With the annual HIMSS conference right around the corner, many Healthcare IT professionals are scrambling to figure out how to swing this significant time and financial investment. I’m not talking about whooping it up in the Big Easy – just the necessities are expensive. Let’s take the very best case scenario and look at the investment for a HIMSS member who was smart enough to book before the February 4th advanced registration deadline:
Round-trip airfare to New Orleans: $350 Wait, you think you’re checking luggage? $450
Cab fare to and from the airport: $75
Hotel for 4 nights: $150 (conservative) x 4 plus 13% hotel tax and who knows what else kind of tax: $700
Conference Registration: $795
Meals and Incidentals: $71/day (based on published per diem rates, but anyone who has been to New Orleans knows that you can’t very well “Laissez les bons temps rouler” on $71/day!) $284
At this point we’re already up to $2300, and we haven’t yet factored in adult beverages, entertainment, tips, the price of that new suit you’ll be sporting, or the costs associated with your time out of the office. So let’s stay conservative and figure that based on the above scenario, this is a $3000 trip. If you happen to be in a situation where your employer is footing the bill, this number is probably of limited concern. But if you are an independent consultant, or worse yet, in transition (a.k.a. unemployed), $3000 is a LOT of money. But there are ways to attend the conference without raiding the kids’ piggy bank. Here are some suggestions:
1. Spend two nights instead of four. There’s no rule that you have to attend HIMSS13 from start to finish. By the third day of the conference, much of the excitement, novelty, and partying has died down, so depending on whether you like the excitement or would rather avoid it, you can cram four days worth of conference into two, if you plan ahead.
2. Get a free Exhibitor pass. Find out which of your current or past vendors are exhibiting, and ask them if they can spare an extra exhibitor pass, giving you access to almost everything that your registration would have provided. Exhibitors often will have extra passes and are more than happy to help you out, providing you will be a good representative of their brand (careful with the Hurricanes).
3. RSVP for after-hours social events. HIMSS conferences are known for their social events, and chances are very good that you’d be welcome at a variety of these festive hors d’oeuvres-heavy-so-no-need-to-eat-dinner occasions. Check with local HIMSS chapters, vendors, and your industry colleagues to see who is throwing the party, and plan to be there! There’s no better place to network, and you’ll save yourself the cost of that expensive dinner out.
4. Purchase a one-day pass. HIMSS offers a single-day registration for $575 or a one-day Exhibit Hall Pass for $425. If you live within driving distance, or are able to stay just one night, these both offer a significant savings. And if you carefully plan your agenda, you should be able to get your money’s worth either way.
5. Attend the Virtual Event instead. If you are unable to attend HIMSS13 in person, take the second best seat by attending the online extension of the Annual Conference & Exhibition. HIMSS13 Online provides access to select portions of both live and on-demand events for only $39.00. More information can be found here.
There’s nothing quite like a HIMSS Conference, especially if you are a Healthcare IT job seeker and could benefit from rubbing elbows with 30,000+ industry colleagues. It’s always a treat when someone else is picking up the tab, but for those of you who (like me) foot your own bills, hopefully these pointers will help. Additional tips and tricks welcomed!