Hosting in your City

Responsibilities of the Bid Committee that selected to Host an Annual Convention

In keeping with the true spirit of AA, the advisory council does not wish to dictate the structure of the host committee, nor how the host committee should proceed in hosting the conference. However, experience has shown that, in order to protect the integrity of VSCYPAA, adhere to the AA traditions, and generally have a successful conference, some guidelines must be set out by the advisory council and followed by the host committee.

VIII.            Guidelines for the Conference and Host Committee:

A.      During the conference weekend, the host committee will provide the following meeting space at the convention facility for the Advisory Council:

1.       Advisory Council Meeting               Fri        11am-2pm         15 person

2.       Bid Session                                            Sat       7am-2pm           200 persons

3.       Advisory Council Meeting               Sat       2pm-4pm           15 persons

4.       Meet w/ non-awarded bid cities    Sat       10pm-2am         50 persons

5.       Meet w/ awarded bid city                Sun      7am-9am           50 persons

B.      After the bid city is awarded the conference, they are responsible for returning to their home city and promptly (within one month) outreaching and establishing the time and location of the primary host committee elections. The primary host committee elections are to be observed by the Advisory Council and must follow 3rd Legacy procedures as outlined in the AA Service Manual. The following mandatory positions are to be voted on: Chairperson; Co-chairperson; Treasurer (mandatory 2 years of continuous AA sobriety); Secretary; Outreach Chairperson. This core committee will determine where and when any other elections and meetings are to take place. For business reasons, the Chairperson, Co-Chairperson and Treasurer must be at least 18 years of age.

C.      All annual conferences shall be designated as such and be designated with a number so as to preserve its autonomy and character. They shall not be held in conjunction with or in conflict with any function, AA or otherwise.

D.      The host committee is responsible for returning the seed money provided them by the advisory council no later than June 1st of the host year, or one month prior to the annual conference, whichever is first.  The host committee is under obligation to pay its own expenses.

E.      All material and financial assistance given along with the conference profit, after expenses shall be returned to the Council within 60 days following the end of the conference. The Advisory Council will distribute profits to the AA service structure and intergroups in the Virginia area, while building a prudent reserve.

F.      The host committee must provide an accounting of funds taken and disbursed during the conference. The accounting for the funds collected must detail the nature of the receipt such as entrance fees, collection for T-shirts, etc. In order to comply with IRS regulations, the host committee shall provide, on a monthly basis, true and accurate financial accounting to the VSCYPAA Advisory Council.  The VSCYPAA Advisory Council Treasurer will in turn distribute these reports on a quarterly basis to all members of the VSCYPAA Advisory Council. Disbursements must include receipts for all approved expenditures detailed into categories.

G.     The host committee has sixty days after the conference dates to forward a financial statement and profits to the Advisory Council Treasurer. It shall be the responsibility of the newly elected Advisory Council members from the host committee to make sure the financial statement and profits are forwarded within the sixty-day period.  All bank accounts and other accounts with vendors must be closed within this timeframe.

H.      The conference may not be hosted more than once within the same AA District for at least five years, without the approval by two/thirds majority vote of the advisory council.

I.         No host committee member may hold a primary committee position for more than two years, whether the same position or different, whether consecutive years or not. This is to encourage the spirit of rotation, and discourage any individual or group from dominating the conference.

J.       Each host committee member elected to a primary committee position (one of the 5 described above) must agree to work closely with their appointed Advisory Council advisor to ensure that they fulfill their commitment to the conference by understanding and executing their appointed responsibilities thoroughly.

K.      No member may be elected to a primary committee position (one of the 5 described above) unless he/she is under the age of 40 at the time of the election, and has a minimum of two years of AA sobriety. Exceptions may be made with a 2/3rds vote of the attending Advisory Council members for all positions except Treasurer.

L.       The host committee shall maintain a permanent mailing address until such time after the conference that all conference business is completed.  The conference mailing address, email address, phone number, and any other methods of communication used by the committee must be closed and/or rerouted to the Advisory Council prior to sixty days following the conference.

