Thursday, June 14, 2012

How does ASET Select Annual Conference locations?

I have received more than a few comments about the location of the 2012 Annual Conference in St. Paul, MN.  Some people are puzzled by our selection of this location.  They ask: “Why St. Paul?”  Being from the East Coast myself, I will admit to having had a bit of an elitist attitude about other areas of the country in years past.  It seems like folks from the West Coast are prone to the same kind of thinking.  We tend to think that both coasts are great!  But the Midwest?? Images of corn fields, prairies, cities where things are produced that we use, but not many places we would want to visit.  I get the impression from folks in Boston, Philadelphia and Los Angeles, that the only city they are interested in visiting in this area of the country would be Chicago!  In my role for ASET, I have had the opportunity to visit some really lovely cities in the Midwest.  It has been a pleasant revelation. 
An official representative of ASET conducts a site visit to the city and the hotels we are considering for future ASET conferences, prior to signing any contracts.  St. Paul offers a nice, clean, walkable downtown, a riverfront hotel, and the Mall of America is easily accessible.  The geographic location means that it won’t be a transcontinental flight for either East coast or West coast attendees.
So why not Chicago??  The bottom line is that hotel rooms and meeting spaces in Chicago, Boston  and New York City are way too expensive for us.  We strive to select meeting locations that will include affordable hotel rooms for attendees, and reasonable prices for meeting spaces, as well as for the catered food and beverages we must order.  We understand that many techs are paying their own way to meetings these days, and that if funds are available, they are limited.  So, to avoid increasing registration fees we must shop for the most economically feasible meeting locations.  Some hotels offer us better deals than others, and some cities are outside of our price range.
We also try to rotate the annual conference location through various regions of America, so that all of our members will have a chance of attending a fairly local meeting at some point. 
Here is my checklist of important factors to be considered when choosing a city for a future ASET Annual Conference:
·        Geographic location is selected in reference to past and future meeting sites
·        Airport access must be convenient and also offer affordable ground transportation to our meeting site
·        Large medical centers within driving distance to help support the conference with potential speakers and local attendees
·        Reasonable hotel room rates for our attendees and good prices on meeting space and food.
·        Other attractive features: family destinations with local attractions, or resort amenities, entertainment and restaurants that will be interesting for our guests.
So, please consider coming to the ASET 2012 Annual Conference in St. Paul, and rethink any prior thoughts you may have about this lovely city.  I am so pleased that for the first time in years, we are able to include a Saturday night social excursion, a dinner cruise on a riverboat.  We have chartered the entire boat, so this will be a very special event.  Please don’t miss it!

And here is the ARG clue for those of you who did not read it in my last blog entry:
 Fantastic Neuro-Voyage Mission Clue # 2:
The Fantastic Neuro-Voyage team is having trouble navigating against the flow of blood as they are nearing the heart. Flow from the heart is too strong for the nuclear engines to overcome. They have sent a message to the support team of scientists and physicians about what can be done to overcome the powerful force of the blood flow against the small size of their vessel.