HAPS is at a really exciting crossroads when it comes to Annual Conferences. Each year we are growing, and we want to be sure to continue to be as inclusive as possible as we increase our capacity. So for the next couple of years we are trying a few new things.
For several years we have conducted surveys about the pros and cons of having the HAPS Annual Conference over the Memorial Day holiday. Surveys are always a 50-50 split of members who can and cannot attend a conference over that weekend. The rationale for choosing that weekend has been that because folks would be off work on Monday anyway, it allows people to attend the conference using fewer vacation days. Or alternatively to miss fewer days of teaching. Apparently that doesn’t work for everyone.
For the Atlanta conference, we decided to see if we could include that 50% of respondents who cannot come over the Memorial Day weekend, and so we moved the Annual one week earlier. In many ways this is as controlled an experiment as we can perform – Jacksonville 2014 was over the Memorial Day weekend and Atlanta is about as close a venue to Jacksonville as we’ll be seeing for a while. We hope to see even more participation because of this move.
Aside from the choice of weekend, the format of the Atlanta conference is straight up HAPS: Welcome reception at the conference hotel Saturday night, update speakers and exhibitors at the hotel Sunday and Monday, and workshops at a host university Tuesday and Wednesday, and an optional outing on Thursday.
SALT LAKE CITY 2017
Salt Lake City is an amazing place and a bit of a contrast to the urban setting of Atlanta (and is also a Delta Airlines hub!). The hotel properties vary widely, and the one with the most appropriate meeting space for exhibitors and update speakers is at a price point that we did not feel was conducive to a large turnout. So in 2016 we will not be hosting the updates speakers and exhibitors at the hotel – we will be using the Salt Palace Convention Center! By doing this we can reserve rooms for HAPSters in multiple hotels at multiple price points and continue to do all we can do to accommodate a variety of tastes.
Using the Convention Center has necessitated some other changes – the welcome reception will be on the Wednesday before Memorial Day, the update speakers and exhibitors will be on Thursday and Friday, and the workshops will be at the university on Saturday and Sunday. We will end in the early afternoon on Sunday, so anyone who wishes can catch a flight home Sunday night. That means two Memorial Day Mondays in a row at home!
For exhibitors this means two entire holiday weekends at home with their families and friends. We always appreciate the dedication and helpfulness of our wonderful exhibitors, and hope that these changes work well for them too.
2018 and beyond is still in process, but stay tuned for more updates and know that we are working diligently to make the HAPS Annuals as productive and fun as can be!