GI Conference Guidelines - A to Z
Below is a list of things to consider when planning your event. Conference coordination assistance is available for most of these items. Please contact the GI Conference Coordinator with questions or to start planning your event.
Design Services at the GI is available when a conference requires the collection of presenter abstracts and creation of an abstract book. Edited abstracts will need to be collected electronically, in a uniform format for compilation, at least one week prior to the event date. The abstract book will be delivered as an electronic file. Printed abstract books are costly and cannot be revised and redistributed as easily as electronic versions. Requests for printed abstract books will be fulfilled if the content is provided well in advance, at the discretion of Design Services staff.
Please consider that it is standard protocol to have support staff present throughout the actual conference events to ensure that every detail and possible snags are addressed. If conference activities fall outside of regular working hours (Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding university holidays), staff may incur overtime pay. It is not assumed that the event coordinator will be able to accommodate all activities scheduled beyond regular business hours. Discuss your staffing needs and expectations early in the planning process to avoid excessive overtime pay or understaffing.
Agenda and Securing Speakers
Though adjustments are expected, a basic layout of conference activities is required to begin making decisions on venue, lodging, transportation and catering. Review information provided in the Conference Services protocol and schedule a meeting with the conference coordinators to start forming your agenda as soon as possible. If you would like to invite executive administrators, like the GI Director or UAF Chancellor, schedule requests need to be submitted to their respective offices well in advance of the event. Please notify the coordinator if you would like assistance in doing this.
Alcoholic Beverages and Entertainment
Funds that are processed by UAF are restricted. Alcohol cannot be purchased using university funds. Similar restrictions may apply to entertainment or activities that are not expressly part of a professional meeting agenda. Registration fee funds can be used to purchase alcohol if it is expressly stated on the registration form or website that fees collected may be used to support events at which alcohol will be served. Debbie Ice in the GI Business Office is the point-of-contact for setting up conference funding – specific measures are required if purchasing alcohol. Speak directly to Debbie or consult the conference coordinator if you plan on having alcoholic beverages at your event or if you plan on providing recreational activity options to your guests.
It is important to work up a budget at the beginning stages of planning your conference or event. Staff at the GI have a long history of planning events in the Fairbanks area and can provide estimates of typical event costs for a variety of local businesses. Together, coordinating staff and the faculty sponsor can figure out cost estimates by piecing together an agenda. Please be prepared to provide a funding source and leave room in your budget for incidentals. Also, be aware of the restrictions placed on university funds; even if registration fees are collected, they cannot be used to purchase alcoholic beverages once deposited into university accounts. If you have further questions, please see either event coordinators or Debbie Ice in the Business Office.
Staff in the GI Business Office are responsible for several key aspects of conference planning. Funding, registration, purchase orders and more will be routed to various personnel for approval, collection and management. Please establish contact with Debbie Ice in the Business Office to prepare your funding source and allocated monies to a Fund 17 account prior to asking the conference coordinator to start working on your event.
Providing food and beverage to guests is an important consideration when planning any special event. Be aware of special dietary needs/restrictions. When using university funds to host a meal, Representational Allowance forms and purchase orders are required. Contracts are often required for on-campus catering services and sometimes for large group reservations at local restaurants. When using catering from campus facilities at least two week's notice is required to guarantee your food request. Conference coordinators are available to help make catering arrangements.
Be mindful of other events and holidays when scheduling your conference. For obvious reasons, summer is the preferred season for hosting meetings in Fairbanks. However, reserving space, equipment and personnel resources is very competitive during the peak tourist season. Lodging availability and recreational activities like tours will be difficult to plan without advance notice. Please consult the GI Events Calendar before finalizing your conference dates and speak with the event coordinator if the conference will coincide with another GI event or holiday closure.
Facilities and Venues
The GI is a great place to host conferences and showcase the full spectrum of research underway at the institute. In addition to the Globe Room and GI Auditorium, the adjoining Akasofu Building also offers technologically savvy meeting spaces, and UAF’s Wood Center is large enough for bigger meetings. When considering a meeting space, accurate estimates of attendance will help in the selection process. Coordinators are able to suggest alternative spaces and collect cost estimates for room reservations. Depending on the activities of the conference, transportation, parking, registration, technology, catering and many more details can be addressed by coordinators once the venue is reserved.
It is the responsibility of the sponsoring faculty to secure funding for the conference or special event. Grant money, donations, co-sponsorships and/or registration fees are all examples of funding sources that GI faculty have used to pay for conference expenses. Make sure that conference coordinators are aware of your funding sources and any restrictions or guidelines that may be placed on using that money. Debbie Ice in the GI Business Office is available to oversee your funding and make sure it is set up correctly as a Fund 17 account. Grant fund and org numbers are required to charge all conference coordination personnel expenses, including overtime.
Oftentimes registration fee revenue will cover the cost of ordering imprinted items for an event. If your conference has a logo, coordinators can order pens, notebooks, computer bags, coffee mugs and more to be given to your guests upon arrival at the event. Inform the coordinating staff if you are interested in getting a cost estimate for any particular item or if you are interested in learning what items are available.
University policy provides strict guidelines for giving and receiving honorariums. Consult the GI Business Office in advance of offering any honorarium to ensure that all required paperwork has been submitted.
The Director’s Office handles the formal invitations and immigration paperwork necessary for international guests.
