Your conference is way too expensive!” — NO, it is not. Stop asking me to justify the price for you.

If you want to come but don’t want to pay the price, convince your manager or your boss to pay for it. It is for your works and employers should definitely support that, IMHO. We have an infographic to help you with that.

Or, if you can’t afford — especially — especially for people from further states or other parts of Southeast Asia, apply the scholarship — we offer flights, accommodations and conference tickets support.

Be considerate, apply for only what you really need. So other people got in as well. The pool of fund are fixed.

Feel like paying / attending? Here is the ticketing url, checkout the agenda before purchase.

Ciao

Thanks and appreciate you finish reading it. I did not perform grammar check for this article. 😂

Clap 10 = thank you. Clap 5 = no, I dislike it. This is how to #tipuClap 😂

Jecelyn Yeen

Written by

Coder. Diver. Speak English, Mandarin, Javascript, C# and more.

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