IEEE MTT-S International Microwave Symposium
Guidelines and Procedures Manual
Reviewed by Jerry Hausner
5.1. The Daybook
5.5. Guest Program
5.6. Chair’s Dinner
5.7. Plenary Session
5.10. General Notes
5.11. Advance Program
8.2. Information Booth
The local arrangements group (LA) is responsible for the infrastructure at the site. It is a support group to the Steering Committee and is directed by the Committee as to what is required. LA is responsible for the guest rooms, meeting rooms, conference rooms, most food functions, transportation, audio-visual, communications, entertainment, and maintaining the daybook. It handles the liaison with ARFTG and RFIC. It works closely with the Housing Bureau, the Convention Services Group at the various hotels, and the Convention Bureau for the city involved. The 2 latter groups provide enormous help during the planning and functioning of the Symposium. Time should be allocated to meet frequently with these people to establish a personal relationship. In particular, the city Convention Bureau can be of assistance in dealing with the hotels.
LA participation begins with site selection and continues on through the week of the Symposium. During the Symposium it is responsible for monitoring the activities and handling any problems that arise.
During the approximately 7 years between the site selection and the Symposium, the LA chair works very closely with the Steering Committee Chairman. Each Steering Committee chair has his own way of directing different aspects of the LA function. There is no hard and fast rule as to what the total responsibility of LA is. Such being the case, the aspects of LA will change slightly from year to year.
In order to optimize the available time of volunteers, it is essential to ensure that the task assignments are reasonable. Key positions include:
• Vice Chair
• Audio Visual
· Hotel Liaison
• Guest Programs (Could also be separate from Local Arrangements)
• Banquet and Plenary programs (Could also be separate from Local Arrangements)
• Timeline, Events, and Recommendations
During the site selection process, LA has the responsibility to work with the Site Inspection and Negotiating Committee (SINC), the steering committee and MP Associates to select the optimum facilities that will accommodate the IMS technical sessions, ARFTG, RFIC, and the exhibition.
Hotel selection is based on the following criteria; 1) size of banquet room, 2) Size and number of meeting rooms, 3) number of guest rooms, 4) proximity to the Symposium/exhibition area, 5) room rates and 6) other contractual requirements.
There are specific room requirements for the technical meeting rooms. These needs must be discussed with the committee persons responsible and decisions are made on a committee consensus basis. In some cases the meeting room locations are split between the hotels and the convention area where the exhibits are located.
The technical meeting rooms should all be at the Convention Center to allow easy flow from sessions to the exhibits.
The banquet room should be as large as possible and should be able to accommodate approximately 700 to 900 people. Traditionally the hotel that has the banquet room is designated as the Headquarters Hotel.
Sufficient hotels must be contracted to provide 3000-3500 guest rooms for peak night in the general vicinity of the Symposium site. Recent year room pickups at comparable cities are the best guide.
A challenge in hotel negotiation is the elimination of attrition clauses. Upon selection of the site, LA (after approval by IEEE) will, along with the steering committee chair, sign initial contracts as provided by the SINC with all hotels, preliminary room rates will be established, and necessary convention facilities to hold all spaces for the Symposium. At this time the Daybook will be started.
If the conference will be using professional convention management services, they should be engaged before hotel and site negotiation because they may be able to negotiate better rates than the local committee could and rates are generally negotiated prior to the site selection. Consider carefully how the convention management group is compensated; often they take a percentage of each hotel room, which increases the rates to the attendees. However, if the rate they negotiate is lower than would have been otherwise obtained, this can still be a win-win arrangement. Having them involved up front also ensures greater contract consistency and quality.
Build your committee at least two years out so they can attend and watch how similar roles are performed at the preceding year’s conference. Gather lessons learned from recent conferences. Attend other conferences in the local convention center to identify any good ideas. Get to know the convention center staff, although they will likely not pay the conference much attention until 6-12 months out from the conference.
Each year or so, check the hotel contracts. Are there any new hotels? Have any folded or become run down? Any changes to the convention center that need to be considered? Some hotels will want to let some of your space go to other events; have your daybook well enough defined to know what you really need. If you have chosen a professional conference planner, they can update the hotel contracts and draft the daybook.
Make arrangements for the January TPC meeting at the headquarters or similar hotel, including booking hotel rooms and major event space. Since the January TPC does not normally include a visit to the convention center, it may be better to use a hotel that is more conveniently located to the airport or a resort type of facility that would be more enjoyable than a downtown location.
