Here are guidelines for members considering hosting a Western Alliance Conference. (.docx attached and html below)

Western Alliance Conference Guidelines

These are meant to be of assistance; for every “rule” there may be some circumstance for which it may be modified.

The Western Alliance is not a legal entity. It consists of four autonomous planetarium associations in the western United States:

Conference Site Selection

A potential Western Alliance conference host should send a formal invitation in writing to the president of each of the four Western Alliance regions at least a year (preferably two) before the conference so that it may be discussed at the associations’ business meetings. The invitation should include endorsement by the President/Director/Manager of the host institution. Additional regionals may also be invited if appropriate.

Each regional selects the conference location they prefer, usually during a business meeting. The regionals share their choices, and should there be differing opinions, ideas and arguments will be shared until consensus is arrived at. Also a regional could decide to have their own conference independent of the others.

Conference Dates

Try to avoid dates conflicting with South East Planetarium Association (SEPA), Mid Atlantic Planetarium Society (MAPS) Great Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA), International Planetarium Society (IPS), Live Interactive Planetarium Symposium (LIPS), and Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC).

THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE CONFERENCE

The conference host should work closely with the Presidents of the four regional societies. Seek professional advice and consult with experienced conference hosts. Consider having a conference theme and/or name.

Prepare a calendar of when to accomplish all the wonderful things tasks below.

