22:3 (2007:09) Committee Annual Report: Conference Planning

September 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm | Posted in Committee Annual Reports, Conference Planning | Leave a comment

CONFERENCE PLANNING COMMITTEE
Tyler Goldberg and Angel Clemons, Co-Chairs

WRAP UP REPORT, 22nd ANNUAL CONFERENCE (2007)

Members: Angel Clemons, co-chair (University of Louisville), Deberah England (Wright State University), Tyler Goldberg, co-chair (University of Louisville), Steve Kelley (Wake Forest University), Jeanne Langendorfer (Bowling Green State University), Kat McGrath (University of British Columbia), Neal Nixon (University of Louisville), Peter Whiting (University of Southern Indiana), Danielle Williams (University of Evansville); Consultants: Connie Foster (Western Kentucky University), Joyce Tenney (University of Maryland, Baltimore County); Board Liaison: Alison Roth.

AV
One committee member handled the AV responsibilities.  He contacted the hotel’s in-house vendor and three other companies for bids for AV services.  The bids ranged from just over $19,000 to nearly $27,000.  (One company was very upset that they had submitted bids for the NASIG conference three years in a row and never been selected.  They argued that it was unethical to simply use their bid to try to get the in-house company to lower their price).  The in-house vendor submitted the lowest bid, and provided what we needed for each room, including laptops, microphones, LCDs, screens, etc.  They were very easy to work with, and very prompt at fixing small problems or making last minute additions.  A different in-house company at the hotel handled Internet service.  Due to the high expense of Internet connectivity, very few sessions were provided with Internet service.  On the conference days the CPC member was available and checked on the set up in each room.  We also rented a combination copier/printer from a local company in Louisville, which the CPC member in charge of AV arranged.  The company was very slow to return a service call on the first day of the conference, which cost us a whole day’s use of the equipment we had rented from them.  In addition, the CPC member arranged the rental of walkie-talkies for the CPC to use.

COST: $23,615.00

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Make sure the CPC has access to a printer and copier.  Although we didn’t use them much, they were invaluable when we needed them.
  • With the proliferation of cell phones, consider not ordering walkie-talkies for communication between committee members during the conference.  Even though we had walkie-talkies, we never used them. We only used cell phones.

CONFERENCE PACKETS
Conference totebags and lanyards were given to all attendees (see SOUVENIRS).  Conference folders and ball point pens were donated by Hannelore Rader, Dean, University of Louisville Libraries.  Folders contained all photocopied material that is listed in the NASIG Conference Planning Manual Appendix D.  Photocopies were made at Kinko’s using a Kinko’s NASIG account.  Lanyards and name badges (both purchased from the Louisville Convention Bureau), Louisville attractions brochures, and coupons were also stuffed into the conference totebags.  Souvenir Louisville pins, also from the Convention Bureau, were included as well.  Badges, copies of the itinerary, all special event tickets, and conference badge ribbons were put in envelopes and handed out separately from the packets.   Conference packets were stuffed by local volunteers the Friday before the conference, and the Dean of the University of Louisville Libraries provided pizza for all the volunteers.

COST:  $2543.62 (printed materials); NASIG ribbons: $96.91; preconference binders: $247.00

FOOD
All food decisions had to be approved by the Board and the food for some events (e.g., mentoring and breakfasts) were part of the contract with the hotel.  Since the hotel costs were very high we tried to be very minimal with the break food. We were lucky that the hotel worked with us and the breakfasts were by consumption only.  Attendees were given a meal ticket for breakfast (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday) and went to the regular hotel restaurant.  NASIG was only charged for tickets collected.  The hotel also paid for the cost of the mentoring reception and they also provided, at no cost, lots of snacks for the registration desk workers.  The hotel meal costs for 4 preconference breaks, 3 breakfasts, 2 lunches, 5 conference breaks, 1 late night social snack, and the food at the reception at the Frazier Museum (see OFF-SITE EVENTS) were budgeted at $89,914.00.  NASIG was exempt from state tax.  We made every effort to accommodate food needs, including vegetarian choices, gluten free and low-fat.   Food was plentiful and everyone who had a special food request was issued a food ticket that they turned in to claim their special meal.  The hotel provided water on the tables at the back of every meeting room refreshed after each meeting and bottled water free in other areas of the hotel. Therefore, NASIG did not provide bottled water.

COST:  $64,603.08 (we did not see the final hotel bill for food events so this number is based on our estimated counts of attendees.  It does not include the reception at the Frazier Museum.)

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • Although the Board requested a sit-down meal for the business lunch it was very difficult to find one menu choice that would please everyone in attendance.  A buffet offers many more options and would be recommended, but it can be very hard to do in a timely manner with so many attendees.
  • We let attendees indicate any kind of food preference they wished on the registration form, and some were very challenging for the hotel. Make this a “drop down” on the registration form; with choices your caterers can accommodate (e.g., vegan, gluten-free, etc.)  
  • The CPC recommended that box lunches no longer be purchased for Sunday’s lunch due to cost and the fact that there are now food/beverage restrictions on airlines. This was approved by the Board and the lack of box lunches on Sunday didn’t cause any problems.

