The results of the election of officers (Board of Directors, Committee Chairs and Section Officers) are in and I would like to thank all who offered their services to the society. All of these positions are very important to the society for its governance and it is the successful completion of these functions that make the SIVB a successful society. The transitions to the newly elected officers will occur at the Friday night Board of Directors meeting just before the annual meeting in San Diego. With that in mind, the presidential suite will then be in the very capable hands of Allan Wenck, our new President. I will become the Past President and will be coming to the membership as the head of the Nominating Committee to prepare the list of candidates for the 2022 election held in late 2021. Speaking from personal experience, service to the SIVB is very rewarding although it does take some work on top of the many other demands in one’s life.
Tampa, Florida was a new and very successful venue for our annual meeting. During that meeting, I was asked how the SIVB Board goes about selecting cities for the annual meeting. There are many considerations that go into meeting venue selection so here is a short overview.
- One of the first considerations might be summed up as how will the city enhance the scientific quality and participation for the meeting? What academic and corporate institutions are relatively close from which both speakers and attendees may be drawn? In a similar vein, do we have members that can serve on a local organizing committee? This committee works to promote the meeting to local organizations and identify activities of interest for our off-site social. They are also involved in organizing the scientific facilities tours held on the last day of the meeting.
- Next we look at transportation and meeting venues. Fortunately, we have the services of New Beginnings Management (Marietta Wheaton Saunders and company) with their collective expertise in arranging meeting venues. Many, if not most, of our meeting participants fly to the meeting so direct air connections are desirable.
- The final choice of the meeting venue (hotel and meeting space) is the real driving force in final selection of the facility and sometimes the city. This selection process is where Marietta really shines. Suppose we are considering two cities on the east coast. She will approach the visitor and convention bureaus with our meeting requirements (approximate dates, number of rooms and attendees, and meeting and exhibit space). They return bids that detail the number of room nights we must book (room block), the amount we must spend on hotel catering to qualify for the meeting and exhibit space, and other concessions we want (free guest room WiFi, no resort fees, etc.). Some hotels/convention centers are a little too proud of their facilities and are unwilling to provide rooms at a cost we feel our members can afford or they want us to spend $80,000 on catering during the meeting (yes, really). We are not a society where the attendees arrive with large expense accounts and so room rates can be a deterrent to attendance. Those venues with unrealistic self-images are eliminated which can sometimes then eliminate the city itself.
- Once we have realistic bids, Marietta will perform a site visit to the final contenders to be sure the facilities are as advertised and to get the ‘best and final” room rates and other concessions.
- From these final bids, the Board makes the final decision on the meeting location. We try to book venues approximately two years in advance so that planning can begin early and so the venue does not book another meeting into our space. An example of this process was the selection of a meeting site for 2021 which we wanted to hold on the east coast. Our first thoughts were to return to one of the cities where we have had successful meetings before; however, local policies for the venues changed and our meeting was not able to receive proposals within our needed timeframe. We then looked at a smaller city (Norfolk, VA) which has hosted meetings like ours with much success. The city and hotel were wonderful and we have an excellent package and very attractive room rates! A little more travel will be needed, but it promises to be well worth the effort. More details on the 2021 meeting will be available in June.
One other point I would like to share is the importance of fulfilling the required number of rooms in the meeting hotel. Filling our room block allows the SIVB to use the meeting and exhibit rooms either free or at a significant discount and thus helps keep registration costs lower. Failure to meet the contracted block carries a substantial penalty to the SIVB. Because of this, I would ask we all make our reservations at the meeting hotel. It is much more convenient and promotes interaction among all the participants.
Finally, I look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in San Diego with warm skies and ocean breezes.
John W. Harbell, PhD