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SCMS July Update

Tuesday, July 05, 2011   (0 Comments)
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July 2011 Newsbrief

Future Conference Locations

The SCMS Board of Directors has selected the beautiful Drake Hotel in Chicago, IL as the location for the 2013 SCMS conference.

The SCMS Conference Consultant, Justin Wyatt, is currently soliciting bids from hotels in the West for the 2014 conference. The Board will select a location for that conference at its Fall 2011 meeting.

Stay with Us! (or, Top 10 Reasons You Should Stay at the Conference Hotel)

We look forward to seeing you at the historic, conveniently-located Boston Park Plaza Hotel & Towers for the 2012 conference! Information about the 2012 conference is now on the SCMS website.

We strongly encourage conference participants to reserve guestrooms at the Park Plaza. There are many benefits to staying at the conference hotel, especially the ease of close proximity to conference events and the opportunity to interact and network with other participants for extended periods of time.

Have an early-morning panel presentation or a late-night meeting? Need a place to crash between panels? Want to change your clothes or drop off your laptop before you head out for the night? The Park Plaza is your home-away-from-home during the conference!

As detailed below, our organization faces multiple significant challenges when participants do not stay at the conference hotel. We respectfully ask that you consider those challenges before deciding where to make your reservation.

How are conference locations selected?

The SCMS annual conference rotates between three regional locations—the East, Midwest, and West—to guarantee parity across our various U.S. constituencies.

The Board selects conference locations based on the following criteria (in no particular order): affordability for all conference participants, ease of access to reasonably priced transportation, host committee potential, and local attractions. Occasionally, the Board elects to hold the annual conference outside of the United States.

The Board welcomes proposals for future conference locations from individual SCMS members, Caucuses, and Scholarly Interest Groups. Please contact the SCMS Home Office for instructions on how to make such a proposal.

How are conference hotels selected?

Once the SCMS Board has selected a conference location, the SCMS Conference Consultant solicits bids from various hotels in that city. Hotels are invited to make bids for the conference based on the specialized needs of SCMS, including meeting rooms, exhibition space, room rates, and quality of accommodation. The Conference Consultant is charged with finding the most reasonable rates while also meeting SCMS and its members’ needs. Hotel costs are always negotiated with an eye to making the guestrooms and overall conference experience affordable to student, part-time, and unemployed members, as well as independent scholars.

What challenges does SCMS face in securing hotel bids?

Unfortunately, given the size of the SCMS conference and the required meeting rooms, the number of hotels that meet SCMS’ needs and are able to make bids is few, even in large cities. For instance, our annual conference does not produce as much food and beverage revenue as most hotels prefer. Moreover, because we utilize 20+ concurrent meetings rooms over 5 days, this usually means that a hotel must deny meeting space to other potential customers. In many cases, SCMS is the major group "in-house” for the hotel, and, as such, our organization becomes the focus for the hotel during our conference.

Following typical protocol in North American conferences, SCMS asks hotels to provide complimentary meeting space in return for our guarantee of a specific number of guestroom reservations. Much is at stake if conference participants stay at other hotels and our organization fails to meet our guaranteed room block. Many charges routinely negotiated in hotel contracts (e.g., audio-visual equipment) depend on SCMS’s ability to meet our room block goals. Another issue is leverage: The value of SCMS’ business to hotels is dependent on the number of guestrooms our organization can guarantee. If we don't meet our room block, SCMS will lose negotiation leverage with our contracted hotel (and its affiliated hotels) in future years. SCMS’ reputation among other hotels could be damaged as well.

More significant, when the required number of reservations is not met, SCMS pays for its meeting rooms, which typically results in a deficit for the conference and thus a loss of income for our organization as a whole. Yet perhaps the worst consequence is a high attrition fee, that is, an additional charge if we don’t meet our room block goal. In the aftermath of 9/11, hotels’ charging of six-figure attrition fees has not been uncommon. SCMS would be devastated financially if this were to happen. Indeed, we may be unable to put on the next year’s conference.

For all of these reasons, we hope that you will stay with us at the conference hotel.

We look forward to seeing you next March at the Boston Park Plaza Hotel!

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