During this 2019 year I have been collecting the registration fee of some academic software engineering conferences. I did not cover all software engineering conferences that exist out there, but I believe I the 22 ones presented below are fairly known ones. The registration costs can be seen in the following table (ordered by the cost of non member registrations).
The first thing about this table is that all registration costs were normalized to USD (e.g., ICPE took place in Mumbai, India, so its registration cost was on Indian Rupees). To convert currency, I used Google currency converter. This may bring some noise to the data since I converted the costs on different dates. I opted not to convert it all at once; I converted as soon as I see that the registration was available. I also manually rounded some values. Since I know some fluctuation exists, I believe it makes little sense to put in a table a registration like 487.72.
Some other observations next.
Registration cost varies a LOT: Considering members and non members, ICSA had the most expensive registration cost (1050 USD and 1200 USD, respectively), when compared all other software engineering conferences. On the other hand, ICPE had the most cheap one (115 USD and 135 USD, respectively). The average registration cost was: 748.65 USD (242.86 USD, standard deviation). Since I’ve never ran a conference before, I have no idea how could one do everything needed with such small registration cost. Kudos to ICPE folks!
Some conferences happen in just two days: Not sure why, but I was expecting to see conferences that happen in two days only be a bit cheaper than conferences that happen in three days. For instance, ESEM that happens in just two days cost about the same as ICSE, which happen in three days (ESEM: 820 USD, ICSE: 870 USD).
Some conferences do not provide member registrations: which is the case of EASE, ECSA, and SPLC. These conferences do not have the support of international computer societies, and organizers may have to run the conference by themselves. On the one hand, this may ended up making the registration a bit cheaper (around 600 USD), but on the other hand, authors may not enjoy an even cheaper early registration.
Colocated conferences share the same registration cost: For instance, MSR and ICPC are co-located with ICSE, and both share the same registration cost: 485 USD. Although this may be expected, it is interesting to observe that this happens even if one conference is better ranked than others (which could ended up attracting more attendees).
The registration cost has little to do with the location: I know that some places are a lot more expensive than others, but the top-five conferences with the most expensive registration fee were (almost) on very different locations: ICSA was in Germany, RE in South Korea, ASE in the US, ICST in China, and ICSME in the US.
This analysis is far from complete. There are many details that an outsider like me has little information about. For instance, some conferences have lunch included in the registration fee (some others provide breakfast and/or dinner). Besides the traditional coffee break, bag, t-shirt, etc, some social events are sometimes also part of the registration fee.
As I aforementioned, I never organized a conference, so my thought here may be completely biased and overly simplistic. Let me know if I understood something wrong!