Nothing beats the power of community gathering. That’s the magic we cannot wait for at this year’s CMX Summit, October 1-3 in Portland, OR, where 400 incredible community builders of all stripes will be coming together for all the professional development: learning and meeting other community builders.

When you join us for CMX Summit, we want you to feel the love of your community. Part of this feeling is built on trust, which is why at CMX, we value transparency and that extends to our conference costs and benefits. We want you to both be able to understand where your conference dollar goes, and also to be able to communicate all the benefits of attending back to your team, boss, or maybe just yourself.

CMX Summit 2017 stage
The view from the audience during CMX Summit 2017.

What’s your benefit or return on investment (ROI) of attending CMX Summit?

Tactics and applicable insights

Our incredible speakers are curated to bring you direct takeaways and insights to apply to your community work. All our talks are educational — no sales or product pitches allowed! As a result, you return to the office with a list of to-dos and ideas you want to try with your team and community.

In addition to being leaders in their work and the community field, our speakers start crafting their presentations months before CMX Summit and present fresh talks and research just for you. Professional community management is at a tipping point. We’re moving into new spaces and taking new steps as a discipline. We’re looking to move our conversations forward and deeper.

Conference day one (Tuesday, October 2nd) features longer sessions from experts with tons of deep experience and specialty in community. Each of these talks have little interactive elements for you, with time to think directly about your work.

Conference day two (Wednesday, October 3rd) stars sessions specifically tailored for deep knowledge in specific disciplines of community. Most sessions are 20 minutes of a dive into a specific topic. Whether you’re deep into product community and trying to scale your team or heading into health metrics and figuring out retention strategies, our speakers will bring you fresh case studies, applicable insights, and guidance on best practices.


At CMX Summit 2017, we learned about community building to give work in economically impoverished areas of the world, bringing marginalized communities together, and influencing Hollywood through community building. Attendees walked away feeling like we, too, could change the world.

Our work never bores, but sometimes, we need that extra spark of inspiration and creativity. (We’re bringing in creativity expert Denise Jacobs to assist with the latter!) We need to remember what we love about our profession and how our communities are bigger than us and bigger than ourselves.

You may find yourself learning about an aspect of community you didn’t know existed. You may discover a new career path direction. You may find the challenge you want to tackle next. You also just may find yourself incredibly refreshed.

Lilah Janah speaks to giving work at CMX Summit 2017.

Lilah Janah speaks to giving work at CMX Summit 2017.

Belonging through building connections and community

(Tip: call this “networking” to convince your boss.)

Fellow community builders are your people. Your squad who understand on an experiential and personal level what you do day in and day out. These are the people who don’t need to have explained what “community building” is or that, yes, you do important work.

We’ll share our community stories and the experiences. The good ones and the bad ones.

We’re the squad who’s incredibly interested in each other. We have your back when you’re stuck on a problem, need cheerleading for more budget or a new title, and are an understanding shoulder when it’s time to vent.

While I cannot guarantee you’ll walk away with lifelong friends — we do know best friends and soulmates have first met each other at CMX Summit. You will find strong connections, and at least walk away with some follow backs on social media and LinkedIn from our global community. (Shout out to the attendees from Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, etc.!)

Face time with CMX and speakers

Not to be mistaken for video, this is in-person! It’s mutually beneficial for you, us, and all of our speakers to talk with you face-to-face. We are always listening, learning, and wanting to take the next steps with you in your community journey.

All the speakers are coming to directly interact with you. Many of them work on interesting problems and are looking to hear your experiences. Plus, one-on-one time with them means you can directly ask them about your community with confidence.

Michael Margolis chats with an attendee.

Michael Margolis chats with an attendee.

Gatherings and activities, oh my!

In addition to the learning, we’re cooking up some delights. These are also great times to continue getting to know fellow attendees, or maybe challenge them to some pinball!

Tuesday Night Networking Party from 4:00-5:30pm at the Nines Hotel
As day one of Summit closes, we’re bringing everyone together to enjoy time to get to know each other, get to chat with speakers, and get to visit our sponsors. We’ll have light hors d’oeuvres, beer and wine, and non-alcoholic beverages, too.

Tuesday Evening CMX Pro-Only Party from 7:00-9:00pm, location TBA
Are you a CMX Pro member? We’re inviting our Pro members for a special CMX Summit party. The details are in the works, but for all Pro members attending this year’s conference, we’re planning something special.

Wednesday Night Afterparty from 7:00-10:00pm at Ground Kontrol
After two days of learning and immersing yourself in all things community, take a moment to relax, solidifying those connections with other attendees, and have a little fun. Bring your Pumas and wristbands as Ground Kontrol features arcade games! David Spinks is standing by to play Asteroids or Lord of the Rings pinball.

