[Coral-List] ICRS Registration Fees

Todd Barber reefball at reefball.com
Thu Jul 21 08:45:53 EDT 2011

I have professionally run similar conferences in another industry, and
here are a few observations:

1) If you hire a professional firm to manage a conference, you should
not need to pay the salary of a staffer.
2) A $3,000,000 Budget for a conference if this size is the REAL
problem....now I don't know the line item detail but it's way out of
line.  And that's where I believe we may have been led wrong here.
and David, you are wrong " The size of the budget will not surprise
anyone with any experience in running a large international
meeting."...I am shocked.
3) I DO agree that it's good to move the meeting around so that people
have a chance to attend from different parts of the world with less
travel costs.
4) I must wonder....why so much of the budget has to be spent on Guest
and keynote speakers....it seems in this field most of the experts we
would want to hear from would likely be coming on their own
already...perhaps we should cut back on this perk and offer them just
an honorarium and perhaps even have the most expensive (travel wise)
keynoters deliver their addresses electronically to the convention via
Skype perhaps.
5) If we attend a conference with this much waste are we not condoning
perhaps even promoting this wasteful behavior?
6)  If anyone out there agrees with me, I started a facebook group
page  https://www.facebook.com/groups/135869123163838 to boycott the
wasteful spending (and to take the discussion offline from the Coral
List as it distracts from our main goals).  Feel free to post your
opinions there, if you are not going to the conference because of the
high costs, please put your name on that page so we can send a message
of just how much business they lost by over budgeting.

> There have been some postings on Coral List expressing concern at the cost
>  of registration for the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS) next
>  July. We are writing to clarify the basis for these fees and provide an
>  update  on continuing efforts to support those in need of financial assistance to
>  attend this important meeting.
> The fees are set on the basis of actual costs and expected income, and
>  reflect the realities of the present global economy.  The expenditures for ICRS
>  2012 come to more than A$3million including the cost of the convention
>  centre, lunch and coffee breaks for 5 days, travel and accommodation for plenary
>  speakers, the hire of audio-visual equipment, the banquet, the cost of a
>  Professional Conference Organizer, media, and one salary for the symposium
>  coordinator. The size of the budget will not surprise anyone with any experience
>  in running a large international meeting.
> The International Society for Reef Studies, while the sanctioning
>  organization, does not possess sufficient funds to directly subsidise the Symposium,
>  although the society is working with conference organisers to assist with
>  external fundraising efforts.  So the income for ICRS 2012 will come from
>  registration fees and sponsorships. If 2000 registrants pay $1000 each, we'll
>  raise only 2/3 of the fixed expenditure. Our fundraising efforts, which are
>  ongoing, will therefore subsidise registration fees by approximately one-third,
>  and will provide free registration and travel support for developing nation
>  delegates to the maximum extent possible. The Symposium website will soon
>  have details for applicants.  The money we are raising under difficult global
>  circumstances will allow us to reduce the registration fees from $1500 (the
>  true cost, depending on the final number of delegates) to roughly $1000 (or
>  less for students).
> The comparison of Florida with Cairns doesn't deal with the fiscal reality
>  of differences in local costs that have to be paid. Previous meetings in
>  Tahiti and Okinawa were also relatively expensive compared to those held in the
>  USA, reflecting differences in currencies and cost of living. The U.S.
>  dollar has dropped in value against the Australian dollar by roughly 20% since
>  2007 when registration opened for ICRS 2008 (1.18A: 1USD in August 2007
>  compared with 0.93A: 1 USD today), a problem that could not have been foreseen
>  three years ago.  It should also be recognized that no bids were presented to
>  host the 12th ICRS at the Florida meeting, and the present organisers stepped
>  up when all other options, including sites in Central and South America,
>  fell through.   In Florida, the convention centre waived its fee, and
>  registration fees were heavily subsidized by Federal and State agencies through the
>  efforts of Dick Dodge and his team.  Some people were able to drive to the
>  mee
>  ting and boost the Symposium's income by paying a daily fee. These
>  circumstances simply do not exist for the 12th ICRS.
> I anticipate an increase in the number of students attending the next ICRS
>  meeting, with many more from the Pacific, Japan, SE Asia and east Africa.
>  Attendance by people from these regions was poor in Florida despite the lower
>  registration cost, because the primary expense of airfares, hotels and meals
>  was prohibitive. Hence, the rationale for moving these Symposia around every
>  4 years.
> We're working hard to make ICRS 2012 a great success, and we look forward to
>  seeing you there.
> All the best, Terry Hughes
> Convenor, ICRS 2012
> Message from the President of the International Society for Reef Studies
>  (ISRS) regarding the 12th International Coral Reef Symposium (ICRS)
> I and my fellow ISRS colleagues, officers and council members have been
>  following the concerns being expressed regarding the fees for the upcoming ICRS,
>  and agree that the costs will prevent many deserving individuals from
>  attending, especially students and participants from developing countries. This
>  is truly unfortunate, and there are efforts underway by the organizers and
>  ISRS to address this problem.
> As documented by the Organizers, these fees reflect the true costs in the
>  present global economic climate of reduced subsidies and funding by
>  governments and foundations, as well as the 20% devaluation of the US dollar versus
>  the Australian currency that has occurred since 2007-8 .  The hosting
>  organization, the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef
>  Studies, simply cannot be expected to cover the expense of the meetings out of
>  their own budget, and must be able to cover the costs through fees,
>  contributions and any extramural funds that can be raised.  The meeting is only a
>  year away, and the organizers must move forward based on their present
>  financial projections.
> They have been working hard to obtain support for students and other
>  participants in need of assistance, and have done well considering present economic
>  conditions.  In the meantime, ISRS is pledging to work closely with the
>  12th ICRS organizers to try and secure additional funds to cover or at least
>  subsidize the participation of more individuals needing support, and explore
>  options for the sharing of information including via internet access to
>  sessions and key presentations for those unable to travel to Cairns.
> My first ICRS was the 3rd, held in Miami in 1977, with several hundred
>  attendees clearly divided into two categories: biologists and geologists.  These
>  important meetings have grown in size and scope to include two to three
>  thousand individuals, with representation from the biological, geological and
>  social sciences, as well as managers, educators, policy makers, and the
>  private sector.  We are fortunate that Terry Hughes and his colleagues at the ARC
>  Centre of Excellence were willing to take on such a challenge.
> It has become impossible for many appropriate countries to host these
>  expanded meetings under the present model, and hence, the ISRS is considering
>  other options for the future.  These may include smaller regional meetings,
>  expanded use of the web for satellite sites, teaming up with other appropriate
>  professional  societies and meetings to cost-share, and having ISRS take over
>  running the meetings.  I would appreciate ideas and input from the Coral
>  Reef community (and if you're not a member of ISRS, I suggest you do join, as
>  we're moving forward and would like to grow the society and its relevance).
> In the meantime, I hope you will support the organizers of the 12th ICRS and
>  help make this a highly successful meeting.  We need to pull together for
>  the sake of our reefs and the future generations who need these magnificent
>  ecosystems.
> Respectfully,
> Bob Richmond, President, ISRS
> Richmond at hawaii.edu
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