Cost of STC Annual Conference

Subject: Cost of STC Annual Conference
From: "George F. Hayhoe III" <gfhayhoe -at- SRS -dot- GOV>
Date: Fri, 20 May 1994 08:34:00 -0400

To compare the cost of the STC Annual Conference to the cost of academic
conferences may not be accurate. The STC Conference offers nearly 250
technical sessions exclusively on tech comm topics over three days. No
other conference, academic or otherwise, offers that depth and variety of
coverage of only *our* discipline, much less the extensive networking
opportunities. $350 certainly isn't peanuts, but if you consider the value
received for the money, the STC conference is a better buy than any other
meeting I've ever attended. (IMHO, it's also a much better conference than
any of the others I've attended.)

As Chuck Banks has ably noted, the major cost of any conference is not the
registration fee but travel and lodging. The Society and its board of
directors have no control over what airlines charge. As for hotels, the
conference hotel must be large enough to provide the facilities necessary
to accommodate a meeting with 2,000 attendees. Unfortunately, such hotels
tend to be expensive, but STC always arranges group rates with close-by,
less pricey alternatives.

Although my company has been generous in subsidizing my travel to the
Annual Conference for the past four years, I know first-hand that lots of
folks in our profession must pay the $350 registration fee--as well as the
travel and lodging costs--out of their own pockets. I often did the same
when I worked in academe and as an independent. Fortunately, a portion of
these costs is tax-deductible; the rest, I considered an investment in my
own professional development.

There are alternatives, in addition to the excellent chapter and regional
conferences and the intriguing possibilities for virtual conferencing that
Chuck suggested.

1. Work with your local chapter's program committee to plan a summer or
early fall meeting at which those who attended Annual Conference sessions
in Minneapolis report on what they learned.

2. Buy a copy of the conference proceedings (available from the STC office
for $50), read the papers that interest you, and correspond by e-mail (or
paper mail, if the presenter isn't on the net) with those whose ideas
interest you.

3. Start saving now to attend next year's conference in Washington, DC.
I've always found that it was well worth taking on an extra consulting job
or two to pay for the conference in years when I knew I wouldn't have
company support.

(I don't think that Chuck mentioned that many Annual Conference speakers
try out their presentations at chapter meetings or at chapter and regional
conferences in preparing for their sessions at the Annual Conference.
Usability testing applies to more than documents and user interfaces!)

Finally, it's important to realize that the STC board of directors is
always interested in hearing what members think. It's also important to
remember that the board might not be able to take an action suggested by a
group of members because that action is not in the best interests of the
Society as a whole. And board members don't receive flame-resistant
clothing at Society expense, so try to keep the comments positive!

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