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National Convention August Date Issue


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Guys -

 

It has been a long while since I've posted here, but I feel obliged to voice a concern. We seem to have fallen into a rut of August convention dates of late, and that presents an issue for many of us.

 

I understand that convention hosts are constrained by available dates, better rates, etc. that can factor heavily into the choice of dates. But I know from our own process here in Atlanta that when you're first planning this years ahead of time (we started in 2002), there are plenty of open dates.

 

Now, back to the issue at hand - the August convention dates...

 

Here in Georgia, school starts back starting as early as NEXT WEEK with some counties starting 8/1. My county starts 8/8, so this year's convention overlaps the first full week of school. As the parent of a rising first grader that will be going to "big school" for the first time, I cannot, in good conciousness leave her with child care for that important week. Yes, I am also a single dad. Maybe when my kids are older, or "other" issues clear up, this won't be as big of a deal. But I can't imagine that I'm the only one impacted by these August dates? I had to skip Orlando for the same reason (and that convention was much closer!), and REALLY hate that I have to skip Colorado, as I was initially planning for some "mountain time" when I first saw the announcement. Alas, once I looked at the calendar, I knew I was in trouble.

 

Teachers are also impacted by this. We have a couple of teachers in our local chapters, and regardless of childcare issues, they are unable to attend, and haven't been able to attend for years.

 

Now, I don't know how many other states hold their school years on the same schedule as Georgia, as I know plenty of others start school closer to labor day. But regardless of this, shouldn't we be doing everything we can to maximize the availability of the national convention to the full membership?

 

I didn't check, but was the last July convention here in Atlanta? That's the reason that I find myself wondering if we've fallen into the defacto August date, and now it's an expected and established date.

 

Nothing we can do about Colorado at this point, or Virginia Beach for that matter, but shouldn't we at least take this into consideration going forward? I wish the Colorado crew every success too, and HATE that I have to miss!

 

And, not to mix points, but looking at the apparent lack of potential bidders for 2015, isn't it high time that we consider a central location for the convention, sign a longer term contract (to gain the economic benefit of such a contract) and get this on a date that the majority of modelers can attend and plan around?

 

I get that the traveling convention venue is a long established tradition, and in many ways it's a lot of fun, but wow, we are missing out by not at least taking a look at the single location version of this?

 

I know the convention is viewed by many as a regional affair, and that they only attend if it's in their part of the country, but some of that thiking is the result of the traveling venue. By moving the convention to a central location, we do away with this, and are able to truly hold a "national convention."

 

Radical, I know, but seriously guys, it's something worth thinking about.

 

 

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Well, we did have a CBL Amendment vote a few years ago to partially address the Nats date issue ... it used to say, "Conventions will be held every year during the month of July or August." To do more might require another set of amendments...

 

Eric

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Don't think this requires an amendment at all. Just requires some bigger thinking about the dates. We're already set to have a convention during "July or August" - so, just try harder for a July date so as to not create issues for those of us with early August start dates for school. Really simple.

 

As for the fixed location, I don't think that would require amendment either, as we're already well outside of process with the old E/C/W system...

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I think we are back to the old illusion of central position. That is that no location or date suites everyone or every group. As a more senior modeler, I prefer later dates that are outside of traditional "vacation" times. I would prefer a September/October date, because the weather is cooler(I remember 112 at 11pm in Phoenix) and all the vacationers have gone home and the crowds are gone. There is also a more open availability of facilities and hotels are generally available at off season rates. Not all modelers have young families, have school issues or like to be out in the July/August heat. I think National is lucky to satisfy as many people as it does.

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You prefer them, but aren't excluded because of a date. Big difference.

 

Further more, we typically do not hold our convention in large vacation spots - Orlando, and to a lesser extend, Virginia Beach are the exceptions.

 

As for better rates, conventions rates are typically better during the summer months, as most large professional conventions hold their events OUTSIDE of the summer months - with convention season being at its height from January to April.

 

If we were to hold our convention in one location, we could quite possibly get better rates on the facility AND room rates as well.

 

So yes, it might be cooler if we held an October convention, but that's about the ONLY advantage to such a choice.

