The other day, Andrew posted an article about a change in format for Oversee’s DomainFest event in New York City. Instead of full day of networking like last year’s event, there will be a 3 hour meet up with dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar in midtown Manhattan. The cost is $150 to attend.
I don’t know about you, but I’m not digging the whole $150 for dinner and drinks with Oversee in NYC. I also don’t like the change in format since last year’s event in New York was very good, with a large attendance.
In my humble opinion, fewer people are going to show up for a three hour evening event than last year’s full day event, which had a pretty sizable attendance. If you want to come to the event from out of town, you pretty much have to spend a few hundred dollars for a hotel room because it’s unlikely you’ll hit the road after drinking for a few hours. IMO, this also means fewer people, and that means there’s less of a reason for me to attend.
I’ve hosted/organized several domain “meet ups” in New York City over the last three years, and I’ve never had to charge people to attend. Most of the events were cash bar, although a couple of them were dinner events where people ordered as they wished and paid for their own food/drinks. There were also two sponsors like Domain Capital and WhyPark for two of the events (they paid for appetizers and drinks at a couple events). The events had anywhere between 15 and 50 people in attendance. The largest event was held in a private room at a bar with a cash bar and no cover or sponsors.
For the most part, even some of the cooler lounges and restaurants will give you free space if you guarantee enough of an attendance and bar/food tab, especially if it’s not during the holiday season or Thursday – Saturday evenings. There are plenty of less cool/trendy places that would be very happy to host a cash bar event at no cost.
DomainFest NYC is being held on a Tuesday evening in the summer, and if Oversee thinks over 50 people will show up, I would imagine they could assure the restaurant/bar that the tab would reach an agreed upon number, and I would hope the company could cover anything under that as a marketing or customer relationship event. Maybe it won’t be sit down dinner style, but I’ve always found it hard to talk to a large group while having a sit down dinner, and it’s also tough to balance a drink, a full plate, and manage a conversation.
I get that Oversee probably doesn’t want to have an open event that’s free because everyone and their mom will show up looking for freebies. I also get that Oversee doesn’t want to have to ask people to pay for their dinner at the end of a meal. However, I am personally opposed to paying $150 to hang out with a NYC crowd. I’d rather organize a private dinner with 15 people in the area at a great restaurant, and I guarantee the cost with drinks would be less than $150 per person.
With all respect to my friends at Oversee who I enjoy hanging out with, it seems like the company wants us to pay them to travel to NYC to hang out and build customer relationships, and that doesn’t seem right to me.