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The Making of a Meeting

“If you build it, they will come.” Well, not always. No matter how great the program, if the city isn’t fabulous and the price isn’t right, there is no guarantee that the ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO will be a success. Since it accounts for more than one third of ASLA’s annual operating revenue, holding out on a field of dreams is just not good enough. So what do we do to ensure the success of the annual meeting? We pull out the 10-year calendar and start planning.

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Our surveys tell us that location plays a critical role in an ASLA member’s decision to attend the annual meeting. But did you know that ASLA’s EXPO has now outgrown many major U.S. cities? Seattle, Portland, Fort Lauderdale, and Charlotte, to name a few, are all great cities. But the ASLA Annual Meeting has outgrown the convention facilities in each of these cities and in many others. Bad for the cities, but good for ASLA and the content we deliver through our expanded reach.

Selecting the annual meeting city is bound not only by our size, but also by our hotel room block. Of the 5,000–6,000 participants who attend our annual meeting each year, only about 1,500 stay at our official meeting hotels. Want to meet in San Francisco, New York, Las Vegas, and other top-tier convention cities in the future? You can help by staying in the official ASLA meeting hotels this year. There is a direct correlation between the dates, the space, the rates, and the number of hotel rooms we are required to contract for in order to meet in the most popular cities. Our meeting history determines our leverage in negotiating future annual meeting locations. Worse, if we fail to meet these contract requirements, we face hundreds of thousands of dollars in attrition penalties.

As the economy gets stronger, the market will only become more competitive. Even the cities that ASLA frequents, such as Chicago, Washington, D.C., San Diego, Boston, and others, will be harder to acquire. Hotel rates are already escalating in some cities as the economy strengthens.

We recognize that many annual meeting attendees do stay in ASLA’s official meeting hotels. To thank you for that and to encourage others to follow suit, annual meeting attendees who book rooms at the official hotels this year will receive $75 off registration rates. Just book your hotel room when you register online and the discount will be applied at checkout. Attendees who live within a 50-mile radius of the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center are eligible for the discount rate as well.

ASLA works diligently to meet in the cities attendees want to meet in and to keep attendee costs down, but attendees play a critical role in that process. The cities selected for the annual meeting are accessible, walkable, and affordable. We do our best to secure a mix of hotel brands and price points so that all attendees can participate fully in the meeting. However, with your help, we can do even better.

We look forward to seeing you at the 2013 ASLA Annual Meeting and EXPO in Boston, November 15–18. It’s going to be big!

Joyce DePass
Director, Meetings and Special Programs
American Society of Landscape Architects

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