AROC Convention Planner's Thread - Page 8 - Alfa Romeo Bulletin Board & Forums

  #106 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2008, 04:53 PM
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Hi all,
At the risk of veering off the initiation of this thread I will keep it brief.

Expanding on Brewster's comments, there are certain intangibles in this convention (and all others) that are the real rewards which cannot be measured monetarily. While it is comforting that some events break even financially, this is not a money making venture by nature. AROC is a non- profit organization. Any money that is gathered is meant to be spent, by us, on us! Spoil us with steak, Carm!

Having said that, we still need people to come and participate.

I'd like to point out a few more intangible rewards that our Chapter has already realized from the Chicago convention:
  • Two years of increased camaraderie between AROC-WI and CAROC leading up to this historic event.
  • Spiked Chapter membership in anticipation of the event. For example, one new member owns a major international race prep facility, and is bringing a car that he recently purchased to display at the event. This member promises to be a huge resource to the local club for years to come.
  • Increased synergy for future regional events.

So this really isn't about money. It's about having a good time.

But if there are still those that are griping about $$, perhaps they can play these mind tricks on themselves to give them comfort:

SEE that early bird registration discount that SO SO many members did not take advantage of? Take $10 off your banquet bill for being prompt and responsible.

HOW about that room rate? Add $20 onto that, per night, for an average of three nights at $139 (which would still be a screaming deal in the third largest city in America) and your banquet is only $2.


While I appreciate Dave's contrition and willingness to openly discuss the planning of this event, he and CAROC have nothing to apologize for --to anyone. I hope that the members of CAROC do not take the disparaging remarks or critique of a fractional minority to heart. I just wanted to voice a positive perspective of whats really going on out here.
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  #107 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2008, 05:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MotorCityDuetto View Post
Chicago take heart: during convention planning, the registrars from both the Tulsa and Seattle conventions indicated that we should expect a 20 percent bump in registration the week of the convention. Instead, ours almost flat-lined because the main hotel and several events had sold out almost two months prior to the convention.
Thanks Dave, that is good to know. We had a big rush of registrations last week because our discounted registration fee was about to expire on Friday. (As I mentioned earlier, we have actually extended the discount due to our web site issues.) Since then things have slowed down considerably, and based on your experience last year we were wondering how many more to expect. We would certainly be happy with another 20%...

Our experience seems to show that offering even a small discount for early registration works to persuade folks to sign up by a deadline, which certainly helps the cash flow situation.

I had already been thinking that one of the more useful things to track and pass along to future convention organizers would be a time line of registration numbers. Now that most registrations are done on line it would be pretty simple to create a chart of registrations versus time. I'm sure the pattern will vary from year to year depending on things like the convention date, hotel and event availability, and the discounted registration cutoff date as well as unpredictable factors like web site issues. But having a few years worth of data as a reference would be a big help in predicting where things were likely to end up.

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  #108 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2008, 06:03 PM
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Andrea and I were able to furnish hotel registration numbers for two months prior to the convention only because I located an earlier email exchange providing the numbers. Not certain if any chapter has retained such information and dated it along their way to the convention. Final numbers, yes. Registrations for each month? Possibly not.

And yes, there are many intangible benefits to hosting a convention, but such benefits are by=products and not part of planning and scheduling (oh man, that sounds cold). You know what I mean.

Dave H
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  #109 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2008, 08:41 PM
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After having a bit of time to think through Alex's proposed schedule, and to review other feedback on this subject, I have a few comments of my own.

First the choice of 4-day versus 5-day schedules. In Chicago we initially went with the traditional 4-day, but we switched to a 5-day plan after seeing how well this was received in Detroit. I agree that it makes for a more relaxed convention, and makes it a lot easier to avoid conflicts between events. I heard many positive comments about this format and I don't recall any negative opinions being voiced by anyone. Chicago is recording a high rate of registrations for our Wednesday night reception, which seems to indicate not too many people are put off by the earlier start date.

In putting together the Chicago schedule, we tried to consider how people with different interests might go about selecting events - racers versus tourers, the cars versus the social aspects. While this sort of 'stereotyping' clearly has its limitations, we hoped at least to avoid obvious clashes between events likely to appeal to the same person. We also tried to divide up the day and avoid overlap between early and late events so that people would have enough time to get from one to the next. It is impossible to please everybody without adding yet more days to the convention, but we tried to make it work as smoothly as possible.

