5. Conference Organizers’ Responsibilities

Important: conference planning and management is now a shared responsibility between the host and IASA Board. See the updated list of responsibilities: www.iasa-web.org/conference-host-responsibility

5.1 Introduction

5.1.1 IASA delegates a large part of the responsibility for a IASA conference to the local organizers. IASA is a relatively modest organization and does not have the resources to take on the organization of conferences that may be far removed from the places where the EB live and work. It is essential to have a strong local group in place.

5.1.2 Some hosts have delegated much of the responsibility for conference planning and organization to professional conference organizers. IASA has no objection to this but that cost must be born by the local organizers and reflected in the conference fee.

5.1.3 This section, along with additional information in the Conference Host Responsibilities, Conference Planning Timeline, Conference Program, and Conference Business Plan outlines the hosts’ responsibilities. The IASA EB is willing to work with those who are new to this process but IASA relies on strong local representation to make the annual conference a success.

5.1.4 Local conditions, professional and social, should be reflected in the conference, particularly in the program content.

5.1.5 Audiovisual institutions should showcase their expertise and open their doors for professional visits.

5.1.6 It is essential that the conference hosts give some guidance to the EB in how to assist in promoting the conference on a regional basis and how to best meet any particular local needs including possible language issues.

5.1.7 It is essential that conference hosts ensure the availability of good sound and projection facilities is all auditoriums and meeting rooms, including experienced technical help for the duration of the conference.

5.1.8 Along with the responsibility and hard work, comes an opportunity for the conference host to show off their institution, to introduce colleagues to another part of the world, and a chance to focus on issues in the sound and audiovisual field that relate to the conference organizer’s particular needs. It is also an occasion to possibly mark a significant event or anniversary and to raise awareness of your institution and its priorities within your own locale.

5.2. Meeting Rooms

5.2.1 An adequate number of rooms must be available for the conference in order to accommodate large open sessions and smaller limited interest or working sessions which, in IASA’s case, are sometimes held concurrently. Although this is by no means fixed, a rough estimate of IASA requirements is:

5.2.2 A lecture room for main conference sessions and open sessions large enough to accommodate up to 100 delegates in the case of a IASA solo conference outside of Europe; 130 for a IASA solo conference within Europe and up to 200 in the case of a joint conference. In the latter case the organising committee should make reference to the two association EBs as to their expectations. Organizers should refer to conference attendance in the previous years for conferences within and outside Europe.

5.2.3 A meeting room for concurrent or working sessions may be required and should be able to accommodate about 20-30 delegates.

5.2.4 Up to 3 or 4 meeting rooms may be required during the day(s) prior to the commencement of the main sessions of the conference for the EB and committee/section/task force meetings. A meeting room will be required for the day following the conference for the EB meeting.

5.2.5 All meeting rooms to be equipped with sound and projection facilities, as well as to the internet and computer attachments. The local organizers need to provide experienced technical help for the duration of the conference.

5.3. Communal Space

In addition to the meeting rooms there should be a communal area in the same building as the conference sessions for people to mingle and hold impromptu conversations. Refreshment facilities must be provided and budgeted for in the conference fee structure. The communal space might also be the location of any trade shows and/or commercial exhibits that might be arranged.

5.4. Accommodation

This can be varied according to local conditions. There are a number of options:

5.4.1 There is a lot to be said for a single venue that is the conference and hotel in one building complex, yet it does not allow for the wide budget range of the IASA membership.

5.4.2 Special conference complexes can offer a community atmosphere and can self-contain all activities.

5.4.3 Delegates may be housed in affordable and attractive University (education or type) accommodation.

5.4.4 If none of the above offers affordable and attractive options the IASA EB prefers that a range of accommodation be offered. Where hotels are offered, it is necessary to have a price range to allow for richer/poorer members or institutions. However, these must be in the immediate vicinity of the conference. Spreading people out over a city is very impersonal and tiring and defeats the main benefits of the conference which is to have the delegates meet and discuss their mutual concerns.

5.5. Conference Site Location

This very much depends on local conditions but it should be in a safe and attractive area: close to places of interest for participants, e.g. sound archives, broadcasting stations etc, and tourist attractions both for participants and non-participating accompanying persons. Sometimes tourist attractions can be a distraction, but it is often the case that the tourist attraction means people extend their stay to take advantage of these before or after the conference.

5.6. Finances

5.6.1 Introduction
Conference finances are managed by the local host organisation without any direct subsidy from IASA funds. A key success factor is a good relationship between the EB and the local host organisation, which normally provides the most of the organizing group. The host should draw up a business plan, including a financial model based on realistic predictions and estimates, in order to formulate a balanced budget as a basis for managing expenditure and receipts against planned targets (see Conference Business Plan). The recommended financial model is a zero profit / zero loss outcomes.

5.6.2 Ownership of financial risk / Retention of Profits
Financial risk, which effectively means the underwriting of any potential loss, is held by the local host organisation. With the assumption of financial risk it is understood that local organizers will retain any profits. Any other financial arrangement must have the prior approval by the EB and be clearly stated when conference hosts agree to organize the conference.

5.6.3 Sources of income may include:

  • Delegates’ registration fees
  • Rental of space by commercial exhibitors
  • Sponsorship from commercial companies
  • Grants from government agencies
  • The monetary value of support-in-kind

5.6.4 Budgeted expenditure may include:

  • venue rental or hire charges
  • creation and maintenance of conference web site
  • conference badges, bags, and stationery
  • food and drink for the opening reception
  • other reasonable hospitality costs including music
  • printing and design costs for the conference programme
  • transportation in connection with professional visits
  • refreshments for morning and afternoon breaks
  • hire of AV equipment for speakers’ use
  • hire of fax, photocopiers, PCs for conference office
  • conference display panels and signage
  • bank charges
  • presentation gifts for principal organisers
  • professional conference organizers
  • simultaneous translation services

The closing conference dinner may be budgeted for separately, or included in the main budget.

Pre- and post-conference tours and any spouse’s programme should be outside and separate from the main conference budget

5.6.5 Level of registration fee
One of the major tasks of the organising committee will be to decide the registration fee. Although this will depend to a high degree on the overall financial model, and the forecast number of registrations, the decision should also take into account the high proportion of delegates in the personal membership category who pay their own costs. Additionally, the fee levels over the previous five conferences should be taken into account. Experience in the years 2000-2006 suggests that, if possible the pre-registration fee for IASA members should be less than 200 Euros. Attendance at the conference dinner is normally optional and this should be reflected as a separate cost option in the registration form in order to reduce the price of basic registration. A surcharge for late registration may be made, additional to any differential level of fee for non-members of IASA. Organizers may also decide to make special financial arrangements for local delegates and others who may have financial difficulty in attending a IASA conference. (See also Section 9.8)

5.6.6 Currency and registration payment
The conference currency/currencies should be chosen by the organizers so as to minimise bank and other transaction charges. It is strongly suggested that conference organizers arrange for payment by credit card through a secure web site or through establishment of an on-line account such as PayPal. This minimises transaction and foreign exchange costs and makes delegate registration much simpler.

5.6.7 Transaction processing and documentation
It is recommended practice that this should follow established internal practice of the host organisation, which may require the organizers to set up a separate conference bank account.

5.6.8 Reporting and approval
The organizers should present the EB with a draft budget including realistic planning scenarios at the mid-year EB meeting prior to the conference. A final statement of out-turn against budget should be made available to the Executive Board to assist in future planning. The organizers should present the EB with a draft budget including realistic planning scenarios at the mid-year EB meeting prior to the conference. A final statement of out-turn against budget should be made available to the Executive Board to assist in future planning.