Set up the Adcom meeting that is held in the host city the year before the symposium. This is where Adcom can determine if arrangements are proceeding as needed and if a sufficiently large local committee is engaged. The fall Adcom meeting that is held in a future symposium city is held 4 years prior to the symposium.
The Daybook is the most important planning document generated to support the Symposium. It is the schedule for all activities relating to the actual days of the Symposium and all of the meetings and functions leading up to and following it. All members of the steering committee provide inputs. The information includes time, place, activity, and specific requirements for audio-visual setups, food, costs, and any other information that is relevant for the functions. As much detail as possible is to be included. Often this is a spreadsheet with one page per day, with the various rooms across the top and time of day on the left axis. Variants for the headquarters hotel(s) and convention center are needed.
The daybook makes the control of the activities very easy to track and will prevent anything from being forgotten. A great deal of discipline is necessary to keep the book current. The daybook committee person must be selected carefully. Alternatively, the professional conference manager can assemble this. The daybook for IMS2002 convention center is found in the file: IMS02ConventionCenterDaybook.xls. The daybook for IMS2002 hotel is found in the file: IMS02HotelDaybook.xls. Get the daybooks from the last two conferences. They will provide visibility of the types of meetings that will be scheduled at the last minute that you would otherwise not know about. Many of the side meetings are planned only a few months out, after you’ve made choices about how many meeting rooms you would otherwise need.
Establish a form for event requests and post it on the web site one year out. Include AV, food, setup, time, payment, etc.
All of the initial contracts will be finalized around this time, final room rates established, the number of allocated rooms finalized, and control over the conference rooms established. Take into consideration the following:
• Historical room bookings
• Meeting rooms needed in the hotel on the days before the conference
• Complimentary rooms. These may be handled by a protocol person.
• Sample service and banquet capabilities
A minimum of 3000-3500 rooms will be needed. The hotels typically look back 3 to 5 years at previous Symposium room occupancy data and try to allocate rooms based on that history. The number is usually around 2000 to 2500. The records tend to under estimate the actual occupancy totals due to the fact that they only consider rooms booked through the housing bureau which handles all of the reservations for rooms offered at the Symposium rate. The data is skewed low since the bureau cuts off recording data at about 30 days out and the rooms are then released to general hotel usage at higher rates. There is then no way to track IMS rooms. As a result the hotels tend to want to lower their room allocations at the Symposium rate and use the lower attendance figures as the reason. When discussing the rooms be sure to press for the maximum number of rooms. Also try and get them to hold the rooms for as long as possible. A two-week release time is good. Since the housing bureau usually handles reservations, be sure to try and get them to handle bookings as late as possible also. Details of hotel room statistics for IMS 2002 and some previous years for comparison are found in the file: IMS2002HotelInfo.xls.
Most hotels have a policy of complimentary rooms given outright to the Symposium for using the hotel and also additional comps as a function of how many rooms are booked. A rule of thumb would be 1 comp room for each 40 or 50 booked. These rooms are free for use by the Symposium. Comp rooms can also be available for such events as Adcom meetings during the year preceding the Symposium. The number of rooms can be a negotiable item when establishing room rates.
Reduced hotel parking fees is also a negotiable issue and should be pursued since the rates can be quite high. This should be included in the SINC contract.
Conference rooms are important because many groups within MTT, ARFTG, RFIC, and the exhibitors need rooms to hold meeting or set up hospitality suites. Traditionally these rooms are controlled and allocated by LA. The rooms are usually provided free by the hotels and do not typically enter into rate negotiations but must be under our control within the time frame of the guest rooms. Maintain an adequate supply in the headquarters hotel(s) and avoid allowing any other major event to be held in the same venues concurrent with IMS.
There is a balance that must be maintained between the absolute lowest room rate and the amount of service support to be expected during the Symposium. The lower the rate the lower the service and support that may be available. When negotiating with the key hotels where much support will be required it would be best to not press for extremely low rates but try and get more comp rooms at a better ratios, say 1 for 25 booked. Compete the headquarter hotel selection since it will get the profitable banquet and other food functions. Delay the decision on the headquarters hotel as long as possible.
Attend a banquet function at the candidate hotels that is similar in size to the expected awards banquet. The purpose is to see the table setups, how the serving is handled, how the room would accommodate entertainment, and most certainly the quality of food prepared and served for 700 to 900 people. Do not just have dinner in their dining room and assume that is the same way the banquet meal will taste.
