Why Do Conferences Move Away From Single-Track Events?

Another Great Podfest Expo

I just returned from Podfest Expo 2023. (I share my insights in my last episode). It was a fabulous event with a ton of new faces. One thing that is always funny is that someone will bring up the 2nd time Podfestt happened in a Ramada Inn. It was a small group of 100 or so people on a single-track event. We all:

  • Experienced the Same Thing
  • Got to know each other
  • Had a clear path to the vendors
  • Smile whenever we think about that small event.

Advantages of a Single-Track Event

Single-track events offer numerous benefits. Here are some of the most notable advantages of attending single-track events:

  1. Focus: With a single-track event, attendees can concentrate all their attention on the speakers and their presentations without the distraction of concurrent sessions. This enhances the overall learning experience and makes it easier to retain information. We all learn the same thing, but in the hallway, we share our different viewpoints enhancing the learning while growing your network.
  2. Networking: Single-track events provide ample opportunities for attendees to connect with one another and build valuable professional relationships. With everyone in the same place at the same time, it’s easier to connect and engage in meaningful conversations.
  3. Cost-effectiveness: Single-track events are often more cost-effective than multi-track events, as they require fewer resources to organize and run. This can result in lower ticket prices for attendees and make it easier for more people to attend. You don't need a giant screen or giant sound system as everything is on a smaller scale. There is no need for the organizer to sweat bullets for weeks as they hope they don't end up paying for empty hotel rooms.
  4. Time-saving: With a single track, attendees don't need to choose between multiple sessions, making it easier to fit the event into their schedule. Additionally, single-track events are usually shorter, making it more convenient for podcasters to attend.
  5. High-quality content: Single-track events are often curated to ensure the highest quality content. The organizers can carefully select the best speakers and presentations to deliver a consistent, engaging, and informative experience for attendees. I've been the person who has to select the speakers, and it's not an easy job (but isn't that a good thing?).

A Holiday Inn?

I've had some of my best discussions and made rock-solid connections at a Holiday Inn in New Jersey at what is now Indie Pod Con (then Podcast Mid Atlantic). At that event, there were zero distractions. There is no pool (I think), no gambling, sports bars, etc. There is a Wawa and a Wendys. The rooms aren't fancy, and we don't care as we will only use them to sleep (and that is it). One more thing: the rooms are affordable.

We have these fantastic times at single-track events, and the first thing we do is say, “We need to recreate this on a bigger scale.” I don't see people at single-track events saying, “man, I wish there were more people here.” So Podcast Movement, Podfest, and others have grown and grown (which is good), but in the same way that Podcast Movement was birthed out of the New Media Expo losing touch with their audience, I ask, “If we all love single-track, why aren't we doing MORE of them?”

You wouldn't have to try to have an intimate experience; it WOULD BE an intimate experience. You could charge less for sponsors as there would be fewer attendees, and again, there is no need for MONSTER hotels where you pay $80 a day for resort fees (as you 100% ignore the event). Ultimately, the item that brings the most value is the discussion in the hallway.

Once you recreate the magic of a single-track event, keep them small and charge more for the event (and do them more often).

Just a thought…

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About the Author
Owner of the School of Podcasting. Also produces the "Ask the Podcast Coach." He is also the author of the book "More Podcast Money" and is a regular speaker at podcasting and media conventions.

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