CSAA Annual Meeting moves back stateside

Prez Bonifas: 'Hanging on would be a sin.'
Thursday, February 18, 2010

VIENNA, Va.—After a successful Annual Meeting in 2009 in Athens, Greece, CSAA announced in its Feb. 17 edition of its member email publication, Signals, that it had decided to move the location of this year’s event—originally planned over a year and half ago during much better financial times to take place in Venice, Italy—back to the more accessible, more affordable United States. This year’s meeting will take place Oct. 1-6 at the Ritz Carlton Dove Mountain Resort in Marana, Arizona.

In an editorial supplied to SSN that will appear in the Winter 2010 edition of CSAA’s printed publication Dispatch, Ed Bonifas, CSAA president, addresses the reasoning behind the switch in venue. “Digging through Internet search engines to find a line that would best describe my thoughts right now, I find these words of Denise McCluggage: ‘Change is the only constant. Hanging on is the only sin.’ CSAA has always been an organization oriented towards the future and in a constant state of change. Today is no different,” Bonifas begins. “I surveyed the membership and received an interesting, although not unexpected response. Two-thirds of the 100 respondents believed the 2010 CSAA Annual Meeting should be scaled back, with a strong message that keeping it in the U.S. in 2010 would be good for attendance, good for our country, and good for our image. In these trying economic times, ‘hanging on would be a sin.’”

Asked to comment on the change in location, Celia Besore, CSAA VP of marketing and programs, said part of CSAA’s mission was to serve its members. “We want to get the word out, we do listen to our members,” Besore said. “We do make changes … We’ve had such amazing participation when we’ve had the meeting overseas, but with the economy now, and we did have people commenting, so Ed looked at all the results and made the decision to switch.”

RSI president Keith Jentoft, an annual attendee who has said in the past he enjoys the overseas locations, feels the change was needed and shows laudable initiative on behalf of CSAA. “I think the CSAA is doing its level best to be responsive to its members—and carry out their mission. In these economic times ‘perception’ often is reality, whether or not it is true. I don’t really think the cost difference between exotic/local is as significant as people think. It is more perception,” Jentoft said in an email interview. “I think that alternating between something more exotic and something less exotic is a good compromise and will be effective in today’s environment. I think that the fact that the CSAA is willing to adjust and make changes based upon input from their members demonstrates that Ed Bonifas and the board really do want to serve their members and listen to what they say.”

More information is forthcoming and questions or comments can be directed to CSAA VP of meetings and conventions John McDonald at meetings@csaaintl.org or 703-242-4670, extension 17.