Because the 2005 annual conference fell during Halloween and the 2006 conference occurs on Election Day, I am beginning to feel the need to be just a little defensive. Although no one has sent me threats of bodily harm to date, I have reason to believe my sanity has been the subject of thorough discussion at more than one family dinner.

In my own defense, I really have no sadistic motive in attempting to disrupt family times or to take away from everyone's civic duty. The several complaints we received about the conflict with Halloween last year ranged from polite notes explaining how important the time was to their children and they could not attend, to an irate spouse calling and asking what planet I got off of when I picked that date. Didn't I know that Halloween included two of the most important hours of the entire year for their family? Needless to say, I do now!

It might be appropriate to list the requirements the staff follows whenever possible in selecting a property and a date for the annual conference, in the order of importance.

  1. Dates in the October/November time frame.
  2. Availability of 2,500 room nights over a five-day period with a maximum single-night capacity of 1,000 rooms.
  3. House the entire convention in a single property.
  4. Preferably, HARDI should be the only convention in house.
  5. Meeting room space totaling 150,000 square feet.
  6. Onsite unobstructed meeting space with a minimum of 40,000 square feet of free space.
  7. Do not use off-site facilities for conference booth program.
  8. Below-market-rate room costs (negotiated).
  9. Avoid every potential disaster or Act of God.
  10. Golf course on site and a climate to accommodate play.
  11. New or recently remodeled property.
  12. Within 30 minutes of a major airport.
  13. Do not meet at the same time as these conventions: PHCC, NECA, ARI SMACNA, RSES, ASA, WIT, HRAI, GAMA, AHR Expo — Mexico, IKK — Germany
  14. Do not meet in the same week as: Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Canadian Thanksgiving, Halloween, Election Day, U.S. Thanksgiving.

I should mention a couple of other points. First, given these conditions and the size of our conventions, HARDI is limited to approximately 10 properties in the United States. Second, the selection of the October/November time frame and the inclusion of recreation such as golf and tennis were decisions of the Joint Consolidation Committee, of which I was a part, and which labored long and hard to establish a very successful consolidation. It is understandable that some desire a return to the December time frame, but as many will recall, that month was also fraught with complaints and just as many complications in finding suitable facilities.

In the end, while we make every possible attempt to meet the requests and requirements of all of our members, I cannot guarantee that there will not be conflicts for a few members in the future. In spite of the conditions, be assured that we truly strive to minimize or avoid any conflicts whenever possible. Above all, I believe it is important to remember that the criteria under which we make site and date selections have also proven over many years to be a very successful formula for providing a “world-class” conference that continues to grow and improve.