Prior to one year out:
- Determine goals and objectives
- Contact Convention and Visitors Bureau staff
- Site Visit to all short-listed cities
- Select meeting facility; sign facility contract (this presumes you are having meetings in one area and staying at a different hotel)
- Determine conference hotels, explore online housing; sign hotel contracts (AEA treasurer signs the contract)
- Develop conference logo
- Draft Theme/title
12 Months out:
- Brainstorm program ideas
- Determine agenda; business and social
- Promote at prior year’s meeting – signage, handouts, etc. (a note here – the BOD would prefer to make the announcement about where the 2008 convention will be held at the 2007 convention. We don’t want conventions competing with each other.)
- Determine registration price
- Obtain event insurance
- Determine exhibitor price, if applicable
And then it continues to give a pretty accurate timeline. The budget is about 4 times what we have used in the past. If you need a copy of this, let me know. I would not follow it rigidly, but it is a good, adaptable outline. (Joy Reavis)
The AEA Board will help in any way that we can, but we will have to be told what areas you need help in.
On covering workers meals and rooms – when you negotiate with the hotel you try to get free rooms. I believe that in the past the hotels have offered a free room for every so many registrations.
On grants, you can never check on those too early.
Donations – You can get businesses to sponsor, then list them in the agenda booklet. Good – being listed, Bad – you are listed no matter what size your donation, in 2006 people donating a key chain for the welcome bags were listed with people donating $200.00. Take a look at the list in the 2006 agenda booklet. We got a $50 donation from a feed company that normally gave $1500 to the beef industry. Well, $50 is $50.
Booklet Ads – For the convention in Nashville there was some discussion of selling ads in the back of the agenda booklet – one woman absolutely hated the idea and had such a fit that we backed off. The thing is, if you sell specific ad space, say a business card size for $25, you can tell who made the bigger donation. Also, you can sell “listing space” for a smaller amount – a line in a list of supporters for $10.00. It is up to the hosting state how they handle this and the BOD is not going to dictate to you how to do it.
The CBM liaison can begin to solicit ads or sell them booth space. Press releases for the individual company buying a booth is an option.
Here is a composite of ‘what went right, what went wrong’ that has been compiled since the Nashville convention. Actually, this is more of a ‘wrong’ list than a ‘right’ list. It is always easier to get people to tell you what they hated than what they liked!
This info comes from former convention committee members and from comments made by members. It contains comments from back before the Nashville (2003) convention. It includes info from 2004 – Oklahoma City and 2006 Wisconsin.
General Suggestions from members:
- Have a table where members can leave their business cards and pick up others.
- In the agenda booklet, put the meeting room and location at the front of the booklet, not the back.
- Instead of starting at 8am, start at 9am, it will allow more time for a leisurely breakfast and more shopping time at the Emu Mall.
- At least one solid hour per day for shopping at the Emu Mall.
- Longer breaks – 15 minutes is not enough!
- 3 to 4 hours for the business meeting.
- If at a convention center, get all our events close together. People working the registration desk should be able to step into meetings. They should not have to pay for a convention and not get to attend anything.
- Put up signs leading to the Emu Mall or other public access events.
- Must have an elevator
- A short welcome at the beginning of the convention is nice, but no one is interested in hearing long speeches from politicians or agricultural spokespersons that only people in the host state have ever heard of, especially if it is obvious that they are just ‘fillers’ and have nothing to do with the emu industry.
- Don’t have a party booked next door to the business meeting.
- Know where to find a First Aid Kit if needed.
- Card Holders – come with Pin Backs, Bulldog Clip Backs or corded strings. The Strings seem to be the most popular and easiest to use.
- Ribbons: Host, AEA Board, Member, Speaker, Instructor, etc. are actually conversation starters. Make them different colors so the members can tell at a glance who the Board members are; who is from the host state, etc. One year there was even a ribbon reading “Board Spouse”. Perhaps one year we can have “Visit my booth”?
- Example: A convention chair, who is also a board member, would have a name tag with both a Host Ribbon and an AEA Board Ribbon.
Silent Auction: On at least two occasions volunteers had a dreadful time with people grabbing their won items and running off with them because there was still easy access to the silent auction tables. It made it hard to log what was and was not paid for.
Recommendation is that the silent auction items be pulled back out of reach from the members and that you make them line up to pay for the items and then hand them out.
Live Auction: Larger, more expensive items can be auctioned after the Banquet.
