How are the venues for CHI conferences selected?
CHI has been held in the USA 22 times, and outside the USA 10 times. As the new SIGCHI Steering Committee is formed, the question becomes, where do we cite future CHI conferences to best suit our global membership? Planning for the future is of foremost concern, to ensure timely venue identification. As such, 2020 will see the conference location ‘heading towards’ Asia while 2021 we plan to return to Asia.
Figure 1: First stage of the site Selection Process
Broadly speaking the proposed process for strategically planning for conference locations includes about ten stages spread over a few years. The start of this process is outlined in Figure 1. First, the SIGCHI executive committee develops strategic location requirements which are provided to the CHI Steering Committee. This committee takes this guidance, along with previous CHI data, CHI development forecasting, and community needs to develop a list of potential cities. The forecasts and prior knowledge of CHI feed into our meeting requirements which detail space and facilities needs for CHI. These details along with details of potential cities are moulded into a request for proposals which is sent directly from the ACM on behalf of SIGCHI to a small set of convention centres in the target location for a particular year of CHI.
This process is sometimes a surprise to SIGCHI members who might be familiar with specialised conferences which first select conference chairs or who take complete bids to host a conference. When CHI had a small number of delegates, and a wide range of venues could host the conference, this was possible. Today, the scale of CHI requires us to take a different approach as we try to align community needs with potential cities or convention centre availability along with our space requirements. Once detailed bids are returned from the potential cities, an assessment is undertaken, followed by visits to several potential sites. This leads to Figure 2, where an understanding of the pros and cons of each proposal are considered. These factors include dates, cost, space, accessibility, etc. The CHI steering committee considers this broad range of factors in making a site recommendation to the SIGCHI Executive Committee.
Figure 2: Second stage of the site Selection Process
At this stage you might think the planning work for a particular CHI is done? In reality, that is not the case. Next, ACM needs to complete contract negotiation with the site the SIGCHI EC selects. Given the complexity of our requirements, this can be a time-consuming process. In parallel, conference chairs must be identified. Sometimes the chairs for a future CHI are identified around the time potential cities are under consideration but in reality these activities are decoupled to ensure the final site selection process can focus on a fair assessment of the site.