With Affiliate Summit East 2011 coming up in a few weeks I found myself in a similar position as most conferences I attend. Deep in the hole and no hotel room booked yet. With this year’s current expenses already well over $1,200 without a hotel I got to thinking about how awesome of a deal I got last year.
So lets see what happened last year with all my various discounts and freebies.
I live in Massachusetts so the drive to New York City was right about 4 hours. As you can see by the mapquest description to the side it was also about 210 miles away. My eco friendly auto gets about 34 MPG. This means round trip I was going to use about 12.5 gallons of gas. I also hit some tolls while driving up but I really can’t remember the exact amounts. I did have to pay for parking which I think was like $50 a night. I arrived early Sunday morning and left around 3:00 Tuesday afternoon.
Total Transportation Costs
Gas – $46.25
Tolls – $10
Parking – $100
Sub Total: $156.25
Last year Ryan Gray tossed me a freebie Gold Pass to hit up the summit. I had planned to upgrade on site to the Platinum pass which would’ve been an additional $600. At the registration area I was told it was too late and then after a little smooth(…read awkward) talking the staff agreed to let me upgrade for the difference. Of course what I didn’t realize is they were talking the difference in actual purchase price vs pass value. So since the pass was a promotional giveaway its purchased price was $0. In the end I was offered the opportunity to purchase the platinum for $1100 which I declined. It really didn’t make sense to me why the on site staff would’ve opted to decline an additional $600 in revenue at that point. All the same I ended up walking out of registration with the gold pass and kept my wallet with an extra $600 in it.
Total Conference Pass Costs – $0
When I called to book my room at the Hilton New York, the hotel the summit was held at, all the conference discount rooms were booked. The difference in cost from the conference rate vs standard was like an additional $300. I opted to then and there ask the operator what sort of deals they could offer me, any marketing promotions, etc. The operator basically laughed and said no. Then said to stay on the line for a quick survey…
When the survey came on I spoke to a woman who was trying to get me to give her some demographic info and eventually pulled the “CONGRATULATIONS! We would like to offer you a free stay at a Hilton hotel in Orlando, FL!” … Ok lady lets dance. I told her I had no intention of going to Orlando in the next few years and said the ONLY place I plan to travel to this year is New York. After a lot of back and forth the woman revisited her previous demographic questions. “Sir you had said you earn over $250,000 a year…by chance do you earn over $500,000 a year before taxes?” Haha WTF kind of question is this?!? I joking replied ‘as long as everything goes according to plan yes’. She then told me I qualified for a promotion in New York City.
The condition would be that I had to go look at some new timeshares in Manhatten and I would get a discounted rate. Sweet, done deal. When I showed up to the Hilton NY we discovered that the woman had actually booked me at the Hilton Times Square… Welp that sucked. However they made it right and upgraded me to the 44th Floor of the Hilton NY which is basically a timeshare/executive suite area. The suite was awesome and they had an open breakfast bar and dinner open bar each night on the floor. Total cost for 2 nights…$129 (Super score).
When I went to look at the timeshare I immediately told the guy that my fiance couldn’t be there since she was at home opening our new dance studio (which she was). He quickly realized that this wasn’t good news for him and bluntly asked me “Could you make the decision to put $100,000 down on a timeshare today without your fiance’s here?” I told him no and he promptly ushered me out to the reception desk to reschedule. *I saw others stuck in these little cubicle rooms for like 2+ hours lol. I was supposed to reschedule but I just told the woman I had finished with him. They thanked me for my time, passed me some info, and gave me 20k hilton honors points and a $200 gift certificate to participating local restaurants (BONUS!). All in all I was out in 15 minutes.
As a side note…if you are going to pay $1.2 Million for a two week timeshare in Manhattan, with an annual maintenance fee of $10k….well sir you have WAY TOO MUCH FUCKING MONEY!
Total Hotel Costs – $120
With a combination of street meat and local restaurants I really enjoyed all my food in NY. I hit up Carnegie’s Deli with Shock Marketer which was awesome. My buddy Brian invited me to a dinner event hosted by Ian Fernando and Kitara Media (granted no one told Ian about the +1 but he kindly pulled a chair in for himself lol). Food was perfect, the company was great. Used the restaurant card from the timeshare showing for an amazing dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse with a few affiliates. Lastly I had a few of my day job contacts in New York that I had to meet with so I took them out for some lunch and brunches while I was in their territory. Really once again I spent next to nothing for going out so much.
Food Total – $125
Pretty much everywhere I went was open bar. I picked up a few tabs in the hotel lobbies when drinking with friends but besides that it was mostly tips more than anything else that I was paying for.
Drinks Total – $175
While cruising the conference floor I stopped by to say hi to my friends over at Qwik Media. They were handing out some promotional scratcher card items. They tossed me one and it was worth $200. Thanks again guys!
While at the conference I was able to meetup with a company that still owed me a small sum of cash but had been not answering emails/phone calls. When confronted they promptly got me $300 that they ‘had been meaning to transfer this to you…’.
While leaving the conference I got tagged for a seat belt violation in my car. This was as I was pulling out of the parking garage. This was a $100 ticket that I never paid so of course its like $250 now or something and I’m still refusing to pay it. Since I refuse to pay it I won’t mark it up as an expense just yet :). Also please note, I find it completely disgraceful that New York is completely littered with homeless folks and people constantly walking up to you harassing you for money but the cops find it more important to try and grab visitors who bring in money to the city for seat belt violations. Well played New Yorks finest…
Other Items Total – +$500
$76.25, cheapest conference attendance ever! Combine that with reluctantly saving $600 on the pass upgrade and it was a pretty sweet trip.