Banquet Table Seating: We have in the past put a different BOD member at each table with the idea that the members could go sit with whoever’s ear they wanted to bend. In theory, there is a card at the table announcing who the BOD member is at the table and a couple of chairs are leaned over to “reserve them” for the director and their spouse. The problem with turning over the chairs is that sometimes members don’t “get it” and in one case, when the director and her spouse were “fashionably late” they arrived to find no available chairs at their table. If this is done, the BOD needs to know to be there early and to be seated (aside from that one incident, the times when the board has had “their table” it has worked great. It gets the BOD spread out and talking to the members)
Meal: Offer special meals for those with special dietary requirements. Dr. & Mrs. Winston are both lactose intolerant and could not eat the lasagna. Notes: Every year we get complaints about having lasagna – some people think that the prices of the convention and the meals are so much that they should have steak. Some chefs refuse to try to cook emu steaks. EPMI has some pre-formed steaks that went over well in 2003. Tony Anderson donated those to the convention that year. Do not be afraid to ask EPMI for donations, we can ‘pay them back’ via a press release telling how great the meat was.
Table decorations: these are usually drawn for and someone takes them home. Extras can be auctioned after the Banquet. The drawing has been handled several different ways:
- A number has been put on the bottom of a chair or under a plate and whoever has the marked chair or plate gets the table decoration.
- A number was placed on the table and you got the decoration from whatever table had that number instead of the one on your table. Observation on this: The numbers were too small to read/find easily and the ensuing hunt for the decoration they won was aggravating to some of the winners – especially if they wanted the decoration on their table and not the one that was over on another table.
After the quilt or other drawing, additional numbers were drawn and the person with the number got a table decoration. Problem – time consuming and a lot of work for the person drawing numbers, as many were not present to win.
Accredited Emu Producer Classes
Note: In order to receive your AEP certification, you are supposed to take 4 hours of classes. Since we have started stretching the breaks so people have time to grab their snacks and also chat a little bit, the actual class time has become shorter. This is not a problem as far as the BOD is concerned – many other industries award full credit to shorter (time wise) classes. In the past breaks have divided the classes, so if you decide to start later (at 8:30 or 9 am instead of 8), then breaks should probably also start later. The AEP liaison handles the paperwork – keeping up with who is AEP certified and who is not.
- For egg art classes, give a certificate of completion as well as AEP Certificates – for those to be displayed separately and also because sometimes egg art students are not emu farmers.
- Have useful emu farming related classes.
Class structure: there are good and bad points to the different ways of having the classes:
- Do round table classes of 25 to 30 people rather than a lecture hall.
- Many of the teachers (if they are coming from within the industry) prefer small groups and are uncomfortable with lecture hall groups
- Smaller groups encourage interaction between participants
Lecture hall style
- You don’t have to choose between classes or miss anything
- Have Certificates presented in a timely manner.
- Instructors are automatically AEP certified.
- Offer at least four different classes plus egg art (optional).
When you have set the prices for the mall booths, the Certified Business Member liaison can send out an invitation on the CBM list. One selling point for 2007 is that each company will have a press release sent out by AEA on their being at the Emu Mall, plus they will be listed in an “overview” of the Emu Mall.
Press release services usually charge $500.00 per press release (not including the actual writing of the press release), so this is an excellent value for the participants. In order to have this work smoothly, Myra needs the names of the companies quickly so she can contact them and get these written in a timely manner.
Please give preference to CBMs first, AEA members second and then to outside companies wishing to participate. In 2006, WIEA set a timetable for advertising the booth space, first with CBMS, then with the general membership and finally to outside companies.
PR for the event:
Your local tourism board or chamber of commerce may be able to distribute press releases to help your event be successful. One of your convention committee members should work as liaison with whomever that person is. AEA will be submitting press releases via the RSS feed also.
A timeline for press releases will be needed. This is a rough outline:
- We will start advertising the convention in all future press releases with a short blurb about it in the “about AEA” section. In all farming related press releases we will do a blurb about the convention. This will start immediately
- Invitation to emu farmers to attend convention – No later than February
- Individual booths for mall – so 10 to 15 press releases there? June but should be written ahead of time
- Guest speaker – announcements on special speakers. – June
- Invitations to local shopper and retailers to visit the emu mall – Last part of June, First part of July – we will try to do two different ones.
- The first part of the year we do a lot of National Emu Week press releases, the convention info will be piggy-backed on the tag lines at the end of each of the national releases.