FUN RUN
We had 20 to 30 people participate in an early morning run/walk along the Ohio River near the Galt House.  Three committee members, Alison Roth, Kat McGrath and Peter Whiting, helped the participants navigate the course.  Water bottles were provided to the runners/walkers.  Prizes, a knapsack and two magnets, were given to the three winners.

COST: $41.82

FUND RAISERS
In addition to selling raffle tickets for a free registration, the CPC offered a “bourbon tasting” at the hotel. The event was sold out at 75 tickets.

PROFIT:  $750.00 (bourbon tasting event); $374.00 (raffle tickets); souvenirs ($117.00)

HOTEL
Prior to the conference the co-chairs worked together with our primary hotel contact. She met with us, as well as the Food Subcommittee (this committee took care of all food separately). One of CPC co-chairs took care of room reservations.  The hotel contact was particularly helpful when there were reservation issues due to the room blocks filling earlier than anticipated and the hotel’s new reservation system. The co-chairs didn’t get a room because we thought we could go back and forth every night.

COST:  $0.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • The co-chairs should get a room, as it is very hard to go back and forth when the registration desk opens early and events run into the evening. In the end the hotel gave us a room for the last two nights.
  • Stay on top of the room reservations for the speakers.  The list should be given to the CPC as early as possible This year the room blocks had filled on some of the nights by the time the CPC co-chairs received the list.  

LOCAL INFORMATION
We set up two tables opposite the registration desk for local information. Hosted dinners or “Dine-Arounds” proved to be the most popular reason for visitors at the Local Information Table.  Attendees found printed menus attached to the dinner sign-up sheets most helpful when deciding on restaurants.  Brochures of local attractions were on display, along with poster sized signs describing the nearby Riverfront Park and Fourth Street Live.  Other materials available were a local church list, conference reception flyer, Internet access location sign and Fun Run flyers.  The Local Information Table was staffed at heavy times, such as during breaks. 

OFF-SITE EVENTS
The opening event was at the Frazier International History Museum, within walking distance of the hotel. The contract for the museum was signed by the board, so the CPC didn’t choose this venue, but we were very happy with the choice. The food was taken care of by the Food Subcommittee.  The museum has 3 floors of exhibits and offers historical reenactments. We had an exhibition by Elizabethan sword masters, as well as an historical interpretation about Anne Boleyn. Entertainment was by the band “Hog Operation.” After initially intending to have the band in the rooftop garden, we moved it to another part of the museum to save on the cost of building a stage. We did have a shuttle bus (see TRANSPORTATION).

On Saturday night, attendees could register for a dinner cruise on the “Spirit of Jefferson.” (Normally the board likes to offer a baseball game to attendees on Saturday night, but the Louisville Bats were not in town that weekend.)  The ship was docked within easy walking distance of the hotel.

COST: $24,032.50 (event at the Frazier International History Museum)
COST: $0. (dinner cruise). (We made an estimated profit from this event of $1200.00)

ONLINE REGISTRATION
This year online registration had a bumpy road with the death of the NASIG treasurer and a late start with the systems technician.   Despite that late start we fortunately managed to have a good turnout at the conference. 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • The registration form should be a one page form.  Examples of registration forms to follow include the Charleston conference registration form.
  • Tours and trips need to be on another separate registration form since a majority of institutions do not allow payment for extras.
  • A preview pdf version of the registration form should be available so that registrants have an idea of what the form looks like.
  • When a registrant signs up as a member the Database & Directory committee will have to be informed so that the registrant can fill out a membership form.

OPENING SESSION
The conference was opened by Denise Novak, President, NASIG.  Hannelore Rader, Dean, University of Louisville Libraries, also welcomed the group.  Denise read a plaque from the Mayor’s Office, welcoming NASIG to Louisville. The speaker was Dr. Tom Owen, a local historian, who did a great job providing an entertaining and concise overview of the city’s history.

COST:  $250.00 (honorarium)

POSTER SESSIONS
Thirteen poster sessions were set up in the very spacious lobby area outside the plenary session hall.   Hosting the breaks nearby brought lots of traffic through regularly and allowed visitors to circulate without crowding.   The rental company was very accommodating in providing delivery and set-up on Thursday afternoon which ensured that presentations were in place with minimum fuss on Friday.  Storage and security was not a problem.  Take-down Friday evening was smooth.

COST: $625.00 for poster board, delivery, and set up

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • A single day for hosting the poster sessions is sufficient. A large, high visibility location is critical.  Overtime/weekend labor charges can be a factor when sourcing suppliers.  It is helpful to preview the boards as well as the space.  Dark (black) boards provide an attractive backdrop to presentations.   Presenters should be encouraged to provide a link to their poster content through the NASIG conference website (reduce paper, encourage follow-up).

