BbWorld
and
DevCon registrations open this week.  Recently we’ve heard from
clients who’ve said, “BbWorld is a very valuable event for us, we want to go,
travel is tough this year, so we need to make a strong case and Blackboard, you
need to help us however you can to make it happen.” 

We
agree on all counts. BbWorld and DevCon are a big investment for us too
We don’t make money, just the opposite; we make a big investment in
every attendee.  Despite rising costs, we do it every year because of the
huge training, networking and peer exchange value you tell us it delivers (94%
of ’08 attendees said they’d recommend it to a peer).  And we’re doing it
again this year because we think these training and knowledge exchanges are
more important than ever in difficult times.  

I
wanted to give you an inside look on some of the extra steps we’re taking this
year to make it easier for you to attend and get great value.  I’ll also
provide a little context about the decisions behind the event so you can get a
feel for the choices we make and why we make them. 

Beefing
up of Training, Professional Development in Program

Always a big part
of the conference, this year there’ll be more training and professional
development than ever.  We’re investing in an expanded lineup of training
options – including more no- and low-cost options both in pre-conference
workshops and the conference tracks.  And there’ll be plenty of focus on
the Release 9 training that clients have told us is critical for them to
complete this summer. 

Discounted
Attendee Registration

We’re very sensitive to registration cost and keep a close eye on it relative
to other major events like Educause, SunGard Summit or NECC.  Ours is very
consistent, particularly when you look at all that’s included at BbWorld and
DevCon (like full meals, etc).  But we understand everything’s different
this year, so when registration opens next week you’ll see significant
registration discounts, particularly for those who register early which helps
us better plan for the event.

Easy
to get to, all-in-one location

To keep costs low and make the event super
convenient, we’ve taken to going to hotels that can also hold the
meeting. There are a limited number of hotel complexes that can support a group
of our size and our needs and they tend to be in major cities.  This
year’s all-in-one location in D.C. sits in the middle of 3 major airport hubs
making it convenient to get to from most places, including many by car. We’ve
also negotiated lower room rates which are comparable to or below the price of
the last 3 venues. 

Free
connectivity and getting greener

We know staying connected is critical but
can be costly.  So we’re investing in free wireless so you can keep
your ancillary costs down.  We’re also taking a series of steps you’ll
notice to reduce the environmental footprint of the event.

Greater
focus on your top value areas

Your feedback drives this event.  For
‘09 we’re continuing to focus more event resources on areas you care most about
(program content, training, in-person networking, convenient venue, etc.) with
a more careful approach on areas like parties.  We’re taking the steps
listed above to hold your costs down, despite most of ours continuing to go
up.   

A
word on timing and elements of a virtual conference

For many, the July
timing works very well but we do get questions from folks who were used to the
conference being in April.  The answer on this one is simple.  It’s
cheaper to attend and deliver a big conference like this in July than it is in
March-April.  This is another reason which makes it easier for us to hold
attendee costs down while most event delivery costs go up.  And while we
can’t translate all of the conference’s value to a virtual format, we are
looking hard at some cost-effective and user-friendly approaches to making
selected program content available online after the event.

Hopefully
this background gives you a better sense of some of the extra steps we’re
taking to create another high value training, professional development and
networking event while going further to make it as cost-manageable for all as
possible.  Because based on your feedback, we all agree that BbWorld
and DevCon create a lot of value
.  And the simple fact is we need you
to partner with us to make this once again the best training and peer exchange
opportunity on the calendar, tough times or no.  You and your peers being
there is what makes the investment we all make in the event so worth it. 

More
detail to come.

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