Conference Management Committee Jobs Manual


A.     Committee Description & Membership

The PES By-Laws describe the Committee in Article I, Section 5:

“A Conference Management Committee of at least two members shall be appointed by the incoming President to staggered terms of two years (with the possibility of renewal). The member who is in the second year of service to the committee shall be designated as Chair of the committee. Additionally, the Chair of the Finance Committee and a Hospitality Chair, appointed by the incoming President, shall serve as ex officio members. The function of the Conference Management Committee shall include but not be limited to consulting with the professional meeting planner about conference locations and hotel negotiations, ensuring that PES receives everything that was negotiated in the hotel contract, monitoring room reservations, determining and ordering meeting room set-up orders and food orders, and meticulously reviewing the Banquet and Event Orders (BEOs) and the final bill from the hotel.”

The purpose of the Hospitality Chair position is to support the President, Program Chair, Executive Director, and the Conference Management Committee in planning and executing many of the on-site aspects of the conference. The Hospitality Chair is usually someone who has some familiarity with the host city.

Specific responsibilities associated with the Conference Management Committee can be organized in the three areas of contract negotiation, conference planning, and on-site meeting facilitation:

  • Contract Negotiation: The CMC works closely with the Executive Committee, Executive Director, and the contracted Conference Direct agent to identify potential host cities for the annual conference, evaluate potential meeting locations, and monitor the contract negotiation and approval process.

  • Conference Planning: After the contract is signed, the CMC maintains communication with the Conference Direct agent, the Customer Service Manager at the meeting location, the Executive Director, President-Elect, and the Program Committee chair to plan the annual meeting and to ensure compliance with contract requirements and deadlines.

  • On-Site Meeting Facilitation: During the conference, the CMC works with the Customer Service Manager and monitors meeting room arrangements, food and beverage delivery and consumption, contracted technology, and guest room pick-ups.

Specific duties are specified in the timeline below.  The committee should strongly consider splitting up the various tasks, especially the large number of tasks that are accomplished in the six month period prior to the conference.  For the 2020 conference, for instance, the Hospitality Chair coordinated all the food and beverage orders and reception monitoring, one committee member monitored the hotel guest room pick-ups and institute room reservations, and the committee chair (who happened to live in the host city) visited the hotel, ensured compliance with the contract, and handled most other details. 

At the conclusion of the 2020 conference, in addition to notes included in the timelines below, the committee thought it was important to stress to the membership (a) the importance of reserving rooms in the room block, (b) the amount of food available at evening receptions (grad students especially didn’t realize they could save money on eating out), and (c) the value of the cash bar reception (at the 2020 conference, the reception cash bar was significantly more affordable than nearby options).  The committee also thought it would be important to (a) communicate regularly with the program chair and to (d) plan for the unpredictable variation in attendees’ appetites at receptions. 

B.     Role of the Committee Chair

The chair of the Conference Management Committee delegates responsibilities of the committee, works closely with the Executive Director on compliance with timelines and contract requirements, and prepares a report to the Executive Committee at the conference. 

C.     Timelines and Triggers

Prior to and during Contract Negotiation (anywhere from 18 months to three years prior to conference, depending on Executive Committee’s transition to new monitored process of choosing conference cities):

  • Work closely with Executive Committee and Conference Direct agent on potential conference host city selection, considering regional variation, affordability, walkability, and airport and mass transit access.

  • Coordinate with program chair and president-elect for specific needs for meeting rooms, food and beverage, and technology, especially for any changes or innovations to the previous year’s contract;

  • Coordinate with the organizers of the pre-conference institute regarding meeting rooms, guest rooms, and food budget, which includes ensuring that any food orders are approved in the budget and are counted towards the overall conference expenditure in the contract (Food and beverage service typically includes the Executive Board meetings [dinner Thursday, breakfast Monday]; conference receptions [Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings]; daily breakfasts; periodic snacks; and daily coffee/tea service);

  • Coordinate the set-up of conference rooms according to conference need (set-up style, numbers of chairs, board meeting rooms, adequate square footage for receptions, snacks, and coffee/tea service);

  • Coordinate with executive director for specifics needs for registration table, technology (secure internet connection to process payments), and secure storage.

Six Months Before Conference

  • Work as a committee to split and delegate responsibilities;

  • If possible, visit the meeting site and clarify any negotiable adjustments to meeting rooms, working with program chair on any changes to meeting room details;

  • Work with Program Chair to assign meeting rooms to conference sessions;

  • Provide Conference Service Manager a complete meeting agenda as soon as it is prepared by program chair, noting any adjustments to meeting arrangements and food and beverage orders;

  • Write regular briefs about hotel room reservation details for the PES newsletter, encouraging room reservation at the hotel to help comply with room night minimums, and providing information about transportation from the airport and train station and parking options;

  • Monitor pick-up reports (reports from the hotel about how many room reservations have been made in the block), coordinating with Executive Director and others to advertise and encourage attendees to book rooms and working with Conference Services Manager to compare registration and program list with hotel booking list;

  • Monitor hotel room rates on discount websites and work with Customer Service Manager (and Conference Direct agent) to maintain competitive room rate, as specified in contract;

  • Ensure that rooms are booked for those receiving complementary room bookings (usually the President, Executive Director, Program Chair, and Kneller speaker);

  • Coordinate with pre-conference institute organizers on food and beverage needs, any special room arrangements, and hotel room reservations and payment (especially when hotel rooms are provided for institute participants);

  • Order food and beverage service for the conference, following deadlines (deadlines are specified in the contract and should be handled several weeks ahead of the specific deadline), carefully considering quantities from previous conferences (prior years’ reports of consumption), offering options for multiple dietary needs and restrictions (non-dairy, gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan, and avoid shellfish), ensuring that food orders align with budget (to optimize hotel contract, spend all but not over), and facilitating approval of official food and beverage orders by Executive Director, checking all details against contract and submitted orders;

  • Coordinate with tourism board at current and following year’s conference for free items to be made available at registration table, such as pens, bags, maps, and signage at the airport and/or in hotel, carefully avoiding excessive amounts of material (tourism boards tend to oversupply maps and visitor guides, which attendees seldom pick up);

  • Facilitate any requested assistance by President, Executive Director, Program Chair, or others wishing to plan off-site receptions or dinners;

  • Consider developing a list of suggested restaurants, walking trails, and local attractions, provided electronically;

  • Review contract and maintain compliance with deadlines, requirements, and perks, working with Executive Director to assign perks such as complementary room nights, room upgrades, and parking passes.

During Conference:

  • If possible, be present at the beginning of pre-conference institute to confirm contracted meeting room(s) and food and beverage orders (otherwise provide guidance to pre-conference coordinator);

  • Meet the Conference Services Manager and staff during the day Thursday (it’s ideal if the committee chair, Executive Director, Hospitality Chair, and Program Chair are all able to attend);

  • Maintain regular contract with manager and staff daily;

  • Monitor food and beverage delivery, ensuring that contracted amounts are served, ordering any additional quantities (coffee in particular), and noting consumption (these details help plan subsequent conference food and beverage efficiently);

  • Confirm in person the set-up of conference rooms according to conference need and work with Conference Services Manager;

  • Maintain daily monitoring of daily hotel room list, noting any no-shows or lost room nights.

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