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Updates from the Program Support Committee

Melissa A. Clark, PhD, Program Support Committee Chair

The charge of the Program Support Committee (PSC) is to serve as an institutional memory for the SBM Annual Meeting by analyzing and reviewing meeting statistics and reports; updating the program manual/handbook; and making recommendations for future meeting goals and program improvement.

One of the committee's biggest responsibilities is to identify and recommend future Annual Meeting sites. However, the committee does not make those decisions unilaterally.

The needs and preferences of conference attendees are weighed very heavily in selecting potential venues for the Annual Meeting. Based on feedback that we have received, items that the PSC has prioritized most recently in recommending potential conference cities include: meeting space and guest rooms under one roof; low guest room rates; "walkable" cities with interesting night-time activities; accessible airports and transportation; and low food and beverage costs which means more catering options for attendees.

Based on conference attendee feedback and historical records of meeting attendance, the PSC identifies a list of possible city locations and a Request for Proposals (RFP) is sent to various conference hotels in those cities. We have found in recent years that SBM is able to negotiate better rates if we make multi-year contracts with particular hotel chains. Therefore, we have considered the locations for several upcoming meetings in order to secure the best possible rates. We review proposals from potential conference hotels and make recommendations to the Board of Directors. The final decisions are based on a vote by the Board.

Based on this process, we obtained excellent rates for the 2013 Annual Meeting at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco. We have also secured contracts for annual meetings in at the Downtown Marriott in Philadelphia (2014), the Marriott Rivercenter in San Antonio (2015), and the Hilton in Washington DC (2016). In addition, we have recently sent RFPs to various conference hotels in San Diego for the 2017 meeting.

At the 2012 Annual Meeting, you may have noticed some new features to the program such as the introduction to a select group of vertical posters, which will be the standard for the 2013 Annual Meeting. These program changes are partially in response to the fact that SBM has grown in size and with that growth, it has become increasingly difficult to select from hotels in a wide variety of conference cities. For example, many hotels are not able to accommodate the number of guest and meeting rooms as well as exhibit hall space that is required for our conference. Therefore, the PSC will be continuing to work with Program Chairs to test the feasibility of new features to the program that will meet the needs of the program but allow as much flexibility as possible in selecting meeting locations. In addition, we will continue to ask for your feedback about conference features that are the highest priority for you.

The 2013 Annual Meeting in San Francisco is going to be fantastic thanks to the hard work of President Alan Christensen, PhD, Program Chairs, Margaret Schneider, PhD and Elliot Coups, PhD as well as everyone who served on the Program Committee, reviewed abstracts, and submitted their work for consideration.

If you have any feedback for the Program Support Committee, please do not hesitate to contact me at Melissa_Clark@brown.edu. I look forward to seeing you in San Francisco.