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Large Hotels Are the Best Fit for AFS Annual Meeting Needs

Friday, May 5, 2017   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Tim Lloyd
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AFS members sometimes ask why the Society’s annual meeting typically takes place in hotels that may seem out of step with our ethos – corporate brands with flashy decorating, often located in downtown business districts. In fact, large downtown hotels are usually the only venues that can house a meeting of our size in October or early November. To widen the range of possibilities, we would have to change the timing or size of our meeting significantly, and you regularly tell us that that is not your preference.

Timing Matters

In survey responses, members consistently tell us that they prefer to keep our meeting in October (or sometimes early November) and do not want us to move the meeting to another time of year. Holding our meeting at that time prohibits us from meeting at almost all universities, since on-campus lodging facilities are not available at that time of year and relatively few campuses have hotels of the size we need immediately nearby.

Size Matters

We look for a site with at least 14 meeting rooms under one roof, which constrains the variety of venues that we can consider. Why?

In survey responses, our members consistently tell us that one of the things they like most about our annual meeting is its large attendance: 700-800 people each year. We don’t have regional chapters or mid-year special-topic meetings; we prefer to put up a single large tent each autumn, and our annual meeting has grown to become one of the largest gatherings in our field in the world. This attendance also leads to multiple concurrent meeting sessions, which attendees like less, but a significant majority of our attendees also consistently tell us that they do not want us to make the meeting smaller.

Annual meeting participants have consistently expressed unhappiness when we have located annual meeting activities in multiple locations, citing difficulties in getting to sessions in different venues and with finding friends and colleagues; they tell us they greatly prefer single venues.

A 700-800-person meeting in a single building or two adjacent buildings requires a large hotel venue, which in turn requires a relatively large city. Hotels this size that are within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, shops, and other businesses that our attendees find attractive are most often located in downtown areas.

Keeping the annual meeting affordable is our overriding consideration as we research and select sites for each annual meeting. In our next “Did You Know…?” we’ll explain the financial elements we consider as we research and select annual meeting cities and venues.

For more information about our annual meeting site selection process, please see Criteria for Selecting Annual Meeting Sites on our website.




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