The best-made plans often fail to anticipate the small and large issues that come up as the conference date approaches or even after it has begun. Much of the information provided in the GI Conference Protocol list and the details required for the conference form are prompts to help ensure that most work is completed prior to the event in order to have the resources to accommodate any last-minute requests. Reasonable measures will be taken to ensure conferences run smoothly despite late changes to the agenda or unforeseeable events. However, given that staff resources are limited, the turnaround time on last-minute requests may not be immediate.
Though there are many lodging options available in the Fairbanks area, availability may be limited during peak travel seasons or for last-minute requests. If many of your conference guests will be traveling from out of town and staying locally for the duration of the event, consider reserving a block of rooms at a local hotel for better rates and guaranteed availability. GI conference coordinators are available to suggest locations, gather price estimates and start making your arrangements.
If the event is being co-sponsored by another organization, please indicate whether or not there is a specific logo that should be used. As the hosting institution, the GI and UAF logos will be included where appropriate and/or in place of any missing logo. High-resolution files are required for nametag templates, website design and logo imprint gift items. Be sure that permissions are granted for logo use.
Both attendees and event coordinators will be encouraged to submit feedback forms. Conference organizers will be responsible for providing a synopsis of the event to the Director’s Office, reporting on attendance, revenue and outcomes of the conference.
Printing: Posters, Signage & More
Design Services is available for all conference printing and design needs. If you plan on having poster presentations, contact Lynda McGilvary for possible group discounts and guidelines to accommodate your event printing needs. Custom logo design, printed information for distribution and directional signs to post at your event venue all fall under the purview of the design team. Visit the Design Services website for more information.
The GI Public Relations staff are available to help publicize and promote your event both on and off campus. Photography, media events, news releases, website resources and print products are all things to consider when organizing an event. Promotion can be focused locally, statewide, nationwide or internationally. Depending on what level of publicity is desired, it may be necessary to begin distributing the information to media outlets early in the planning stages. Please consider contacting GI Public Relations as soon as basic details of the event are established.
Formal registration for all event attendees is necessary for GI records. Early-bird registration incentives are encouraged so that planning can be based on accurate attendance estimates. Late registration penalties are fiscally responsible since last-minute adjustments to meals, activities and supplies are often costly. Full registration refunds are discouraged; oftentimes commitments to local vendors cannot be altered within a few days of the event. Collecting registration information and registration table responsibilities can be handled by event coordinators if requested by sponsoring faculty.
Representational Allowance Items and Forms
It is university policy that food and gift items require the completion and approval of Representational Allowance forms prior to incurring expense. The form is available through the Conference Services Forms page and the GI Business Office website. Conference coordinators are able to handle form completion along with Purchase Order submission upon the request of the sponsoring faculty.
Sponsoring Faculty and Committees
At least one faculty member is responsible for an event. If there is an additional organization or a committee that is overseeing the funding or planning of the event, those people should also be included in the information provided to the conference coordinator. It is important that all parties involved in the conference planning are in contact with each other from the beginning of the organizational stages. This ensures that even in one person’s absence, the work can continue and that there isn’t miscommunication on who is tackling which tasks.
Supplies and Miscellaneous
Within a reasonable timeframe prior to the event, coordinators are able to supply nametags, notepads, pens and printed materials for conference attendees. The Fairbanks Convention and Visitor’s Bureau can also provide visitor information, including bags, to conference guests when arranged with coordinators.
Whether the conference takes place at the GI, at another campus facility, or at a location in the larger Fairbanks area, a formal request is necessary to secure basic presentation technology. For instance, projectors, laptops, microphones and more will help to make your meeting more professional and successful. Please consider the type of event you wish to host, the audience size, how presentations will be given, etc. so that requests for technological equipment and support staff can be requested in a timely manner. It may be challenging to fill such requests just before an event, so if you think you might need this type of support, be sure to mention it to the coordinator early on.
Timeline: Setting and Maintaining
Sticking to a timeline ensures a smooth, professional and stress-free event. We recommend that a timeline is created early on and that sponsoring faculty and coordinators abide by it. When organizing a conference on the UAF campus, one must consider the limited number of large meeting spaces, the advance notice required to reserve high-demand services, the time it takes to process paperwork, special forms and permissions and a whole host of details that go into planning even the smallest of events. To ensure that progress is continually made and every last detail is accounted for prior to an event date, a timeline & check list worksheet is available. If at any point a departure from the timeline becomes necessary, please contact the special events coordinator to make the necessary adjustments and to ensure that requests are still feasible. Reasonable measures will be taken to accommodate appropriate requests.
Once the agenda and venues of a conference have been tentatively decided, transportation needs can be addressed. Please remember that transport of large groups and long-distance travel will be costly and may need to be offset by registration fees. Also, transportation contracts are often difficult to alter at the last minute.
When filing Travel Authorizations, Travel Expense Reports or arranging travel for conferences, Shared Travel Services is the contact for information. See the GI Business Office for more information regarding travel regulations.
If you have already set up a website for your event, please give that information to the event coordinator. If you do not yet have a website and wish to have one, please let the coordinator know you wish to be put in contact with Design Services. Compile the content you want included on the site so that it is easily transferrable to a designer. When setting up online registration and fee collection, be sure to save that information and forward it to conference coordinators if you are requesting registration table assistance or nametags.