This might not come as a huge surprise, but “irrational exuberance” is unlikely to be on prominent display. What have, in the past, been lavish spending habits of RECon attendees have been diminished in recent years, and I think the 2012 event will be no exception.
While optimism abounds throughout the industry, the lessons of the recession are far too fresh in everyone’s mind, and excessive consumption is out of style. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an important event, and much of the money that is spent here—even in the social arena—represents an investment in the kind of networking opportunities that cannot really be found anywhere else. But the overall attitude seems to have changed. That was perhaps inevitable in the wake of several years where attendance has been down, as companies were sending the bare minimum of attendees (and in many cases, simply not attending the conference at all).
I see some loosening of the purse strings in the sense that participants are now more willing and able to pay for more staff members to attend—negotiated rates at hotels have also helped, by coming down enough in price to the point where that is more feasible—but I doubt attendees will be willing to spend nearly as much on parties and entertainment as was customary before the recession hit. I think the recent General Service Administration spending scandal (in Las Vegas, no less) only makes that relative restraint more likely.
What do you think? Have you received any interesting party invitations? Are you hosting a party for the first time in years? Do you expect to see more parties this year than the recent past? Please make a public comment below or feel free to e-mail me privately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here for past columns by Jeff Green.