M.     The host committee should be offered all prior conference material along with any individual or collective information the Council members possess. They are a distinct committee but should function within the guidelines of this document. The host committee should operate free of Council domination but with the knowledge that the Council stands ready to assist when requested or when the conference committee appears to be in difficulty. If the host committee has trouble, the Advisory Council will seek ways of salvaging the conference and the conference committee.

N.      In keeping with the 3rd Tradition of Alcoholics Anonymous, “The only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stay sober”, arrangements should be made to make all conference events handicap accessible.  Consider physically challenged and hearing-impaired attendees.  If it looks like a fair amount of any particular non-english speaking minority will be attending the conference, a translator should be recruited.

IX.    Suggestions for the Conference and the Host Committee:(Our Experience, Strength and Hope)

A collection of tips, hints, and advice that your VSCYPAA Host Committee may find helpful. If you choose not to use them, that’s okay. Take what works and leave the rest.

A.      General:

1.       You are a child of the universe, no less than the stars and the trees. You have a right to be here.

2.       Don’t drink, go to meetings, read the big book, call your sponsor and PRAY – especially when VSCYPAA makes you THINK you are too busy.

3.       Remember your primary purpose: “to stay sober and help other alcoholics achieve sobriety.”

4.       If you didn’t take a drink today, everything’s going just fine.

5.       Avail yourself of meetings, your sponsor, regular, old AA meetings, and any other resources, spiritual or otherwise, that you use to keep yourself on an even keel. VSCYPAA is no good excuse to have a nervous breakdown.

6.       H.A.L.T.

7.       Call the Advisory Council members. They’re just drunks like you and they’ve been through what you going through, good and bad. They do nothing day and night besides for wait for your phone call. They’re like the Maytag man after their conference is over – nothing to do, nowhere to go, just waiting for you to call so they can help. Help them feel loved; they’re people too.

8.       Get the AA Service Manual. Don’t attempt to read it cover to cover. Look for things in it that you are interested in like say – Third Legacy Procedure, for example, or the Twelve Concepts for World Service. That IS what you’re up to right now by hosting VSCYPAA.

9.       Get a copy of the AA Conferences and Conventions brochure from GSO. Also get a copy of the AA and Al-Anon interaction brochure from GSO. Oh yeah, read them.

10.   Use inventory as a healing tool. Use it on yourself. Make yourself available to listen to someone else’s if they should ask. Participate with group inventories your committee may have. Don’t forget to LISTEN.  LISTENING is the hardest thing you will do this year, and the most rewarding. Humans have a tendency to miss the opportunity to listen to other humans because they’re usually too busy thinking of the next thing THEY want to say, or listening to the committee in their heads. Try and have that epiphanic experience of LISTENING to someone 100%. You’ll feel great, they’ll feel great and you will both COMMUNICATE and that’s a major groovy experience.

11.   In your committee meetings, if it’s been said before, you don’t need to say it again, even if you know you will reshape the original statement into the most beautiful work of rhetorical art and phraseology ever heard in a business meeting. If you spend everyone’s time repeating what’s been said, don’t complain to the Chairperson about meetings taking too long.

12.   Stop and smell the roses. You’re having a time you’ll remember fondly for the rest of your life.

B.      Positions/Committees:         Other than the main committee position that were filled during the Primary Host Committee Elections, here are some other positions/committees that you may want to consider:

·         Hotel/Site Chairperson

·         Program Chairperson

·         Registration Chairperson

·         Hospitality Chairperson

·         Events Chairperson (events at conference, as well as fundraisers before)

·         Literature Chairperson

·         Media Chairperson (Logo, hats, shirts, etc.)

·         Archivist

·         Diversity Chairperson (help ensure adequate cross-section of AA’s in the VA area are represented)

·         Technologies Chairperson (phone, web, e-mail, taping, etc.)

(Depending on the number of persons participating with the committee, you may want to consider having “co-” positions. This provides an opportunity for many to gain experience.)

