Tentative (Proposed) - based on RMPA & PPA's guidelines
Western Alliance Conference Guidelines & Protocol
These are meant to be of assistance; it should be understood that
for every rule created, there may be some circumstance in which
it is appropriate that said rule should be modified.
These are also meant to change and grow with the times. The last
edit of this set of guidelines occurred on September 26, 2002
by Christine Shupla.
What is the Western Alliance
For several years, the planetarium regions in the western USA
have committed to having joint conferences. This increases the
number of planetariums and vendors participating, allowing for
a bigger variety of talks and technical demonstrations.
The Western Alliance consists of four planetarium regions in the
A potential conference host for a Western Alliance conference
should extend the invitation to the president of each of these
regions, at least a year (and preferably two) before the conference
so that it may be discussed during the business meetings of the
conference. The invitation should be a formal one, in writing,
and signed by the President/Director/Manager of the host institution.
[Additional regionals may also be invited if appropriate.]
Selecting a Conference Site:
- The presidents of the various regions will share their information,
insights, and concerns about potential future hosts for each conference,
before the business meetings in which each region will vote on
their choice for conference host.
- It is up to the presidents of each region to work out any differences
in selections; if they are unable to work out a single solution,
it is up to the presidents of the regions, along with the potential
hosts to determine the best course of action. No region should
be bound by the decisions of the other regions.
- Items that the regionals should consider in the selection of a
- Has that region hosted more conferences recently than the others?
- Does the potential host have a reasonable familiarity with conference
procedures? (Have they attended many conferences recently, and
have they been in the planetarium field for a little while?)
- Does the host facility have the support staff necessary for a
large conference, or the support of additional planetariums in
- >Is the host site located at a reasonable travel location to encourage
the most members to attend?
- Are there other attractions in the area that would be particularly
appropriate for visiting during the conference?
- If a selected host withdraws the invitation, another site should
be selected as quickly but soundly as possible, again by the vote
of each region.
In general, the conference is held in the fall each year (September-October).
Care should be made to avoid other conference dates, particularly
those selected by theGreat Lakes Planetarium Association (GLPA) and the Association of Science-Technology Centers (ASTC), so that vendors and conference participants may attend
both if desired.
THINGS TO DO BEFORE THE CONFERENCE:
- As soon as a conference site has been approved, the conference
host should begin working closely with the Presidents of the four
regional societies for ideas on activities, sponsorships, acceptable
fees/expenses, and so on. Professional advice should be sought
out in this manner, beginning with the Presidents and then ideally
with a committee of experienced conference hosts. Currently (2002)
there is a Western Alliance listserv to help with this.
- Create your local team and delegate separate tasks; you are welcome
to ask other planetarians to assist as well. Some possible positions:
- Conference Webmaster
- Vendor Soliciter and Contact
- Conference Registrar (mail out and collect registrations)
- Scheduler (solicits and confirms speakers, papers, posters, workshops)
- Hospitality (works with caterers to select menus, makes all meal
and snack arrangements)
- Proceedings Editor (Alan Gould has volunteered to perform this
task for the past several years)
- Proceedings Publisher (print & distribute to all members)
- Assign staff, volunteers, and willing conference participants
to perform various tasks during the conference:
- running the registration table
- watchdogging audio-visual needs
- gofers--especially to assist in the vendor area
- session moderators
- transportation specialist (bus driver?)
- Prepare calendar of when to accomplish all the wonderful things
- Conference Facilities
- Determine how much of the conference (talks, vendor area, etc.)
you may be able to hold at your own institution. This could cut
down on conference costs, by cutting the costs of room rentals,
av equipment rentals, and catering.
- Reserve space at hotel(s)
- Consider hotel proximity to the rest of the conference: will buses
be needed regularly to transport attendees to and from the hotel?
- Ask about room rates and special benefits such as hospitality
- Ask about additional charges for any needed meeting rooms and
use of A/V equipment. Sometimes meeting rooms are free with meals.
Check out quality of A/V equipment and, if deficient, arrange
to bring in your own, if hotel permits.
- Get competitive bids from 3 to 5 hotels, giving estimated size
of conference (usually 100-160) and number of meals at the hotel.
- Find out whether the hotel will provide transportation to and
from the airport.
- Reserve room space & times at your institution. Be sure to allow
space for exhibitors booths/tables, planetarium, general meeting
room(s), and a coffee break space. An additional nice touch is
a private room vendors can use to carry on conversations with
- Conference Schedule
- Planetarium conferences are generally expected to have time for
paper talks, workshops, demonstrations, and certainly planetarium
shows. Recent additions have included poster sessions and panel
- Arrange for field trips to local places of interest to conference
attendees, and if possible, other possible trips for accompanying
spouses and children. (If the schedule is tight, some of these
can be optional pre- and post-conference trips.)
