Sponsorships and Exhibits Chair Report for 2002
Deborah Dahl

We had several levels of sponsorships-- Gold, Silver, Bronze, and Sponsor,
as well as special event sponsorships.
We had 4 Silver Sponsors, 5 Bronze sponsors, and 4 special event
sponsorships. The lowest, Sponsor, category, for $500, was new this year,
but no one signed up for that category. The total value of sponsorships was
$31,000. Several companies who had been sponsors in the past were unable to
sponsor this year's meeting, or had to decrease their level of sponsorship,
due to bad economic conditions.
The most successful type of contact was an individual email to a personal
contact at a potentially sponsoring organization. Several general emails
were sent out with very limited results. First, general emails were sent to
80 potential sponsors in February and March. In addition, a general mailing
was also sent by Priscilla to the entire ACL membership in April. Only a few
sponsorships appeared to be the results of either of these mailings. Most
sponsorships came from big companies, such as IBM, Microsoft, and Sun. Only
two startups (Teragram and Basis) signed up as sponsors. There were also
three sponsorships from non-profits (Cornell Intelligent Information
Systems, the Linguistic Data Consortium, and the University of Pennsylvania
Computer Science Department.

Points for discussion:
1. We should think about how far we want to go in commercializing the
sponsorships. One sponsor suggested that Gold sponsors should have the
abililty to have their logos put on the attendees badges, and another
potential sponsor wanted access to the ACL's mailing list to use for
marketing promotions. On the first request, the sponsor decided to become a
Silver sponsor and dropped the request to put their logos on the badges. The
second request was turned down after discussion with the ACL Exec.
We need to discuss how much sponsorship we need and how far we're willing to
go in commercializing the conference in order to obtain sponsorships.
2. One Silver sponsor was reluctant to contribute because their last year's
sponsorship check had not been cashed, and they finally had to cancel it. We
have to make sure that this doesn't happen again.
3. We may want to maintain a database of companies and contacts in natural
language related businesses for reference when we're seeking sponsorships
for future conferences.
4. Most sponsorships come through personal contacts. If we want to increase
the level of sponsorship, it definitely would help to have a team to work on
the task of contacting potential sponsors.

There were 6 exhibitors, most of them book publishers. Emails were sent to
80 potential exhibitors in February and March but most exhibitors found the
conference on their own.

Points for discussion:
1. Do we want to increase the number of exhibitors? If we do, what is our
objective? That is, do we want to make available information about products
of interest to the attendees, do we want to increase revenue for the
conference, or do we want to expose the attendees to commercial
technologies? Except for books and linguistic data, it's not clear how ACL
attendees could be customers for most commercial natural language
businesses. Consequently, it's hard to find a motivation for why any company
other than a book publisher would be interested in exhibiting at the ACL.