Meetings & Conventions: Newsline
WITH MEMBERS SERVING OVERSEAS, MEETINGS TAKE A
Military Groups Face Attendance Shortfalls
Army reservists go off on assignment to the Persian
Call it one more by-product of the war on terrorism: With
legions of Army reservists and members of the National Guard
deployed around the country and overseas, military associations are
bracing for decreased attendance at conferences. At press time, the
United States Army Reserve and the National Guard had mobilized a
combined 219,651 members, compared with 265,000 called up for
1991’s Gulf War.
Over the past few months, planners at the Washington, D.C.-based
Reserve Officers Association of the United States have noticed a
decrease in pre-registration at recent events, as an estimated 10
percent of ROA members are away on active duty, while those at home
hesitate to make long-term plans.
At ROA’s midwinter conference in January, about 25 percent of
attendees waited until the day of the event to register. “It gives
us stress, and it gives the hotels stress,” said Lani Burnett,
ROA’s director of industry affairs.
At the Washington, D.C.-based National Guard Association of the
United States, 2003 conference chairperson Colonel Bradley MacNealy
estimated 15 percent of his members were deployed at press time,
many serving as engineers and peacekeepers in Iraq. It was not
certain how many of those members would attend NGAUS’ annual
conference in September.
MacNealy and Brunette said they have assured concerned sponsors
that important decision-makers still will attend their conferences.
Meanwhile, family support meetings suddenly are gaining in
popularity. In January, for instance, the ROA held a panel on the
effect of mobilization on family finances. Another hot topic is
re-employment rights for reservists who have difficulty returning
to their jobs after being away for long periods.
In light of increased uncertainty, military associations have
begun taking measures to protect themselves financially. NGAUS
includes a war clause in its contracts, and ROA has elected to
carry cancellation insurance.
In some cases, suppliers have shown leniency. “The most
patriotic and nicest thing I saw,” said one ROA official, “is a
hotel general manager saying, ‘Don’t worry about your attendance.
It’s wartime, and I’m not going to count it.’”
• BRUCE MYINT
What Association Executives
The gender gap in earnings grows in relation to size
of organization, according to a 2001 compensation survey.
Individual membership association
Total staff size:
2 or fewer
3 to 5
6 to 10
11 to 20
21 to 50
51 to 100
More than 100
Total annual budget:
$300,000 or less
$300,001 to $500,000
$500,001 to $750,000
$750,001 to $1 million
$1,000,001 to $2.5 million
$2,500,001 to $5 million
$5,000,001 to $10 million
$10,000,001 to $15 million
More than $15 million
American Society of Association Executives
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