BEMs, Again

March 20th, 2007 by Potato

Last year we had to deal with BEMs selecting a hurricane-devastated area of Mexico to hold the conference. We had deep fears all along that the hotel would not be ready (2 weeks of margin-of-error for their opening was not a lot of time for repairs that stretched out over 8 months) — and indeed, it wasn’t. We had to go with the hotel next door at the last minute, which over-charged us, and was suffering from some residual damage itself (periodic hot water and air conditioning outages, and the internet never worked in the rooms).

This year, we’re going to an undamaged part of Japan, so there shouldn’t be any of this nonsense. However, we’re still having issues being confident that this meeting will actually take place, so we haven’t booked flights or anything yet. For one thing, the deadline to apply for student travel support was last friday. As part of the application, they wanted your paid conference registration and a copy of your airline ticket (so they could estimate how much money they needed to find from sponsors for the travel awards). There was no registration form yet, so we couldn’t do that. And since there was no registration form, we hadn’t booked our tickets yet — they said that was fine, nobody had yet. Instead, they just wanted us to send in the page of the application with our contact information so that they could get an idea of how many students there would be.

I find this a little troubling, but even more troubling is that they haven’t yet picked a hotel to host the event. I don’t know about Japan, but in many other cities where we try to have conferences, you can’t leave booking out 150 rooms to the last minute. At least, not if you want a decent rate and/or to be close to where the conference will be. And not having any hotel information makes us cautious about booking flights. Despite not having anything done yet, we’re pretty sure the conference organizers will eventually book rooms for the conference itself, but what about the days before and after? Many of us from Canada are planning on arriving a day or two early to get over the jet lag before the conference begins. Many people are planning on staying afterwards for a bit of vacation, but if it turns out the rooms are a few hundred dollars a night, those plans might have to change, so we can’t very well book flights until we know how many days we can afford to stay in-country.

Two solid days of travel (24 hours in a plane or train, each way!) for 5 long days of work. I don’t know why I didn’t just outright refuse to go long ago. I don’t need the stress of worrying about this nonsense for two months in advance… not to mention the flying halfway around the world to be bored to tears by smelly, unwashed scientists. Though a really good suggestion was to try to get Febreeze to sponsor the conference, and we could mist everyone down as they entered…

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