A few posts ago, I had mentioned that I’d share some of my favorite ways to save money while attending conferences and other leadership gatherings. Today, I want to share ways that I’ve cut how much I spend on a typical conference in half.
When in Doubt: Stay Local
If your church leadership would balk at sending you across the country for a conference, start looking for smaller-scale gatherings in your area. Plane tickets are a big chunk of a typical conference cost – if you can find a conference that’s within driving distance, you can save yourself hundreds of dollars. Staying local also gives you a chance to network with other leaders who probably live near you and can relate to the issues you’re dealing with because you’re serving in similar areas.
Basements, Back Houses & The Buddy System
If you’ve been to a conference, you know that hotel costs can add up quickly. A few years ago, I decided that I was going to attend a conference without getting a hotel room. How did I do that? I hopped on Twitter and Facebook to start asking if local church leaders knew of anyone willing to let me stay in a spare bedroom while I was in town. Within two days of asking, I had four different offers from churches in the area to stay in the homes and back houses of local kidmin leaders.
I once used this same idea to connect with a local church who let me borrow one of their church vehicles for the week instead of getting a rental car. Talk about savings!
If that idea freaks you out a little (which I totally understand), you could always find a few kidmin leaders you trust to meet up with you and split hotel costs. And, the more people you share the room with, the less you’ll have to pay.
Investing in Connecting
Did you know that many conferences offer discounted and sometimes FREE tickets to people willing to volunteer during the conference?
It takes a little courage, but those willing to invest in connecting with the leadership team putting on the conference will find that some conferences can give massive discounts to church volunteers and staff who couldn’t otherwise attend the conference.
The year that I stayed in someone’s basement and borrowed a church vehicle was the same year a conference gave me a free ticket to attend – no strings attached. I basically emailed them and said, “Hey, I would love to go to your conference, but my church can’t afford to send me.” A few emails later, they gave me a promotional code to enter on their website and I was booking a flight across the country the next day. After using my church’s frequent flier miles, I was able to attend that conference for under $100 (a guy has to eat, after all).
I’ve heard people in ministry say that conferences frustrate them because of the costs associated with them. While I agree that conferences CAN cost an arm and a leg, I hope you understand that they don’t always HAVE to.
Do you have other cost saving ideas or know of discounted conferences in your area? Share what you know in the comments area!