One of the decisions we made at our very first conference in 2011 was to be sponsor-free.

The purpose is a simple one: to allow us to focus entirely on creating a great experience for attendees.

Now don’t get us wrong, vendors are people too. There’s also a real need to connect up customers with the products they need, and in a complex marketplace, organisations need as much help as they can get. We just don’t think that our conference is the right place for this to happen.

The challenge we’ve seen from other conferences is that once there are vendor sponsors, the event organiser has two groups of customers. The first are participants, seeking unbiased, practical insights. The second are the vendors who are seeking to promote their products. Whether they’re spending $500 or $50,000, they have a reasonable expectation of getting enough visibility to make their money back (and more). This leads to a complex and difficult balancing act to try to meet the needs of both customers.

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So we’ve decided to simplify the whole thing, and focus just on the needs of participants. Vendors and consultants are still welcome at the conference, but as attendees, there to soak up the best thinking in the world, just like everyone else.

This way we’ll deliver a better conference for every participant. And that’s what we’re all about.