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How to attend conventions without breaking the bank

By Billy O'Keefe

TAREN FUJIMOTO / The Working Press
It doesn’t take a math genius (a.k.a. most non-journalists) to know training conventions can be costly. As companies look for ways to cut costs, many have done away with paying for employer’s convention trips and even industry association fees.
The final cost of this year’s convention, including registration fees ranging from $185 to $385, airfare, parking and food, can reach hundreds or even thousands of dollars. But journalists find ways to cut costs. From sharing hotel rooms to pre-planning daily meals, journalists share their tips for attending conventions on the cheap.
• Find hotel and airfare package deals online and in advance. Airlines often partner with associations to offer special deals.
“Unfortunately I paid for my own airfare from Fort Myers,” said Matthew Bernaldo, interactive assistant news director, Waterman Broadcasting, Fort Myers, Fla. He added that at his company, like others, “the budget is more strict now” than in previous years.
• Share a room.
“There were five people in our hotel room,” said Shawntaye Hopkins, a Lexington Herald-Leader reporter, who attended the UNITY convention in July. “One person slept on the floor.”
• Find a nearby (within walking distance) hotel with free Internet.
• Use public transportation instead of paying for hotel parking.
“Public transportation is the way to go,” said Carolyn Wildes Cunningham, owner of Cunningham Copyediting in Atlanta.
• Consider hotels near the main convention hotel and take a free shuttle to the convention site.
• Limit or avoid ordering room service or dining at the hotel.
“Take a moment to plan meals for the day ahead of time,” said Holly Edgell, executive producer KOMU Channel 8, and University of Missouri assistant professor.
• Make coffee and/or tea in your room and pair it with fruit or any non-perishable food item for an instant breakfast.
• Attend lunch and dinner sessions or receptions at the convention.
Split meal costs with colleagues.