All Audio Visual requirements must be arranged for by LA with inputs from the various user groups within the symposium. The in-house convention services at the hotels usually know the most frequently used outside companies or may have their own group. In general all technical meetings, panel sessions, and workshops will have similar requirements:
• Viewing Screens
• "Walkie-Talkies" or Nextel Phones
• Slide Projector
• Overhead Projector
• Spares • Laser Pointer
AV now includes two packages: audio-visual, including the above, and computing. The AV package is currently a multiyear contract signed by MTT. This provides consistency from year to year and a known cost. Use last year’s detailed list of equipment as a starting point. Slide projectors are expensive but rarely used and thus are typically not even offered as a medium. Overhead projectors are less expensive and remain widespread.
It may be more cost effective to simply buy laser pointers and donate them to the session chairs rather then renting them.
Computing requirements include:
§ Computers and printers in the speaker’s preparation room
§ Computers in the Internet café areas
§ Computers in each technical meeting room driving computer projectors
§ Computers and printers in the war room.
§ Wireless network access points, if desired
These are not part of the multiyear MTT AV contract and should be addressed locally.
AV needs for the major events, such as the plenary session or banquet, may be handled by the production company that puts on those events.
Photocopiers also need to be provided, either by the convention center or the computing company.
Between 6 and 12 months out, all AV and computing requirements should be defined, RFPs generated as needed, and selections made. If you’ve chosen to use a conference manager, they can negotiate and sign any contracts.
Transportation requirements will be different for each location that hosts the Symposium. In general the following issues must be considered. Information for the advance program includes a symposium airline, if any; routes and transportation from airports to the symposium; local maps or links to map websites; car rental information; and taxi information. The various airlines servicing the host city should be contacted to arrange for discount airfares and complimentary tickets and air freight to be used at the discretion of the Steering Committee or Adcom. The same should be done for rental cars. Information regarding taxis and other forms of public transportation can be derived from the convention bureau. All of the transportation information will appear in the Advanced Program.
The transportation contract must be worked 12-18 months before the symposium. Some cities have found problems by waiting too long if demands are seasonal. If transportation needs are high, carefully address payment on the contract to avoid depleting your meager fund advances before the conference.
Typically the busing contract is set up to move people around between the hotels and the Symposium site; between the symposium/hotels to evening events including the Wednesday Awards Banquet, Tuesday social, Monday MP Associates social, and Sunday RFIC social; and to the daytime guest program events. Confirm with sponsoring groups outside of the local committee who is arranging busing for these events, because it may be more cost effective to group them under one contract than negotiating separately. In some cases, a local events coordinating agency may arrange bus transportation to their events; coordinate all busing for the best rates.
The convention bureau can suggest local busing companies. They should all receive an RFQ and a decision should be made 2 months later. Use copies of previous year’s RFQs as the best model. The package should include:
§ Number and description of routes
§ Number of buses per route by time throughout the day
§ Any signage that the bus company should provide on the bus or at the bus stops
§ Any personnel needed to man the bus stops to guide people
§ Rates for additional capacity should more be needed at the last minute.
§ Extra amenities on the buses for VIP transportation
This may or may not be part of local arrangements. See separate section on them. A few notes are below.
One year out, decision should be made on most guest programs. Solicit bids from local event coordinators for packages of guest programs, including transportation, hosting, and staffing the hospitality suite. Some venues will require booking in advance, so make these decisions earliest. Get the contract negotiated and signed by 6 months out.
Choose guest programs so as to offer a range of programs for all ages. A few attendees will have kids, but most are spouses without children. This will depend on the symposium venue. Coordinate return times of programs so as not to conflict with evening events or Adcom events. Be sure there are no attrition clauses in case attendance at a particular program is too low.
Choose the location for the hospitality suite carefully. It should be somewhere that attendee’s guests can find it, but not so visible that people pass through it and graze on the symposium provided food there. Consider consulting with some of the wives of the Adcom members to see if the planned guest programs and hospitality suite are attractive to them. Attempt to have some of the steering committee spouses man the hospitality suite to assist and welcome visitor to your city.
One year out, select the venue for this Monday night event and make the contractual arrangements needed to lock it in. Select entertainment and menus for the evening. Involve the Chief of Protocol for this function.
The plenary session is typically organized by the Steering committee vice-chair. He/she will pick the plenary speaker(s). Either organize a good committee to coordinate this event or contract with a production company to set up the stage, AV, music, script, etc. The MTT awards committee typically has a strong role here and will draft the script. Support with appropriate facilities, scheduling, signage, ushers, and facility setup. An auditorium style room with at least 1500 seats is desirable for this function.
