Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Economy and Conferences

Aravind Srinivasin writes to us theory bloggers:
Especially given the current economic climate, ACM is concerned about getting enough registrants and booked hotel rooms for STOC. Could you please announce a reminder on your blogs that the STOC early registration deadline deadline is April 28th?
Consider yourselves reminded.

Will the economy affect the number of registrants at STOC and other theory conferences? Most attendees these days either have a paper in the conference, live close by or sit on some committee. NSF funding for theory is higher than in recent years but many departments have cut travel budgets and travel funding from outside the US may have dropped as well. If the economy is preventing you from attending STOC (and you would have attended otherwise) let us know in the comments, anonymously if you must. 

The economy might send people to cheaper hotels. This also hurts the STOC budget. From the hotel registration page.
Your support in staying at the Hyatt Regency Bethesda helps keep the conference costs down, which directly affects your registration fees. ACM guarantees the hotel that we will fill a certain number of “room nights” (rooms per night) during the conference. ACM incurs penalties if too many attendees opt to stay in other hotels in the area or neglect to indicate to the hotel that they are with the ACM conference.
I did a quick check on and didn't see any significant savings at other hotels so go register at the STOC hotel, doubling up if you need to save money.


  1. > many departments have cut travel
    > budgets

    I guess you mean "research labs"? (CS departments don't have "travel budgets"; each faculty member pays for their travel from their own grant money.)

  2. Some CS departments do have travel budgets, especially for junior faculty. In addition, all departments I worked at would pay for travel for conference presentations.

    In the recent past, Chicago (with help from grants) would pay for graduate student travel to conferences not only for students who had papers, but as something that is part of becoming a successful researcher.

  3. $200+ per night in a place like Bethesda,MD just does not make any sense, especially in the current economic climate.
    For example, advance purchase corporate rate at Mariott Bethesda (which I imagine ACM could also negotiate) is less than $100 per night and its just 2 miles away from the Hyatt.

  4. I have heard some grad students prefer to stay at cheaper hotels. Staying at the hotel may make sense for people having papers or faculty but not for students, even when they receive support from department or their adviser, they feel guilty to stay at the hotel when they are not presenting a paper.

  5. Yes, STOC needs to renegotiate the hotel rate in light of recent changes in the hotel market. For example, the Hyatt's current advertised daily rate is $149 for those Saturday and Sunday nights. On the other hand, the rate for Monday night balloons up to $299.