I am often asked how I define success. Where I come from, it is said that success is relative. The more success, the more relatives.
At the time I am writing my column, AAPG is experiencing one of our most successful pre-registrations for an annual convention during the past 12 years. It is not that we are necessarily surprised -- the excellent technical program and venue, combined with the price of oil, make a "perfect storm" for conducting a convention.
Nevertheless, the response has us re-evaluating the dynamics of our conferences and exhibitions.
Conventions -- especially an annual meeting -- are typically a "flagship" event for a non-profit society. An annual convention is the key time when AAPG's members have the opportunity to meet and discuss ideas with each other plus renew friendships and important business contacts. This networking among association leadership, corporate management, top scientists, prospectors and technology providers always is a key and exciting component to a successful meeting.
Another important component of an annual convention is the financial benefits to the societies that are involved. For Calgary this includes AAPG along with our sister societies CSPG and SEPM. Proceeds that AAPG receives from the annual convention and exhibition help support many programs that we provide at no or low cost to members, such as the BULLETIN digital archives, Distinguished Lecturers, student programs, etc.
We are re-evaluating our meetings program because we understand that there are too many conventions around the world. There seems to be a proliferation of meetings, and the calendar is crowded.
We first began to analyze this phenomenon in 1999. Then-presidents Ray Thomasson (AAPG) and Bill Barkhouse (SEG) directed the respective staffs to develop a model to combine the AAPG and SEG annual meetings for a future date as early as 2003. The only caveat was there could be no significant financial loss to either society.
As the model took shape and participants interviewed, it was clear there was the potential for significant loss of revenue from a combined meeting. In addition, there did not appear to be a strong consensus among the membership on which path to take.
As a result, AAPG decided to start a "grassroots" effort of encouraging joint meetings for workshops and smaller meetings with sister societies. This has worked for many of AAPG's Sections and Regions, and we continue to encourage combined meetings where possible.
William Shakespeare said that "to climb a steep hill requires slow pace at first." AAPG is dedicated to building that pace with numerous intersociety initiatives, especially those related to joint meetings.
Since "9/11" the dynamics of conventions have changed significantly around the world. Convention centers and hotels have changed their rates and deposit structure. Security and insurance costs have risen significantly.
Even with these added burdens, conventions and exhibitions remain popular and financially healthy events. Corporate consolidations have hurt, but new and expanding companies are stepping up to develop exposure and contacts through support and sponsorship of the annual convention.
Attendance and sponsorship for Calgary 2005 are at record growth curves, so as we develop AAPG's strategic plan we continue to evaluate the evolution of the annual conference and exhibition along with the needs of AAPG members and corporate sponsors.
Come join us in Calgary, and let us know what you think. AAPG's annul meeting is a unique blend of science and business. It will be a great convention during this exciting time for our profession and industry!