This week, I’m attending the Construction Specifications Canada (CSC) annual conference in Halifax, NS. For the past three years, these conferences were part of the “job” as voluntary chair of the local chapter — reflecting the putting into practice of one of the basics of marketing/business development success: Active contribution to relevant client-focused associations.
This year, I could travel on a subsidy of 50 per cent of the average cost of the current chair and director. So there was a choice: Fork over some of my own money, or figure out how to travel on the cheap.
I chose the latter, with the appreciation that sometimes it isn’t necessary to spend more to enjoy and learn more.
Couldn’t do much about the conference attendance fees, and the lowest airfare is just that — though I managed to avoid checking any bags, saving fees. The biggest savings have been on accommodations: An Airbnb room in a house about 30 minutes walk from the downtown conference hotel set me out $190 for four days — rather than $210 a day at the hotel. It’s a different experience, staying in a residential neighbourhood in a real family home, without the hotel “trappings” and privacy — but it isn’t bad — I am certainly seeing Halifax from a more human perspective than I would have at the hotel.
Then there are local transportation costs. Halifax airport is quite a ways from the city centre; and taxis are about $60, shared rides about $25.00. I thought of renting a car — about $200 for the four days, at the cheapest possible rate. But what about the city bus? Yes, I found the bus stop, hopped on and paid an additional 50 cents on the $3.50 fare — for a total cost of $4.00.
This sort of cost-saving exercise sometimes is necessary, and sometimes is inappropriate. (I wouldn’t drag my wife onto the city bus to save some money, and with shared occupancy, even the conference hotel wouldn’t be outrageously expensive if she came with me.) But I think there are times when it makes sense to test out how inexpensively we can do things — if only to remind ourselves of opportunities, change perspectives and spur creativity.
It is time to get to work at the conference.