Executive Director's Column, Inside ASIST February 2019

By Lydia Middleton posted 04-05-2019 09:19

  

Greetings from ASIS&T Central. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday and that your New Year is off a great start. Your staff has been busy since the winter break. Among our current priorities is selecting a new website and database platform that will greatly enhance your member experience and make your member benefits more readily accessible. Our hope is to have the database system launched ahead of registration for the 2019 annual meeting. Be on the lookout for news about the new system in April.

Another activity that has kept us busy since Vancouver is identifying a venue for the 2020 Annual Meeting. Based on your feedback, we selected Pittsburgh as the city where we will hold the meeting in 2020. We then set about identifying a hotel that would allow us to have full flexibility in our meeting schedule while also ensuring affordability for the association and our members. I’m happy to report that we have found just such a hotel and the Wyndham Grand Downtown Pittsburgh. I was amused to learn, after we selected the hotel, this is the same hotel that ASIS&T met in for the 2010 annual meeting, so many of you will probably be familiar with it. However, since 2010 it has undergone and continues to undergo substantial renovation and refurbishment. There will be all new sleeping rooms available in time for our meeting in 2020, and the meeting space has all been completely redone and updated.

I’m also happy to report that we were able to negotiate a very positive contract that will save money both for the Association and meeting attendees. We secured a sleeping room rate of $179 per night. This compares very favorably to the over $200 rates offered by other hotels over the same dates. In addition, the hotel has offered substantial concessions and rebates to ASIS&T that will enable us to control registration costs for attendees. These concessions include such things as suite upgrades, discounts on food and beverage, and free Wi-Fi throughout the hotel. All of this will enable us to keep registration rates down and offer more opportunities to attendees.

The ASIS&T Annual Meeting is a challenging one to place in a hotel because of the high ratio of meeting space to sleeping rooms that we require. We typically use most of a hotel’s meeting space while only using roughly 1/3 to 1/2 of it sleeping rooms. While we recognized that attendees must control their own costs by sharing rooms or staying in other venues that are less expensive, being unable to guarantee a sizable room block limits our negotiating ability with the few hotels that have adequate space for our needs.

As we look forward to the 2021 Annual Meeting, the Board has decided that that meeting will take place in North America. Given the fact that we are meeting in the eastern part of North America in 2020, we will be looking at cities in the midwest and west for this meeting. Under current consideration are Seattle, Portland, San Diego, Phoenix, and Calgary. However, we are certainly open to suggestions from members as to where you might like to see us meet. Not every city will have hotels large enough to accommodate our meeting needs, but we are always eager to identifying new cities and venues. You can plan on the 2022 meeting taking place in Europe. Once 2021 is nailed down, we will tackle finding a city and hotel for that meeting. As we did with the 2020 meeting, we will share the finalists with the membership and ask for your preference.

I share all of this detail so that our members and meeting attendees understand what goes into selection of a venue for meeting. Much thought is given to this issue by the Board as well as the staff. While we embrace the international/global makeup of our membership, we must simultaneously balance the costs involved in hosting a meeting outside of North America. The upcoming Melbourne meeting will be a learning experience for all of us and will help inform how we go about site selection for international meetings in the future. It will also be an opportunity to learn how many of our North American-based members are able to travel such a far distance to attend the meeting, and how many new attendees and members we might garner in that region. This will greatly inform site selection going forward.

As always, I welcome your input and feedback on this and any other issues you have in mind. Please don’t hesitate to reach out with your thoughts and suggestions. I am always open to them.

I hope to see many of you at the iConference at the end of March. If you have time while you’re in town, please think about stopping by the headquarters office. We are only a 15 minute drive from where the conference is being held. The staff is here to welcome you.

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