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Conference FAQs

Why are the conference hotels so expensive?

We could get better hotel rates if we met in January or February, but we don't want to conflict with the meetings of other large societies that are of interest to many of our members (AHA, CAA, MAA, and MLA). Our conference is also very space intensive, which limits us to the very largest hotels in major cities.

How do we pick the cities?

We take bids from conference hotels, and the RSA Finance Committee and Board discuss them and make the decision. Because of the size of our Annual Meeting and because we are an international society, we need to meet in cities with major airports, to make sure there are enough direct flights and reasonable fares.

Why do we have a closing reception?

Few if any large scholarly societies try to hold all-member dinner receptions, but the RSA has a long tradition of hosting a convivial gathering at the close of our conference, which we are reluctant to abandon. Additionally, as a practicality, conference hotels waive the cost of renting their meeting rooms and give us better discounts on the sleeping rooms if we agree to spend a certain amount on food and beverages. In recent years we have reduced the cost of the closing reception by serving appetizers instead of a dinner, because we are committed to managing our budget responsibly. However, we still are obliged to spend a minimum amount.

I don't plan to attend the closing reception, so why can't I have my registration fee reduced?

Because the cost of the closing reception is a trade-off, allowing us to use the meeting rooms for free and helping us to negotiate better rates on the sleeping rooms, we spread out the cost among all attendees.

To participate in the conference, why do I have to become a member for the year as well as paying the conference registration fee?

The income from registration covers all of the conference expenses (submission software, AV, app, etc.) except for the staff time required to manage the conference throughout the year. So we also use some income from member dues to pay for staffing.

Why do we not offer free wifi and free coffee at all RSA conferences?

We provide wifi and coffee whenever we can without raising the registration fee, that is, whenever the hotels provide it for free. At hotel catering rates, a cup of coffee costs $10-12. Some conference hotels still see wifi as a profit center, while others offer it gratis, to create goodwill and loyalty. Hopefully, as time goes on, more hotels will join the second group. The other option would be to raise the registration fee to cover these additional expenses, but we are reluctant to do so.


Why do I need to bring my own laptop and adapter to show images in my session?

AV is one of the biggest expenses in our conference budget. We contract for standard audio-visual setups in all the meeting rooms (a total of 45-50 rooms) for the duration of the conference, including a projector, screen, and basic connecting cables. We also pay for techs to set up all the equipment and troubleshoot it. Adding computers would raise the already enormous cost of AV even more, and there would be no guarantee that the computers provided would have the exact software that our speakers need. The only way to be sure everything will work is to bring your own.


Why are some sessions scheduled at the same time as other sessions on similar topics?

Across the three days of our conference, there are twelve time slots, four per day. In each time slot, 45-50 concurrent panels take place. For any academic field represented in more than twelve panels, there will, of necessity, be conflicts. We schedule linked panels in a row. We make sure that participants who need to attend a business meeting are not scheduled to speak at that time. We make sure that a participant who has organized a panel or is chairing a panel is not scheduled to give a paper at the same time. All of these sorts of accommodations contribute to the problem of conflicts between topics.

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