2017Q3 Reports: Local Organizing Committee

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Local Organizing Committee

Priscilla Rasmussen, ACL
Anoop Sarkar, Simon Fraser University

Registration Numbers

Our total registration count at the close of late registration is 1,710. Of this, 159 are attending only tutorials and/or workshops and about 30+ are exhibitors not attending the program sessions. Two tutorials are especially popular (T3 Deep Learning for Semantic Composition and T4 Deep Learning for Dialogue Systems). The most popular workshops (each well over 150 attendees) are CoNLL, Repl4NLP and NMT: 1st Workshop on Neural Machine Translation.

We also have first time high number of exhibitors, at about 25. This includes many of our sponsors but also a couple of publishers and non-sponsoring exhibitors.

The Social Event for all main conference attendees will be at the Vancouver Aquarium. In addition to our attendees, just over 150 accompanying person tickets have been purchased. Adding Accompanying person optional poster dinners (34 & 37), breakfasts (20-25), and social event (150) has resulted in additional income so should be continued in the future.

Hotels

With all the events going on in Vancouver the week of our conference and cheap hotels being expensive, we engaged spill-over hotels, the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre and the Marriott Vancouver Pinnacle Downtown for additional blocks of rooms for non-students and for students, we were able to get 10 rooms at a super discounted rate at the Westin Bayshore plus a small block of rooms at the YWCA (actually a hotel) and at the Georgian Court Hotel. Unfortunately, with the early cutoff dates at the Sheraton and Marriott, most rooms were released without bookings. We managed the student requests for housing and filled all available space. I have not heard complaints from people not finding hotels.

Various

Workshop Chairs have been extremely helpful and conscientious in coordinating the workshops’ needs with Priscilla for space and poster planning. One workshop, however, was quite late in letting people know their plans, making it quite difficult to accommodate all of their unique requirements. The poster sessions will be tricky to get set up since we have to reuse some of the parallel session rooms rather than having a separate space (as in NAACL and ACL 2016) but it is more our burden than anything the attendees will see (hopefully!). The Recruitment Lunch has 16 companies signed up, many of which are our conference sponsors but some, including Twitter, are new to us.

Kostadin Cholakov, who helped both Valia and Priscilla immensely in Berlin, had to step down from the Student Volunteer Coordinator position. Maryam Siabani kindly agreed to take over this position and has done a great job. And, Nitin Madnani, as the conference webmaster, has been a major support in his timeliness in responding to all requests. One exceptional thing he did was to automate the visa request letters which saved so much time, especially this year with over 500 requests for letters of invitation.

Our experiment of offering childcare has resulted in less children being signed up than we had hoped. Possibly it takes time to catch on or maybe there is not quite the demand we thought there would be. In any case, this is an expensive endeavor, given the number of families assisted. We are fortunate that ACL 2017 is held in a conference hotel where the 4 rooms for childcare are at no additional charge. At ACL 2018, for example, when using a convention center each room has a daily rental fee (often quite high) that would be a cost on top of the childcare contract, the per-child per-hour sitter subsidy, and miscellaneous shipping and rental fees.


Tasks undertaken:

Here is a list summarizing the tasks undertaken by the Local Arrangements so far:

- Contract venues for tutorials, main conference, and workshops along with the ACL Treasurer

-Contract with spill-over hotels for both regular attendees and students, along with ACL Treasurer

-Manage all student housing reservation requests at three low-cost student hotels

- Created a detailed working budget, used to track costs vs income and set registration fees, getting approval from the ACL Treasurer

-Work with the registration form builder to make the registration form, test the payment system, open registration, and manage the registrations and requested cancellations or changes or questions from attendees

- Coordinate sponsorship and exhibitor acquisition, setting ACL up as vendor, issuing invoices, and coordinating exhibit arrangements and ensuring sponsorship benefits are fulfilled

- Create and coordinate input to the conference website, working closely with the webmaster

- Make the necessary arrangements for the meetings of the CL Journal Board, ACL and NAACL Exec, the Recognition and Thank You Dinner, and the post-conference breakfast

- Handle all the invitation letter requirements for visa application processing (over 500 this year)

- Make arrangements for the social event of the conference which is at the Vancouver Aquarium

-Ongoing coordination with the hotel and PSAV on internet and audio/visual requirements and setup

-Development of menus to be served throughout the conference and ongoing coordination with hotel on numbers of people to serve

- Liaise with the workshops chairs so that all the special requirements of workshop organizers are met (extra poster boards, receptions, lunches, etc., especially, for the WiNLP and Repl4NLP workshops)

- Liaise with the representatives of the recruiters, hotel and others for the Recruitment Lunch (limited to 400 attendees and 20-25 recruitment institutions)

- Liaise with the event promotion departments of Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Facebook, supporting them in the organization of their private satellite social events

- Design and order the conference bags

-Design and create all signage and banners for the conference and arrange local printing

-Make room assignments for all parts of the conference and update or change these assignments based on registration numbers. Provide this to the Handbook Chair and App Coordinator as well as to the Conference Webmaster.

-Coordination with KiddieCorp for onsite childcare, reserving rooms, fulfilling setup and other requests

-Miscellaneous: Creating award certificates, arranging engraving of LTA award and hosting the awardee

Ongoing work:

- Make final arrangements for and coordinate with the hotel on all space usage and final layout and setup of posters, specialty lunches and other non-standard requests, menus and a/v -Make registration refunds to those who could not get visas and other cancellations

- Collect or creation of all materials for conference bags (poster session guide, sponsorship materials, arranged for local maps and tourist guide through Tourism Office, conference handbook, etc.) in preparation for the bag stuffing to be done the day before the conference begins. Production of badges, admission and complimentary drink tickets for badge stuffing the day before the conference begins

-Meet and supervise Student Volunteers onsite

-Be available for behind-the-scene repair of anything that might go wrong

Post-Conference work:

-Make registration refunds to those who could not get visas and other cancellations

-Reimburse invited speakers’ travel, make student travel awards, pay tutorial presenters’ honoraria, etc.

-Pay final bills