1.       Hotel/Site Chairperson:

a)       When choosing a location to host the conference, remember your primary purpose: “to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety.” Choose a location that can serve the AA members, especially young people, in the surrounding area. It is great to go to the beach or a ski resort, but if the area already has strong AA, and/or the cost becomes unattainable for most young people, are you really being of service?

b)       Work with your hotel/site reps to try and estimate together all possible costs for the conference before the conference actually happens. Try to stick to that plan. Make the hotel/site stick to the plan as well.

c)       Don’t assume anything that is not explicitly in your signed contract will be provided by the hotel/site, especially not for free.

d)       Look for the hidden costs like dance floor setup, electricity charges, labor rates for setup/breakdown, PA setup, loading dock labor, intra-hotel transport (often the hotel requires that their staff carry things, for insurance reasons), etc. If you find five, look for five more. If you find ten, find ten more. They’re there, so always ask your hotel reps every silly question that comes to mind that may involve some service or charge you haven’t explicitly covered in the contract yet. On this topic, there are no silly questions.

e)       Put everything, yes everything in the contract, even if the hotel/site reps tell you, “Oh, no problem.”

f)         Consider affordability and transportation when selecting a hotel/site.

g)       Don’t assume you can bring anything into the hotel/site like PA systems, food, and goods for sale like T-shirts. Clear them with your hotel/site reps first.

h)       Have legal counsel review any hotel or service contracts before you sign them. You can almost always find a lawyer who is willing to provide Pro Bono (for free) services.

i)         Get a liability insurance policy to cover the conference and its attendees. The policy amount should be around _________. For a typical conference in a typical city this costs $________. It will indemnify you individually against any lawsuits that may arise from events that might transpire at your conference. Just because you’re getting a policy, don’t assume that it covers everything. Have the insurance agent and your legal counsel review the policy coverage and terms before you buy.

j)         Avoid Hold Harmless clauses in your contract with your hotel/site whenever possible.

k)       Location of overflow hotels in relation to main hotel/site should make sense for pedestrian attendees who may return to their rooms more than once a day.

l)         Inform the hotel/site and pre-establish a policy regarding “Hanging out”, i.e. restricted areas, curfews, potential fire code violations, and provide direction to attendees in announcements.

2.       Treasury:

a)       Make a budget IMMEDIATELY. This can be a “living” budget: one that gets filled in more accurately as you progress towards your conference, but remember that a budget is an invaluable planning tool. Ask the last conference committee and/or previous conference committees for their budgets. Also ask for their registration, banquet, pre-conference event, breakfast, and recreation activity attendance so you can estimate “per head” costs. Don’t forget to ask for quantities of T-shirts, mugs, etc. bought for and sold at the last conference.

b)       Limit the number of people with authorized hotel charge signature to a minimum. Make clear who should be should be signing for what and what their spending limits should be for items like coffee. Each signatory should have a well-understood and bounded signature authority that corresponds with budget line items.

c)       Consider not accepting personal checks for pre-registration, on-site registration, or trinkets such as T-shirts, cups, etc. Consider accepting only cash or money orders.

d)       Call GSO, identify yourself as a VSCYPAA host committee member, and talk to someone these about the Seventh Tradition: what it means to you and LISTEN to what it means to them.

e)       Be conservative. We can always do with too little (a coffeepot and two drunks will do), but you have to pay for too much. Avoid financially overextending yourselves.

f)         Put cash in the bank immediately.

g)       Keep good records. Have frequent, regular Treasurer’s Reports.

h)       Only reimburse expenses for which a receipt is presented.

i)         Beware of lots off reimbursable expenses before your conference. They can eat up cash you will need right before your conference for prepayments and deposits. Establish your reimbursable expense policy early in your hosting efforts, in accordance with your budget.

j)         Use the “Just in Time” technique to meet your conference’s cash flow needs. When you place orders for things like programs, T-shirts, etc. try to minimize your up-front deposit, request delivery just before the conference, and ask for Net 30 Day terms from your vendors, where Net 30 Days is defined as 30 days after the conference. Most vendors, once you explain the nature of the conference, may be open to more flexible terms.

k)       Every attendee doesn’t need a T-shirt. Be conservative. “It’s not about T-shirts” (or any other trinket). They can’t keep you or anyone else sober. Buttons don’t sell well. Key chains sell only a little better.