Review the preliminary layout of the exhibit floor from MP Associates to be sure it is consistent with the overall conference flow. The exhibit sponsor has narrower objectives than the local committee and their plans must be reviewed for compatibility.
Signs are necessary to avoid confusion in directing people from place to place and to correctly identify a particular function, person, or presentation. They must be as clear and unambiguous as possible. Many of the signs are stationary and do not move or change during the Symposium. Others change hourly and may be relocated. The sign committee person must make sure that all necessary signs are made after; 1) a careful walk through of the site to determine all of the required directional signs, 2) meeting with the technical groups to discuss room designations and speaker/panelist name cards, 3) any other function coordinator that will require signs or name cards.
Stands to hold the signs can usually be supplied by site convention services. They can also recommend sign makers. The sign maker should provide material so that new signs can be made or corrections performed quickly at the Symposium Site. This is very important as last minute changes are inevitable.
The committee person and/or associates who will manage the signs must be available before, during, and after the daily Symposium activities to move and manipulate the signs as needed.
Determine if RFIC and ARFTG are making their own signs or having IMS do it.
6-12 months out, determine if the signs will be made by the local committee, an on-site sign company, etc. Set up any contracts need with room for growth.
Meetings and deadlines will begin to increase dramatically at this time so the Daybook must be constantly updated and distributed to committee members for referral and for comments and additions. There may be several special events at the hotel in the last 6-9 months; arranging these is good practice for either the LA group or the convention planner.
At this point, the committee should be well staffed. The real work is just starting.
Be aware of the deadline for the Advance Program and ensure key decisions are made by then for printing, including transportation info, symposium information/emergency contact phone, guest program descriptions and costs, and special event descriptions. If the times are changed after this, be sure all parties are aware of it, including registration. The trend is away from having an “Advance Program at all”
The January TPC meeting is a good warm-up for the LA committee. It includes roles for AV, computing, food, hotel room, meeting space, and signage. A mini-daybook must be assembled, again based on the previous year variant.
TPC arrangements are like a mini-conference, including a banquet, guest program, gifts, comp rooms, and computing. The TPC chair will provide guidance on what is needed.
Once the paper selection process is completed and the number of papers has been finalized the specific requirements for the meeting rooms can be tabulated. LA must work with each of the session leaders to ascertain their needs for Audio Visual, room format, timing, transportation, food services, etc. This applies to technical meetings, panel sessions, workshops, open (interactive) forum, opening session, or any other formal gathering. Also all of the various dinner, reception, luncheon, and breakfast requirements must be submitted to LA at this time for inclusion in detail into the Daybook. Remember to consult with ARFTG and RFI. Typical food functions are listed below.
• ADCOM dinner reception
• ADCOM meeting and dinner
• Chair's dinner
• Symposium Chair's party – likely arranged by Chair’s spouse.
• Speaker's breakfasts
• Attendee's and member’s breakfasts
• Panel Speaker's dinner/luncheon
Either use detailed layouts for all rooms or visit each facility to avoid ambiguity as to what is required where and how the room is to be laid out. Make detailed sketches and take good notes. Put all pertinent information in the Daybook.
Confirm that the registration group has to correct start times for any ticketed events. Be sure the program, tickets, and signage will all have the same times. The linkage here is often too weak and the tickets are in error.
Starting about 4 months out from the Symposium the hotels begin to ask for release of some of the rooms they are holding so they can book them for other groups. They use their own booking reports to help justify the request. It is important to hold onto the rooms as long as possible for the Symposium. The Housing Bureau report information will help deflect these requests. Many attendees do not make their reservations until the last minute. This is especially true if the hotel is charging one’s charge card for the room immediately upon making the reservation instead of using the card as a guaranty. The current SINC contract prohibits this practice.
Speaker's Preparation room: A room is required for the speakers to prepare for their talks. The room should be located adjacent to the meeting rooms and about 10 computers of various types with multiple input media. Network connections may be needed to allow speakers to gather files from their home sites.
Steering Committee Headquarters (War Room): The headquarters room should large enough for small meetings and be laid out with refreshments and comfortable seating for rest and relaxation. There should be phones in the room. It also will be the storage and recharging area for the walkie-talkies/cell phones. One or 2 two copies of the Daybook will be located there for reference. Arrange secure storage cabinets for gifts, a photocopier, a bulletin board, and computers with internet connections. Provide storage for signs, if needed. Ensure the entrance is obscured to keep attendees from entering accidentally.
