So, we're already doing some planning for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 events. Because, you know. We do that around here ;).
One thing we're considering is an option to lock-in venue pricing for that three-year period, helping to ensure we can keep our pricing at around $950 for a 3-day event. Doing so requires a hotel room block lock-in as well. On the plus side, that'll lock in hotel pricing for 3 years too, which is great in terms of affordability and predictability. It's scary, because we're committing to paying for those rooms whether people sleep in 'em or not. Another upside is bringing all or most attendees together into one hotel, along with our speakers.
So what we're considering is opening 2017 registration by only offering packages of either 3 or 4 days (it'll be your pick) which are inclusive of your hotel room. This would be at a Marriott property, and we could provide receipts/invoices that showed the conference/travel expense breakout, if you needed. So up front, you'd only be able to buy that complete package. The package would also likely include something like a Sunday night meet 'n' greet at the hotel - again, only open to people staying there.
Closer to the event, say in the 60 days before, we'd open registration to ticket-only sales, for however many seats we had remaining.
This is obviously an unabashed attempt to reduce risk by "forcing" people into the hotel package. Realizing that some people might not be able to book "inclusive" packages due to company policies, we'd try to also offer an option where you could buy just a ticket early-on, but were required to book your room in our block. Honestly, this is all about making sure we fill the block.
Our feeling is that a 3-day package would be around $1500 including hotel (3 nights), and you'd have the option of booking on additional nights if you wanted to. it'd be about $2300 for a 4-day/4-night package, if we do the pre-con day again (which is likely as it's been our most popular option for 2016).
Another advantage of having our rates and dates locked in so far out is that we could let attendees put down a (refundable) deposit for 2017, 2018, and/or 2019 - locking in your seat before registration even opens, so you don't have to worry about hitting the website at midnight sharp the day sales open ;). Now that we're a nonprofit, collecting that in advance is much more do-able.
Anyway... we'd like some input from the community. Take a quick, one-question poll to tell us what you think.