What can I do with my General Assembly expenses?

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I was thinking about how much GA costs. Whether one self-pays, gets assistance or volunteers, there are opportunity costs for this kind of meeting.

  • If I had gotten the cheapest flight to Portland when prices were the very lowest -- about three months ago -- I could fly from the Washington area for about $270.
  • If I shared the cheapest official hotel -- which isn't itself a bad deal; I've shared before and was asked to share this year had I gone -- housing would about $165.
  • Registration itself is $285.
  • Add in cheap meals, gratuities and airport travel but no frills and no purchases.

We've gotten to $800, perhaps more. For one person.

Last year, I had a bit of a spasm at Philocrites in March 2006 when I thought the Progressive Blog Con was going to cost $630 a person. I can't afford that! But it turns out the whole conference -- which included a couple dozen top-flight faith bloggers -- cost $630 to put on. $25 registration fee. Bus ride plus room and meals would have surely been less than $200. Of course, it was shorter, much smaller and less formal than General Assembly, but you have to ask, what are we getting for our money?

What does this say to independent affiliates, clusters, district and the rest who work on a "theme speaker and panel discussion" basis?

2 Replies to “What can I do with my General Assembly expenses?”

  1. Part of the reason I refuse to go to GA is because of flying. I wish I could say that it is because I am ecologically minded and I know Jet Fuel does this or that.. but that is not it. I just do not enjoy flying. I am not frightened of it, I actually enjoy the sensation of flying. It is the cramped seats, poor accomidations for the money if you ask me.

    I am required to fly a couple times a year for work, and I drudgingly go along, but I am not going to attend a GA until I can drive there, or take the bus or train for that matter. and I know I can take the train to Portland, but that would add at least a couple vacation days there and back.

    Now looking at your break down I see that not flying can also save me about 1/3 of the total cost to attend, another good reason to wait.

    On a happier note, how cool is it that the CLF Revival will be like 45 minutes from me this year? I am still deciding wether or not to get a room though, I may just because the days are going to be so long.

  2. Jamie, CLF or UUCF?

    Scott: this and the food tips are pretty useful tips for any conference. I could have saved some bucks at the Universalist Convocation by the oatmeal in the hotel idea — of course, part of the issue is always who do you eat with —
    I met with friends at supper prior to the UC (we checked in at hotel at the same time), and it’s hard to order light at family restaurants – although I guess I should start looking at the senior menu! I should mention that the UC had panels, 3 meals, for around $70.

    I will probably attend GA when it comes back to the Queen City in a few years. While Charlotte has added a bunch of eateries downtown, I will be driving 15 mintues to my favorites (ive spent a weekend a year at the convention center for the past 25 years), and will be staying much cheaper away from downtown.

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