General Question

NeroCorvo's avatar

When asked to speak as a guest at a very large conference, is the guest expected to pay full price to register for the event?

Asked by NeroCorvo (1231points) November 3rd, 2011

I have been asked to speak at a “Global Summit” in Washington DC. Today I received my formal invitation in the mail.

It told me that I needed to register for the conference to confirm my speech time.

I am not being compensated for my airfare or hotel, nor am I being paid for my speech. Am I wrong thinking that paying $500 to attend the summit that I was invited to speak at is a bit unreasonable?

Do any of you have experience in these matters?

The invitation alluded to “As is customary at such summit meetings you need to register.”

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17 Answers

Judi's avatar

I agree. They should pay your airfare and hotel too imho.

lillycoyote's avatar

I don’t have any experience with these things and I don’t know what is customary but I don’t think you’re wrong at all, in my opinion. They are getting a free speaker, you are paying for your own airfare and motel. Jeez! The very least they could do is comp you the registration fee.

That’s what I think but the “as is customary” thing makes me think that this is simply how these things are done, how whatever type of conference you will be attending is handled, and that’s that. The “as is customary” disclaimer seems to be a polite way of saying “We know this might seem pretty screwed up, but this is the way these sorts of things are done;” whatever type of conference or summit it is.

dappled_leaves's avatar

It probably depends on what field you are in. In some fields, you could expect a payment or a waiving of fees for your speech, in others, you might be expected to have access to grants for this sort of expense.

zenvelo's avatar

The times I have been on a panel at an industry event like that my registration was comped. If they invited you, yours should be too. The registration should have an indicator that you are speaking. If you get asked for your credit card, stop and ask your contact why you are being asked to pay.

Would you go if you weren’t speaking?

SavoirFaire's avatar

Invited speakers are guests, not attendees. This situation seems very strange to me. I’ve helped organize conferences for my department, and we’ve never expected speakers to pay for much of anything. If the conference is big enough, we’ll even let them submit their expenses for reimbursement.

NeroCorvo's avatar

I was not planning on attending, no. They approached me due to my research and work on the subject of one of their panels.

Rarebear's avatar

I have a lot of experience in this actually. It totally depends upon the conference. I’ve spoken at some that paid everything and others where I had to pay just like everybody else. And some in between. Actually at the moment I’m at a conference where not only am I a speaker but I was one of the organizers. I paid my way but my conference fees are paid for.

That all said if you’re an invited speaker they should pay something.

Aethelflaed's avatar

I would totally agree with you, except that a lot of times being a speaker is something that’s a boost to your resume and career, so you aren’t doing it just for them, but rather get quite a bit out of speaking yourself. So, especially if you aren’t the keynote speaker, I can see why – after all, the thing isn’t free, they have to cover costs, and I’d imagine that if they charged people who aren’t invited to speak more so they could cover your costs, there’d be less people who would come to hear you speak. So… I can see it both ways.

Rarebear's avatar

@Aethelflaed Exactly. In the conferences I’ve spoken at they figure it’s a resume booster. But I had to apply to speak at it, and I knew the deal going in. The one that they paid me for I was asked to speak and they pay my way and honorarium. Like I said, it totally depends upon the conference and how much money they have floating about.

Aethelflaed's avatar

@Rarebear Yeah, it’s.. I think the big deal is that the OP was invited, without applying. So then it’s more “hey, would you like to spend money on us” than “hey, we really liked your work and would be honored to have you enrich our conference”; it comes off as more of an advert than an actual invite. But, I think it’d be totally different if they were covering the OP’s registration fee but not room and board (lord knows I had some sweet family vacations because my father was speaking at conferences in Disney World, Hawaii, etc – that’s totally reasonable to be like “hey, come on now, you get to score too with this sweet vacation for your family”). But it does seem weird to invite him and then ask him to pay (but him applying to speak and then having to pay, totally fine).

plethora's avatar

I would be speaking very cordially to the head guy/gal on the conference. Let him know that I have been advised I must register and pay to speak, and I had not even planned on attending. Attending solely to speak and had planned on submitting all expenses related to the trip. So should I go home or can you make arrangements to cover registration and all other expense related to trip. Better to ask for more than you think you’re gonna get.

EmptyNest's avatar

I would think they would at least try to sweeten the pot a little. At the very least, you should not have to pay to get in. Even in circumstances where the organization is “non-profit” would not be losing anything to waive the fee. I would decline and give the reasons you stated. I think they have a lot of nerve.

DrBill's avatar

I have given lots of speeches, no one has ever tried to charge me to get in. The last one was in New Orleans, they sent me airline tickets (round trip), paid for my 5 star hotel, all transportation cost, all my meals, and that was on top of paying me for speaking.

It is one thing to give a free speech, but they should at least cover your expenses.

plethora's avatar

@DrBill is right. But then one gets what one negotiates. If the deal isnt right for you, then talk to the top person and negotiate what you want. If they have you there for a showpiece, dont really care if you speak or not and just want a fee….how embarrassing. Let them have a hole in their agenda. Go home.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you are the Plenary speaker I’d expect it to be free. But, if you one of many presenters at a technical conference expect to pay.

cazzie's avatar

When my father in law received his Lifetime Achievement Award from a globally represented group, his registration and dinner banquet/lunches were free. I had to pay for mine and we had to find our own way to the conference and pay for our own hotel. (Someone needed to accompany him, as he gets a bit confused these days.) We didn’t have far to go. Just over to Finland. I think most groups like this expect that you can claim back the expenses from the institution you work for, or use your grant money to attend because it raises your profile, etc.

I think it completely depends on the group organising the function. I would NEVER expect a non-profit to pay my expenses (like the organisation that awarded my father in law that he had been an active member in for decades), but if L’Oreal wanted me to speak at a seminar, they’d better pay, or get lost.

Staalesen's avatar

I often invite speakers to things like this, and while I somethimes inform them beforehand that we are not covering travel and accomodation, I would never dream of charging them for the event. Invited people are sort of semi-VIPs in my opinion.

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