 

Also, don't we want to hold this when kids can attend the convention and get some degree of exposure to the hobby? Holding it when they can't attend (my person issues aside) also seems incredibly short sighted on our part.

Edited by pcotcher
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I would like dates in July also but know the committees get locked into dates early. Not sure how we have gotten to August but it is a trend lately but I think more by happenstance than plan. Its a good idea to try earlier and as always, there will always be conflicts. I am missing this year- wife's 50th B-day and she wants beaches, not altitude LOL

 

Dave

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I would agree that it's happenstance, and not plan, but I think there's also a degree of inertia behind the August dates, it's the way it's been lately, and as a result, anyone planning the 2015 or a 2016 convention date is stuck in the thinking - we hold an August convention, so we need to have an August date. For the longest time, we were held our conventions on the third week in July, and had inertia on that date... Just a cycle, and not a "plot" or plan to exclude.

 

Thus my point. It's easy to fall into a rut, but it's equally easy to fall into the trap of assuming that things like school schedules are the same everywhere. I know when I bring up the early August start for our schools, folks from other states are usually shocked, so maybe Georgia is the exception.

 

Point being, we can stay within the current guideline and include more people by shifting back to July dates.

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"Point being, we can stay within the current guideline and include more people by shifting back to July dates."

 

Good luck with that Paul. Several conventions were over the fourth of July. All I heard is that "we don't want to blow our holiday going to a convention". It's a holiday for gosh sake. What better time to have a convention IMHO? Anyway, after the whimpers and cries about the forth, the convention date got shifted to August in an attempt to pacify everyone. Now we get a complaint about August. I have no problem with that. You have a valid point. My point is, that unless you want the convention held during the school year, you are fast running out of weekends in the few available months we have for the convention. No matter what date is chosen, you will never make everyone happy. I guess we should resign ourselves to that fact and give the chapters as much leeway as possible when setting convention dates. If you can make it, great; if not, maybe next year.

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I remember the hue and cry regarding the conventions over the 4th of July.... I attended both in recent memory - yours in OKC, and Chicago before that.

 

That said, there are still WEEKS left in July that work - even if we don't want it on the 4th. I think the date shift to August was one that happened a couple of times due to date availability with facilities, but now, after eight years of August conventions, it seems to have gained some inertia. I am just asking that we used to hold conventions in later July and those seemed to work for the majority. For a while there, the BIGGEST conventions every were the third week in July...

 

You're right we will never make everyone happy, but there is a group (any state that starts school in early August) that is largely excluded by these convention dates. It would be an interesting exercise to see which other school systems/states had similar calendars to see if there's impact beyond just Georgia.

 

Given what I know of IPMS, I'm probably going to have an easier time getting Georgia to mandate a calendar change for school systems.... :smiley24:

 

This also continues to underscore my comments about a fixed date and location for the convention. By moving to that system there is economic benefit to be gained. There are also planning benefits to be gained. The third week in July is always the National convention (for example).

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I wish I could go to another IPMS National Convention. I haven't been to one since the 2003 Convention in Oklahoma City and I miss it dearly. Due to finances, some health issues, and the distances involved, my only wish is that a future Nationals could be held closer to home someday, such as Dallas/Ft. Worth, San Antonio, Houston, Midland, Shreveport/Bossier City, La., Oklahoma City (again), Austin, or Corpus Christi (?). It can be difficult living in the Hill Country without an IPMS Chapter nearby. Happy Modeling,

 

 

Mark Fiedler (aAzZ09)

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Paul,

 

Thanks for attending our 2001 National in Chicago. The 4th of July was on a Wednesday. For the price of two vacation days from work (July 5-6), we provided a 5-day weekend (July 4-8). There were lots of family vacation things to do here, including a trip to Six-Flags Great America. The Taste of Chicago was running then. The weather was outstanding, although the Department of Transportation decided to close some of the tollway lanes just before that week to make traffic bothersome. We could watch fireworks from any number of displays just by riding around in the revolving restaurant on top of the convention hotel. Up to that date we had the 2nd largest convention in IPMS history, and, believe this or not, we had a sponsor for EVERY category, including the splits. I was the registrar for that event. Our hotel rates were reasonable, and we had enough room nights to get the exhibition halls free. Because of this, we had one of the most profitable conventions on record.

