Posted by: conferencebay | October 30, 2007

The conception of Conference Bay

Conference Bay was founded out of a personal ‘experience’, as so many businesses are. While working in London in the late 90’s, I used to visit conferences regularly. These events would easily cost US$ 2,000 for 2 days, an amount that my employer at that time did not really have sleepless nights over, so neither did I. However, one day the phone rang and the following conversation took place:

Caller: “Good morning, you will be visiting [insert US$ 2,000 conference name here] tomorrow and we may offer you one free ticket for a colleague!”

Me: “That is very nice, thank you very much. But why is this, I have paid US$2,000 and my colleague can visit for free?”

Caller: “That is correct! We have some spare seats left over and want to fill the room up a bit.”

Me: “And it doesn’t really matter who fills the seat? Does the colleague have to work in a certain field?”

Caller: “Nah, not really, just bring anyone along.”

A day later I spoke with the organiser of this event (who shall remain anonymous as they are now a well regarded client of ours) who explained that the main reason to fill the seats was to keep the sponsors happy. He did admit that it also helped to have a full conference room so that no full price paying delegate would start wondering why he had paid up in the first place.

This is when one of the main ideas behind Conference Bay was born. Why, did I discuss with the colleague who had come for free, was there not a system where potential delegates could indicate how much they were willing to pay for a seat at a conference (just as there are websites where you can do that for airline seats or hotel rooms)?

While discussing this question, we tried to find a few conference listings. This proved to be surprisingly difficult. So we decided that a listing of conferences would also be a good idea. In order to do so, we thought it would help to speak to a few conference organisers. Now this was the time before Google (remember Altavista, anyone?) but we searched online and offline and found there were literally hundreds of organisations out there organising conferences, events, seminars, you name it. And there was no central portal covering this industry…

Conference Bay was conceived at that time but suffered from the bursting of the Internet bubble. We developed a busines plan and even had a small team together but decided to shelve the plan when we found there was no appetite anymore from investors in anything that even smelled remotely of .com.

So how did the plan get revived? Read all about it in the next post…

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