- Encourage presentations from vendors.
- Plan on ample break time for schmoozing among members and for
members to visit exhibitors booths, preferably with at least one
exhibit time unapposed by anything else.
- >Make arrangements for any audio-visual equipment needed for any
of the presentations.
- Conferences typically open with an evening reception, and have
at least one dinner (banquet); lately, they have been known to
include breakfasts and more than one dinner, as well as lunches.
- Conference Registration
- Obtain a mailing list from previous conference hosts and incorporate
additional lists from each of the regionals participating, if
- If time and finances permit, mail a preliminary announcement to
members-- up to a year before the conference.
- The registration packet should be mailed at least 3 months before
the conference (and 6-9 months before the conference is preferred.)
- >Prepare information packets for mailing including:
- tentative conference schedule, including any pre- and post-conference
- >hotel name(s), phone numbers for reserving rooms, room costs
- >recommended airlines and provisions for ground transport
- climate info and appropriate attire
- general info on host institution
- Prepare registration forms for mailing including:
- conference fee sheet, where to send checks, & who to make checks
- a place for the registrant to indicate which region(s) he belongs
to, and the opportunity to pay for dues (note: in order to attend
the conference, attendees must be a current member of one of the
- menu preferences (none/no red meat/vegetarian
- call for papers. Encourage paper presenters to hand in written
papers (with computer diskette if possible) to the registration/information
table at the conference, to be published in the conference proceedings.
- Prepare a conference website, if possible with on-line registration,
to be available at least by the time the registration information
is mailed. Information on the website can be kept up-to-date more
easily, and should make the local committees job easier in the
- Prepare registration packet for distribution at reg/info table.
It should include
- Complete conference schedule
- List of Attendees (if possible)
- Paper abstracts are nice
- Meal tickets (if necessary)
- Info on restaurants, local attractions in the area
- List of conference sponsors and door prize donors
- Print up and assemble name tags.
- Conference Finances and Vendors
- Set up a fund for conference separate from regular host institution
funds. Some organizations can set up a separate "activity" account.
If necessary make a separate bank account in your own name.
- Place a written request to each participating regional for seed
money -- in the past, $200 has been collected from each regional
and returned after the conference.
- Notify vendors (by telephone or mail, as appropriate); get the
vendors list from prior conference host(s) and feel free to add
your own contacts.
- Identify and contact any special local contributors you can think
- Seek contributions for conference fund. Contributing vendors should
be given appropriate thanks and recognition; usually, vendors
are said to sponsor various events during the conference based
on the amount of their contribution.
- The largest contributors (banquet hosts) usually contribute $1000.
[remember these are 2000 dollars...]
- Other large vendors (such as lunch hosts) usually contribute $500.
- Small vendors are required to submit membership and registration
fees, and may contribute as much as theyd like; sometimes they
are said to host a small breakfast or the snack breaks.
- Contribution of a door prize is also requested of the vendors.
- Keep an eye on finances and be sure to charge enough in registration
to balance the conference. The policy for some of the regions has been that if the conference
runs into the red, the host institution is responsible for the
overruns, but if there are excess funds, they are split among
the participating regionals.
- Conference Transportation
- Obtain info on airport connections and ground transport to & from
airport. If the conference hotel provides transportation to the
airport, include that information in the registration packet.
- Arrange transportation for field trips and all conference events.
- Arrange for transportation to & from the hotel, if it is not within
easy walking distance of the conference site.
- Conference Hospitality
- Arrange for food and meals including such things as welcoming
buffet, banquet(s), lunches, dinners, snacks for coffee breaks,
continental breakfasts, box lunches on field trips.
- If possible, try to have allowances made for those with restricted
diets; some attendees will avoid red meat, others will be vegetarian,
and one or two may be vegan.
- One or more of the vendors may wish to sponsor a hospitality suite
at either the hotel or at the conference site. It should be included
in the schedule, and efforts should be made to assist the vendor
find local reasonably-priced sources of snacks and drinks.
- Allow for spouses at banquets. (Usually, for an additional fee.)
DURING THE CONFERENCE:
- Be prepared for announcements regarding last-minute scheduling
- Post signs outside of sessions with names, titles, and times of
- Maintain sanity and the illusion that you are in complete control
of everything. Maintain a stately and dignified air amidst chaos
AFTER THE CONFERENCE:
- Give conference schedule, list of conference supporters, and door
prize donors to the Proceedings editor. Also, it's a nice touch
to give the editor any photos appropriate for publication to document
- Send thankyous to conference supporters if you have not already.
- Upon completion of the conference, it is the hosts responsibility
to provide an accurate accounting of all monies, including incoming
and outgoing funds, to the Presidents of the four regionals within
90 days of the completion date of the meeting. Along with this,
any surplus funds shall be divided up evenly and distributed back
to the regional societies.