I've been approached cold by email (sent to my work address) to attend a conference organised by a company called IDC. I have had no interactions with them before.
They are proposing to feed and house me in a smart hotel for the 2 days.
The topic relates directly to my work so I have no qualms about not being at work.
My hunch is that when something is free, it means you're the product. Having said that, I'm loath to turn down free food and a nice hotel stay, and it will probably be beneficial.
My question is: is there a catch? Is it as simple as the companies who will do the presentations are buying our attention by paying our hotel bills? Or will I wake up on day 3 missing a kidney?
UPDATE I responded to the organiser asking a bit more about the event. She explained that they are a market research company; they consider Gartner a direct competitor. The business model is that partners pay for the right to be there, so the attendees don't have to. The fact that IDC are not a potential customer or supplier means that attendees are not constrained by rules around accepting gifts.
Partners for this particular event include Google Cloud, Software NG, and a few others I hadn't heard of.
The event is about thought leadership more than sales, and consists of various presentations, seminars and workshops.
Now I just need to persuade my manager that it's worth my time going...