Case study: Division 13 and DSO meeting planning
With 4 months until its 20th annual midwinter conference, Division 13 had lots of planning to do — logistics, marketing, registration, entertainment, venue coordination... The to-do list was long, and the last thing they wanted to add to the list was “find a new meeting planner.”
“We found ourselves in a situation that called for a last-minute change of our meeting planner,” explained Amy Owen, PhD, president of the Society of Consulting Psychology. “We were lucky enough to make contact with the Division Services Office (DSO), who were looking to pilot meeting planning as a new service. After they submitted a formal bid and took part in our vendor screening, we knew we had a match.”
The rest is history. This initial partnership allowed DSO staff to step in and help a division in need, while also helping the division to grow the conference attendance to the largest it has ever been. And as a result, all divisions can now take advantage of the reduced-cost meeting planning services offered by the office.
“Right away, our office was involved in finalizing speaker agreements, marketing and setting up online and print registration,” said Chad Rummel, meetings manager for Division Services. “The division had great, new ideas for how to push their conference, and they just needed someone to help them with the legwork and navigating the mounds of work involved. We were able to leverage the strength of APA and give the division the support it needed to pull off a great conference.”
Rummel, a former for-profit meeting planner, used his experience to help the division manage costs and negotiate contracts with the host venue and vendors. Held in Pasadena, Calif., the conference drew in record numbers of attendees and registrations for preconference workshops. With four keynotes, social hours, more than 50 speakers and a high expectation of quality, the conference came off nearly flawless.
“We had a vision for changing the conference to encourage new ideas and bring in new ways of thinking into the field,” said Conference Chair Karen Foster, PhD. “And we were so blessed that Chad came in, helped us finesse our ideas and add to them at the same time.”
Rummel said that he enjoyed working with the division and helping them try out new ideas.
“Every meeting planner has his or her style to bring to the table. Because Division 13 invited me in to be a partner with them in the conference, we were able to brainstorm together and build off of each other’s ideas,” he said. “My goal was to make it as stress-free for all those in the division who had labored over the conference so that they could enjoy the fruits of their labor.”
Before the conference had occurred in February, Division Services and APA Office of General Counsel had helped the division with site selection and contract negotiation for its 2013 and 2014 conferences.
“We are further ahead of the game than we have been in a long time in our planning, and we were able to secure contracts with good rates and concessions,” said Lyne Desormeaux, PhD, Division 13 president-elect and past-treasurer. “APA helped us create an RFP, solicit proposals and negotiate to get us a very good deal on a multiyear contract in two cities.”
As a result of the partnership, Division 13 has already renewed its contract with Division Services to plan its 2013 conference. In addition, through the Division Services Office, they’ve hired Rummel as a part-time administrator to support the division.
“Everything that Division Services did for us, from graphic design, to tracking registrations and finance, to professional on-site management proved to us that there was something to be gained by keeping a close partnership with the office,” Owen said. “As a result of our new service agreement, the DSO staff attends our committee conference calls, monitors our listserv, provides officer/committee support, archives our documents, responds to member questions and gives us guidance on membership and other initiatives that are crucial to running our division.”
Nancy Moore, executive director of APA Governance Affairs, said she is pleased with the quality of meeting planning and the slate of new services being offered to divisions.
“Not only do divisions have access to a professional meeting planning staff, by working with the DSO, they also have all of the other APA relationships involved in the planning of their conferences — finance, legal, convention affairs and more,” she said. “Divisions have asked for meeting planning support, and APA is able to provide them this service at a very affordable cost.”
Rummel said the DSO staff is happy to talk with other divisions who currently have midyear conferences or who are considering starting them.
“There is definitely no harm in having us take a look at what you are currently doing and seeing where we can possibly help,” he said. “With APA subsidizing the costs to support divisions, we can surely provide the quality of service that a for-profit planner would at a discounted price to APA’s divisions.”
Divisions interested in learning more about meeting planning or any other service should contact their DSO account manager or Rummel at (202) 336-6121.