We’ll have plenty of conversation and drinks, both alcoholic and non-alcoholic available. Make sure to bring your conference badge and your US ID or passport. Can’t wait to see you there!

Exclusive community strategy workshop with CMX CEO David Spinks

We have only 9 seats left, friends! 9! Get in on this dazzling half-day workshop on community strategy with our CEO, David.

Whether you’re new to community or looking to build upon your community’s foundation and success, David will show you how to turn your community dreams and ambitions into business cases and valuable assets for colleagues, clients, and customers. This four-hour workshop gives you the opportunity to dive deep into your particular challenges and get advice from David and other attendees.

David works with 2017 workshop attendees on their community strategy.
David works with 2017 workshop attendees on their community strategy.

The fun and funky of Portland

The Rose City’s unofficial tagline is “Keep Portland weird.” If you haven’t been to Portland before, you’ll find its charm undeniable.

From the quick access to mountains, rivers, and lakes for those who likes outdoor adventures to the foodie scene, craft beer brewing, and book shopping — seriously, friends, Powell’s Books is a whole city block — Portland rarely steers you wrong. And with an international airport, hopefully your flights will be reasonably priced, so reasonable that you can bring the whole family for a vacation.

While we’ll be busy learning, we hope CMX Summit allows you have a little self-care time.

Buy your CMX Summit ticket!

Dollars and cents of CMX Summit

We’re previously shared our past top-level budgets and expenses, and our expectations for CMX Summit 2018. Here’s a refresher, if you missed it:

CMX 2017:

  • Income (tickets+sponsorship): $252,077
  • Expenses: $218,332
  • Total Profit/Loss: $33,744

CMX West 2016:

  • Income (tickets+sponsorship): $255,409.54
  • Expenses: $118,037.86
  • Total Profit/Loss: $137,371.68

CMX East 2016:

  • Income (tickets+sponsorship): $157,162.73
  • Expenses: $94,122.55
  • Total Profit/Loss: $63,040.18

Our projected Summit 2018 expenses are between $228,887 – $266,374, depending on ticket sales velocity. We have a net profit goal of $50,000.

Unlike past shows, our revenue for 2017 and expected 2018 revenue will not be high enough to cover one CMX employees’ salaries. (The expenses do not include my salary, or any of our other full-time employees’.) Right now, we’re looking for Summit to give us a small profit boost while enhancing other programs for long-term financial stability of CMX. Conference income (both ticket sales and sponsorships) can be far too variable and vulnerable year-to-year.

These numbers also do not include any free tickets we give away — speakers, volunteers, etc. — or other perks to speakers or sponsors which cost time, energy, or revenue.

Like any budget, we have wiggle room, like Marketing and Sales spend. But other areas, such as Speakers, Catering, and A/V, there’s little to no wiggle room. For example, we’ve promised speakers $500 each in travel coverage for speaking, and expect 25 speakers. That’s $12,500 I’m committing to.

Arielle Tannenbaum speaks to Summit attendees.

Arielle Tannenbaum speaks to Summit attendees.

Where the money goes: a breakdown

In 2017, our average ticket cost $707 per attendee. Right now, we’re trending at around $596 for 2018. But I expect that number to increase the closer we get to CMX Summit due to cheaper tickets being sold in pre-sale and early bird deals.

I’m using our 2017 average for the breakdown. This means that if you took advantage of our pre-sale, early bird deal, or nonprofit discount, your ticket may not quite cover all these things.

Food & Beverage and Venue — $318 per attendee

Food and beverage is the biggest line item for every conference! CMX Summit feeds you breakfast, two snacks, and lunch each day. These costs also include an afternoon snack and small mixer for workshop attendees and a networking party with hors d’oeuvres and a couple drink tickets on Tuesday night. We also take care of those of you with dietary restrictions (I’m with you!).

That’s a lot of food!

Sure, it might be cheaper for you to grab something at Starbucks, but that takes away from your conference experience, and at the Nines Hotel, they make a pretty delicious spread.

The Nines Hotel works their food and beverage costs into their venue costs, as to them it’s the same, so with these two bundled together, it actually saves us some budget for other programs. Besides rental, venue fees include electricity, tables and chairs, staff like security and janitors, and more.

Summit attendees bonding over lunch.

Summit attendees bonding over lunch.

A/V — $161 per attendee

Bad audio and visual at a conference is the worst, and we’re so lucky to work with a team of consummate professionals. Seriously, they rock my world!

Not only do we want to provide you with the best speakers, but we also want you to hear and see them clearly. No one likes microphone feedback, sloppy stage lights, or awkward-looking stage decor.

We also want speakers to have a great stage experience. Bad A/V easily derails a speaker, and great A/V can be an added confidence booster.

