Fall 2002 Member Surveys Help Shape GSA Meetings
Ann Cairns,GSA Director of Communications
GSA conducted two Web-based surveys on the subject of meetings in Fall 2002. Members and nonmember meeting attendees provided a wealth of information considered by GSA’s Annual Program Committee (APC) at its meeting in Boulder in February 2003. GSA staff and APC would like to thank everyone who took the time to respond with thoughts, opinions, and questions!
The first survey, conducted in October 2002, explored possible sites for future GSA annual meetings. A live link to the survey was e-mailed to members and nonmembers who attended annual meetings in 2000 and 2001, as well as to all those preregistered for Denver 2002. The second survey, conducted in November 2002, solicited feedback on the Denver meeting from all attendees.
The responses received prompted the following list of frequently asked questions as a means of sharing some survey highlights.
ARE WE GOING TO CONTINUE MEETING IN DENVER AT FREQUENT INTERVALS?
Yes. A vast majority of respondents are happy with meeting in Denver at regular intervals. The present rotation pattern allows us to negotiate lower rates with the Denver Convention Center and downtown hotels.
WHY DON’T WE MEET IN SOME DIFFERENT, LESS COSTLY CITIES?
Only a limited number of U.S. cities have convention facilities large enough to accommodate the GSA annual meeting. While we’re presently constrained by that fact, we do monitor and keep in touch with other cities that are expanding their facilities. As soon as they can handle us, we’re prepared to add them into the mix. It may take a while because of the long lead-times involved; we routinely book facilities 8–10 years in advance. In the meantime, we rotate among cities that give us variety and keep field trips and other meeting activities fresh. We also try to avoid meeting too often in high hotel-cost cities.
WHY ARE GSA MEETING COSTS HIGHER THAN THOSE OF SOME OTHER SOCIETIES?
As someone once observed, life is a series of tradeoffs. Some societies choose to meet every year in the same location; through long-term contracts they are able to negotiate ex-cellent rates with the convention center and city hotels. Others have extensive corporate participation in their meetings. GSA uses both of these cost management strategies to some extent, while giving attendees the location and field trip variety they value.
WHAT DOES THE REGISTRATION FEE COVER?
Professional-level registration at GSA’s annual meeting provides access to the technical program (approximately 3,300 oral and poster presentations), Exhibit Hall, welcoming party (plus a ticket for a free drink), the Internet Access Center, and the Graduate School Information Forum. At the same time, the registration fee helps to cover many expenses. These include: convention center rental, cancellation insurance, permits, and on-site paramedics; registration counters, poster boards, and signage; audiovisual equipment; program book; GSA staff expenses; subsidy of student-level registration; and the April and June issues of GSA Today. Annual meeting revenue also helps support GSA as a whole throughout the year.
ARE WE GOING TO CONTINUE THE SUNDAY-THROUGH-WEDNESDAY TECHNICAL SESSION FORMAT?
Yes. Feedback from Denver 2002 was strongly positive. Saturday stay-overs help attendees keep travel costs down. Sunday-through-Wednesday also shortens the amount of classroom time missed by academic professionals. Exhibitors at Denver 2002 indicated they’d like to close a little earlier on Wednesday, so we’re going to incorporate that change this year in Seattle.
CAN’T WE AVOID SCHEDULING CONCURRENT SESSIONS IN THE SAME FIELD OF INTEREST?
An enormous amount of effort each year goes into avoidance of schedule conflicts. The technical program chair and other members of the Joint Technical Program Committee review all the sessions, consider input received from divisions, associated societies, and others, and do their best to put together a final program that minimizes conflicts. Given the size of the technical program, it’s impossible to avoid them completely.
© 2003 The Geological Society of America