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To comment on some of Gil's recent posts, Region 1 has offered a bid, albeit 30 years ago under my admin. Bids then, as now, were hard to secure and we felt a NE bid could be attractive to a lot of people who do like to go different places. They put together a wonderful bid and everything looked good, but even then the costs associated with hosting our convention were roughly 50% higher and rooms were higher still than other good bids. The profit split between host chapter and IPMS/USA has been at 50% each since I can remember, so I'm guessing at least 35 years. I am not so sure Gil's concept of a subsidized convention is so radical at all, and the national could fund doing so by changing the ratio from 50/50 to 60/40 since they are now handling registrations to attend (not contest). That may not be popular with the host chapter, but they need to realize a big chunk of the work has been taken off their shoulders. I think changing the ratio would require a constitutional amendment but it could be done. There is already a convention fund so that would not need an amendment to direct the money into it. I prefer to go to different locations too, but it appears we are rapidly gaining a solid group of regular bidders so it could come to that unfortunately.

 

A final comment, regardless of some opinions out there, contest results show a regional bias ONLY because most entries are from a regional area. The judges certainly have been fair and totally unbiased since I started judging and that's close to 20 times now in a 25 year period.

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I do not favor a single site for the national convention, or even a rotation through three sites. (West, Central, East) I believe that we would see a decline in attendance, a centralization of location of winning entries, a very rapid burnout of the local club(s), and a social and organizational stratification of membership based upon whether one is a member of the host chapter or non-host chapter. None of these problems currently exist due to the location of a national convention. They will become issues if IPMS goes to a single location. I agree with Vlad.

 

 

I agree with Dick and the others.

For myself, my wife and my young son, we use the the Nationals each year as the starting point of our annual vacation. We take in the Con, the tours and then spend an additional 3 or 4 days to go exploring on our own.

If the Nationals were held in the same 3 cities (East, Central, West) It honestly wouldn't take long for me to start skipping the Nats. Yes, I would miss the Contest, seminars and Vendor room. But I would give up that before sitting in the same cities year after year.

I would like to see the Nats downsize to a smaller city - yep maybe there would be a little less to do, but it would be someplace different to explore. But then again you would need a club willing to work on a Con. Just my 2¢.

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Yep, Kevin. You've got it. Our trip to Columbus this year was two weeks and 5,000 miles, and 13 states. A "straight line" shot is about 2,600 so we definitely wandered around a bit.

One of the greatest joys for me at a convention was to be able to spend some time in Disney World while at the Orlando convention. I spent plenty of time and not a small amount of cash in the vendor area so they got their pound of flesh, as it were. Seeing local sites is, for me, part of the experience and certainly one of the prime motivations and should not be considered a distraction.

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I do not favor a single site for the national convention, or even a rotation through three sites. (West, Central, East)

 

We have gotten pretty close to having a standard rotation lately with a new city, Columbia, thrown in for variety.

This is not because of any official policy, rather it is the effect of the skyrocketing costs and our need for low density (large floor space vs low hotel rooms) pricing.

The venue from 2005 has more than doubled in cost since then and will likely be "out of our league" forever at this point.

 

Perhaps the suggestion for non-convention center venues has some merit.

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If this discussion has done anything, it's resulted in some very interesting and creative alternatives to the current Convention system. One thing that has become apparent is that there are significant aspects of the current system that we either don't want to change or shouldn't. Still others...such as a non-convention center venue...could be a smart move. Will changes be made? Certainly. That's inevitable given the economics of the day, constant price increases, our own Convention requirements and on and on. It's interaction such as what is occurring on this thread that is needed to help guide us in the right direction.

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I was disappointed when Las Vegas dropped out. That would have been a fun trip.

 

I appreciate the efforts that the host clubs go to to put on the Nationals. At this point, location is irrelevant. Being close to historic sites

or aircraft museums is a bonus.

 

The concern to have is what happens when zero bids come in. Then what?

