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Re: [802SEC] Plenaries outside N.A.


As one who thoroughly enjoys traveling to foreign destinations and who has
been to every 802 overseas plenary, I have to say that I thoroughly agree
with everything that Buzz has said below on this topic. When we have gone
overseas as 802 in the past (with a vastly smaller group than we have now)
the meetings were a delightful deviation from the usual but not
particularly productive as meetings go.

I have to say the same is true for our meetings in Hawaii. The excuse was
given at the time that Hawaii was a preferred venue because of its
proximity to the Far East. It is my opinion that having the meetings on the
outer islands destroyed a great deal of that advantage and made those
meetings fall under great suspicion as a boondoggle. (Honolulu would have
been more defensible.)

It is appropriate at this point to put in a word of sympathy for our
friends and colleagues from the Middle East and India.  They have few
prospects for having a meeting in their home region and are stuck with a
long trip almost wherever we decide.

With respect to overseas:
         Venues are smaller and fewer.
         Charging methods for meeting space are less favorable.
         Exchange rates are punitively unfavorable at this point.

And, we have to squarely face the issue of just what we are trying to
accomplish. My assumption is that we are trying to increase participation
(as opposed to one-time attendance) from leading-edge designers around the
world. We may get some small increase from having a meeting once in their
home area to suck them in but I doubt it. Our overseas meetings in the past
have had a significant number of one-timers who roughly made up
(numerically) for the regular attendees who didn't come. I am hard pressed
(unfortunately) to come up with what was accomplished other than a little
good publicity and make one-time easier travel for the Europeans. This was
a trade-off against reduced participation from a non-trivial number of

So we need to make a carefully considered decision.
Who is it that we are trying to attract and what will it take to bring them
in as sustained contributors?
What will the cost be in terms of the loss from the current population of
sustained contributors?
What will it cost (money, hassle, complexity, risk) in terms of meeting
Is it worth it?

These are all tough questions. I don't believe the answer is a foregone
conclusion. I believe that we need to actively recruit overseas
participants for participation in an ad hoc during the plenary to explore
the possibilities. I believe that this will require a pro-active effort as
(I suspect) those for whom English is non-native are somewhat slow to
volunteer, especially those who are new to 802.

(A separate thought here. Maybe we should (as a possible alternative) take
a deep look at what we could do to make our current venues and meetings
more friendly to foreign, ESL attendees.)

I hope all of this is of some help.

Best regards and Happy Holidays,


At 07:30 PM 12/21/2004 -0800, Rigsbee, Everett O wrote:
>Bob,  I was speaking of consensus of the membership not just the
>EC.  Suppose we find we are losing 25% of our attendance at international
>venues because many of the companies who support our attendees are not
>agreeable to paying for full attendance at expensive foreign venues
>???  And if those attendees are absent at both international plenaries and
>interims that could severely impact our productivity and discourage folks
>from participating at all.  In theory your suggestion makes perfect sense,
>but may have serious side-effects especially in today's uncertain economy
>and the declining dollar.  Before we decide to ignore the costs and
>impacts and charge ahead, we should do a modicum of homework to assure we
>are not being over-presumptive.  At a minimum each Working Group should
>have the opportunity to discuss the options and register their sentiments
>on how important it is to give the appearance of being "truly
>international".  If we all agree that we are willing to raise our fees to
>the level of the IETF's or the ITU's to support international venues then
>I'm more than willing to move ahead.  But I continue to hear complaints
>from folks who were not allowed to attend an interim because of the
>foreign travel location and therefore felt somewhat disenfranchised (some
>of my own colleagues from Boeing share this complaint).  At Boeing your
>manager can approve travel to anywhere in the US or Canada, but to get
>authorization for non-North American travel you need the approval of a
>Senior Vice President, and in this period of cost-cutting and outsourcing
>many managers are unwilling to even ask for such an approval because "it
>sends the wrong message."  I know corporate realities are unpleasant to
>grapple with but I do think we should tread lightly on this matter until
>we have some hard data to back-up our assertion that "cost is not an
>important consideration" since there is at least some hard evidence that
>it is.  I won't even try to bring up the !
>  considerations about terrorist threats to travel and the consequences
>of heightened security postures, although those are real concerns for some.
>So let's talk with our members, let's try some experimental venues, and
>let's make sure we understand what we are signing up for before we make
>promises that we can't keep or that have a serious negative impact on our
>long-term viability.  Planning for and implementing something on the scale
>of an 802 Plenary with >1600 attendees is an awesome logistical feat under
>the best of circumstances.  To do something on a similar scale in a
>foreign venue where facilities are both scarce and expensive can multiply
>both the cost and the complexity by a factor of 2 or more.  I wonder how
>many of our European attendees will be ready to pay twice the cost and
>travel time just to do a meeting in China, or our Asian attendees just to
>do a meeting in Rome ???  Every scenario has winners and losers but with
>the US being a "Best-Buy Mid-Way Location" right now for foreign
>travellers, I think we may be minimizing the costs for everyone by
>favoring US venues, and now that we are getting some of the
>"Best-in-the-World" facilities to work with is an extra bonus for the
>Best-Buy location.
>Maybe I'm just a Luddite worrying about things that nobody else cares
>about, but I'd rather be safe than sorry.  Groups up to 500 are vastly
>more portable than those with over 1000 attendees, and the consequences of
>being less than perfectly prepared are much less severe, so I'm not
>surprised that our non-NA WG interims have done well.  There are now
>dozens of hotels in the US that have excellent facilities for groups over
>1500.  I am not aware of even one such property outside of the US.  Your
>only choice is to capture a major convention center with 3 to 6
>surrounding hotels to get enough rooms and meeting space.  That can
>require 4-7 contracts in foreign languages and legal systems instead of
>just one in English.  Negotiating for prices and services is also
>multiplied by 4-7 times.  There is not a linear scale factor on this; it
>is more more like an exponential.
>So what can we do ???  Is there no hope ???  No wait ... there's a way
>!!!  If we were to require a solid and cooperative corporate or
>governmental Local Host for any international venue that we consider, we
>can easily reduce the difficulty and complexity of the logistical tasks,
>while probably substantially enhancing our ability to get favorable
>contracts, pricings, and services.  This is the smart way to achieve your
>goal.  We say to our international partners, we're willing to do this for
>you, but we will need your support and cooperation to make it workable and
>manageable.  This helps us to answer our question about what is the
>correct frequency as well.  If we get lots of solid Host volunteers, maybe
>1 IEEE802 session per year is do-able.  If we have few willing Hosts maybe
>1 every three years or less is enough.
>So let's consider making any "promises" contingent on there being a
>cooperative sponsoring Host, who is willing to facilitate our obtaining an
>adequate venue and facilities in their area.  That's a formula for success
>in the long run, and I think enhances our relationships internationally.
>Thanx,  Buzz
>Dr. Everett O. (Buzz) Rigsbee
>Boeing - SSG
>PO Box 3707, M/S: 7M-FM
>Seattle, WA  98124-2207
>(425) 865-2443    Fx: (425) 865-6721
>Cell: (425) 417-1022

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