After a very difficult few weeks on many fronts, we have decided to postpone Social Media University. We have a few options we are working on, but do not have the time to get it all worked out and would like to use a short break to give us a better perspective on what we are doing and how we are doing it. We were going to wait until Monday to make this decision, but can easily read the writing on the wall.
While many people have stepped up from around the world to support the event, working to bring in sponsors, making an ask of their companies to buy tickets, buying banner ads to promote the event, working with their hotels to get us great discounts and just promoting the event to their friends, we have not received one additional ticket sale. Its clear that people don't want to buy a ticket to a conference that is in trouble of not breaking even.
We have also discovered the following from the feedback we received on our post, "Please help us Social Media Club community, You're our only hope":
- Many people don't want to visit Orlando (an irrational fear of the Haunted Mansion left over from childhood?)
- Apparently we suck at marketing (thanks for that brilliant insight) and we should not expect people to pay for conferences
- Some people don't think there is anything else to learn about social media
- Many feel there is enough high quality events close to them, so they don't need to travel outside their neighborhoods (I guess Social Media Club has been successful with one of its missions at least)
- More people want the content to be delivered via a livestream so they don't have to pay for the travel expense, but it is unclear whether or not they would pay for what it would cost to do high quality streaming video
What we also learned is that we do have an amazing core community of people who we have met personally and know in their hearts where we are coming from and respect what we have been doing the last several years. So we will take all that we learned, we will adjust our strategy for the market that exists and we will be back in a few weeks with a new plan for late winter/spring and make the conference the full success we know it can be.
We will be refunding everyone's money over the next several days (before next Friday). We have all the money in the bank to easily do this and are very thankful to the Sheraton Downtown Orlando for letting us out of the contract and to the Hilton Disney for trying to accommodate our situation.
We would like to thank our sponsors, speakers and supporters for helping us to navigate this challenging situation. If not for you, we wouldn't still be moving forward on our all important missions. I am sorry we have let you all down and hope you give us another chance.