Free vs Paid


Jack Ma turns up at many events all around the world. He is usually more reserved and careful when speaking at big conferences and in front of high powered audiences, but lights up with smaller, more casual crowds and with young people (video). This leads us to the topic of this post: free vs paid events.

Free Events
  • Free events are not free. It is a paid for by the organizer in time, effort and resources. There are many details to take care of: theme, speakers, topics, venue, marketing, sponsors, logistics, f&b, audio, video, hosting (making speakers and guests feel welcomed and comfortable), registration, staffing, accessories, swags, ambience etc.
  • Why make it free (or at a nominal fee)? Possible reasons: paying it forward, community building, knowledge sharing, commonwealth (vs private hoarding), freedom (barrierless admission, all welcomed), CSR, corporate or government initiatives that are meant for the general public, special occasions, celebrations, semi-structured meetup or get together.

Paid Events
  • Paid events are usually broadly industry focused (many speakers, topics, tracks, side-events) and might suit audiences with broader objectives.
  • For example, if a person is into the content of, say, cutting edge mobility, a top notch conference on this theme might help him or her glean what is at the edge (which might otherwise require reading through dozens of technical and industry journals).
  • Or, if a person is into networking and would like to meet suave and articulate people, a lawyer's conference (say) might be a suitable event to head to.
  • Here's a (speculative) example of getting the best out of a paid event. Gojek (GO-JEK) will be in town for a conference on 29 Apr 2019 @ KL [ MYR 1200 USD 288]. For some reason, Gojek is not operating in MY yet. If you are an analyst and would like to find out why, this might be a conference to go to. Or if you are a ride-sharing startup, and would like to JV with or be acquired by Gojek, this might also be a conference to go to.