Nancy P. Beaumont 2014-02-11 11:05:56
For months I’ve anxiously awaited the opportunity to announce the sites of SAA’s 2015, 2016, and 2017 annual meetings.(Although I did let the cat out of the bag about 2015 at the Annual Membership Meeting in New Orleans.) Since December 2012, when we issued a request for proposal (RFP) to twelve potential host cities based on initial input from the Annual Meeting Task Force and feedback from the Council, the folks at Conference & Logistics Consultants and I have been researching, evaluating, and negotiating with potential sites. Throughout the past year, the SAA Council has discussed site options in light of the Task Force’s preliminary and final recommendations and our research. In August the Council adopted “Principles and Priorities for Continuously Improving the SAA Annual Meeting,”1 which includes significant guidance on site selection. It turns out that the first principle under “Site Selection and Contract Requirements”— We will experiment with meeting in cities of varying sizes using a combination of a convention center and room blocks in several hotels at varying price points—makes for a very complex web of contracts involving convention centers (often county- or city-government owned); at least two and sometimes three hotels; and, to SAA’s benefit, convention and visitors bureaus that are willing to underwrite the costs of meeting space in the convention centers using their “marketing dollars” to bring conferences to their cities. (Without this relatively new type of incentive, convention centers would remain beyond the reach of small associations like SAA.) Last Wednesday afternoon (the day before Thanksgiving) I received four contracts for 2015 and three for 2017. We’re reviewing them now and hope to sign them before the week is out. The good news is that they meet some very important priorities for SAA. • We will stipulate in all RFPs that free wireless access in meeting spaces is a key component of our needs: All contracts include free wireless in the convention center meeting spaces and hotel guest rooms. • We will stipulate in all RFPs the importance of fair labor practices, sustainable (green) practices, and donation of excess food and beverage to worthy causes: We are very pleased, in particular, that our negotiations have led to contract language allowing for full disclosure of the duration of each union’s contract and the next (and all) applicable renewal dates; notification to SAA at least one year in advance of the conference dates of any contract renewal negotiations that could coincide with or overlap the conference dates; and options to terminate without liability in the event of strikes, threats of strike, or work stoppages. • We will experiment with new formats and content for education sessions: Although this principle falls under “Priorities for New Approaches to Meeting Content and Structure,” it certainly affects site selection. To the extent possible, we have tried to anticipate how this priority might play out in terms of meeting space requirements and have negotiated for maximum flexibility in the space usage. These things take time, but months later I’m happy to announce that SAA will hold its 2015 Annual Meeting at the beautiful new Cleveland Convention Center in Cleveland, Ohio (August 17–22), and its 2017 Annual Meeting at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, Oregon (July 24–29). I hope to announce our 2016 site—which does not involve a convention center— before the end of the year. Notes 1 See http://www2.archivists.org/news/2013/counciladopts- principles-and-priorities-for-continuouslyimproving- annual-meeting
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