Re: cost of STC conference

Subject: Re: cost of STC conference
From: Ad absurdum per aspera <JTCHEW -at- LBL -dot- GOV>
Date: Tue, 17 May 1994 20:34:40 GMT

Having been a bigshot for one sizable conference and a
sturdy yeoman on the local committees of quite a few more,
let me put in my pre-tax two cents' worth.

I, too, think reg fees are just a bit on the stiff side
sometimes (though there are conferences run by proprietary
concerns -- Graphic Communication Associates comes to mind --
with reg fees approaching $1000). The question is, what are
you willing to sacrifice in order to lower them?

Host hotels are only semi-negotiable for an affair the
size of the STC conference. Even in a big city, there
are only so many places where enough assembly rooms of the
required size are available three or four days running.
It *might* be possible to bogart a college campus during
vacation, but then you'd be doing without support services.

You've also got to consider whether there are places to
stay -- within easy reach of the site -- for a few thousand
people all at once. As someone noted, there are plenty of
opportunities for resourceful or locally connected
participants to live bohemian-style rather than poshing it
up on the expense account at the conference hotel. But
the collected Motel Sixes of most areas cannot hold that
many people; nor can the public transit alternatives of
most cities get them to and from the site. And once you've
been forced into a rental car, you can watch the cash dwindle...

Proceedings are expensive to publish. How badly do you
want a professional-looking document?

Finally, in some cases, conferences are expected to serve
as a cash cow, or at least a small-change heifer, for the
sponsoring society. I don't know if this is true of the
STC conference, but the IEEE Professional Communication
Society definitely expects at least a small surplus. This
punts but does not answer the question -- what services of
theirs would you rather do without, or how much would you
like your dues to go up?

Having played devil's advocate, I'll have to concede that,
yes, there is a dichotomy in expectations. To many people,
besides being a venue for learning and professional growth,
a conference is a perk -- a reward given, complete with a
plane ticket and the corporate credit card -- to this year's
heroes in the department. The experience they want is not
necessarily that of starving perfessers, and I think the
conferences are definitely the poorer if they financially
exclude the latter.

However, the exclusion is one of insensitivity rather than
intent, and sometimes the apparent insensitivity results in
part from lack of a choice. Every conference I've ever been
associated with has, to a greater or lesser extent, chosen
its site on the basis of logistics and availability rather
than poshness. And when you've only got a couple hundred
attendees, you have a *lot* more freedom, and a *lot* more
"stylish poverty" options, than when you have a couple thousand.

"Just another personal opinion from the People's Republic of Berkeley"
Disclaimer: Even if my employer had a position on the subject,
I probably wouldn't be the one stating it on their behalf.

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