Are Industry Conferences Worth the Expense for Your Small Business?

by Emily Retherford

2 min read

Industry conventions are a hallowed tradition in the business world, but in the age of digital living, you may be wondering if these events are worth the time and expense. The answer varies depending on the conference and your objectives, and there are several things you should consider while making your decision.

Overall Costs

When considering whether to attend a convention, make sure to take all the costs into account. Remember, the tickets are just part of the equation. If the ticket price doesn’t include food, you need to budget for dining expenses. Additionally, you have to pay for travel and accommodations. Finally, consider ancillary personal expenses such as child care, kennel fees for your dog, and the cost of being out of the office.

Objectives

Once you have a sense of the costs involved, you should consider the potential return for that investment. While looking into the convention, you may want to create a list of your objectives and carefully consider whether they will be met at the event. For example, if your objectives include learning about new trends or strategies in your industry, focus on industry conventions that offer those elements through presentations, seminars, or small group sessions.

Networking

Networking is one of the most important reasons to attend industry conventions, and in fact, nearly three-quarters of convention attendees cite networking as the reason they attend these events. At 84%, this number is even higher for millennial professionals. To gauge the networking potential of a convention, ask the organizer if you can see a list of attendees and presenters.

If the event’s reps cannot share an attendee list, look for buzz in your industry. Is the event mentioned in industry blogs and publications? Are colleagues or competitors attending? If your industry is excited, book your tickets and start packing, but if all you hear is crickets, consider skipping the event.

Tax Write-Offs

The Canada Revenue Agency allows business owners to write off the cost of attending up to two industry conventions per year. When crunching the numbers to decide if a convention is worth the expense, you should also take this fact into account.

To qualify for the deduction, the convention must be related to your industry, and it must be held in the same geographical area where the hosting organization is based. For example, if a provincial group is hosting an event, it should be in that province, but if a national industry group is organizing a convention, it can be anywhere in Canada. To calculate the potential savings offered by the deduction, add up the eligible expenses. Then, multiply by your effective income tax rate. For instance, if you plan to spend $1,000 on the convention and you pay 20% in income tax, you save $200 on your taxes when you claim this expense. As a result, the convention effectively only costs $800.

References & Resources

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