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Interesting to read the comments here, as they always are after the National Convention. I, for one, tend to support a more centralized show, or series of shows, I also support getting away from the local host model, as for local chapters, the ask is getting more onerous all the time.

 

I do read all the comments about wanting the convention to wander as that's the basis for some people's vacations - we were actually returning to Columbus from Michigan, so we did the same thing this year. That said, there's a fallacy with the wandering model that I have not seen addressed. Right now our NATIONAL convention is really a super-regional. A lot of folks wait for the show to come to their part of the country to attend. So I get the west coast angst over Phoenix getting skipped, as it's been a while since we were out there. But, we've patterned folks into this way of thinking, which means we can begin to pattern them the other direction...

 

As far as 1st tier vs. 2nd tier cities (which it what the meeting planning world would call it) - that does come down to expense. Somebody needs to look up their MSAs to understand that we've had shows in some of the biggest cities in the country - Atlanta, Phoenix and Chicago are all top ten. But the expenses are definitely higher. We've done some investigating here in Atlanta as there is at least some degree of interest in holding another show here, but the expenses are definitely high - just the two meeting halls for the duration of the show are nearly $35,000 - that is before you add on ANYTHING else.

 

I've also burst one common bubble in making these calls - one which I was espousing as recently as the Columbus show - that multi-year contracts would save us money. That is actually not the case! In talking with the convention bureau here, the facility expense does not come down if you sign a multi-year deal. There may be other concessions, but, nothing all that major. The convention/meeting planning business is booming, and facilities are all booked and not standing idle.

 

So, with those things in mind, the central or big-city convention may not be as practical as some (myself included) think.

 

That said, some things still have to change - we need to look no further than the lessons learned from Columbus:

 

1 - The two year planning horizon is broken. Finding space two years out in a desirable time slot is difficult. Columbus's scheduling issues with the rooms were all because the facility had another convention booked 2.5 years ahead of us (the CCH group that was in all our rooms up to Wednesday morning).

 

2 - The one year promotion/funding model is broken - Waiting until after the previous show is passed is a severe problem for most chapters, as when you book the space upon successfully bidding, you cannot collect any funds until a year later. Often times over the course of that year, you have further deposits and payments that are required. While hosts that have leftover surplus may be able to absorb the expense, many chapters cannot.

 

3 - We are a SMALL organization. Never was this more apparent than when the pink ladies descended on Columbus (31 was the name of the group). No more hotel rooms, 2-3 hour waits in restaurants, etc. There are so many organizations out there with much larger memberships and much deeper pockets, we have to face the fact that we need to find places that can support us, while avoiding those kinds of conflicts.

 

4 - We reinvent the convention every year. There are so many things that have gotten far more standardized - such as the way the national contest runs - but there are still things that seem to go through the reinvention/relearning process year after year. Largely because we rely on different hosts to run the show.

 

So, given what I've learned since we've been back, I'm not as certain as I was before about the one-location show - I think it requires more conversation, but, there are other steps that we can take in the interim to help us improve the show:

 

1. Lose the local host. There are enough members to run volunteer slots, with any number of incentives to help build the volunteer group - I read some great ones from Gil above.

 

2. Fund improvements in show infrastructure through the monies that have come in from past shows. While nobody wants to touch our nest egg, if ALL of the surplus goes to the national organization, then there is more money that can be applied to improving show infrastructure.

 

3. If we continue to move the show, let cities bid on the show, instead of local chapters. Any city with any kind of facilities have the capacity to do this. Let the cities compete to give us the best options. We don't need anyone on the ground in the host city except for a couple of times, especially if it's a city where we've been before.

 

4. Build a central committee, much like the competition committee to run the show. If you centralize operations like sponsorships, vendor coordination, etc. those operations get much easier. Plus you can have multi-year contracts and signups from vendors, etc. as you're no longer worrying about the "next show" overshadowing the current show.

