I would even argue that for by far most people, the registration cost will not be the limiting factor - other components of the trip would likely be (unless they are local to Stockholm, maybe). The travel to Stockholm alone will outweigh this fee by a factor of 2, maybe 4 for most, and a week of accommodation with the remaining dinners will probably set you back at least the same amount (if you go very low budget).
Those estimates are way off. Most of our volunteer base is in Europe, where flight costs are typically below $100; you can find accomodation in the immediate vicinity of the conference for $200 (and you can probably go way cheaper with hostels, or by being in a more distant part of the city); if you actually want to go very low budget and skip on restaurants / pubs / etc, food costs are minimal (and obviously people do need to eat outside of Stockholm as well, so it's not really an extra spending). So the conference fee would be about half of your total costs.
That depends what you're using as your base, of course. I'm trying to think a little beyond our traditional community, which is why I was talking about 'people'. Even if we would take a highly Eurocentric approach and only think about Europeans without any visa requirements, living nearby airports that are well-connected to Stockholm (mind you, these are quite a few assumptions we're making), we would be talking about airfare of often more than $100, accommodation for $200 would still be on the low end of the spectrum (six nights, hostels cost $31 per night, although there are a few further away that cost less), you would still have to include all kinds of smaller expenses though (dinners that will definitely more expensive than at home. Are you planning to take public transportation or walk for a few hours each day? Will you join in evening events and buy a drink? Do you plan to get a data plan for your phone?) And let's not forget that you have to take a week off to be able to attend the conference and pre-conference.
All in all, I am pretty confident that even for these well-connected Europeans, the conference fee will be a smaller part of the amount that traveling will cost them. Finding a cheaper hotel than the recommended hotel (at $115/night) would definitely do a good job at that.
There are two ways that our movement can try to address this hurdle: one way would be to reduce the price even further for everyone, the other is to provide help for some people to overcome all these financial hurdles. I personally prefer that we spend more on scholarships (travel, accommodation and registration) rather than even further subsidizing the registration fee for all other participants.
So are we actually spending more on scholarships?
There is no consistent reporting on scholarships (nor any other aspect of Wikimania for that matter) but some wiki archeology gives:
- 2012: 87 full + 47 partial per 
- 2013: 62 full + 18 partial (which apparently somehow adds up to 86...) per 
- 2014: 109 per 
- 2015: 110 per 
- 2016: 88 full + 35 partial + 6 additional (whatever that means) per  ( claims 99 full)
- 2017: 81 full + 17 partial per 
- 2018: 125 full + 16 partial per 
- 2019: 96 full + 20 partial per 
So it seems like the higher price of the conference was indeed offset somewhat by a slightly higher number of scholarships in 2018, but that is not the case for 2019. (Granted this is WMF only, and a significant part of scholarships tend to come from affiliates, but it's even harder to find data on that.)
(I should probably disclose that I'm a partial scholarship recipient, although I doubt it would affect my argument if I weren't)
This focus on scholarships is not a new thing - I'm happy that the WMF has chosen to support them for a long time now. And indeed there is a significant bump from mostly European chapters that help volunteers to attend (a big chunk of them being from their own country).
You're claiming that this year is a higher rate than usual, I don't think this is actually true. Some context:
- 2016: 500 euro, but this included accommodation and full board
- 2017: 315 CAD (~233 USD)
- 2018: 275 USD
In that sense, this fee is quite in range from the past few years (I was not motivated enough to go back to earlier years). Some years were indeed cheaper, especially if located in a country with lower incomes, and when the express purpose was to get more locals/regionals to attend (Mexico, Hong Kong) that might otherwise not have been able to.
My point is: if we're not willing to spend even more donor money on this conference than we already do, we need to make choices. You could choose to make the conference less fancy (although the opportunities to cut costs are limited in that field, I understand), you could stop offering lunch and refreshments or you could cut in scholarships (which is a huge chunk of our budget as a movement regarding this conference). I wouldn't mind making the event 'less fancy' if that would actually bring down the cost significantly, although all attempts at that in the past were met with complaints too. But I don't think it is feasible to cut on things that make up the main budget items. Unfortunately, I'm currently unable to find reliable and publicly available budgets for Wikimania from recent years, so I have to work from recollection.