Professional conferences — especially marketing conferences — can be a great place to learn, connect with industry peers and get up to speed on the latest tech tools.

But it can be all too easy to jump onboard, visit a bunch of seminars, share a cocktail (or two) with industry leaders, take stacks of notes…and return home-only to go back to business as usual.

With most marketing departments stretched thin, how can you decide if marketing conferences are a good idea for your team to attend?

One way to learn whether a marketing conference will benefit you or your group is to make a list of pros and cons of attending marketing conferences to assure that your money is being well spent. After all, even a high-energy conference may leave you with a sour feeling if it doesn’t result in any tangible ROI.

A Few Drawbacks of Marketing Conferences

Let’s start off with the bad news first. These drawbacks may not be immediately obvious, so here’s some food for thought:

Productivity Loss

Conferences typically last 2 to 4 days, so you’ll want to get your money’s worth, for sure. But you’ll have to think about how many total days you will be out of office. Add in travel distance and time, as well as exhaustion from travel, especially in different time zones. A 3-day conference can easily turn into a 5-day time loss.

Consider whether the attendees will work while attending the conference as well. Are there clients or prospects in the area that you could meet with to lessen the productivity loss? Do you have enough coverage back at home base to fill in when you have a team member at the conference? With average marketing salaries from $40 – 100K, the costs from productivity loss could range $150 to $2,000, so plan accordingly.

Hidden Costs

Individual tickets to these events usually is not cheap. The average range for the tickets alone is between $800 and $2,100. If you’re lucky, the event will offer discounts, typically 20 – 40% off, for early registration or for sending multiple employees. However, those discounts won’t always offset the total costs.

You’ll also need to add costs for the hotel and flight or rental car. The total cost depends, of course, on the length of the conference. Hotels near the conference, or the one hosting sometimes offer packages that accompany the tickets. Nevertheless, you’re still likely to be paying roughly $1– 3K per person and that doesn’t including meals.

Networking/Recruitment Employee Loss

Certainly it’s a difficult subject, but one to be considered. Some employers may be reluctant to send employees to conferences because they offer the possibility of introducing employees to opportunistic recruiters looking for top talent.

Unfortunately this isn’t just a possibility. It’s a reality. This does happen and losing a key employee isn’t cheap. Stats show that hiring and training costs to replace an employee with a $40k salary can run you as high as 8k, 20% of the annual salary on average.That’s not to say every conference will see the loss of an employee, but it is something to consider before you send your team to the next event.

Now for the Good Stuff

There are, of course, tangible benefits to sending your team to marketing events. Here are the main ones.

Focused Learning

Though there are limitless educational resources your team can use online, internet distractions are limitless as well. One article will lead to another and then to a video that has nothing to do with your original search. It can be easy for team members to get off track and not come away with the actual training they need to boost performance.

Attending a conference keeps topics in focus. Attendees will be able to speak and listen to knowledgeable people discussing one specific topic. They’ll also receive helpful content resources for later reference.

Network Growth

While it may seem obvious, a conference is one of the best places to grow your professional network. Meeting with people and vendors from all over who are experienced in digital marketing may give your team the insights they need to accelerate growth for your business.

Even better is if you can connect with another marketer that could be a potential referral partner for you – helping you to get in front of more potential customers.

Taking a Break

Yes, while attending a conference is still work time, it is definitely a break from the daily routine. While there probably won’t be much time for vacation-style activities, it’s still an amazing way to reward your team for a job well done and give them a chance recharge their batteries. And the scenery is great perk too, with conferences often taking place in large popular cities like New York, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Austin, etc.

Each conference may also give your employees the chance they need to step out of the trenches and think more strategically about their marketing initiatives.In fact according to Bizzabo,47% of leadership agree that in-person events are the most critical marketing channel to achieve key business objectives.

Relevant Thought Leaders

A conference is an excellent place to get insights into the latest innovations and trends. Most conferences have a robust speaker lineup that will bring multiple chances for your employees to grow their knowledge and skill set. To get the most out of the break out sessions and keynotes, have your team make a personal list of areas they would like to grow, both personally and professionally, before they head out to the conference.

The end reward of attending conferences can easily offset the expense. Weigh the pros and cons to decide whether attending a marketing conference is the right choice for your organization, and go in with a plan on how to maximize the insights and connections you make.