 

5. Conventions can be planned and laid out YEARS in advance, which removes all the issues for space conflicts.

 

6. With a little success, we can get to the point where we can pay a management company to run our show with only oversight from the national organization. And with a volunteer pool, this expense doesn't have to be large, it just needs to manage the show.

 

Making this change would be much easier and more digestible for the membership, plus, we no longer worry about burning out host chapters. I know after 2005 (and some of YOUR comments), Atlanta chapters took big hit. I can find similar comments and issues with a number of other hosts (at least one host from recent years is swearing "never again") - that needs to go away.

 

And, of course, this is only the infrastructural changes that we need - I'll save the more sacred stuff for some other time.

 

Just my brain dump for today...

Edited by pcotcher

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The venue from 2005 has more than doubled in cost since then and will likely be "out of our league" forever at this point.

 

 

Actually not true - they've only had a modest increase since 2005, we paid $3900 per hall, per day, and now it's $4200 per hall per day.

 

(he says cringing for the fact that it's actually being talked about here)

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I think it would be interesting to get some input on just how the IPMS UK Scale Modelworld affair is organized, run, and funded. I know there are many differences between it and the Nats (e.g. duration, tours, seminars, etc.), but it's been running successfully for many years. It would be good to hear about their experiences.

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A national convention committee has been kicked around for several years. The single biggest hang up has been who's going to take on running a national convention every year as a volunteer? We have one opposed race for office in this year's election and that's unusual as normally there are none! If this is taken as any kind of indicator as to how many volunteers we can expect for this committee, which will have to do actual work year in and year out, getting such a committee together doesn't look very likely.

 

Many functions currently handled by the locals could be done by the national, such as vendors, seminars, speakers, and volunteer solicitation. The registrations that still go to the local hosts by snail mail could be routed to the national. It can be done. However, that means the logical officers to do these things, 1st VP for vendors for example, will have their work loads increase enormously. We would, in effect, be creating a national convention committee consisting of E-board members and maybe a few others but given what I said above about getting people to run for offices, with the increased work load, I think we may run out of candidates very quickly. It would also take several Constitutional and By Law amendments, and we all know what luck we have in getting those passed.

 

In 14 years of doing this, what I have been told why clubs don't bid is:

- Lack of an appropriate, financially feasible venue and hotels.

- The lack of commitment from the club to WANT to do it.

- Having a large enough club.

 

We may need to spend some money to solve this conundrum, one way or another or find 4-6 people willing to shoulder the load for years at a time. We pay our office manager, maybe we pay our convention managers. Maybe we take what would be the part of the proceeds that normally goes to the host and give it to these managers. If we make $40K, $20K goes to them, split as many ways are there are managers. Just a thought.

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I think it would be interesting to get some input on just how the IPMS UK Scale Modelworld affair is organized, run, and funded. I know there are many differences between it and the Nats (e.g. duration, tours, seminars, etc.), but it's been running successfully for many years. It would be good to hear about their experiences.

First thing, we need to shrink the lower 48 significantly so we can apply the UK model.

 

uk_usa_map_Overlay.jpg

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Bruce,

 

You're entirely correct. This is also something that few people think about when they agitate for the way things are done in Europe being copied in the U.S. Direct applications...even semi-direct applications...don't transfer for a multitude of reasons, the first of which is the sheer size differential. Then there's attitude, culture, transportation options, etc., ad nauseum...............

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Scale Model World is so different from our show that other than involving plastic models, there is really no way to compare the two other than in contrast to each other.

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For the folks who've actually run a Nats, would upping our prices to those comparable with other hobby shows open up more venues and attract more potential hosts? Basic registration at the model railroad shows is about $150, and then everything else (seminars, tours, banquets, etc.) are extra. I'm pretty sure an extra $50 or even $100 for registration would have little impact on a lot of the "regulars" at the Nats, I don't know how much it would effect the more casual attendees.

 

Don

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Consider…. Does the convention have to be held in a traditional hotel/convention center? I don’t think so. Sure, the convenience is great, but can we consider alternative venues, such as a university? Many have large facilities that could accommodate our needs, and given that the Nats is held in the summer, demand and prices may be lower.

