Frequently Asked Questions

The SPA Annual Convention in March each year is well-attended and well-received by members and non-members alike. Following are answers to Frequently Asked Questions associated with the Annual Convention. We hope the information will assist you in understanding some of the “behind the scenes” considerations associated with the planning and execution of the SPA Annual Convention as we strive to give our members the best possible value for their time and money.

Where can I find information on the SPA Annual Convention?

  1. Our web page at, under the Annual Convention tab, has general information about a future meeting starting in April of each year. The Call for Workshops goes out in April of each year with a deadline of July 15. The Call for Papers goes out in July each year with a deadline of October 15.
  2. The SPA Annual Convention brochure is mailed to the membership and posted on our web page, under the Annual Convention tab, the first week of December each year. The brochure runs about 28 pages and includes the following information (which can be downloaded): the tentative program/schedule for the convention; a complete list and description of each workshop being offered; a description of the two master lectures; a listing of the symposia, roundtables, paper sessions, and posters that will be offered; the award winners; registration information; registration and workshop fees; accommodations/hotel/dining/parking information; information for student participation; consultation sessions and interest groups that will be offered.
  3. The SPA Annual Convention draft program book is posted on the web page the first week of January each year. The program book provides every detail about the convention; and presenters can review the draft and send any corrections, additions, or deletions to the Administrative Director. The final version of program book is printed about two weeks prior to the convention, and hard copies are in each attendee’s registration packet.
  4. Workshops and the Annual Convention are considered two separate entities. You can register for a workshop(s) without attending the convention; you can register for the Annual Convention without attending a workshop(s); or you can participate in both. Registration for these options can be completed online through our web page after the first week of December each year.

Why are conventions sometimes in a downtown hotel and other times in the suburbs of a major city? Why do we skip some major cities?

  1. Unfortunately, for many cities, a downtown hotel (especially in New York City and Washington, DC) comes in at a price that is not economically viable for our attendees. When selecting a hotel, we try to keep in mind individuals on limited budgets. We are currently striving to keep the room rate below $200.00 per night. In 2013 at the Westin Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, CA, the rate is $199 single/double (plus tax); and in 2014 at the Westin Arlington (Virginia), the rate will also be $199 (plus tax).
  2. SPA realizes that you have a number of options when securing your accommodations for the Annual Convention. We would like you to know that, in order to secure a reasonable room rate and pay no rental fee for meeting space, SPA has made a financial commitment to The Fairmont. If the block is not filled, there are financial implications for SPA, and it will affect our ability to negotiate room rates for future conventions.
  3. We also realize that our members who travel to the convention from outside the United States sometimes feel that the rates are still too high for them to afford. Unfortunately, lower priced hotels do not have the type of meeting space the Annual Convention requires. Our convention management company, Travelink, works very hard to find an attractive hotel in the city of our choice at the lowest room rate possible.

Why do we seem to go to the same areas of the country and why are cities with warmer climates not considered each year?

There are many factors that impact how a city is chosen for the Annual Convention, and one major factor is that only major cities in certain parts of the country with a good deal of local pull bring in the kind of attendance needed to ensure that the convention pays for itself. Such cities/areas are San Francisco, San Diego, Chicago, and cities close to Washington, DC. Warmer climates do not guarantee high attendance, as the data we have collected reveals.

Why are coffee breaks limited?

  1. Coffee (and hot water for tea) is presently $97 - $110 (plus tax, plus gratuity) per gallon; which translates to $1300-$1500 per coffee break.
  2. We presently offer two/three coffee breaks per day over a five day period (with snacks added to the afternoon breaks), and the total cost is approximately $24,000 (bottled water and sodas cost $5.00-$6.00 each and we are charged on consumption).
  3. In order to keep the total cost of the convention as low as possible for the attendees, offering coffee all day is prohibitive at this time.
  4. Most hotels provide a coffeemaker in the room as an early morning coffee/tea option.
  5. Please note that we are always seeking sponsors to help defray the costs of conventions. Everyone can help with finding sponsors, especially those of you who work or live in the region in which the convention is being held. Publishers, universities, and treatment centers have participated in such sponsorships in the past, and they are welcome to sponsor or help sponsor a coffee break.

Why are some of the meeting rooms so crowded?

  1. Meeting rooms are set to the maximum allowed by the fire codes. If there are no more chairs in the room, it means the room is at capacity, and you should choose another session to attend.
  2. The contract for a hotel is signed 2-3 years prior to the actual program for the event being set. If the program has some controversial or cutting edge sessions that attract an unusually large audience, every effort is made to schedule that particular session in the largest room available to us in the hotel.
  3. Some hotels have meeting rooms that are all the same size, except for the ballrooms. If a ballroom is not available to us per our contract on any given day, then a popular session will be crowded.

How can I meet attendees during the Annual Convention in a casual setting as a newcomer?

Included in your registration are three receptions (Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening) during the Annual Convention. Light fare is served along with a cash bar, and these receptions are the perfect opportunity for you to meet other attendees. Don’t be shy – join us – and any member of the Board will be happy to take you around and introduce you to other attendees. You can find Board members by looking for the Board ribbon attached to the nametag.

Why are workshops scheduled on Wednesday, Thursday morning, and Sunday?

The present schedule of starting with workshops on Wednesday, the Annual Convention running Thursday through Saturday (requiring the use of the majority of our meeting space), and workshops ending on Sunday, is the type of schedule that brings the best possible room rates for attendees. Using the amount of meeting space we require for the Annual Convention itself with any schedule other than Thursday-Saturday would be more costly.

Why are there a limited number of CE sessions offered during the Annual Convention?

  1. We are sanctioned by APA to offer continuing education credit, and we must follow the guidelines set by APA. Those sessions that are offered by “senior” presenters who have a validated history of presenting can offer CE credit: i.e., master lectures, some award addresses, the presidential address, lunchtime presentations, symposia, case discussions, and roundtables.
  2. The structure of our program is dictated by the number of abstracts submitted for consideration. If we have a great number of appropriate abstracts that are submitted by “senior” presenters, then more CE credit can be offered during the entire program. Each year is slightly different.

Why do I have to stand in line to sign-in and sign-out of CE offerings, as well as complete an evaluation of the CE offering before I receive CE credit?

Offering continuing education credit continues to be a very important aspect of the Annual Convention. To participants, the process they must follow to get CE credit can be frustrating, as the lines are at times long to sign in or sign out (especially for the Master Lectures); there is little time to complete the evaluation; and sometimes in the rushed pace to go to the next session, CE certificates are not picked up. This process, however cumbersome, is a necessary part of the APA guidelines we must follow to maintain our status as an approved sponsor by APA. The sign-in sheets and course evaluations are kept on file in the central office, and copies of them are attached to an annual report to APA in August of each year, along with copies of our marketing pieces for the Annual Convention. The Annual Report is carefully reviewed, and if anything is out of order, SPA can be put on probation.

Yes, there are more automated systems to track continuing education and give us the necessary reports for APA, such as the system used by APA. We are presently looking into how SPA can automate some of these processes in the future within our restricted budget.

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