 

The dates this year are too late for me. I am going to predict that the number of junior entries will be down considerably this year because the kids will be back in school. Let's go back to July conventions. I do not have a problem celebrating the 4th of July on vacation in another city.

 

Ed

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Indeed the Chicago experience in 2001 was outstanding! We had a blast, good food within walking distance (taste of Chicago aside), and watching fireworks was easy as you say. It's not optimal for some families, as they want to have their "home town" 4th celebration, but in 2001, it sure worked for us! OKC was fun too.

Edited by pcotcher
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Paul makes a good point. Most of us grew up with school starting close to Labor day at the end of August-beginning of September, and I think that many of us still have that idea in our mind when we think of the "school year" being basically September to June. I now have grandkids in elementary school (Ohio and Florida) and know that their year begins at the start of August. If you do not still have that contact with school kids, you may not be aware of the changes since the 1990s.

 

Oddly enough, the August dates have helped me, and July dates would be tougher for me because of way senority works on our vacation schedule. The July dates go quickly, and the August dates are open on the schedule because of school starting! So, no matter when it is held there will be a group of people inconvenienced.

 

The solution here is for our new 2nd Vice President to take the lead, guiding potential Nats bidders towards Juky dates first, if possible. He's involved witth these folks from the get-go, and can surely ask for those hosts to try for July dates, and fall back to August dates only if July dates are not a possiblitiy.

 

Personally, I'm open to having the Nats the same time, same place every year; or continuing with the same arrangement we have now. However, my flexibility is due to age and the kids being grown and (mostly) gone. My only limitation is money adn the vacation schedule at work. The good thing about our "graying" Society is that more and more of us are falling into that group! That said, I know that many are still hurt by the August dates, and there's no reason not to have the Nats in July, like we used to do regularly.

 

GIL :smiley16:

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And the "graying" as Gil so delicately puts it, of our society is NOT a great thing. We should be making sure that we have this event to as many kids as possible, and right now that is NOT the case!

 

There's a whole separate discussion about us using this show as a marketing tool for the improvement and expansion of the society, but I'll save that for another time.

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Remember there is nothing stopping a group from submitting a bid for any date in July and/or August. You don't need to convince the National Org. that one or the other is better, rather you need to convince those submitting the bids. I can't imagine a group going for a date in August if they can get a better "deal" in July, unless it's over the 4th which is a minefield as we know. The bids we get are the dates they are because the groups are getting better deals in August. In addition, conferences are being booked further and further out. Some orgs. have them set for five years or more. That locks up a lot of dates and as we usually go to the second and lower tiered convention cities, we use some of the largest venues in town. That means we're in competition with all those other groups for the best space which also cuts down on what's available when. We've batted around the question of raising the registration fees to help cover additional costs to make more dates viable, but a lot of our membership begrudges every penny and sees any increase as a "power grab" or "excessive profit".

 

So, you're a group that wants to bid. You are not a full time convention bureau nor can you afford a conference planning company, so since you are not sure of what will happen, you want to minimize the chance you lose money. What do you do? Well, you could go for a more expensive date in July and risk the increased costs, or the lower priced date in August and risk losing attendance, or go over a holiday that costs less but risk lower attendance. The chapters bidding are taking their best guess at what combination will work for them.

 

Let's not get into the "we need a permanent convention planning committee" discussion. We can barely fill the elected positions we have as it is. Where are we going to get 3-5 people to take on this load every year? And they would just be the planners, who will be the "boots on the ground" to actually run the convention year after year? As to one central location, we've had that argument before as well. One side says use one place and get a good deal, the other says I can't travel much so I like it to be near me at least once in a while. We've tried getting deals from hotel chains and some won't even talk to us as we're just too small and the irony is, for the room nights we bring to the table, we use an enormous amount of space so hotels want us to "pay" in one way or the other for all that space. We also checked out using a professional convention services company, but they are WAY out of our league cost-wise.