 

Steven,

 

We've had this discussion before (I've made similar suggestions in the past - e.g. ski-resorts during the summer). We don't strictly need a convention center, but it simplifies so many other things that the lower costs are not as significant as you think. You need a site with good accessibility by air, as half of the attendees do not drive. Which also means you need transport from the airport to the venue, and if the model show is not right next to the hotel(s), you need a shuttle service (because a lot of the out-of-town attendees don't want to spend $40 a day for a rental car that isn't going anywhere). If the location is too remote, there are no restaurants near by, which adds more to the out of pocket cost if you have to eat the hotel restaurant. If you just have a big empty warehouse or hangar, you need to bring in tables and cater food. Using a convention center just simplifies many things.

 

Its not accurate to say that we can't hold a Nats in big city - we can't hold a Nats in a big city that is not a convention city. Places like Orlando have worked because they have the necessary infrastructure in volume; there are many competing convention sites there to keep the prices down.

Edited by Schmitz

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A national convention committee has been kicked around for several years. The single biggest hang up has been who's going to take on running a national convention every year as a volunteer? We have one opposed race for office in this year's election and that's unusual as normally there are none! If this is taken as any kind of indicator as to how many volunteers we can expect for this committee, which will have to do actual work year in and year out, getting such a committee together doesn't look very likely.

 

Many functions currently handled by the locals could be done by the national, such as vendors, seminars, speakers, and volunteer solicitation. The registrations that still go to the local hosts by snail mail could be routed to the national. It can be done. However, that means the logical officers to do these things, 1st VP for vendors for example, will have their work loads increase enormously. We would, in effect, be creating a national convention committee consisting of E-board members and maybe a few others but given what I said above about getting people to run for offices, with the increased work load, I think we may run out of candidates very quickly. It would also take several Constitutional and By Law amendments, and we all know what luck we have in getting those passed.

 

In 14 years of doing this, what I have been told why clubs don't bid is:

- Lack of an appropriate, financially feasible venue and hotels.

- The lack of commitment from the club to WANT to do it.

- Having a large enough club.

 

We may need to spend some money to solve this conundrum, one way or another or find 4-6 people willing to shoulder the load for years at a time. We pay our office manager, maybe we pay our convention managers. Maybe we take what would be the part of the proceeds that normally goes to the host and give it to these managers. If we make $40K, $20K goes to them, split as many ways are there are managers. Just a thought.

 

 

Good points Ron - however, I think these are more easily solved than you may think.....

 

National Convention Committee should not be run by the executive board, but by those that have experience. You have a pool of past convention chairmen (myself included) that would be good candidates to ROTATE through for supervising the national committee. Same thing with vendors, sponsorships, etc.

 

Also, when you take on the economies of planning multiple events at the same time, the jobs will actually get far more simple year after year. Registration becomes more streamlined and a consistent repeatable process. Once you register for the convention once, you're registered for all future conventions, as it's the same system over and over. The convention website becomes an extension of the national website, etc.

 

Sponsors can sponsor the same category year over year, etc. etc. etc.

 

So again, you pull the staff from volunteers, but from volunteers that have done it before. In the short term you pull volunteers from the national pool, and then over time as the process gets more canned, you can farm it out to a professional planning group or similar.

 

In the early term, you spend the money on infrastructure - adapt our growing and improving systems so they can run on mobile devices and develop apps to help us run the show, etc. It would sure appear that we have the money to do this, and again, if we are no longer splitting the money with a host chapter (or group of chapters), there will be more money by which the national organization can use to continually improve the management of the show.

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Scale Model World is so different from our show that other than involving plastic models, there is really no way to compare the two other than in contrast to each other.

 

Agreed, but throwing all the central location stuff aside, we REALLY should look at some of the other things they do there, as I think we leave a lot of modelers behind with the contest-centric format (among other things) - but that's a whole separate discussion.

