2017Q3 Reports: Local Organizing Committee
Local Organizing Committee
Priscilla Rasmussen, ACL
Anoop Sarkar, Simon Fraser University
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.
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.
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.