 

I sympathize with the members who can't afford the con, those that can't come due to dates or those that can't travel, but as has been said, no matter when or where you have it, some group is going to grumble. Until we can afford to professionally run this convention, it's going to be "Andy and Judy put on a show in the barn" and when that is and who's barn they use is up to them.

Edited by Ron Bell
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If other organizations are setting dates years in advance, why aren't we? There is SERIOUS economic benefit to going to longer term rates. We also need to find somebody in the society that's good with contracts and negotiation. When we put together our bid here in Atlanta, we had just that - and it made a BIG difference in the rates we paid and how we were able to rebate the convention hall space, etc.

 

Our members that complain about higher rates or similar changes in the national convention aren't paying attention to the fact that it's getting harder and harder to find anyone to bid on the convention. Something is going to have to be done soon to reinvent the convention, the old model just doesn't appear sustainable any longer.

 

The argument that we can't sell enough room nights is rubbish too - we functionally sold out the Waverly and the Sheraton, AND had to add an overflow hotel. We paid for the hall space from rebates against the room nights. So it CAN be done. AND that only gets better if you have a longer term contract.

 

Longer term contract also allows for completely different promotional models, longer term contracts with vendors, etc. etc. etc. The current model that says you can't promote or sell for a show until the previous show has passed is one of the major constraints that a host faces, as often times you have to contract and start planning for this two even three years ahead of the convention date, but you can't do any actual sales until a year before hand. That constraint disappears with a change in our model.

 

It might be painful the first year, but I suspect after getting through the transition, we'd find the convention would be bigger and stronger as members would quickly realize there was no "waiting until it comes to my part of the country." It would be a TRUE national convention. Properly promoted, the draw would be there.

 

This "it's always the way we've done it thinking" is not a good reason to continue with an unsustainable model.

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I pretty much agree with Ron.

 

My family long ago decided that sitting in a hotel room in a second-tier convention town while Dad eats, sleeps and breathes models from dawn til last-call in the hotel bar, for 3 days straight, is not their idea of a vacation. My family did go with me to the Orlando Nats (twice), but even then they grumbled about the heat and when was I going to stop looking at models and go with them to the parks. For me (and many of my friends) the Nationals have become a long weekend away with the guys, and my family is happy not to be dragged along.

 

The idea of having a fixed location breaks down for lack of members willing to provide slave-labor year after year; I think experience has shown that you need boots on the ground.

 

One idea: every few (4?) years, we could have a "Mega Nationals" at some prime vacation city like Orlando. I'm not sure where else might work - you need a combination of touristy stuff, cheap air fares and lots of convention space - maybe Las Vegas? If it was a repeating event, we could schedule it many years in advance and (hopefully) better compete for prime dates and venues. A repeating event could also "reuse" previous planning, maybe making it possible for a remote chapter (or two) to host and just show up the week of the show to provide labor. Everything would cost a bit more and be done on a bigger scale, with the thought that these would be the must attend events, while preserving the current (smaller,cheaper,rotating) Nationals for the other 3 out-of 4 years.

 

Don

Edited by Schmitz
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Ron,

I recall the debate about going to a single location convention a few years back. Lots of good ideas and suggestions were presented. I really appreciate the E-board taking time to research the possibility. You guys came up with the solution I predicted. Unfortunately, the big problem is that our conventions just use too much square footage when weighed against the number of room nights we sell. To avoid the same debate every few years, why not put together a report that states all the questions and the answers they generated as a result of the E-board's research for the membership to see and download if needed?

 

Personally, I think the convention will progress with the local chapters hosting as they have been. Hopefully new ideas and possibilities will open up to improve future conventions.

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Rusty - I hear what you're saying, but the debate SHOULD come up every few years. Times change, economics change, any number of factors could shift to make a different model more viable.

 

Just because we've dismissed it once doesn't mean we shouldn't periodically investigate it to see if there's a better way?

 

My gut tells me that beyond just centralizing the location and going to longer term contracts, there are loads of other things we could do to make the convention better - unfortunately we get stuck in the "that's always the way we've done it." mode, and we don't like having debates about if there's a better way, so after 50 years, little has changed.

