In the insurance industry there are actually very few big conferences aside from the individual state association annuals. If you are interested in insurance technology you have the Acord/Loma convention and the Big I (trusted choice) ACT conference. Typically they organize these conferences to be in some large city that you can fly to inexpensively. They are usually free or have a small registration fee which is nice because you have to fly there and lodge there which isn't cheap in the tourist destinations you are flying to. You can read the itinerary but most times you are taking a leap of faith. What you generally hope to get out of the conference is: "learning something new".
In attending these conferences I've found that sometimes the panels and break-outs are a complete bust but all is not lost. The real value has to be worked for. You have to talk to the other inhabitants of the conference. There-in lies the true value in which a conference promoter can always rely. Its really an incubator of ideas and networking. I would like to actually see a conference in Orlando that is a big empty room with stand-up tables and beverages. Obviously you couldn't charge much for this but I think alot would get done if the attendees were outgoing enough.
Inevitably you will get a panel discussion or breakout that will be completely taken over by discussions involving conference Vendors. Vendors actually pay the bills for the promoters. They set up their booth and wait for you to walk by. This is where they belong but some vendors find their way into the discussions and wont stop talking about their products. I hate this. Ive done break-outs and these vendors are always there waiting for the opportunity to pitch their solution.
...Expectations of the ACT conference and future conferences:
WISH LIST DISCUSSIONS
"quit print ads cold turkey - replace with adwords and bing"
"how I successfully used facebook to continually write business"
"how I found profitable sustainable business online"
"6 easy steps to secure your agency's technology"
WHAT I DO NOT WANT
"real time: we still need to talk about it apparently"
"i am a full time twitter agent who actually makes his living on the conference circuit: you can too!"
"snapshot for your pets: the future of our industry"
"how to know alot about insurance things: by Flo"