So you want to host a meeting…
Meeting site. Many alternatives are possible including hospital training facilities, university training facilities and hotels. Keep in mind the cost of the hotel contract. Seed money is limited and contract requirements will need to be considered by the Board. The current President must approve and sign hotel contracts.
Potential hotels. Are they willing to block rooms and provide a conference rate. Is shuttle service available if the meeting is held at an alternate location?
Transportation between hotel(s) and meeting site.
You have been chosen to be a meeting host – now what?!
- Local Arrangements
- Hotel(s) room blocks
- Meeting space
- Audio Visual
- Presentation during business meeting of the prior year
- Preliminary program
- sMatterings announcements and the web site
- Group dinner or entertainment
- Thank you to meeting committee and exhibitors
- Scientific Program – The meeting host has the option of developing a program that includes a variety of presentations. This may include workshops, keynote speakers, symposia, platform and/or poster presentations, roundtables, etc. The scientific portion of the meeting should cover 1-2 days.
- Call for Abstracts (optional)
- Abstract Review
- Organization of scientific program
- Meeting program and workshop manuals
- Audio Visual
Now to some more specifics on each of the above topics…
- Meeting dates
- Dates are flexible. Generally the meeting is held between mid-April and early May
- Days of the week may depend on availability of sites. Thursday through Saturday is preferred
- Consider the need for a Saturday stay over
- General meeting plan of two day meeting
- Registration on evening prior to meeting and early morning of both meeting days. The meeting may start in the afternoon if you anticipate all can arrange to travel to site on the morning of the first day.
- Board meeting evening prior start of meeting (arrange for room).
- Workshops and scientific sessions Thursday and Friday (or Friday and Saturday).
- Exhibitors setup by 10 AM of day one and stay through lunch of day two.
- MATT business meeting during lunch on either day (luncheon provided).
- Plan adequate break times for attendees to visit vendors. Consider one hour break on afternoon of first day
- Refreshments should be served at break times. Attempt to obtain sponsorship to cover cost or consider in registration fee. Lunch can be included or be “on your own” if the surrounding area has quickly accessible eating establishments. Provide a list and map if you plan to do this.
- Generally, social activities are informal, as the budget does not allow for group dinner of entertainment. Provide suggestions, or have locals lead groups.
- Meeting Site
- The most cost-effective way to handle the meeting is to arrange for space at your educational institution. This space is frequently provided free of charge to affiliates of the university. They also have business assistance and catering at reasonable rates. Lodging at another site is acceptable if convenient transportation can be arranged.
- A Hotel Contract for meeting space is also acceptable. You will be dealing with a member of the hotelï¿½s sales or convention staff to negotiate the contract. Commonly, thirty days out you will have to finalize menus, finalize AV and set-up the master account. The contract should cover the following:
- Room block: The number of sleeping rooms that will be held for our group until a release date that is approximately one month prior to the meeting.
- Should be based on previous yearsï¿½ attendance and actual room nights used. Contact previous hosts to determine numbers. Try to arrange for a single room rate – applicable for single or double use.
- Meeting space: provided free in some hotels if sufficient rooms are blocked and other services will be contracted including AV and food/beverage. The meeting room needs to accommodate 100 people theatre style. Additional smaller room(s) may be needed for workshops, roundtables or peripheral meetings, depending on the format planned by the host.
- Exhibit Space: Previous meeting have provided the exhibitors with additional time with MATT attendees by providing breaks and lunches in the exhibit area. Generally, plan for enough space for six to ten exhibitors.
- Registration: This will occur at the site of the meeting on both mornings. A location the evening before the meeting is optional.
- Board of Directorï¿½s meeting: This room will need to accommodate about ten people. This is frequently held the night before the meeting starts. Consult the President to schedule the date and time of this meeting.
- Food and Beverage: During contract negotiation view the current catering menus. How much flexibility is allowed? Can items be catered in from another site? Food and beverage planning must be tied to amount of sponsorship. Generally, if an exhibitor provides sponsorship funds, they expect to see a nice break provided.
- Shuttle to and from the airport: Free shuttle? Cost?
- Parking at the hotel: No charge? If there is a fee will they waive it or reduce it?
- Presentation at the MATT annual meeting prior to yours
It is customary that the host for the next meeting makes a brief presentation to the general session during the business meeting of the current year. It is also advantageous to have a flier ready for distribution at this meeting. This flier might include the following information: meeting dates, location, hotel/lodging, speakers, workshops, and whatever you have at this point.