  • Create your local team and delegate tasks. If need be, ask other planetarians to assist. Here are some possible roles:
    • Webmaster
    • Vendor Coordinator
    • Registrar
    • Scheduler (coordinate speakers, papers, session moderators, posters, workshops)
    • Inviter of guest speakers (could be done by the scheduler?)
    • Planner of pre- post- and/or mid-conference tours (optional but desirable)
    • Hospitality (make hotel and meal arrangements)
    • Proceedings Editor (to prepare proceedings for posting on websites)’
    • Transportation
    • Assign staff, volunteers (including willing conference participants) to perform critical tasks during the conference:
      • run the registration table
      • watchdog audio-visual needs
      • gofers--especially in the vendor area
  • Conference Facilities
    • Determine how much of the conference you may be able to hold at your own institution to cut down on conference costs (room rentals, av rentals).
    • Reserve room space & times at your institution. Allow space for exhibitors’ booths and tables, the planetarium, general meeting room(s), and coffee break space. A nice touch is a private room for vendors to converse with clients.
    • Reserve a block of rooms and, if needed, meeting room(s) at hotel(s).
    • Ask about room rates and special benefits such as hospitality room.
    • Ask if there are additional charges for meeting rooms and A/V equipment. Sometimes meeting rooms are free.
    • Check out quality of A/V equipment and, if deficient, arrange to bring in your own, if hotel permits.
    • Get competitive bids from 3 to 5 hotels, giving estimated size of conference and number of meals. Attendance has averaged ~ 70, at times spiking to 100 or higher if nonWA regionals are invited. [http://www.ppadomes.org/events/conferences]
    • Find out whether the hotel will provide transportation to and from the airport.
    • Determine if and how often buses will be needed to transport attendees to and from the hotel.
  • Conference Finances and Vendors
    • Set up a fund for conference separate from regular host institution funds. Some organizations can set up a separate "activity" account. If necessary make a separate bank account in your own name.
    • If needed, place a written request to each participating regional for “seed money.” Up-front expenses may include deposit for hotel rooms. Seed money is returned after the conference if the event ends up with surplus funds.
    • Identify major contributors—planetarium companies and/or special local contributors. Get the vendors list from prior conference host(s) (adding your own contacts as well) and contact them by telephone, email, or videoconference. Ask for contributions to the conference fund. Establish sponsorship tiers. The largest contributors would cover the cost of a banquet or dinner. A lower tier might be a lunch or breakfast. Small vendors may be required to submit registration fees and may host a small breakfast or snack breaks.
    • Request door prizes from vendors.
    • Make the registration fee enough to balance the conference.
      The policy for some of the regions has been that if the conference runs into the red, the host institution is responsible for the overruns, but if there are excess funds, they are split among the participating regionals.
  • Conference Schedule
    • Allow time for paper talks, workshops, demonstrations, poster sessions and panel discussions, and certainly planetarium shows.
    • Arrange for field trips to places of interest. If possible, identify trips for accompanying spouses/children. Optional: arrange pre or post-conference trips.
    • Encourage presentations from vendors.
    • Plan ample break time for members to schmooze among and for members to and visit exhibitors
    • Plan at least one exhibit time unopposed by anything else.
    • Make arrangements for any audio-visual equipment needed for any of the presentations.
    • Meals: Conferences typically open with an evening reception and have at least one dinner (banquet). They often include some vendor-sponsored breakfasts, lunches, and/or dinners.
  • Registration
    • Email invitations to conferences are most common now. Find out from each regional what the best way to reach their members is. Send a preliminary announcement to members up to a year before the conference.
    • Registration information should be sent at least 3 months before the conference (6-9 months before is preferred.)
      Information should include:
      • Tentative conference schedule
      • Call for papers (can be included on the registration form). . Encourage paper presenters to hand in written papers (with computer diskette if possible) to the registration/information table at the conference, to be published in the conference proceedings
      • Pre- and post-conference trips
      • Registration form—mostly online, but have a mail-in pay-by-check option also. Both should include a fee sheet, with online having secure credit card or PayPal payment, and the mail-in showing where to send a check and who to make the check out to. Also include: Menu preferences A place to indicate regional affiliation. Optional: the opportunity to pay for dues
      • Hotel name(s), room costs, and contact info for reserving rooms,
      • Recommended airlines and ground transport info
      • Climate info and appropriate attire
      • General info on host institution
    • Have a conference website that can have on-line registration, and that can be kept up-to-date easily.
    • Prepare registration packet for distribution at reg/info table. It should include
      • Complete conference schedule
      • List of Attendees (if possible)
      • Paper abstracts are nice
      • Meal tickets (if necessary)
      • Info on restaurants, local attractions in the area
      • List of conference sponsors and door prize donors
      • Name tags
  • Conference Transportation
    • Info on airport connections and ground transport to & from airport go in the registration packet.
    • Arrange transportation for field trips and all conference events, including transportation to & from the hotel.
  • Conference Hospitality
    • Arrange for food including welcoming buffet, banquet(s), lunches, dinners, snacks for coffee breaks, continental breakfasts, box lunches on field trips.
    • Have allowances made for those with restricted diets; some attendees will avoid red meat and chicken; for some fish is OK, others will be vegetarian, and one or two may be vegan.
    • One or more of the vendors may wish to sponsor a hospitality suite at either the hotel or at the conference site. It should be included in the schedule. Assist the vendor in finding local reasonably-priced snacks and drinks.
    • Allow for spouses at banquets. (for an additional fee.)

DURING THE CONFERENCE:

  • Be prepared for announcements regarding last-minute scheduling changes.
  • Post signs outside of sessions with names, titles, and times of presentations.
  • Contributing sponsors should be given appropriate thanks and recognition at the events they sponsor as well as near the end of the conference.
  • Maintain sanity and the illusion that you are in complete control of everything. Maintain a stately and dignified air amidst chaos and confusion.

AFTER THE CONFERENCE:

  • Give conference schedule, list of conference supporters, and door prize donors to the Proceedings editor. Also, it's a nice touch to give the editor any photos appropriate for publication to document the conference.
  • Send thankyous to conference supporters if you have not already.
  • Final bookkeeping: provide an accurate accounting of all expenses and revenues to the Presidents of the four regionals within 90 days of the completion date of the meeting. Any surplus funds shall be divided up evenly and distributed back to the regional societies.
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Alan Gould,
Dec 31, 2018, 7:35 PM