Conference Planning Guidelines

The Fellowship has two conferences yearly, in spring and fall. Traditionally, we have held them the last weekend of October / first weekend of November, and the last weekend of April / first weekend of May. Spring conferences rotate between regions. Fall conferences are held at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn. There is a conference rotation schedule on the website. The regional VP of the assigned region is responsible for putting on the conference.

Along with the Museletter, our weekly email to members, and regional poetry readings, our Spring & Fall WFOP Conferences are what binds us as an organization, giving people a sense of fellowship. Conferences are critical to our continued success as an organization.

PLACE
Choose your hotel and book it a year and a half before the conference date. All hotels usually have their banquet halls booked a year in advance, scheduling conferences and weddings far ahead of time.

Avoid hotels where the conference facility costs are dependent on the number of lodging rooms rented.  If you must sign a contract which guarantees that WFOP will rent a certain number of lodging rooms, use a low number, like 20 rooms for Friday night and 5 for Saturday night.

Some hotels, like the Holiday Inn, will waive the cost of conference rooms if we spend enough on food, which we easily do. We usually have 60 to 100 attendees per conference. Spending $2,000 or $2,500 on food is normal for us. We usually have 25 – 40 rooms rented for Friday night, and 5 – 10 rooms for Saturday night. So if these are numbers the hotel needs in order to waive their conference room costs, we can do that. Conference room costs are often anywhere from $500 to $1,500.

Since we’re non-profit, we can often get tax-exempt rooms for our members. Our Treasurer has WFOP’s certificate of tax-exempt status on file. The hotel will need a copy.  You’ll usually need to ask the hotel to extend the deadline for keeping our block of rooms reserved. Members often register / reserve rooms up until a few days before the conference. We also get 10 or more walk-ins the day of the conference.

Conference attendees are responsible for making their own room reservations with the hotel.|

Always run the contract past the WFOP Treasurer before signing.

Consult with the hotel’s conference site manager on all expenses. Be sure to include the Friday night board meeting, Friday night open mic, and Saturday general meeting room in your request. Board meeting needs to be in separate room.

Also share the program with them. It will give them a good step-by-step idea of your logistics needs.

Avoid scheduling conferences on the same weekend as other Wisconsin literary conferences.

Fox Cities Book Festival is held in late April each year.

Wisconsin Book Festival is held in late October each year.

Lorine Niedecker Festival is held is early October each year.

Please coordinate dates with President Ann Englemann, aengelman@earthlink.net, phone 920-563-0416

(It is IMPORTANT to not schedule the same weekend as they do!) Also check with Wisconsin Writers Association and Council for Wisconsin Writers.)

Don’t schedule on Easter and try to avoid Halloween.

WFOP’s spring conference moves around the state, depending on which region is hosting. For the last several years, our fall conferences have been held at the Stevens Point Holiday Inn. They have all our info in their computer and this continuity makes it easy to work with them from year to year.

PROGRAMMING

At the July 2008 board meeting it was determined that: 

  • Every conference shall have a Roll Call session
  • Fall conferences shall treat Roll Call in a traditional manner
  • There shall be a 24-line limit for poems read during the session
  • The Roll Call shall be split into two sessions
  • There shall be no concurrent programming to compete with Roll Call
  • Spring conferences shall be free to experiment with Roll Call format

INVITING THE POET LAUREATE
Traditionally we invite the incoming Wisconsin Poet Laureate to give a half hour reading at the spring conference during their first year. They get free registration (as do all presenters), free hotel room, and $100 honorarium. All presenters should get at least $50 honorarium.

FREE ROOM FOR SPONSORING REGION VP
At the November 2010 board meeting it was voted to compensate with one night’s lodging per calendar year the conference coordinator and any single regional VP who must travel to a conference location to facilitate the planning and development of a WFOP conference (3 nights max. compensation total for WFOP, 1 each for up to 3 individuals; co-VPs will share a single compensation if they travel together).

FOOD & BEVERAGES
Generally we go with buffet lunch, as the cost is cheaper. Always add 15 – 20 meals over your final count (the one you get to the hotel a few days before the conference, to cover walk-ins). It’s always better to have more food than not enough.

Have a vegetarian option.

REGISTATION FEES
Registration should be in the $55-$60 dollar range. Students and 1st-time conference attendees get free registration. Non-member registration is $30 higher and includes a one-year WFOP membership. Same-day registration/walk-ins need to pay more.

AUDIO / VISUAL
We usually go with two cordless mics, and a podium at the front of the room. Please be aware that hotels charge as high as $100 per use of a computer projector (the kind needed for Powerpoints). They also charge extra for podiums and risers. Due to the abilities of some of our members, we no longer use risers or any type of stairs at conferences. Always be sure mics are off when not in use to save on batteries.
 

SPEAKERS FEES
Fees vary greatly, depending on who you get. National-level poets like Dorianne Laux or Denise Duhamel cost upwards of $2,000. All presenters should be offered at least $50. Your main speaker should generally get $200 to $500 (again, depending who it is), and a free hotel room. 32 cents a mile mileage is sometimes offered as well, if they’re travelling a significant distance. A speaker’s contract should be used for main speakers.  Most other speakers receive a flat $100 and should complete the Session Proposal form available on the website. Panelists usually are just given a check at the conference. Speakers and panelists who are WFOP members will receive a stipend but are expected to pay their own registration, transportation, meals and hotel fees.

Guest speakers who are not members of WFOP are not charged registration for the day they present. A complimentary meal can be offered if appropriate. Mileage may be offered if the speaker is driving a great distance. We want to show appreciation to our guest speakers without putting a strain on conference budgets.