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To think that if you are invited to speak at an event...

(24 Posts)
ganeshamouse Fri 06-Feb-15 16:39:24

. . . that the organisation / project inviting you should pay your travel costs?

I was invited a while ago to speak at an event - this will require travel costs amounting to £90. I have just found out that the organiser cannot reimburse these costs. Perhaps I should have ascertained this prior to accepting the invitation, but the unspoken rule in my field is that you invite someone to speak at your event, you cover their costs. I am quite tempted to pull out now, tbh, since I am reluctant to pay out of my own pocket for this, though the event is only a few weeks away. But I am not sure whether this is my fault for not asking, or theirs for not mentioning their lack of funds when extending the invitation.

Should I pull out, or pay up and put it down to experience?

egnahc Fri 06-Feb-15 16:42:04

Will the event generate more business?

Can your accountant write if off as a charitable donation?

Highlandbird Fri 06-Feb-15 16:42:58

I would always assume that the organiser was footing the bill. I spoke at a conference in Spain once and they paid flights, hotel, meals etc. no chance I would have gone if I was paying myself!! Any chance your employer would foot the bill or are you self employed?

ThinkIveBeenHacked Fri 06-Feb-15 16:43:09

YANBU. I work in a Hotel and the Speaker's costs of every conference we have ever held have been billed to either the Event Organiser or split amongst the delegates (a right PITA billing wise!!)

QuintlessShadows Fri 06-Feb-15 16:43:54

Won't your employer pay?

LurkingHusband Fri 06-Feb-15 16:44:22

Whose benefit is the talk for ? Theirs or yours ? I ask, because I've had lots of offers from people in my field to talk on something, but it's really a subtly (or not so subtly) disguised attempt to get decision makers in a room, ready for the next phase. I'm not knocking these at all - they can be very informative. But so are infomercials.

Also, is it a commercial organisation, or a voluntary/charity outfit ?

ganeshamouse Fri 06-Feb-15 16:49:36

Sorry, I hope you don't think I'm drip-feeding (as I know that is a cardinal sin!) - I just didn't want to be too specific and out myself.

I'm an academic- the event is organised by another University, and I can't claim funds from my own employer. If the talk was likely to benefit me / my career, I wouldn't mind so much, but it is related to work that I completed a while back and that I am unlikely to get any more mileage out of (at least not through this particular event).

WowWowSauce Fri 06-Feb-15 16:51:07

I'd have expected the organisation to pay expenses at least.and to apologise for not being able to contribute anything for your time. Is it an event that you'd have attended the rest of or will you just be doing your bit and leaving? Is there anything about it that you benefit from, and what effect would there be on your professional reputation from pulling out?

momb Fri 06-Feb-15 16:52:48

Turn it down. I'm currently completing proposals for conference sessions in Q4 but I won't be in any of them if costs aren't reimbursed.
The sooner you do it the sooner they can find someone else (more local to the venue or perhaps already committed to attending and paying).

SeaMeadows Fri 06-Feb-15 16:53:25

I would be upfront that you can't do it because it will cost you money. I wouldn't dream of expecting someone to come and do our department a favour by giving a lecture and have them be financially out of pocket as a result.

Quite often senior academics don't claim their expenses, but that is their business, and I would be Surprised and chase up if someone who was mid or early career did not claim expenses.

VegasIsBest Fri 06-Feb-15 16:58:26

If it's another University then they certainly should pay and are being extraordinarily rude to suggest anything else. Just say you can't attend if they won't cover expenses.

BackforGood Fri 06-Feb-15 16:59:15

I think the fact that it is about a piece of work that you are no longer going to benefit from is the key here. dh sometimes gets asked to speak at events where they aren't paying his expenses, and there has been occasional wiggle room for him to get the train fare from his own grant funding, as a legitimate expense as he is seen as 'collaborating' with others at the conference, as opposed to turning up, doing his talk, and then leaving. There's also the "I'll come and speak at the conf you are organising, if you come and speak at the one I'm organising next year' balancing act.
I think it's odd though - seems logical in normal life for the 'inviter' to cover costs of the 'invitee' who is already giving their time and (presumably) expertise. However, it does seem as though it's a 'thing' in his field.

callmewhatever Fri 06-Feb-15 17:02:06

It's something I would expect to be discussed between the organiser and the speaker beforehand. If the organiser applied for funding to host the conference or if the conference was part of an existing grant then it may be that the funder does not allow applicable costs to cover fees for speakers. I know of a few occasions where a conference has been held and the speakers have paid their own travel or their institution has paid it, and only refreshments have been provided from the grant. My personal opinion would be that you should go through with it, as you did agree to do it. Does your institution not have a department fund for things like this?