Plus, we’ll be recording these talks — for you and your team to enjoy later — and our A/V team takes care of making those videos watchable.

CMX Net Profit — $155 per attendee

We do aim to make a small, modest profit from CMX Summit 2018 in order to help pay our full-time employees, get started on CMX Summit 2019, and more. If we run into any needs for the show, or if we incur any overages in expenses — (real life) examples like raising the tab at the afterparty, eating and drinking more than planned, switching out A/V cables for better speaker experiences, sending contracts to lawyers to check legalese, last minute photocopying, etc. — we use these funds to cover our costs as needed.

Events contractor — $131 per attendee

I need some help making this happen! Conferences are a lot of moving pieces, and being a bootstrapped startup, we can’t just hire all the people. I’m incredibly lucky to work with the fabulous Charlene Ditch, with whom I’ve been running conferences since 2012!

You may meet Charlene answering all your CMX Summit questions when you email us, or onsite making important elements like catering times running smoothly.

Me and Charlene at CMX Summit 2017.

Me and Charlene at CMX Summit 2017.

Speakers — $74 per attendee

Speakers make or break a conference. I wrote extensively about CMX Summit’s commitment to speakers and to diversity and inclusion on our stage. We will be covering up to $500 of travel costs for our 25 speakers. We also hold a nice VIP dinner for them, put $100 toward an honorarium or charity donation for each of them, and get them special thank you gifts. It’s our goal to eventually be able to cover all travel and accommodations and offer a small honorarium for all speakers.

Trish Fontanilla sharing her wisdom on stage.

Trish Fontanilla sharing her wisdom on stage.

Ticket processing fees — $50 per attendee

Nothing is worse when you put a ticket into your shopping cart and find a ton of fees! To make your budgeting easier, CMX pays those costs as part of total ticket costs. That money includes credit card processing fees and ticketing platform fees.

Design — $31 per attendee

Since last year, CMX Summit got a facelift, and we’re building on it this year. Design costs also cover things like swag design, social media banners, signage, and more. It also goes toward expenses like lounge furniture, chairs, and tables. We want you to have fond memories of this unique experience and a smartly designed professional conference.

Swag — $24 per attendee

Everytime I see swag from past CMX Summits, I smile with memories. Each year, we’re cooking up new items. And wow, I cannot wait until you all see this year’s t-shirt!

All the t-shirts from Summit 2017.

All the t-shirts from Summit 2017.

Scholarship — $24 per attendee

Every year, we have a need-and-diversity-based scholarship program for those who cannot afford CMX Summit. We’re a community who will be literally supporting each other and lifting each other up. Heck yes! We provide each recipient both a ticket to the show and $500 in travel reimbursements.

Marketing — $23 per attendee

Marketing becomes incredibly important to reach new audiences and reconnect with past CMX Summit attendees. We’re thrilled this year to have a new Head of Marketing, Sam Weber, on staff, and Sam has helped ramp up Summit promotion. Marketing also includes costs like hiring a videographer and photographer to capture all things CMX Summit. Plus, spending on…

The Afterparty — $17 per attendee

Most of the afterparty costs go directly to food and beverage. (Though you might’ve guessed that already.) We want to ensure you have a great, comfortable time and say goodbye to all your new friends properly. Plus, we’re hosting this year at Ground Kontrol, a fun bar with arcade and pinballs games.

Hanging out at the afterparty.

Hanging out at the afterparty.

CMX Staff Travel — $17 per attendee

We’re so excited about Portland. However, none of our 100% remote team actually lives in the Rose City. This covers our travel, transit, and meals. This is probably one of those costs that will end up being less than budgeted for because we’re a happy, scrappy bunch.

Register now for CMX Summit!

We’re looking forward to seeing you in Portland!

I hope this transparent dive into the value and hard costs of CMX Summit gives you insights into how we operate and what to consider when talking to your boss or team about your CMX Summit ticket and travel. Or why you should bring yourself and your team!

If you’re looking for assistance on how to convince your boss — check out our entire post on this, and (with updates for Summit 2018) a template to assist you in making a request with your boss.

CMX Summit is truly a celebration of community professionals. We hope to see and meet you all there! I love nothing more than seeing you inspired and ready for the next step in your career and your journey as a community builder.

Attendees and speakers from CMX Summit

We can’t wait to make new memories at CMX Summit 2018 with you!

Attending CMX Summit should provide you with great value and return on your investment.

Buy your CMX Summit ticket today!

erica mcgillivray

Erica McGillivray is the Director of Product Strategy and Community Experience at CMX Summit. She's a published author, gardening enthusiast, and loves tea, cats, and books. Erica lives in Seattle wit...

See Author Posts

Subscribe to the CMX Weekly

We review the top community industry news, trends, jobs and resources every week, so you’re always in the know.