Public computing: Set internet café computers up without chairs. Consider asking exhibitors (through MP Associates) to sponsor the area in return for their logo on each computer and some signage in the area. Have at least a dozen PCs in each of two areas for this purpose. Also consider a wireless LAN, but publicize it in advance so attendees will bring the appropriate equipment. Also consider downloadable PDA information, at least from the conference web site if not on site.
Signage: Either dedicate a room to making signs or use an on-site sign company. The facility must be able to make signs on demand. Also arrange for the large banners to be displayed in the convention center; consult with the MP Associates furnishing company, who already makes many such banners for the conference, but often exclusively focused on the exhibits and not the technical sessions. Determine what they will do ahead of time and coordinate it with the broader conference needs.
Shipping: With the migration to CDROM digest vs. printed, the demand for shipping has decreased. Nevertheless, find a mechanism for on-site shipping. Either invite UPS (or similar) or invite one of the local “Mailbox Etc”-style businesses to set up a site at the convention center.
Other rooms include areas for the Exhibits Manager (likely in the exhibit hall or adjacent to it), Registration, Information, and MTT Historical Exhibits.
The Daybook must be accurate and up to date at this time. This will consume more and more time. Establish a clear mechanism to control it’s configuration.
Finalize all A/V and computing requirements and submit list and copy of the Daybook to the A/V service group. A final pre-Symposium walk through is recommended.
The catering groups at the hotels and at the Symposium site, if it is different, should all receive copies of the Daybook. Meetings will then be held to go through the Daybook and select menus for all itemized functions.
The LA chairperson should meet with the Convention Bureau, the Hotel/Site Convention Service, and the Housing Bureau. They should all receive copies of the Daybook. They should be encouraged to comment with respect to any problems perceived with any aspects of the Symposium.
The Housing bureau reporting should be tightened up to be as current as possible. They have a tendency to slow down reporting unless they are closely monitored. The report is important because it indicates how the attendance is building and helps to guide the allocation of conference rooms and other hotel facilities as people make requests to LA.
With a good on-site staff, many changes can be accommodated at the last minute. The convention center and hotel have amazing capacity to deal with issues as they arise, though it can be more expensive.
During the week of the Symposium the function of LA is to oversee the activities and ensure that all goes according to the daybook plan. All of the LA members must be there opening day to ensure that their activities run smoothly.
One important activity is the information booth. It is manned by volunteers and is located adjacent to the registration area. (A good source of "volunteers" is the local MTT chapter and local manufacturer representatives.) The purpose is to answer questions pertaining to all aspects of the symposium. The activity is the greatest early on the first day and diminishes rapidly thereafter. The manning of the booth should be adjusted accordingly. The booth should be stocked with the following items and have a telephone:
• Telephone directory
• Floor plans of the exhibit area
• Symposium bus schedules
• Floor plans of the Symposium site
• Listing for local restaurants
• Printout of hotel room assignments by name.
• Copy of the Daybook
• List of all hotel telephone numbers and addresses
Be sure to know the locations of the nearest telephones, restrooms, mailbox, FAX machine, copy machine, and UPS room. Other than the above you should not be surprised at any questions that are brought to the booth.
A message board is located adjacent to the information booth. Individuals can tack up messages for associates. LA has the responsibility to supply the board, tacks, notepaper, and pens.
In order to rapidly respond to problems during the Symposium, the use of handheld radios/phones is highly recommended. Provide them to convention center, MP Associates, and any on-site local committee members.
In order to be visible during the Symposium it is advisable for the Steering Committee members to wear distinctive clothing of some sort. Jackets, hats, ribbons, shirts, or vests can be used. This distinction is necessary to immediately identify us as operational people from the Symposium. This immediate recognition will facilitate dealing with Symposium personnel.
Signs are very important to help people move about the Symposium, to identify panel members and speakers, to know what the topics are in the meeting rooms, and to identify various functions such as Speakers Breakfast or Chapter Chair's Lunch.. The sign person must make sure that the signs are changed as required to ensure accuracy. The key document to be used is the Daybook since it is a complete listing of all activities. It is not a simple task and should not be taken lightly. Depending on the site facilities, 2 or more people may be required to satisfy this function. If need be you can get personnel support from Convention Services for a small fee. This cannot be overemphasized.
Build off the previous year’s work. Shadow them in their year and learn from them. Copy their documents from daybooks to RFPs shamelessly. Don’t strain to exceed the previous year’s conference, just do a good job and make it uneventful.
If possible, hire a professional. The conference is a large complex job easily handled by a few experienced professionals but handled by amateurs only with many, many unpaid hours and much stress. If the professional has done the conference before, it should be smooth sailing.
Steering Committee Presentation