Q: How is the conference location chosen?
A: Requests for Proposals are sent out to several venues where the conference has been held in the past, or where the Facilities Coordinator believes would be a suitable host. The proposals are then reviewed, and the location is chosen during a bi-monthly membership meeting. Sometimes a survey is sent out to the membership to see where location interest is the greatest.
Q: I'm a speaker, why do I have to register and pay for my conference attendance?
A: CASFM's goal is to make the conference as affordable as possible for everyone. We also want to have speakers that are especially engaged in the conference and in the Colorado floodplain and stormwater community. Therefore, our primary interest is having speakers that are interested in the conference enough, that they are willing to attend the conference as a whole and pay for their registration. Given that - all speakers as well as all CASFM Officers and Conference Planning team members register and pay for their attendance.
Q: Okay - I'll Register. Is there a speaker's discount?
A: No - see the above question. CASFM gains no net revenue from the conference. Every penny that is brought in through registration fees and exhibitor fees is spent on food, Audio Visual, program printing, and other direct costs. Any reduction in the speaker's registration would have to go into an increased registration cost for everybody else. Nearly half of the conference registrants are speakers or someone else that would qualify for a discount.
Q: I really only want to attend something on Wednesday afternoon. Why aren't one day rates available?
A: Similar to the speaker questions above, we don't have one-day rates because developing, implementing, and enforcing these kinds of rates is simply too difficult. The CASFM conference is one of the most affordable conferences of this caliber you will ever find and it is not set up to be cherry picked. People are encouraged to attend the entire conference as much as possible, and therefore we do not set up single day rates.
Q: Where does all the money go?
A: The conference expenses ledger is huge on food and A/V. We never pay specifically for space rental, those costs are made up in food and beverage costs as well as the A/V. Breakfasts on Wed, Thurs, and Fri generally total $15,000. Lunch on Wed and Thurs total $26,000. The Awards Dinner runs about $23,000. The Three Social Hours total $12,000. Breaks cost $6,000. Audio/Visual runs about $18,000. At the end of the week, Food, beverage, and A/V total more than $100,000. Throw in expenses like programs, name badges, credit card fees, registration costs, and few others and then you're talking about the price of a small house.
Q: Is there anything I can do to help control costs?
A: Yes - Think about taking a second plate when you visit the buffet. Conference centers don't have a good way of figuring out exactly how many people get served, so they count plates or silverware sets that get used. When you go back to the breakfast or lunch buffet and second or third time, we pay for an additional full meal. At $30 or more per plate, that can start to add up.
Q: The hotel filled up before I could make my reservation. What's the deal?
A: CASFM enters into a contractual agreement with each hotel that hosts the conference. The contract guarantees the hotel a certain amount of revenue through food, A/V, and hotel rooms. When the contract is signed, the hotel takes a specific number of rooms out of availability for our conference attendees. Usually, the hotel has enough extra rooms available, that getting a room all the way up to the conference date is not a problem. Other times, the hotel is able to book another meeting during the same time as our conference. When that happens, the hotel may fill up. Contracting enough rooms for our attendees, without over-contracting and being liable for thousands of dollars worth of unsold rooms is a delicate balancing act, and sometime we come up short.
Q: I'd really like to see some of the presentations on video after the conference is over. Can we video them and put them on YouTube?
A: That sure would be great. But video recording of presentations is a huge undertaking, and would cost an enormous amount of money to have professionally done. And the reality is, we would never get the volunteers needed to do it for free. It's hard enough to get all of the PowerPoint's together to get on the CASFM website after the conference, let alone videos of the presentations themselves. In addition, it would reduce the need to attend the conference if all the presentations were readily available.
Q: I really don't travel or go to conferences much, is there a tipping etiquette for hotel staff?
A: Tipping is not required, but the staff do appreciate it. In the resort areas where we hold our conferences, staff often depend on tips for their livelihood. Hotel housekeeping/maid service: $3-5 per night is appropriate. Leave the tip on your pillow or in a similar obvious place each day when you leave the room, rather than at the end of your stay, because your room might get cleaned by different people each day. If you have additional items delivered to your room, such as extra pillows, hangers, luggage racks, tip the person who brings them $2 or $3. If you use a bellman to take your luggage to or from your room, $5-10 per trip is appropriate. Tipping at conference meals is not necessary.
Q: I see on the CASFM History page that there hasn't been a CASFM Conference on the Front Range since 1995. Why not?
A: Similar to the above question, CASFM wants to encourage people to attend the entire conference. If a conference is held in the Denver area, too many people would be looking to cherry pick sessions, attend only one day, may not stay for evening events, etc. Also, employers would likely push employees to engage in schedules that limit participation. If the conference were held in a closer outlying location, such as Fort Collins, Estes Park, or Colorado Springs, employers would likely be encouraged to limit or refuse overnight lodging, which would greatly reduce the benefit of attending the conference in the first place. A lot of the benefit of conference attendance is the networking that occurs, mostly in the evening hours when many people may not hang around if the conference were held on the Front Range. Because of these reasons, the conference team selects locations that are relatively removed from our membership epicenters. Between CASFM Lunch and Learns, the Urban Drainage Annual Seminar, and other activities, we believe there are ample opportunities for learning on the Front Range, and we want to keep the conference as a destination opportunity and event.
Q: I really think the conference could be run better.
A: That's a statement, not a question. But by all means please come to the next CASFM meeting and volunteer to lead. We'd love to have you!