Standard Conference Experience

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Networking - is highly valued by conference attendees and therefore prioritized by conference planners. According to Connection Magazine, program content and networking are the two top reasons conference attendees choose a particular conference.

The key outlets for networking at the conference occur:
  1. During dinner groups
  2. During receptions
  3. During meals
  4. During breaks
Dining –As of the March 7, 2011 steering committee meeting, the board agreed that providing meals via a blanket conference registration fee is a key component for many conference attendees. Despite complaints about the quality of the meals and suggestions to reduce conference registration fees by cutting meals provided, the board decided unanimously that this tradition should remain. Meals provided historically by the conference registration fees are:
  • Sunday Reception and Dinner
  • Monday breakfast
  • Monday Annual Business lunch
  • Tuesday breakfast
  • Monday and Tuesday breaks
Providing food at the receptions was left to the discretion of the conference planners; the key factor being that receptions (with cash bar) provide a gathering place to promote networking.

It was agreed that providing food and coffee breaks at the pre-conference workshops was negotiable and not part of the standard conference experience.

Internet – has become a necessity as it enables conference attendees to stay connected with work and families. Furthermore, internet is a key perk for the exhibitors and most recently “provided by” the exhibitor revenue. It has become a Standard Conference Experience. Securing hotels that provide free internet in the guest rooms is essential. However, when the hotel site charges for guest room internet, NEAIR conference planners are to build internet into the budget and provide an internet café for those who do not bring laptops.

Newcomers to IR/Newcomers to NEAIR – friendliness and collegiality are crucial to the conference experience. At NEAIR the playing field is level – elitism, titles, etc. are downplayed. Conference planners prioritize mentoring, dine-arounds for newcomers, and other means to welcome these groups.

Professional development – is a key component of the Standard Conference Experience. Providing an opportunity to submit a proposal and present from a variety of presentation formats and receiving a professional critique of one’s submission are standard fare. Further, providing keynote speakers and panels addressing key issues in IR is important. Providing skills and knowledge development through a wide variety of pre- conference workshops and Program presentation sessions are key.

Excursions – are not prioritized by conference planners as they historically have had dismal turnouts and require a commitment of numbers and money. Conference planners are encouraged to let local NEAIR members arrange and advertise outings via the listserv.

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