Yes, a conference is going to make sure you get to attend for free, as long as you sit there and absorb a whole bunch of vendor content.
Can I tell you a brief story? Back in the day, I was a young, dumb professional on vacation. I was broke. And in an effort to save a few dollars on a hotel room, I agreed to sit through some stupid timeshare presentation ... mind you, I couldn't afford a hotel room, but somehow I might be able to afford to purchase a timeshare if I sit through a presentation so that I am allowed to spend less on a hotel room?
Conferences moved in two separate directions.
- Vendor-Driven and Entertainment-Focused and Big.
- Important Information and Attendee-Focused and Small.
Choose your conference attendance carefully. Your attendance validates the business model employed by the conference organizer.
P.S.: This article about "the missing years" in US Soccer (click here) is completely relevant to your business ... in my project work, I continually observe "missing years" where the merchants failed to introduce enough new items ... and the decision haunts the company for the following 4-5 years. New Merchandise is really important. How much time do you spend analyzing New Merchandise?