1 – 3 Months:
- Tour Meeting Facilities to anticipate special needs and/or problems. Be sure the specific rooms you are to be using are stated on your contract, to avoid being shuffled to smaller or noisier locations at the last moment. Determine what audio-visual or public address equipment will be required and determine what the facility will provide. (One handy little item that is frequently overlooked until it’s too late is a small light on the speaker’s podium.) Contact suppliers for additional equipment if necessary.
Check Layout of Exhibit Area. Make sure it is in an area away from the doors to the auditorium so any on-going conversations or other noise will not interfere, and that there is good lighting, plenty of outlets, etc.
Insurance. Check to see if insurance is necessary or if you are covered by the facility’s policy.
Arrange for Photographer to take group photo. Be sure you have someone, perhaps a member of the committee or other volunteer, taking a photo record of the entire convention. (If you choose to hire a professional photographer, you may have to schedule them as much as one year in advance.)
Transportation. Arrange transportation for arrivals at airport, bus and train terminals.
Registration Confirmations are dealt with one-by-one as they are received by the Registrar. Acknowledgment of registration and money received is usually sent by postcard; plus, send back any new information that you may have confirmed. Keep an envelope on each registrant with their name-tag (name and organization(s), large enough to read from a comfortable distance), meal tickets, door prize ticket, and contest ballots so when they arrive at the registration table the first day, all they have to do is pick up their envelope. Be sure to include maps and information on local restaurants (fast food and other, plus price ranges if possible), gas stations, hotels, points of interest, etc. Information of this type is usually available from your local convention bureau.
On-Site Arrangements. Organize an on-site committee to handle all problems. Some of these people will need to be on-site at all times during the convention. Remember that most attendees have not visited your city before. What would they do if an emergency occurs?
One Month and Less:
- Determine the General Schedule after you have received papers requests, decide what seminars/workshops are to be held (if any), and decide when the council meetings and business meetings will take place (check with your Regional Chairman or League President to see how much time they will need.) Allow 8 hours for a National Council meeting, preferably the day before the convention starts or in the evening (make sure this meeting has a comfortable location, and water available). If co-hosting with another group such as ALPO, coordinate the schedule with them so they have the time they need, also. Set a time limit for papers, and enforce it!!
A Hospitality Suite was set up at the 1989 Spokane ALCON and was very successful. They offered beer (made by a local brewery, for an extra touch), wine, soda and snacks all hours of the convention, and provided a TV, VCR, and movies. It is important to note, however, that the suite was in the dorm rooms where everyone was staying so no one had to worry about driving. They also had to get a banquet license from the state of Washington to serve the liquor, so you would have to check on regulations for your own particular area and the time it may take to get proper licensing if needed.
Review Arrangements with Speakers. Confirm your alternate speaker(s) in case your scheduled speaker(s) should be unable to appear.
Confirm Tour Arrangements and transportation.
Check Out Any Additional Avenues of Publicity – Look for ways to promote. Put articles in local papers, and utilize the free public announcement services offered by local radio and television stations. Have flyers printed and distribute them to science departments or professors and teachers of local universities and schools. Post flyers in windows or bulletin boards of planetariums, universities and schools, science centers, telescope shops, etc. Remind other nearby astronomy clubs.
Committee Meetings. Continue regular meetings with committee members. One of these meetings should be a “Devil’s Advocate” meeting, where “problems” are created and solutions are worked out. You don’t want to leave anything to chance!
- Finalize Program with program subcommittee and have the convention program printed. Programs generally include the schedule, officers of the host organization, convention committee, officers of the Region/League, and past Regional/League conventions. What kind of paper, what color it is printed in, etc., depends on your budget. Note that most papers arrive just before (or just after) the deadline – about a week or two before the convention – so don’t panic! If information comes in after programs are printed, it can go on an insert. Try to schedule talks that require preparation time (such as videos) as the first talks, or just after breaks or meals. If your speaker needs fifteen minutes to set up, he/she should not use up someone else’s time, and will be upset if he/she is cut short.