On to the events themselves, I see there are two rallies and one tour. The tour seems to be a stop/go city type with photo ops. I like that idea, but I do wonder if some people might regret the lack of a simple driving tour, where the purpose is to enjoy the roads without keeping track of time and distance, spotting landmarks, or stopping for pics. For Chicago we have almost equal registrations for the city and country tours, and considerably fewer for the gimmick rally (possibly because we didn't publicize it as well.) We also decided to put on a pre-convention tour after Detroit's roaring success with the Lake Huron tour, and that has proved to be very popular as well.

On your proposed schedule, Friday ends up being a very busy day, and I can see some finding it a bit much or being unable to do everything they wanted. You are also missing an evening social event which takes advantage of the convention city - Chicago's Skyline Cruise is selling very well, and Detroit's cruise/dinner/city tour event was also extremely popular. This is not to say you should copy previous conventions - variation is good to attract people anew. But as a potential attendee I would find this omission a bit puzzling.

Saturday looks pretty good, although you may find a lot of concorso folks will be disappointed to miss out on the tech sessions. While I see these are to be held at the concorso location, don't forget that those showing cars need to be present during the judging, and might be MIA at critical moments. You'll also need to find a time for the concorso judges' meeting before Saturday; often this meeting is combined with the tech sessions. I do agree that a Saturday concorso works much better than Sunday. The only potential downside is some folks may decide to leave directly after the show and skip the critical banquet event. However, our hotel bookings for Chicago don't really bear that out.

Anyway, this is all just my personal opinion and may not be in alignment with others. Keep up the good work - I think it is great to get the proposed schedule out there to see what kind of response it gets.

Dave J.
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  #110 (permalink)  
Old 05-19-2008, 10:22 PM
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AROC Convention Planner's Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67alloy
While it is comforting that some events break even financially, this is not a money making venture by nature. AROC is a non- profit organization. Any money that is gathered is meant to be spent, by us, on us! Spoil us with steak, Carm!
Your statement is partially true, while AROC is a non-profit organization, 501(c)7 to be exact, they are allowed to cover their expenses by making a profit on events and conventions. What they are not allowed to do is bank roll a hundred thousand dollars as they have in the past and found themselves in trouble with the taxing authorities. It would be pound foolish to believe that AROC does not expect the hosting chapter to make a profit on hosting a convention, otherwise there would not be the complaints about the three that did not, and the one in particular, that did use the proceeds on themselves to eliminate the profit margin that they would have to pay to National AROC as a result of not spending the funds. Think about it, AROC gives out $350 in seed money and gets back substantially more than that in profit. So there is definitely an incentive to have a profit made and returned to the national club. With the declining membership and continued expenses, this is one way that AROC can cover it's expenses by making money or their 50% share of the profit margin. Done correctly and fairly this also benefits the local chapter hosting the convention. But to state that they are not in it to make a profit on the convention, is imo, incorrect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67alloy
So this really isn't about money. It's about having a good time.
While money cannot be totally dismissed by all, it is really about coming out and having a good time in Chicago for this 50th Year Anniversary Celebration with other Alfisti.

Footnote to Brewster: We will have to agree to disagree on your "patently" wrong. The members I hear from are not in agreement with what you posted. There are two sides to every issue and you and I and the members we hear from are on opposite sides of that cute little white picketed fence.
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Last edited by Pat Braden; 05-19-2008 at 10:24 PM.
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  #111 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 03:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Touringspider View Post
...I strongly recommend that the Concours not be held on Sunday morning...concours could actually be one of the first events of week instead of the last...participants who do other events with their cars can have the judging over with and not worry about getting their cars filthy during the rally, autocross, track event, sitting in the parking lot during a rain shower, or whatever.
Good points Arno. While I agree wholeheartedly that the Concorso needs to occur earlier than on Sunday, I believe that the Concorso is the one event which has appeal for the general public and should be open to attendance and well-publicized. That is a great way to gain new members and provide public visibility. So, holding it on the Thursday or Friday would reduce the public attendance numbers. That is how we arrived at holding the Concorso on the Saturday.

Scheduling is complicated, isn't it?
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  #112 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 05:15 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfadj2600 View Post
...we switched to a 5-day plan after seeing how well this was received in Detroit. I agree that it makes for a more relaxed convention, and makes it a lot easier to avoid conflicts between events. I heard many positive comments about this format and I don't recall any negative opinions being voiced by anyone. Chicago is recording a high rate of registrations for our Wednesday night reception, which seems to indicate not too many people are put off by the earlier start date....consider how people with different interests might go about selecting events - racers versus tourers, the cars versus the social aspects...We also tried to divide up the day and avoid overlap between early and late events so that people would have enough time to get from one to the next...

...two rallies and one tour. The tour seems to be a stop/go city type with photo ops...I like that idea, but I do wonder if some people might regret the lack of a simple driving tour, where the purpose is to enjoy the roads without keeping track...we have almost equal registrations for the city and country tours, and considerably fewer for the gimmick rally (possibly because we didn't publicize it as well.)...

...We also decided to put on a pre-convention tour after Detroit's roaring success with the Lake Huron tour, and that has proved to be very popular as well...

...On your proposed schedule, Friday ends up being a very busy day, and I can see some finding it a bit much or being unable to do everything they wanted...

...You are also missing an evening social event which takes advantage of the convention city...

...Saturday...don't forget that those showing cars need to be present during the judging, and might be MIA at critical moments. You'll also need to find a time for the concorso judges' meeting before Saturday; often this meeting is combined with the tech sessions...I do agree that a Saturday concorso works much better than Sunday. The only potential downside is some folks may decide to leave directly after the show and skip the critical banquet event.
Wow! Great feedback! Thank you for taking the time to respond in such a thorough manner. Please forgive my snipping your post, but it makes it easier for me to respond and reduces the size of the thread quite a bit. I really appreciate your perspective.

The schedule I posted was just a starting point, of course. Hopefully, with all of your help, we can put together a great schedule.

1. Four days or five...it almost sounds like that famous line from 'Dirty Harry': "...ya know, in all the confusion, I kinda lost track myself..." While nothing is cast in stone, for 2010 we are trying very hard to keep costs down as a way to make the convention as accessible as possible to the greatest number of Alfisti. As a result, if we can eliminate one night at the hotel, another day's worth of restaurant meals and one fewer day off work for our attendees, we want to try and do that. Feedback from this thread will help with making a final decision. However, one thing I have learned is that attracting NEW people to attend may mean we have to do things which may not be the way the 'usual suspects' would prefer them to be done.

2. Two rallies and one driving tour isn't necessarily the idea. There are lots of great roads and some pretty special features, like civil war sites, etc which would translate well into several kinds of driving tours. Easily, the schedule could include one or more other tours, such as; a pre-convention wine tour, a covered-bridge tour, a civil-war site driving tour, etc. I believe I may actually have omitted a couple in my posting of the proposed schedule. We are trying to stay away from having a large driving tour into the city, however. The traffic and parking issues make doing that successfully virtually impossible.

3. Regarding the proposed Friday schedule - I don't really understand. The 'track day' is important for many attendees and we would also need some other activities for those who are not as interested in the track events. The timing is such that everyone should be able to have some fun during the day and also get together in the evening for a nice welcome reception. I don't see it as 'overly busy'.

4. Regarding an evening social event in the city - while that may be something attractive to some, there are many other ways to skin a cat. Our idea for the welcome reception on Friday night is Pretty Special! It is likely that we will have buses available to get everyone (or at least many) participants to and from the reception, which will not be at the HQ hotel.

5. I guess we'll have to schedule a judges' meeting at some point. The tech seminars and Alfa judging should be flexible enough to permit those showing their cars at the concorso the opportunity to do both. Perhaps we can hand out the attendance lists for the tech seminars to the judges before they begin, so they will know when they will be able to find the owner with his/her car? I really don't think anyone will miss the banquet because they will leave right after the Concorso...the awards won't be given out until Sunday.
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  #113 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 05:20 AM
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Having the concorso first would be a wonderful idea to enable its occurrence before any of the driving events and to allow the judges to sort out the points. It is, as Alex states, really the only opportunity to draw public attention to the marque and the event. Rats!
Rhetorically - Has anyone considered beginning the convention on the weekend? That could allow the BoD meeting on Friday, the concorso on Saturday, and close on Monday or Tuesday when airfare might be cheaper. Track availability might be reduced or more expensive on the weekend however???
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  #114 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 06:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nicola View Post
Has anyone considered beginning the convention on the weekend? That could allow the BoD meeting on Friday, the concorso on Saturday, and close on Monday or Tuesday when airfare might be cheaper. Track availability might be reduced or more expensive on the weekend however???
Yet another great idea! OK, here's a scenario using your and Papajam's suggestions (sort of):

Convention begins on Sunday. Travel to convention would be on Saturday, while departing would be on Thursday, allowing everyone to be back at work by the following Monday, with one extra work day and a weekend in hand for tourism.

Sunday - Concorso, Welcome Reception (good for public attendance)
Monday - BOD meeting, Tours, Meet 'n Greet
Tuesday - Track Day, Tours, Swap Meet
Wednesday - Autocross, Rally, Banquet
Thursday - Goodbye Brunch
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AROC USA, ARCC & CARM Social Media Chair (Facebookie)

Member: A.O.N.E., St. Louis & Capital Chapter AROC and Scuderia Non-Originale (SNO)
Club Alfa Romeo De Montreal (CARM): www.clubalfaromeodemontreal.com
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  #115 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 08:00 AM
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AROC Convention Planner's Thread

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alex Csank View Post
Yet another great idea! OK, here's a scenario using your and Papajam's suggestions (sort of):

Convention begins on Sunday. Travel to convention would be on Saturday, while departing would be on Thursday, allowing everyone to be back at work by the following Monday, with one extra work day and a weekend in hand for tourism.

Sunday - Concorso, Welcome Reception (good for public attendance)
Monday - BOD meeting, Tours, Meet 'n Greet
Tuesday - Track Day, Tours, Swap Meet
Wednesday - Autocross, Rally, Banquet
Thursday - Goodbye Brunch
Traditionally, the BOD meeting has been the first day of the convention, being bumped by Concorso in this schedule. I don't know that that is a problem, but one you might want to investigate as far as why the BOD meeting has always been the starting item. There may be a reason other than tradition and convenience.

Otherwise, it gives plenty of time to sort out the judging and any problems or issues with it, and still is being used as a crowd draw.

This format also solves part of the problem of losing the most advantageous airline fares with a Saturday night stay, but does not include the Tuesday/Wednesday travel, which is cheaper than Wednesday/Thursday/Friday travel.
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Last edited by Pat Braden; 05-20-2008 at 08:04 AM.
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  #116 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 08:24 AM
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I like the way that you are questioning standard assumptions, Alex. We did much the same for 2007 and changed a few things, while deciding that other arrangements are tried and true for a reason. Put your own stamp on your convention!

One note of caution regarding the Welcome Party concept mentioned is the use of buses. Have you priced them lately? They cost us $950 per bus (lowest quote). Once you get into those sort of numbers and a contract, one miscalculation can really hurt.
That does NOT mean 'Don't do it' - only that you need be aware of each factor while designing the template.

For 2007, we began by basing all our attendance, hotel and each event budget number on conservative model: Nashville in 2002. The assumption was that we could at least match their numbers for each day and event, including hotel rooms reserved. That provided a basic blueprint for planning. Eric and I developed the spreadsheets and Eric kept everyone in line. Without checking the spreadsheets, I seem to recall that our final costs came within $2,000 of projections.

Most hotels will include a line in the contract that the chapter must guarantee payment for all the rooms it reserves for each night. Reserve a block of 300 rooms for Friday night, fill 250, and legally the chapter is obligated to pay for 50 empty rooms (50 x $120 = $6,000). Reserving rooms in steps, adding blocks of 50 each time is one answer, but aware that the hotel might have a busy season or a large local event. Suddenly there could be no more rooms available, which will have a major impact on convention registrations.

In the end, items such as the Lake Huron Tour made it onto the final list because even if they flopped, their financial impact was minimal. A half-filled bus on the other hand is costly and might mean cutting somewhere else.

I realize that these things sound gloomy and not much fun at all, but every issue that impacts the convention needs to be looked at and considered, I thought you might want to receive a heads-up.

Right now you are at the idea stage, but keep finances in the back of your mind because no chapter can spend $150,000 with an expectation of $75,000 income, no matter how wonderful the concept.