 

Our unwillingness to change is a big factor in the reason why we've seen so many other modeling organizations spring up over the several years. Used to be just the NNL shows, now AMPS has a whole network of shows. There was a day when they used to ALL be under the IPMS umbrella.

 

We're getting pretty far afield though of my original assertion:

 

We need to try to move back to July dates as I think MORE of the membership can attend because of school conflicts that arise with August convention dates. The August dates are something that I think have become unintentionally institutionalized over the last decade, and I'm just putting the word out there to potential impact that they have.

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"Rusty - I hear what you're saying, but the debate SHOULD come up every few years. Times change, economics change, any number of factors could shift to make a different model more viable."

 

I agree. The report could answer most questions ahead of time and give any future folks a starting point concerning the "one convention site" subject.

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Ron's points reflect his years of experience in the evaluation of bids for the Nationals. One host chapter's experience cannot necessarily be extrapolated to everywhere. There is one inescapable fact, however. We have to take the bid or bids we get. It is unlikely that a prospective host would not select the safest combination of time, place and cost. The host chapter takes on some considerable risk in putting on a National, as does the National Organization, which under our Constitution must indemnify the host in the event of a loss. Regarding very long planning-four, five years or more, the risk is instability of the prospective host chapter over that great a period of time. One central location year after year would require a commitment from one or a few chapters ad infinitum. We cannot expect that much sacrifice and work from anyone. There are not enough members of the E-Board to do all the work under a single central location system. Relying on volunteers who show up on site for the first time on the first day of the Convention would lead to too much confusion. Hiring professional convention planners would be too costly!

 

There is no prohibition from putting the Convention on in July and therefore nothing to prevent chapters submitting National bids for that month. The fact that lately the bids all specify an August date suggests that there is some advantage to that month. A polling of chapters who have submitted bids over the past five years, inquiring why they chose August over July might provide evidence for supporting the logical conclusion they found it advantageous to do so. I assume no one would suggest that the E-Board select a weak bid simply because it fell in the month of July.

 

Given the time, work , worry and risk of putting on a National- not to mention the modeling time these brave, hardworking people are willing to give up, we should probably be grateful for any Convention anywhere, anytime. I know I am. We will never meet everyone's needs and wants, but what system ever does? Nick Filippone

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Under the current system, one problem of going out more than two years is chapter turn over. Almost every convention experiences the loss of at least one committee chairman for some reason, job change, move, death, whatever. Add another year to that and you increase the chance that you're going to lose more chairmen and/or workers. In addition, chapter membership changes in four years. Ours sure does. The guys that would be expected to put the show on may not have even been in the chapter when the bid was submitted and will have little or no nationals experience.

 

And as to room nights, Paul's point about selling out hotels for one convention in a large city that is an airline hub in a highly populated area aside, we do NOT produce the room nights needed by the larger convention facilities in most larger cities. We usually get around 1,700 room nights over a 4-5 day period. For a national convention, that's not a lot.

 

And to say that the transition may take an adjustment, who wants to bid on that possibility for failure? As you say, we already have a scarcity of bidders. We'd have even fewer with that hanging over their heads.

 

As an aside, we already have members griping about the price of the hotel rooms and the banquet. That's not going to go down in a larger city or in the hotels we have to use to get the facilities we need.

 

Paul, I'm with you. We need to change. However, In a volunteer society we just can't manage running a convention the way the pro's or larger organizations do it. Either we completely re-invent the convention in some way (i.e: only 2 days long, no tours/seminars, use college facilities and stay in dorms, use State Fair grounds and stay in hotels on your own with no activities beyond the contest and venders, etc. etc.), get use to Andy and Judy's show, cause it's going to be with us until we figure this out.

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Ok 3rd week in July, Omaha......Right in the middle of the country and in the dead of summer. Not to sure how the Omaha contingent will feel about this ;-)

 

Orrrrrrrr, you take the numbers of the best 3 to 4 sites across the country per region and have it rotate. Again those same 4 cities will probably get tired of doing it once every 3 to 4 years.

 

 

Orrrrrrrr, we ride the wave as long as we can and then go into crisis management when no one bids. Works for our FD that I'm a part of LOL.

