Meeting The Challenges Of National Meetings | July 25, 2011 Issue - Vol. 89 Issue 30 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 89 Issue 30 | p. 46 | ACS Comments
Issue Date: July 25, 2011

Meeting The Challenges Of National Meetings

By William R. Oliver
Department: ACS News
Keywords: ACS Comment, meetings
William R. Oliver, Chair, ACS Committee on Meetings & Expositions, and chemistry professor at Northern Kentucky University
Credit: Joe Ruh/Northern Kentucky University
William R. Oliver, Chair, ACS Committee on Meetings & Expositions, and chemistry professor at Northern Kentucky University
William R. Oliver, Chair, ACS Committee on Meetings & Expositions, and chemistry professor at Northern Kentucky University
Credit: Joe Ruh/Northern Kentucky University

ACS national meetings are well organized and successful. However, the society’s Committee on Meetings & Expositions (M&E) is always striving to make them even better and relies on member input to meet this challenge. Examples of meeting issues that we address on an ongoing basis include sustainability and conflicts with competing events.

Green Meetings. Surveys taken after each national meeting indicate that members remain concerned with “greening” the meetings. Since 2008, M&E has implemented a number of greening practices and has partnered with service contractors that foster sustainable event practices and social responsibility. Through national meeting audits, M&E measures national meeting sustainability performance and ensures that facilities and vendors maintain their green contract commitments. At the spring national meeting in Anaheim, Calif., our “green consultant” indicated that ACS is leading the charge within the nonprofit community and our meetings will become the standard for environmental, social, and economic performance benchmarking and reporting.

Not only did ACS make great strides in greening the Anaheim meeting, but it will also continue these efforts during the fall meeting in Denver and beyond. A full report detailing the results will be available in the upcoming 242nd ACS National Meeting & Exposition’s on-site program and website (). Through our partnership with Legacy Sustainability Management, a firm that helps companies with green management, ACS will continue to set high standards for sustainability.

Attendee Surveys. Ongoing sustainability efforts and other measures such as increasing the size of meeting badges for clarity and security resulted from members sharing their concerns with M&E. Member opinions matter. Completing the postmeeting survey is your opportunity to improve national meetings.

The survey consists of two parts: an attendee survey of 16 questions sent to a random sample of 2,500 meeting registrants and an exhibitor personnel survey with 10 questions sent to all exhibitors. With the attendee survey, we assess satisfaction with the meeting location, transportation services (shuttle buses), and meeting and exposition logistics. With the exhibitor personnel survey, we measure satisfaction with on-site exposition features, vendor services, and traffic to the show floor. The results of both our surveys are exhaustively analyzed to determine the overall view of the meeting. If you aren’t included in the survey, we invite you to e-mail with your comments.

Revisiting Dates And Locations. Our meetings are booked 10 years in advance to secure the meeting space and hotel accommodations required. On occasion, M&E must revisit the dates and locations of scheduled national meetings when situations arise that will have an impact on members or the society.

Recently, officials at the San Francisco Travel Association offered ACS a generous compensation package if we would agree to move the 2014 fall national meeting scheduled for Aug. 24–28 to Aug. 10–14. Rescheduling would save ACS about $380,000. After having vetted the offer among various constituencies, M&E accepted the proposal to change the meeting date and the ACS Board of Directors approved.

M&E also recommended, and the board agreed, to move the 2014 spring national meeting out of Washington, D.C., because of a conflict with the National Cherry Blossom Festival, which is a huge event for the city. Demand for hotel rooms for festival guests drove the room charges higher than $350 per night and greatly reduced the available hotel meeting space. Dallas was selected as the alternative because the city is able to meet ACS requirements and the timeline for this meeting.

The 2013 fall meeting occurs on Sept. 8–12, directly after Rosh Hashanah. ACS members observing this holiday may be affected if they serve on governance committees that meet before the start of the national meeting. M&E regrets this conflict and is concerned with the impact this will have on members. Unfortunately, rescheduling the 2013 fall meeting is impossible at this late date. When these dates were set M&E considered both earlier and later dates for the meeting. Because the 2013 spring meeting is in April, holding the fall meeting in August would put too much stress on those individuals who have to comply with programming deadlines. Moving the dates earlier in September would conflict with Labor Day; later would conflict with Yom Kippur.

Collaborations. M&E collaborates with the society’s Divisional Activities Committee to coordinate ACS presidential events and technical programming. Our surveys indicate that proximity of “related” divisions and technical programs is very important, and M&E always strives to address these concerns. Members have questioned why Wi-Fi Internet access is not available in meeting rooms at the convention center and hotels. Fees for this service can be very costly for a meeting of our size. Convention centers and hotels are generally not willing to negotiate costs in this area because they routinely use a third party to manage the system. Quoted costs range from $150,000 to $500,000 per meeting.

I would like to close by stressing the importance of volunteer participation to the success of our meetings. Member involvement is what makes ACS successful.

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