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Please remember that a National Contest Coordinator at the IPMS/USA level will always be dealing with four Nationals simultaneously. In present times, these are:

-- Convention Past (Columbus) wrapping up the post-mortem reports and financial statements and details

-- Convention Present (Columbia) getting all the details in place and the the many wheels turning (Prediction: Within a month from now there will be members clamoring for Omaha hotel reservation information so they can be first in line.)

-- Convention Future (Omaha) with settlement of contracts with the facilities and coordination with the hosts for planning the localized touches

-- Convention Future (2018) with preliminary bid presentations and venue searches leading to tentative commitments

 

This load if added to elected 1st and 2nd VPs on top of their other established duties in their volunteer offices will indeed limit the number of persons stepping forward to put their lives permanently on hold. For those of you who have never done the 4-year process personally, you can't understand the strain this puts on family life. Any time (24/7) some detail goes foul or might have been just discovered as a new wrinkle, it is a drop-everything priority for somebody to resolve the issue.

 

Been there; done that ... for 2001 Chicago (and it took two tries to win the bid).

 

Ed

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That's why we do as Paul suggested and have a new board of 3 to 4 people run the convention and answer to the E-board. We could do as the NMRA does and have a group of member's who's job it is to coordinate the Nats. Those people for their efforts would receive free room and transport to the convention. I'm thinking that's a pretty cheap way to attract members to do this while avoiding a professional to come in and do it.

 

Jim

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Bruce,

 

You're entirely correct. This is also something that few people think about when they agitate for the way things are done in Europe being copied in the U.S. Direct applications...even semi-direct applications...don't transfer for a multitude of reasons, the first of which is the sheer size differential. Then there's attitude, culture, transportation options, etc., ad nauseum...............

Dick, I'm not advocating going to the UK model. I would just like some more information on how it's run. I learned a bit being at Telford and talking to some of the IPMS UK exec members, but I'd like more information. I do know that they have a regular group or committee which deals with Scale Modelworld every year. I know that they contract with the venue for several years at a time. Forget about traveling times and distances... I think it would be useful to see who does what, and just how they go about organizing and financing it.

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That's why we do as Paul suggested and have a new board of 3 to 4 people run the convention and answer to the E-board. We could do as the NMRA does and have a group of member's who's job it is to coordinate the Nats. Those people for their efforts would receive free room and transport to the convention. I'm thinking that's a pretty cheap way to attract members to do this while avoiding a professional to come in and do it.

 

Jim

I think it's more than 3-4 people, but you're right, plus if you're no longer shepherding local chapters through their bids, hosting and financial wrap-up, the focus of the elected office becomes very different.

 

Our staff for 2005 consisted of:

 

Chairman

Chairman Emeritus (somebody that had done it before - and could advise on pitfalls)

Coordinators For:

Vendors

Sponsors

Facilities

Hotels

Seminars

Raffle

Publicity

Contest

Finance

Legal

 

Some get simplified (particularly finance and legal) if you don't have to reinvent the 501C3 wheel each time a new host comes, but others are going to be required on an ongoing basis. I am not advocating that we put this load on the national officers, but rather we build a convention committee out of those with past experience.

 

I'll even volunteer to work with those interested to build the proposals of how it would work. Obviously, it would be VERY different from the host chapter method, so when considering this, you really must decouple your thinking as to how the "old way" works, as this would be VERY different (but to the attendees the convention would be the same).

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We may need to spend some money to solve this conundrum, one way or another or find 4-6 people willing to shoulder the load for years at a time. We pay our office manager, maybe we pay our convention managers. Maybe we take what would be the part of the proceeds that normally goes to the host and give it to these managers. If we make $40K, $20K goes to them, split as many ways are there are managers. Just a thought.