 

 

What kinda gets me is that some years we get 3 bidders, other times we get 0 and start hoping someone bids. Why can't those that lost a bid try again???

 

I know what you're gettin at Paul, When I heard Disneyworld was the spot for last year I was overjoyed at the prospect of killing two birds with one stone and taking the family. Butttttt just like you my boy started school the week of the convention so the only way we could do it was to go early and Disney didn't really want to open up to many dates for us. I think they went as far as the weekend before. So I;m not flying across the country for 2 days of mousetown and then flying them back while I wait for the convention to start on Wednesday.

As others have said, you can't please everyone and I get that, it's just the way the ball bounces. My boy has even started to make noises about wanting to go with me but he would be bored out of his mind after day 1 so he needs to get alot older but the days comming and I woudl hate to ahve to tell him no because of school. it's to bad that the trend of school starting so dang early is upon us as my boy starts the same day as your daughter. Also sorry to hear that your a single dad.... That sucks.

 

 

Jim

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Ok 3rd week in July, Omaha......Right in the middle of the country and in the dead of summer. Not to sure how the Omaha contingent will feel about this ;-)

 

Orrrrrrrr, you take the numbers of the best 3 to 4 sites across the country per region and have it rotate. Again those same 4 cities will probably get tired of doing it once every 3 to 4 years.

 

 

Orrrrrrrr, we ride the wave as long as we can and then go into crisis management when no one bids. Works for our FD that I'm a part of LOL.

 

 

What kinda gets me is that some years we get 3 bidders, other times we get 0 and start hoping someone bids. Why can't those that lost a bid try again???

 

I know what you're gettin at Paul, When I heard Disneyworld was the spot for last year I was overjoyed at the prospect of killing two birds with one stone and taking the family. Butttttt just like you my boy started school the week of the convention so the only way we could do it was to go early and Disney didn't really want to open up to many dates for us. I think they went as far as the weekend before. So I;m not flying across the country for 2 days of mousetown and then flying them back while I wait for the convention to start on Wednesday.

As others have said, you can't please everyone and I get that, it's just the way the ball bounces. My boy has even started to make noises about wanting to go with me but he would be bored out of his mind after day 1 so he needs to get alot older but the days comming and I woudl hate to ahve to tell him no because of school. it's to bad that the trend of school starting so dang early is upon us as my boy starts the same day as your daughter. Also sorry to hear that your a single dad.... That sucks.

 

 

Jim

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I've NEVER understood the people who cite "the heat of summer" for any location (and Jim, an Arizonan, complaining of heat in Nebraska? :smiley29: ). The convention is (for all practical purposes) 3-4 days in an air conditioned hotel! If it were the dead of winter, the heat would be on! So to me, except for extreme weather that affects travel, I've never gotten why people put any stock in the weather at the IPMSUSA Nats.

 

As to why those "losers" don't rebid....there are two main reasons.

1) First and foremost, their original bid was based on specific facilities and times, and once that didn't pan out, that deal was null and void. They might be able to put a bid together again, but it would be like starting from scratch again. They simply cannot re-submit their past bid again, as they have no current deal to bid with!

2) Second, there are sometimes some very hard feelings on the losing committee. Whether or not those feelings are justified does NOT matter! Those individuals simply do NOT want to rebid again! And, many times, especially if those people were the driving force behind the first bid, there's not enough people or the right (experienced, motivated) people to put another bid together.

 

Also, and I'm speaking purely personally here, I've never understood the vacation/IPMS Nats combo; EXCEPT as a matter of budget. Family comes first, so I understand those who have to choose family time and cut the Nats. I do NOT understand their expectation that IPMSUSA choose bids that make it more convenient for the member's family. The Nats is for US, the members! As others have mentioned, it's usually best when we go it alone, leaving wives and kids (who'd be bored and nag us) behind. That's one reason that if we could ever work out the logistics and budget, I favor having it at the same location year in and out. Want to tour museums, see airshows, and see the country; do so! But do NOT expect IPMSUSA to seek those attributes in their Nats hosts!

 

GIL :smiley16:

Edited by ghodges
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