I received the email from NI UK this morning with regards to registration for NI Days London is now open. I noticed that they mentioned a registration fee and on looking on the website was pretty shocked that they're charging £150+VAT (early bird) or £250+VAT for entry to NI Days.
Previously, I have found NI Days to be a useful event for networking and catching up with old colleagues, but found it to be fairly poor from a technical point of view - it seems to be mostly aimed at new LabVIEW users (hands on sessions etc.) and/or as an NI marketing exercise. I also recommended that colleagues went in the past when they were offering the free CLAD and CTD exams during the day as this definitely made it a very worthwhile day/trip.
I've spoken to a few other colleagues about it and can't find anything to suggest what NI Days @ £150+VAT is now offering over the previous 'free' NI Days of the past.
This doesn't seem to be a global move - the NI Days in Copenhagen is still free to register for. I had a look at flights and it would actually be cheaper for me to fly to Copenhagen for 3 days than to attend the London event?!?!
I know that NI Week has a registration fee, but it also offers vastly more high-level technical content over multiple days to justify that. I imagine that it will have a pretty significant impact on attendance.
Does anyone else have any thoughts/comments on this? Is there something I've missed that's coming to NI Days in the UK to justify the cost?
I just registered right now for NIDays Budapest, it is also still free. So I have no idea why the London one is not free... Brexit? 😄
Anyway, a certain change I have noticed in the last (or last 2) NIDays Budapest is that, they did not offer free CLAD exam any more. Otherwise it was pretty the same kind of event as in the previous years...
Edit: I wonder where do you see open registration for London 2017? Here London is still not selectable for me (I guess because it is only in November?): https://www.ni.com/nidays/
Edit2: sorry, I see that you mentioned you got the info in an email...
They have also moved it outside of London which also means that for the majority of people it will be more difficult to travel to anyway, if they are not put off by the fact they have to pay for a NI marketing day !
Most of the material will have already been presented at NI week.
I think this is a brave move by NI UK, who have been looking for possible strategies to heighten the quality of attendees, increase the value of the technical content and raise the overall experience.
I think charging an entry fee was one of the simplest options NI could consider, placing NI Days UK on par with many other industrial events globally that offer supervised technical training, certification opportunities and multiple tracks of educational content.
However! I agree that £250 is far too much. I've been expecting a registration fee for some time, but was anticipating something in the order of £30-£40. Even the early bird offer of £150 is stretching it. I both work for an employer and run my own company. Neither will be covering this fee, so unfortunately I'll miss out this year. To quote you, "NI Days is valueable for networking and catching up with old colleagues". But is it worth £150?
I expect that presenters will be given free entry (as per NI Week), so perhaps more people will choose to volunteer and hopefully more/better technical content can be offered.
Also, the location is changed but I'm not sure why we're on the outskirts of London. Many have suggested to me that NI's customer base is probably not London-centric, but more Cambridgeshire, Midlands and North West. I'm sure they've thought carefully about this, but if we're not going to the heart of London, where I can be a tourist for a few hours before and after the event, then let's choose somewhere central to everyone. This location is harder for me to get to, more costly to get to, and much less interesting. And let's face it, the location is considered and factors into everyone's decision making.
All said, I'm hoping I still get to go. I'd always rather be there than not be there. I just need to justify the changes somehow...
I'll be giving it a miss too... This year I've have five days out of the office with NI:
I'm struggling to justify another day out that I'd have to pay £150 - £250 for, even if NI make a super special effort with the content at NI Day and don't fill it with suspicious marketing graphs
One of my colleagues just pointed out this thread to me and I thought I would take some time to explain the reasoning behind these changes.
As Thoric mentioned, we have been wanting to increase the value of attendees at NIDays. Whilst we have a lot of engaged, interested people we also had a lot that were not so interested. For example we had a lot of masters students who used it as free training. We have a commitment to our exhibitors to provide a high percentage of quality visitors to the event. We have tried a number of techniques to improve this, from different promotional techniques, different marketing messages for the event etc but with limited success.
We also look to events like NIDays Switzerland, Austria, Germany (VIP Days) who all charge a similar fee and are incredibly successful events. By charging they have more budget to invest into the event and we have been analysing every aspect of NIDays London to work out where we can improve it. We want to continue to increase the value of NIDays for everyone.
When deciding what to charge we did extensive market research on other technology events and picked a priced below market average. I do however realise that this hits the advanced users hardest. Due to your familiarity with NI you don't get as much value out of the general tracks as the majority of our attendees do. I am looking into ways to improve the value for advanced users but with all the changes this year I don't think we will have anything in place for NIDays 2017.
We are still running the 'LabVIEW Power Programming' track and all guest speakers receive a complimentary pass so if you would like to present please let me know. The more people from the LabVIEW community there the better in my opinion.
Finally - the venue which is proving to be a controversial decision. Some people love it, others are not fans. The QEII was very difficult for us, we were struggling with the room sizes (look at the community track last year) and we had no room to grow. We can't improve the event if we can't make changes. With the need for 12 track rooms, a large exhibition area and a big keynote room our options of venue are very limited. We looked at places in central London, all around London, Birmingham, Manchester and more. We also mapped where every previous NIDays attendee came from and Sandown Racecourse made the most sense. I realise it's not ideal for everyone but unfortunately we had to move.
I guess it all depends on who the target audience is and what NI consider is the purpose of NI Days. I had always assumed that it was essentially a marketing event - an opportunity to give a brief introduction to the wide vista of hard and soft technology that NI provide to as many potential customers as possible. I would have thought that, from a marketing point of view, the more people that the message reached, the better.
Now, I think, the only people who will attend are those who work for companies where budget is not a consideration and/or who are ultra-keen NI fans. These are not the people that the marketing guys probably want to see, as they are the people already using NI stuff in volume and don't need the sales pitch to buy more.
The rest of us, who are curious to see what new and interesting stuff is coming up so that we have it in mind for the next project will not be going and will never find out the goodies available.
There is nothing (in my opinion) of any real technical value at NI days, though there is plenty that is of interest. Unfortunately, interest alone will not coax £250 from me. Another irksome development (though it is moot, as I won't be going anyway) is that there are over 60 individual presentations going on, and yet it is possible to attend 6 at most. Much too much choice and too little depth, I suspect. I would hate to fork out £250 only to miss half the things I wanted to see because they clashed with all the other things on at the same time.
I like the idea of flying to Copenhagen for less than the cost of attending in the UK, though that will only happen if we decide to make a working holiday out of it. In the meantime I will miss the UK event in the confident expectation that (having had more presenters than paying attendees) NI will U-turn and next year it will be free again 😉
There is a contest to get free tickets, see here, note that I did not look at the details: