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Meeting FAQs

This FAQ is a living document and may be updated at any time.
To submit suggestions, please send a message to gro.asenull@sgniteem.

Selection of Meeting Locations

How are meeting sites selected, and by whom? What criteria are used?

ESA generally selects the city where the Annual Meeting will be held five years in advance. Meetings must be planned this far in advance due to the limited supply of cities that meet all our selection requirements. There is competing demand from many other organizations which are also looking for cities that can accommodate their meetings. 

The Meetings Committee is charged with overseeing the site selection process. To begin the site selection process, the Committee compiles a list of candidate cities after considering many factors: meeting attendance trends, convention center size, hotel options, a city’s reputation, and feedback from past meeting surveys. Additionally, 11 states are currently not considered for ESA meeting locations due to discriminatory state laws: Alabama, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, and Texas.

Candidate cities are sent a request for proposals that describe the Society’s logistical needs and requested meeting dates. Cities that are interested then respond by submitting a proposal to ESA to host the meeting. These proposals include a breakdown of the costs of renting the convention center space and the rates for booking a hotel block for attendees. Each city’s highest priority is to attract meetings that will boost local business revenue for hotels, restaurants, retail, museums, and other local attractions. There is usually a tradeoff between the number of hotel nights an organization commits to booking and the overall meeting space package that the city is willing to offer (both volume of space and rates for using it). ESA meetings have a high need for concurrent session room space relative to other meetings with similarly sized hotel commitments due to the large number of oral sessions.

After reviewing the proposals, the Meetings Committee narrows the list of candidate cities, starting with assessing the cost of renting the convention center and the hotel room rates. ESA prioritizes keeping the meeting affordable for attendees, especially students. Characteristics the Committee considers as it narrows the list to the top three candidate cities include these variables:

  • Dates the site is available
  • The size of the convention center and the layout of the available space
  • A variety of hotel options and room rate price points
  • Contract terms, such as hotel block attrition penalties, cancellation terms, social responsibility, concessions, rebates, and incentives
  • City’s reputation and attractiveness as a destination
  • Inclusivity
  • Crime and safety
  • Transportation to the city: airport size, availability/prices of flights, driving distance for attendees
  • Transportation in the city: walkability, public transportation options
  • Variety of restaurant options/location/price points near the convention center
  • Weather, especially potential for disruptive weather

Next, the Meetings Committee Chair, ESA Executive Director, and the Director of Meetings visit the top three candidate cities. They meet with convention center and visitors bureau staff, tour the meeting space, visit hotels that would be in the block, and see some of the local sights that could be of interest to attendees. After completing the site visits, the Meetings Committee makes a recommendation to the Governing Board for specific future meeting sites..

Why should I stay in the ESA housing block?

ESA works hard to negotiate the best, least-expensive hotel rates possible. By staying in the housing block, you are helping to support the Annual Meeting in the current year and also in future years. When you stay in the official hotel block, you are staying at a hotel property that ESA personally inspected and vetted for appropriate and adequate levels of quality of accommodations, level of service, safety, and security.As a requirement to use a city’s convention center, ESA signs a contract that states a certain number of hotel rooms will be used by attendees to meet their revenue goals. To be able to reserve enough space for the ESA convention, we guarantee the booking and use of thousands of hotel room nights at contracted hotels. If we fail to use those rooms, ESA will incur financial penalties. If ESA convention attendees book outside the official ESA hotel block, they are hindering our ability to meet the minimum number of rooms booked as required by our contracts.

While we can understand the immediate attractiveness of an online deal for accommodations outside of the room block, ESA would like attendees to understand the long-term repercussions to the future of the Annual Meeting caused by choosing to not to stay within the block. Incurring the costs of failing to meet room block commitments will mean increased registration prices for attendees in the future and could mean cities will be unwilling to work with us to host our convention in years to come.

Minimizing and Mitigating Environmental Costs and Impacts

How does ESA minimize the environmental impact of the conference?

Site selection plays a role in helping ESA to reduce our environmental impact. We look at how convention centers, hotels, and cites manage their sustainability programs. Portland (Oregon), Salt Lake City, and Montreal are leaders on convention center sustainability. The convention centers in these cities limit the use of plastic and paper, have a recycling program in place, and offer farm-to-table food and beverage options. Some centers have rooftop gardens, beehives, and compostable tableware. ESA encourages members to use reusable mugs and water bottles to further reduce waste. We try to select cities with high walkability scores and robust public transportation options. Hotels are selected that are easily walkable from the convention center.

ESA has been systematically reducing the paper needed at the Annual Meeting for the past 15 years. Digital abstracts have replaced print abstract books. Paper ads that were stuffed into each tote bag were phased out around 10-years ago. ESA is adding more content to the mobile app each year and ordering fewer full-size print programs to prepare for phasing out the full-size print program and print addendum. The pocket guide was introduced several years ago as an alternative that attendees can use with the app. Unlike the full-size program, the pocket guide has a smaller environmental footprint because it uses far less paper and it is printed and delivered locally. We replaced tote bags that had a unique design for each year’s meeting with a generic ESA tote bag. Each year we encourage tote bag reuse by distributing a unique meeting patch that can be sewn onto the generic tote bag.

How does ESA mitigate the environmental impact of the conference?

Earth stewardship is a high priority for ESA, and one way in which we demonstrate this value is to mitigate the environmental impact of the Annual Meeting. Since 2015, a local environmental organization has been selected to receive a contribution from the Environmental Offset Donation program. ESA contributes $5.00 for each registrant attending the Annual Meeting. The local host nominates a local organization to receive the funding that is approved by the Governing Board.

Childcare

What childcare services are provided at the meeting?

Childcare is provided by a licensed, bonded, and insured childcare company, Kiddie Corp. ESA has been partnering with Kiddie Corp for many years to provide an on-site childcare program for our attendees. The program is open for children ages six months to 12 years.

ESA has offered childcare during annual meetings since 1997, in response to a recommendation made in the first Women and Minorities in Ecology report (WAMIE I, 1993). WAMIE II (2006) further recommended that childcare should always be located at the meeting venue and should provide a consistently high quality of service. Location and quality had previously varied from meeting-to-meeting when different local providers were used. To address these concerns, ESA has contracted with Kiddie Corp to provide childcare at recent Annual Meetings. Kiddie Corp provides a consistent, high-quality service at a predictable price and is used by many of our peer societies. Childcare needs include labor, training, equipment (cribs and high chairs), and liability insurance. Kiddie Corp provides all of these services as part of its agreement with ESA.

How is the cost of childcare determined?

ESA subsidizes 50% of the overall cost for the service to try to make the cost accessible to all attendees. After the subsidy, the hourly cost of using the service is $9.00 an hour per child. The cost to our attendees is in line with our peer societies, many of which also subsidize attendee childcare expenses.

What other considerations are made for parents?

Parents are always welcome to bring their children with them to scientific sessions and into the exhibit hall. ESA provides free caregiver badges to help support families and those that are traveling with a caregiver to give them complete access to the registrant throughout the meeting. (Please note that the free caregiver badge is available for any attendee that requests one.)

ESA provides nursing and lactation rooms at the convention center. These rooms offer a quiet and private place for nursing and include a private nursing area with refrigeration, power outlets, and comfortable furniture.

Coffee Breaks and Refreshments

Why isn’t there more coffee and more frequent refreshments/snacks?

Convention center concessions are priced and operate much like sports arena and airport concessions.

ESA spends up to $70,000 for coffee breaks for the five days of the Annual Meeting. ESA must purchase all coffee and refreshments from the convention centers, which is standard practice at all convention centers. ESA is not allowed to buy and bring in its own coffee or food. This is an expensive part of a meeting budget. In 2019, the cost-per-gallon for coffee or hot water for tea at the Kentucky International Convention Center was $52.00 plus a 22% service charge for a total of $63.44 per gallon. In 2018, in New Orleans, the cost was $58.00 plus a 21% service charge for a total of $70.18. One gallon of coffee equals 21- 6oz cups or 10- 12oz cups. Depending on the number of meeting attendees we order between 140 – 200 gallons of coffee for each break. We try to ensure that other coffee and snack vendors are available on-site or within walking distance.

Access and Attendee Support

How do ESA’s registration rates compare with those of other societies?

ESA prioritizes keeping meeting registration affordable for attendees. The following chart compares the registration rates for ESA’s 2019 Annual Meeting with those of other societies.
Registration Type – Early Bird ESA AGU Entomological SER ASLO
Member $390.00 $540.00 $485.00 $484.00 $495.00
Nonmember $570.00 $700.00 $750.00 $615.00 $595.00
Emeritus Member $200.00 $290.00 $350.00   $270.00
Student Member $195.00 $290.00 $205.00 $307.00 $300.00
Student Nonmember $255.00 $330.00   $360.00 $400.00
K-12/Pre-College Educator Member $240.00 $0.00     $100.00
Developing Country Member $120.00   $205.00 $385.00 $200.00
Developing Country Nonmember $185.00     $510.00 $200.00

**2019 prices that are available online.

Is there an option for students to volunteer to offset registration fees?

ESA’s student volunteer program offers students at any level the opportunity to help at the meeting in exchange for reimbursed Early Bird registration. Applicants must register for the meeting and submit an application to volunteer by the Early Bird deadline. Many of the volunteer hours are spent in sessions helping presenters load their slides and then waiting on standby during the session in case A/V support is needed.

Does ESA offer travel awards?

Many of ESA’s sections and chapters offer travel awards each year to offset the cost of the Annual Meeting attendance. These awards are administered independently by each chapter and/or section.

Is there a room and ride share forum?

The Annual Meeting website provides a space where people may participate in a room and ride share forum to offset travel costs.

What is the historical meeting attendance?

Year City Attendance
1999 Spokane 2,806
2000 Snowbird 2,562
2001 Madison 2,898
2002 Tucson 3,721
2003 Savannah 2,716
2004 Portland 3,766
2005 Montreal 4,298
2006 Memphis 2,802
2007 San Jose 4,140
2008 Milwaukee 3,319
2009 Albuquerque 3,599
2010 Pittsburg 3,489
2011 Austin 3,691
2012 Portland 4,996
2013 Minneapolis 3,321
2014 Sacramento 3,629
2015 Baltimore 4,664
2016 Ft. Lauderdale 2,545
2017 Portland 4,533
2018 New Orleans 3,513
2019 Louisville 2,791

Are ESA meetings accessible for people with disabilities?

Yes, during the registration process ESA includes an ADA section where an individual can check a box that indicates they need additional services to make the meeting accessible to them (such as a mobile scooter, loop plugin for a hearing aid). ESA will contact the individual directly to get more information about how to assist them with their request.
ESA provides free caregiver badges to those when a request is made. All convention center and hotel venues are ADA accessible. ESA also provides a quiet room for use.ESA encourages anyone with special requests that are not covered in the FAQ to notify the ESA Associate Director of Meetings well in advance so that every effort can be made to fulfill the request.

Does ESA accept dietary requests?

Attendees can indicate dietary requirements, including religious dietary requirements or those with allergies when attending events. For large well-attended events, ESA provides a wide selection of food options to accommodate many dietary preferences. ESA follows up with registrants to clarify accessibility requests for small to moderately attended events such as the Diversity Luncheon. ESA requests that all buffet food be labeled¬¬¬¬ with ingredients to provide an additional layer of ingredient awareness.

Does ESA provide gender neutral bathrooms?

ESA provides gender neutral bathrooms at the convention center.

Does ESA support the use of gender pronoun use?

ESA provides an option for attendees to use stickers on badges with a space to write in genders.

What meeting content is currently available for virtual access?