PRECONFERENCES
Preconference registration ranged from 12 to 41 attendees for each of the four sessions.  CPC purchased binders for the preconference manuals.  CPC also downloaded the course information supplied by the PPC, had it photocopied at Kinko’s, and assembled the manuals.  We had two on-site registrations which required us to return to Kinko’s for additional photocopying.   Small snacks were provided for the attendees during each break but lunch was not included in the cost of the preconference.  One instructor requested an Internet connection that had not been previously ordered.  The registrations were as follows for each session:

Metadata Standards and Applications: 41
Publishing 101 — The Basics of Academic Publishing: 19
SCCTP Integrating Resources: 14
SCCTP Electronic Serials Cataloging Workshop: 12

COST: Costs of binders and photocopying course materials can be found under CONFERENCE PACKETS.

PUBLICITY
The logo for the meeting was designed by Michael Garzel, a graphic designer whose services NASIG had used for past conference logos.   The board elected to not distribute postcards this year.  All communications were conducted via the NASIG-L listserv and the listservs of pertinent local groups.   Postings to NASIG-L were sent regularly to promote the meeting, advertise registration, and to inform the group of meeting details and items of local interest. Invitations to attend the meeting were sent to local groups in March and April.  

COST:  $500.00 (logo)

SOUVENIRS
The board determined that we would not purchase souvenirs for this year’s conference.  This was due in part to the limited quantity of affordable quality souvenirs that could meet our allocated budget and the fact that NASIG has lost money on souvenirs at the four previous conferences.   However, we did sell souvenirs left over from the 2006 conference, including tee shirts (sold for $5.00), cross stitch patterns (sold for $1.00 each) and water bottles (sold for $3.00 each). T-shirts and water bottles sold out, and the cross stitch patterns that were left were sent to Phoenix for next year’s conference.

Tote bags and lanyards were not considered souvenirs, per se, but were given out free of charge to each registrant upon checking in at the registration desk.  These items were ordered by the Souvenir Subcommittee. Lanyards and name badges were printed and purchased from the Greater Louisville Convention and Visitors Bureau.

COST:  $2323.68 (tote bags); $750.00 (lanyards)

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • If you want a good bag (and we did), you need to pay for it. We looked at lots of cheap bags, and finally decided that these would not work. Bags cost $3.31 each (not including set up), and attendees liked them.   

TOURS (PRE- AND POST-CONFERENCE)
We arranged tours using a local company. We worked with the company’s owner to pick sites we thought visitors would want to see, e.g. Churchill Downs. We arranged two four-hour tours (Thursday and Sunday), as well as one shorter tour to Louisville Stoneware, and one downtown walking tour. Unlike former years, the post-conference tour sold out, and the Thursday tours had respectable numbers.  The tour company asked us to collect the fees as part of registration, which we did.

COST:  $0. (We advertised through the conference website and listservs.) 

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • As noted under ONLINE REGISTRATION, tours and other special events should be on a separate registration form.

TRANSPORTATION
Details regarding transportation to and from Louisville via air, car, train, and bus were posted on the meeting website.  Attendees were responsible for their own transportation between the hotel and airport.  The hotel had a fee-based shuttle service.  Two events were held outside the hotel, but within walking distance.  For the opening reception, transportation aimed at those who had limited mobility was made available by renting a 24-seat shuttle bus with a wheelchair lift from the shuttle bus vendor used by the conference hotel.   For the dinner cruise volunteers were stationed to direct people to the boat dock and to escort anyone in a wheelchair if necessary.  Those who indicated special transportation needs on their registration form were emailed directly and informed of the bus and escort service to the two outside events.

COST:  $382.50 for shuttle bus rental.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

  • The CPC was asked to contact airlines about setting up a “conference airline.”  This proved to be impossible. Louisville isn’t a hub for any airline, except UPS, and with so many ways for attendees to get cheap airline reservations, this seems to be a useless endeavor now.  The CPC should no longer try to do this.

VOLUNTEERS
We received an excellent response to our calls for volunteers. A meeting was held April 17, 2007 to discuss the conference and potential volunteer projects.  Most of our volunteers were University of Louisville employees, although some other NASIG members and local people were included.  Eleven University of Louisville employees helped with the packet stuffing on May 25. 

We had a good response for staffing the registration/local information desk. Thirty-eight people, including board members, CPC members, and volunteers from local libraries helped.

There were eight dine-arounds on Friday night and four on Saturday night. Two were canceled because of distance and time.  All the others were well attended.

WEBSITE
While the website developed over time, all pertinent information was available online by March 1, 2007.  Online registration for the conference began March 21 and closed May 17.  

The website provided two versions of the conference program, a complete program and a quick guide, as well as electronic handouts for program sessions (provided after the conference using Moodle software).  The conference webmaster used WordPress to administer the conference blog.  NASIG personnel administered the forum section and the online evaluation forms were created using SurveyMonkey software. 

Cost:  $0. (But other NASIG committees may have incurred costs for SurveyMonkey, WordPress, and Moodle.)

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