(This is a nearly the length of a book I know – I apologize)
See if the program offers an assistant or volunteer program. I attended IDEA West in Seattle and did this. I worked registration/ops so had to be there a day prior and help set up. I was not able to register for any classes ahead of time – I had to wait to in line and make sure they did not fill up. Not one of my classes was full that I wanted to attend. By doing this I did not have to pay for the conference itself. I am doing this at IDEA World in August. I also spoke with the Operation Director for the Empower Fitness Conferences and it is an option at their larger ones. I know canfitpro does this as well. I believe SCW Fitness does as well.
At Empower Fusion I was able to find a great deal on the hotel the conference was at – and it was great being able to be in the same location. Typically I do not do this as the hotels are sometimes double the price as others near. I look up hotels online near the conference location and always call to see if they are physically in walking distance. At IDEA West I got a room directly across the street from the conference hotel for less than half the price. My room had a fridge and microwave but wasnt as nice as the conference hotel this didnt bug me – after all I was just sleeping there. This way I do not have to pay for a rental, parking or a taxi. I try to make sure the hotel has a shuttle to and from the airport/local transportation.
I always pack snacks – because I have to eat gluten free I find this saves me a lot of money & time.
Depending on how far you have to travel I have found that booking flights on a Tuesday is cheapest and I never check items – I only carry on.
I also have met people at conferences and find out we are going to another one at the same time so we room together. For example at IDEA World we found a hotel that is a 10 minute walk from the convention center for 67.00/night. (That is 34.00 each a night) about a 4th of what the recommended hotel costs. If you are comfortable rooming with others posting so on sites like this is a great option to find a roommate.
But the biggest thing is the volunteer option. I highly recommend it.
I will be flying from Bismarck, North Dakota to Los Angeles, attending the entire conference, staying in a hotel from the 5th until the 12th and with flight, conference cost, and hotel I will be spending less than 650.00 to do so. I will have a fridge and microwave in my room so will be able to save money on food. This leaves me all the more money to spend on expo items!
I hope this helps. I do every thing I can to save money because I want to be able to attend about 3 more big conferences this year.