ESA has recorded several plenary lectures in recent years as videos and these are available for viewing online on the ESA YouTube Channel or the ESA Vimeo channel. In 2019, the Opening Plenary, Scientific Plenary and Awards Ceremony, New Phytologist Trust Keynote Speaker, USSEE Plenary, and the Recent Advances Lecture were all recorded and posted on ESA’s YouTube channel. The Opening Plenary in 2018 was livestreamed and is currently available for viewing on the ESA Vimeo channel and YouTube channel.

All ESA presentation abstracts from 2007 to present are available online. The online programs for these meetings will remain available for searching and browsing for the foreseeable future. Abstracts from meetings prior to 2006 are available by request.

Since 2012, all presenting authors have been invited to share their slides or posters on the Faculty of 1000 (F1000) website. There are currently over 450 presentations from recent ESA meetings shared through F1000. Prior to 2012 presenting authors were encouraged to submit to Nature Proceedings.

Why is ESA charging an abstract fee?

Beginning in 2020, there will be a $60 abstract fee for submitting an abstract for a talk in any format (posters are exempted from the fee) with an opt-out alternative for anyone who does not have funding to cover the fee.Abstract fees will allow the Society to explore using new technological tools and address growing interest in digital content while maintaining a budget that continues to support core administration costs for abstract submission.

The following chart compares the abstract fees for ESA’s 2020 Annual Meeting with those of other societies.

Abstract Fee ESA AGU BSA SER ASLO
Membership Required No Yes No No No
Talks $60 $70 $95 $85 $75
Posters $0 $70 $70 $85 $75
Students $60 $40 $20 $35 $20
Low Income or Lower-Middle Income Countries per the World Bank   $0 $15 $25 $0
Opt-Out Option Yes No No No No
Non-refundable No Yes Yes Yes Yes

** 2019 prices

What meeting content is ESA planning to make available online for future meetings?

For the 2020 Annual Meeting, ESA will pilot the recording of oral presentations. Talks presented within symposia (SYMP), organized oral sessions (OOS), Inspire sessions (INS) and contributed oral sessions (COS) will be included in the pilot. Presentations made as a part of a workshop, short course, special session, or field trip will not be recorded. The audio for each recorded talk will be captured along with the slide content, including slide transitions. Only presenters who wish to participate will be recorded. Any presenter will be able to opt out of being recorded. Recorded talks will be available in the online program (web app) a few weeks after the conference.
We will record all of the plenaries that take place at the meeting again this year. The Opening Plenary, Scientific Plenary and Awards Ceremony, New Phytologist Trust Keynote Speaker, and Recent Advance Lecture will be recorded as video.

How much does ESA pay for Wi-Fi during the Annual Meeting?

ESA provides Wi-Fi in the convention center for all attendees to use. The cost of Wi-Fi varies from year to year based on how much each convention center charges ESA. In 2019, ESA paid $22,000 for Wi-Fi at the Kentucky International Convention Center and in 2018 ESA paid $19,500 in New Orleans.

Creating a Safe Meeting Environment

Does ESA have a Code of Conduct?

All ESA meetings and events participants – including, but not limited to, attendees, speakers, volunteers, exhibitors, ESA staff, members of the media, vendors, and service providers — are expected to abide by this ESA Code of Conduct and by the ESA Code of Ethics. This Code of Conduct applies in all venues, including ancillary events and social gatherings, and on-line forums and discussions associated with ESA. When registering for the Annual Meeting or submitting a proposal or abstract, you must acknowledge that you have read the Code of Conduct and will abide by it.

How do I report a Code of Conduct violation?

To report an incident, you can file a report online at esa.ethicspoint.com (this can be done anonymously if you choose), call the incident hotline at (884) 641-4133, or email gro.asenull@tcudnocfoedoc.

Does ESA have a Social Media Policy?

ESA encourages open discussion on social/new media outlets at our Annual Meeting. In order to find a balance between the needs and expectations of members and make the meeting a safe and comfortable space for everyone, there are guidelines posted on the Annual Meeting website.

Links to Resources