Conferenza means conference in Italian. But in English, it means "cut to the chase" for people who follow tech industry conferences. At www.conferenza.com, conference reviewers brook no nonsense: "Woefully short on information, and not much of a schmooze-fest, either," goes the review of a recent banking technology conference. Bet you didn't know that someone out there is not only attending your conferences, but critiquing them, too.
If you haven't seen it yet, go view this extraordinarily content-rich site for people who attend, speak at, or exhibit at technology conferences. Started in 1999 by Dirk Spiers and Gary Bolles, San Francisco-based Conferenza's basic product is a calendar of executive conferences and trade shows, mostly for the tech industry, but the previews, reviews, and general commentary make it worth any conference organizer's time.
For example, organizers of a recent Internet expo could have found a page with a review of their conference, statistics on the number of attendees and sponsors, plus summaries of news coverage of the event in relevant business and trade publications. In a minute or two they would have an outsider's take on how their show was perceived by attendees and the press. Where else is that kind of information available in one spot?
From Hobby to Business Conferenza began life as a kind of public service by Spiers. "I used to go to a lot of high-tech executive conferences, you know, the schmooze-fests," he says. "There would always be an opening reception, and the first thing anyone would ask me would be "Did you go to such-and-such conference last week?" Spiers began to e-mail short summaries of conferences he'd attended to his friends. Bolles and others convinced him it could be turned into a business. He started with coverage of high-level executive conferences, while building a database that would list as many events as possible. At the moment, more than 1,000 conferences are listed in the Conferenza database. "Now we're building a network of reporters and freelancers and trying to cover more and more events," he says.
Eventually, Spiers hopes to fulfill three editorial functions at the site. The first is to provide enough preview information so an exhibitor can decide whether to buy a booth or a PR person can decide whether a client should speak at the event. The second is to provide reviews--as Spiers says, the "who said what" reporting that an industry analyst or mutual fund manager might want to read. The third is to provide a setting in which exhibitors and speakers can talk about their experiences at conferences and trade shows.
Like any Internet-savvy businessman, Spiers is interested in generating transactions from which he can take a percentage. He hopes to establish a site where users can set up personal profiles and use them to register for conferences. "In one click you'll be able to say 'I want to go to these five conferences' and we'll handle the whole registration process," says Spiers.
You can sign up for a free 30-day trial of Conferenza by visiting www.conferenza.com. After 30 days, there is an annual subscription fee of $595 for a single user.