- Preliminary program
A preliminary program needs to be finalized by the fall sMatterings deadline, approximately six months prior to the meeting. This should include registration materials and lodging reservation information. The meeting announcement is then repeated in the spring issue of sMatterings. The editor should attempt to have this issue out two months prior to the meeting date. It is the responsibility of the host to work with the newsletter editor in meeting these deadlines.
- Social Events
As host you may want to organize activities to show off your city. At the least, restaurant suggestions and entertainment ideas should be provided.
- The registration form. Important items to include:
- Federal Tax ID #
- On-Site registration fee
- Administration fee if registration is canceled
- Methods of payment – **all funds paid in US dollars**
- Office Supplies: You will need to take all necessary office supplies with you to the meeting. Make a comprehensive list that includes but is not limited to: scissors, tape, paper clips, laser pointers, push pins, hole punch, stapler and staple remover, pens, pencils, calculator, etc.
- Copier: You will need access to a copier. Options include using the hotel business office (often expensive) or locating the nearest business that can accommodate your needs. This may be the same business that you have print your programs and workshop manuals.
- Name tags: It is a good idea to buy badge holders with both a clip and a string.
- Web site: Currently an attendee cannot register on-line but they may obtain all of the information about the meeting such as hotel registration, meeting registration, abstract submission form, and preliminary meeting agenda. This information is provided to the web site coordinator in a common word processing format.
- The registration form. Important items to include:
- Announcement of meeting in scientific journals:
To increase the advertisement of the meeting an announcement may be placed in other scientific journals. There is no set list of journals that are to be contacted. Usually each journal has information about who should be contacted or where submission should be sent. The suggested list includes: JAT, AACC, AAFS, JFS, CAT, SAT, SOFT, MAAFS, SOT **Of special note: It is a wonderful opportunity for local scientists to attend a MATT meeting. Therefore, we strongly encourage you to contact local universities, colleges, hospitals, poison control centers, etc. and make them aware of the upcoming meeting in their area.**
- Budget and Finance You will have to establish a preliminary budget prior to finalizing the registration form. To establish a budget you must estimate your expenditures and revenues.
- Exhibitor fees and Sponsorship money
- Registration fees
- Workshop fees
- Food and Beverage is the big one. Tax and service charges are high. Be sure to include them in your estimated function costs.
- AudioVisual: You can either look at past meeting expenses or obtain a price sheet from the hotel audiovisual staff to estimate this cost.
- Exhibits: Mailings, phone calls, signs, etc.
- The host of the meeting handles budget. Records should be kept for five years. Copies of the final budget must be provided to the Board of Directors. The Board has the right to request preliminary budget information if seed money has been provided.
- Thank you
It is certainly appropriate to thank those that have assisted you in putting on your meeting. Gift certificates to a bookstore, a basket of local goodies, or a complimentary registration have all been used to say thanks. Certificates of appreciation with a hand written note are a good way to thank the people who helped out on a smaller scale.
- Call for Abstracts and Abstract Review
There is no requirement for a call for abstracts but this is an ideal meeting for young scientists to make their first presentation. Details for collection and review are at the discretion of the host. The Board of Directors can assist with planning of this step if desired.
- Meeting Program
It is the responsibility of the host to provide the meeting program. The program includes:
- Cover page
- Introductory pages – include listing of officers, meeting committee, hotel map
- Summary Meeting Schedule
- Formatted abstracts
- Exhibitor/Sponsor pages
Enlist volunteers to cover this task. This is a good way to get new members involved. You will need to provide them with guidance on what to do if a speaker is taking more than their allotted time and they will need to be familiar with the remote control(s) and laser pointer that will be in use.
- Audio Visual
The meeting host will actually contract with the hotel or arrange to provide the necessary AV. Basic room set-up is a small dais with a podium, slide projector, computer projector and large screen. The podium will have a microphone and light. It is advisable to have an AV coordinator on site to deal with problems. Backup equipment must be available. The host should work with all presenters, in advance, to assess AV needs.
Traditionally, it has not been necessary to arrange for a drayage contract. Exhibitors should be aware that the meeting size does not allow for this arrangement. The site must have table and table drapes available for the exhibitor space. Any other needs can be handled on a case by case basis. Exhibitors must be responsible for the costs.
Hopefully this guide will provide you with a lot of the information that you will need to plan and host your meeting. It may not answer all of your questions. There are many people in MATT who are past meeting hosts.
Thank you again for volunteering many hours of your very precious time to further the goals of MATT and the education of your colleagues.