Last edited by MotorCityDuetto; 05-20-2008 at 08:43 AM. Reason: duplicate word
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  #117 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 08:27 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pat Braden View Post
This format also solves part of the problem of losing the most advantageous airline fares with a Saturday night stay, but does not include the Tuesday/Wednesday travel, which is cheaper than Wednesday/Thursday/Friday travel.
Only for those few who fly.
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  #118 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 08:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Alex Csank View Post
Only for those few who fly.
Point made and accepted. However, without sounding sarcastic, I always meet people leaving at the airport when I'm there that have been at the convention, although, our destinations may be different. I've also flown on planes with AROC members coming and returning. So I can't be the only one with this concern, nor have I had trouble getting a ride to airports in various cities, which would be a problem if I were the only one flying in and out.

Just something to consider when you're looking for attendance, not everyone drives to the convention for whatever reason.
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  #119 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 09:20 AM
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Originally Posted by MotorCityDuetto View Post
One note of caution regarding the Welcome Party concept mentioned is the use of buses. Have you priced them lately?...one miscalculation can really hurt...
Thanks for the 'heads-up'! Yes, buses are expensive, but in this case we believe that we have a Welcome Reception sponsor who may just pick up the bus tab as well as hosting the reception.

I agree that we really need to keep the costs under control and we are working towards that end much as you did in Detroit.

Eric sent me some spreadsheets, which we are using to assist us in our planning. If you know of any more statistics, reports or details, we sure could use as much help as we can get.
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When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro! - Hunter S. Thompson 1971
Bianco 1985 GTV6 "Tramontana" (North Wind)
President, Alfa Romeo Club of Canada & Club Alfa Romeo de Montréal
AROC USA, ARCC & CARM Social Media Chair (Facebookie)

Member: A.O.N.E., St. Louis & Capital Chapter AROC and Scuderia Non-Originale (SNO)
Club Alfa Romeo De Montreal (CARM): www.clubalfaromeodemontreal.com
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  #120 (permalink)  
Old 05-20-2008, 09:25 AM
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My Last Thought

Dear Alfisti,

I deleted my last post and promise this one to be my final.

While I appreciate what you guys are trying to accomplish, I'm of the opinion that you may be wasting your time. Getting input from a handful of members is NO different than any given chapter sitting down during the first two months of Convention planning with a dozen other members (sometimes more) and going through these exact same exercises / debates.

The perfect Convention criteria simply DOES NOT exist, what works for one group will not work for another. Even going through the calculated work of analyzing what has been done by other chapters will end up having minimum effect on "your" planning.

I make my living as an Architect; I'm very familiar with "history & its statistical implications". While it is common to learn from previous experiences, it is essential to treat each project by entering its own criteria. What may work in Tulsa may not work in Chicago, while the majority of attending members come from a 150 miles radius, a very small minority may fly to the Convention.

There is NO such thing as an ideal plan. A Convention can only be planned by individuals that are willing to donate 50% of their full-time life. The idea of an “Utopist Plan” is unreal and can never satisfy the minute needs of many of the members.

My last comment will be that the last Convention we (AROC members) have is the one that sets up the tone for the following Convention. Our CAROC group loved what Detroit did and we are now attempting to leave our own mark. Right or wrong, this is the bed we made. If for some reason we fall shy of breaking even because of what some believe to be “high” Banquet costs, its impact will be more telling on the state of current Alfisti more than attempting to figure out if $49 is the number in lieu of $62.

Our group spent 6 months negotiating the best deal possible for what we believed to be the “right” hotel. We hired a professional to negotiate the best deal possible (he was paid a commission by the Marriot, something like $3,000) in order for the general membership to save the most money. I will say that at least 60% of the members attending will not be taking advantage of the discounted hotel rates because of them living close to the hotel. The hotel rates were negotiated mostly for out of town members and statistics show that it’s the out of town members that have been turning their noses on the Banquet. We had ZERO choice in accepting the Marriot’s minimum $30K “food & beverage” fee. We accepted the contract because we knew that the savings for our out of town guests would be much greater by having them stay at a superb resort in lieu of the “Motel 6” down a few miles away. Bill Hall in his earlier post stated something like, “if people would add up a $20 per night savings for a min. three day stay, they would realize that the Banquet would cost $2 per person”.

The best way to avoid risk is to take none. Future organizers may want to provide members contact info. for $60 Hotels and have everyone bring their own food and beverages at the local park. Honestly, this is truly the only way to not have risk.
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