Wondering how our conference sites are selected? We’re glad to share with you an overview of the process and the many factors WAA’s Board of Directors considers when choosing our conference cities and hotels.
The site selection process for the annual conference is much the same each year, with contracts negotiated and ultimately signed about three years in advance. Our first move is to consult with the other regional conferences on dates to ensure that we’re not in conflict and are all working from the same calendar. The selection process itself begins with the Board of Directors. The Board discusses the regions with our region (e.g., southern California, southwest, central west, pacific west) and the cities that could realistically host our conference. (Did you know? Not all cities have the infrastructure to support our conference. For example, members love the idea of coming to Portland for WAA, but Portland does not currently have a hotel large enough to accommodate our exhibit hall!) Informed by the Board’s discussion (generally at its fall Board meeting), WAA staff will make site visits to viable cities to explore--firsthand--how the conference would fit. We look several city criteria including: the infrastructure to support showcasing, walkability, potential member engagement and members in the immediate region, city ambience and more. On the hotel side, we’re looking at the guest room rate, ballroom size, food and beverage requirements, meeting room availability, food outlets, and more. After all the research, proposal development and negotiations are complete (typically a four-month process), there are usually three or four hotels that have presented good, strong proposals from which the Board will make its selection.
Of course no single proposal scores the perfect 10. Much like buying a house, compromises often need to be made in one area of another. But at the end of each selection cycle, we have tried our best to place the conference in a city that offers something special, interesting or distinctive to attendees and in the hotel that best supports our group.