RevoltingPeasant Fri 06-Feb-15 17:03:53

I'm an academic and would expect the dept who issued the invitation to pay, but I must admit I wouldn't pull out at this late stage.

I recently organised a conference and was very specific about what we could offer the keynote, and made sure this was plugged into our internal budget for the conference.

The norm in my field us travel and accommodation costs plus being invited to dinner, but not an honorarium.

IKnewYou Fri 06-Feb-15 17:05:30

I would have assumed it would be paid for too unless it was for a charitable event. I'd tell them. Are they charging people to attend your talk?

LittleMiss77 Fri 06-Feb-15 17:24:06

I work for a university organising events and we always pay speaker fees and expenses. Why wouldn't we?

personally, I'd drop out.

ganeshamouse Fri 06-Feb-15 17:47:09

callme - I do have an annual research allowance from my department, but it is a measly amount, and since I have to travel a lot simply to undertake research, it is always spent by the end of September (the financial year starts in July). So that's not an option. To be honest, this episode is simply part of a much wider sense of resentment that I have about how much I am expected to dip into my own bank account to fund my research activity. Though this is the first time in my 15-year career that I have been invited to speak at an event and expected to pay for the privilege.

wowwow - the professional reputation thing is a bit of a concern. I am concerned about how it would look if I pulled out at this stage.

Iknew - no, there is no charge to those attending.

I've just looked at the programme again, and now see that they are not even providing lunch. The speakers (all pretty eminent people in the field) are apparently expected to make their own arrangements for lunch! I'm pretty pissed off.

intlmanofmystery Fri 06-Feb-15 18:31:59

This does seem unusual, you would normally expect some sort of compensation/honorarium/expenses? In my field, if invited to speak I have to cover travel and accommodation costs (well, my company does) but attendance at the conference is then free. This is usually a saving of several thousand so is a good deal from my perspective. I am all for maintaining a presence in your discipline/"networking" but only you can decide whether its worth it from a professional perspective. I get the impression that if expenses were covered then you would be happy to go?

I would apologise but be clear that if they cannot cover your travel costs then you won't be attending. Most academics I work with are VERY upfront about this! If it was a shit hot area and you had some ground-breaking stuff to present it would be worth swallowing the cost but this doesn't sound like it...

ArgyMargy Fri 06-Feb-15 18:36:37

I've heard of this - having "invited speakers" seems to be a way of keeping costs down as you are playing on the invitees' egos. They are invited and therefore special and do it as a way of increasing their profile, which is the payback.

But no lunch - that's utterly outrageous!!

HedgehogsDontBite Fri 06-Feb-15 18:38:56

I think it's normal to cover your own travel costs for this kind of engagement in academia. DH gets invited all over the world to speak because his field is so specialised. He applies to various education charity funds for funding for the costs.

AlanBstardMP Fri 06-Feb-15 18:40:08

It sounds like you're coming to the university I work for OP! grin

Sadly this practice does seem to be becoming more normal, or at my place anyway where everything is being squeezed till the pips squeak.

I would contact them and be honest - if they won't cover your travel at least, you won't come. Call their bluff. If they are like my employer they'll cave, and if not at least you won't waste time on them. They aren't doing you a favour, its the other way round by the look of it.

murmuration Fri 06-Feb-15 18:44:19

Let them know that you won't be able to make it and why. Perhaps someone at that institution might have a bit more in their annual allowance and can cover it?

I'm an academic, and I would definitely expect any invited talk to be reimbursed for travel. And if I was inviting people to something that couldn't pay, I would definitely highlight that in the invitation!

In other ideas, are there any small grants that you can apply for, in your dept, your uni, or a professional society? Could you approach your Head of School and ask for some help, emphasising that you'll be enhancing the reputation of your School, etc? They usually have some discretionary funds.

DealForTheKids Fri 06-Feb-15 18:46:36

Academic talks they should definitely pay. I work in law and we are often invited to speak on a 'pay to play' basis - ie you pay for the honour of speaking!

LindyHemming Fri 06-Feb-15 18:57:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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