3.       Program Chairperson:

a)       Allow for maximum participation by visitors.

b)       Start asking main meeting speakers for tapes NOW. It’s harder than you might think to get tapes. Set aside ample time and a place to listen to the tapes, and invite more than just the Program Committee members.

c)       Don’t overload the program with committee workers.

d)       Relationship/”13th Step” meetings (if you choose to have them) always require more space.

e)       Don’t over schedule. Keep things simple especially during “Main Events”.

f)         Use a meeting directory for your local area as a guide to the kinds of meetings that AA’s attend.

g)       VSCYPAA is an AA recovery conference, not a stage show. You don’t have to be extravagant. You don’t need three rings. In any empty room, sober alcoholics will enjoy each other’s company and sobriety, even without Tom Jones singing on a revolving stage.

4.       Registration Chairperson:

a)       Pay prompt attention to mailing conference fliers (at least eight months before the conference), information packets, etc.) The sooner they go out, the larger your early pre-registration and the better VSCYPAA’s message will be carried.

b)       Encourage as much pre-registration as possible.

c)       Over schedule volunteers manning the registration desk at conference time. You can never have too much help.

d)       Find a nerd (this written by a nerd) and have him/her setup a computer-based system for your registration processing. Make sure you’ll have enough computers at the conference. You can rent them. Computers can help you deal with the registration load and are invaluable for ” doing the ‘stats’ ” like average age of attendees, find all the states and countries for the countdown, etc.

e)       Establish your registration workflow before the conference. Try dry runs and see how long it takes you to process a pre-registered attendee and an unregistered attendee. See if this rate of processing is going to make traffic in the Registration Area flow smoothly or is going to make it look like Tienanmen Square. Modify your procedure or get more processing resources accordingly.

f)         Everyone should do outreach, all the time. If you ever find yourself asking, “Who’s doing Outreach?” answer to yourself “I am responsible.”

g)       Stuffing and licking envelopes is a worthy spiritual endeavor for even the haughtiest alcoholic.

5.       Health & Recreation:

a)       Determine interest for recreation activities in your pre-registration form.

b)       For any activities outside the site, be sure that any necessary City permits or insurance coverage have been obtained.

c)       Keep it simple.

6.       Hospitality Chairperson:

a)       Multilingual volunteers prove to be a valuable asset to the conference. (signers for the deaf are encouraged)

b)       Make committee members easily identifiable.

c)       Make sure you interact well with the hotel on your hospitality plans. If they have rules and regulations, respect them.

d)       Take those people who want to get involved right before the conference and help them become volunteers. Get some volunteer coordinators to help deploy them.

e)       Find the bid committees, wherever they may be (call Council, they can help), and find out what their needs at your conference will be. If there are costs associated with their bid displays, inform them as soon as possible.

C.      AA as a Whole:

1.       Encourage participation/speakers from AA proper, not just young people.

2.       Host City should encourage attendance at main meetings by AA members in your community.  Charging for main AA meetings is not in the tradition of VSCYPAA.  However, according to the 7th tradition of AA, we are fully self-supporting through our own contributions.  At the end of each AA meeting, you may choose to “pass the hat”, depending on the financial soundness of the conference.  Have a nerd determine the cost of the meeting space, and what the average cost per person would be.  Request that all persons not registered for the conference donate this amount.

3.       Find a service sponsor, perhaps a GSR or DCM, if you don’t already have one. Now that you’re hosting VSCYPAA you’ll find such a sponsor invaluable. Talk to them about your VSCYPAA experiences, and LISTEN to what they have to say.

4.       Get involved with AA in your area. Let them know what you are involved with. Establish contacts with the Virginia Area, all the Intergroups in the area, and the AA General Service structure. They can be of invaluable assistance.