Because airfare can account for as much as 50% of attendees' travel costs, it can have a major impact on attendance and the ultimate success of an event.
Conference dates and location play an important role in the cost of a ticket. Out-of-the-way locations will generally be serviced by fewer airlines, resulting in less competition and higher airfares. Conversely, airline hubs such as Chicago, Denver, St. Louis or Memphis, serviced by many airlines, will have less costly airfares.
The cost of an airline ticket can be affected by the day of the week on which travel occurs. Generally, departing on a Saturday or staying over a Saturday night will substantially reduce the fare. Beginning or ending an event on a Sunday may allow attendees the opportunity of complying with the Saturday requirement and, in many instances, may be the deciding factor for a participant's attendance. (Note: Extending the conference room rate to cover such travel should be considered when negotiating the room rate.)
Substantial airfare savings can often be realized when groups of people are flown by one airline. Contact your institution's travel department or the UW System Travel Office to inquire about negotiating contracts with airlines for meeting/conference travel.