 

Ron,

 

I suggested several years ago that a central team could be had as there are those of US who would volunteer to do it. As for pay, I would do the job as annual vendor coordinator in exchange for airfare to the convention city and a room comped from the hotel. In fact, I could take the std mileage rate instead of plane fare to closer events (6-8 hours?) as it would likely save the Society money. IIRC, our 2005 event had enough room nights offered by the hotel for our key staff as we filled our block very early (correct me if I am wrong. Paul)

I think that there would be volunteers for the 4 key roles (Conv Mgr, Vendor Mgr, Contest Mgr, and Seminar Mgr) if similar arrangements could be made for these key show runners. Some roles could be repeatable year after year, but others (especially the Big Kahuna job) would have to rotate at least every other year. In fact, we could probably get enough volunteers to have two complete teams (Blue & Gold, Odd & Even, Shirts & Skins, etc) to alternate every other year. The continuity in those roles would prove beneficial, IMO.

Edited by jcorley

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For the folks who've actually run a Nats, would upping our prices to those comparable with other hobby shows open up more venues and attract more potential hosts? Basic registration at the model railroad shows is about $150, and then everything else (seminars, tours, banquets, etc.) are extra. I'm pretty sure an extra $50 or even $100 for registration would have little impact on a lot of the "regulars" at the Nats, I don't know how much it would effect the more casual attendees.

 

Don

 

No - we have far too many that show up every year and buy GA passes simply because they want to shop and only join when they want to compete. All raising our prices would do is to either force more into this category or into the "it's too expensive" camp.

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Our staff for 2005 consisted of:

 

Chairman

Chairman Emeritus (somebody that had done it before - and could advise on pitfalls)

Coordinators For:

Vendors

Sponsors

Facilities

Hotels

Seminars

Raffle

Publicity

Contest

Finance

Legal

 

 

I ended up doing Vendors and Facilities after one member opted to go to Pittsburgh the week of our show.

 

Not all of these jobs need to be done by a permanent committee - Finance is already being done by USA as the local shows don't even get to touch the money anymore - and some can only be done by somebody in the local area (publicity, facilities & hotel contacts)

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This might bear looking into. If we could find 4-6 individuals willing to take this on for room/travel expenses, that would be great. I'm not sure about having two teams. That would mean one team would be bidding out/organizing a convention that the other group would have to pick up mid-stream and run.

 

Anyway, taking this idea and running with it (to no where in particular)...This is off the top of my head, which, admittedly, isn't too high up.

 

First off, we'd need more help at the national office as the amount of business there will increase. ALL pre-registrations, electronic or mail, all vender payments and all sponsorships will go there. Awards will be purchased by the national and although somewhat personalized for a convention, will be of a standardized format. (Or maybe one of several standard types provided by a selected vender.) We'd also standardize the convention web site. We don't need a new one every year. Each one does the same stuff but in a different form. We could standardize this and just plug in the current logo, information and dates each year. This would be handled by the national org.

 

Convention Chairman - Would work with one of many services that find venues in cities. They don't charge as they get "kick back" from the venues, kind of like a travel agent. They'd be the venue point of contact and they'd also make sure all the other chairmen are doing what they are suppose to do and have what they need to do it. Would also serve as liaison to the national organization to coordinate what they are doing (e.g. registration, web site, awards, etc) with what the committee needs.

 

Vender Chairman - Would recruit and sign up venders. Would design the lay out of the venders area and be responsible for checking in the venders at the show.

 

Contest/Awards Chairman - Responsible for the lay-out and set up of the contest room and providing support for the National judging and recording teams. Would also handle obtaining and having delivered and distributing the national awards and convention pins.

 

Registration Chairman - Would handle on site registration and pre-registration materials distribution, would obtain the materials for and preparation of "goodie bags" and all registration materials, i.e. name badges, banquet tickets, etc.

 

Logistics Chairman - Responsible for all signage, including in the contest room, purchasing of convention office supplies, arranging AV services and any necessary table or other equipment rentals.

 

The Convention, Vender and Contest chairman would have to make at least two site visits that would be paid for by the national. One for the selection of the site and the other for planning purposes.

 

There are, of course, a million details missing, but how's this for a start? Not saying we're going to do this, just thinking out loud.

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