You Asked, We Listened!
At ASI’s 2017 International Convention in Houston, Texas, we distributed a survey asking for your comments, suggestions, and ideas on how we can improve. You took the time to respond and offer valuable feedback. We read and considered every one of your surveys and comments. You made many good suggestions. We’ve implemented your best and most practical ideas. As always, we’ve done our best to cater to your wishes and make ASI’s International Convention the highlight of your year! We know how important it is to be heard, and we want you to know that you are both valued and heard. So here goes!
Convention Location and Venue: We received dozens of suggestions for locations for future conventions across the U.S. and Canada. When ASI chooses a location for an event, we consider many factors, but our number one consideration is price. We do our best to keep prices reasonable and competitive. Unfortunately, West Coast venues almost always exceed our budget. Southern venues are particularly appealing since ASI conventions are held in the off-season. This means better rates (we believe saving you money is worth the heat of the south).
Some suggested smaller cities for our International Convention. While smaller cities typically have less expensive convention centers, they also have fewer meeting rooms for seminars and fewer accommodations within walking distance of the venue.
Still others suggested using SDA churches or universities. Unfortunately, most universities are not particularly enthusiastic about such a large number of people overwhelming their campuses. Hosting the convention at a church would offer challenges similar to small cities.
Speakers and Seminars: We received a lot of suggestions for speakers—which is awesome! While we won’t be able to get everyone this year, we’ve done our best to schedule your favorite speakers for future conventions.
When choosing speakers, we try to keep a balance of motivational speakers while also highlighting inspiring ASI members who are creatively sharing Christ in the marketplace. We’ve also worked on providing seminars with a business angle to accommodate enthusiastic entrepreneurs.
Young People: This year, we are offering a seminar track on Friday for Young Professionals. The speakers are fantastic and will appeal to a younger generation of thinkers.
Prayer: We received a lot of positive feedback on the morning prayer group as well as the prayer room. ASI continues to make prayer the center of its work. A prayer group will meet each morning of the convention; anyone is invited to attend. Additionally, a prayer room will be open throughout the day.
Music: Yes, we’d like the Aeolians from Oakwood University, too—when we can work them into our budget. Musicians volunteer their services to ASI. We try to include a variety of uplifting and inspiring performers, but only under certain circumstances are we able to compensate the musicians for their expenses. If you know any talented musicians who plan to attend ASI, please let us know, and continue to send suggestions!
Registration Fees: Hosting a convention of this size can be extremely expensive with setup costs, electricity and Internet (cap) fees, transportation and lodging for speakers, childcare and child programing, and much more. We know the registration fee can be steep, but there is a special rate in place for member ministries. Also, be sure to register early for discounted rates.
Parking Fees: Unfortunately, this is always an issue in cities. However, this year we will have off-site Sabbath parking and a shuttle service to accommodate our Sabbath guests.
Exhibit Hall: We are adjusting our layout to make it more visitor friendly and will continue to diligently work on getting all exhibitors a “good” spot.
Auditorium Temperature: Yes, we know it gets too cold. We’ve even had one of our staff sneak in to raise the temperature (don’t tell anyone!). Unfortunately, with so many people in one room, it’s hard to find the perfect climate in which everyone is comfortable and we can’t always control the temperature. We suggest bringing a wrap or an extra jacket just in case.
Spotlights: We’re sorry, they can be annoying, but they do let us share with those who watch online.
Chairs: Yes, in Houston they were very uncomfortable. Trust us, we wish every venue had chairs like the ones in Grand Rapids!
Meal Ideas: Yup, you can’t go wrong with haystacks! Good idea.
Meal Pricing: Yes, we definitely hear you on the cost. Here’s the deal:
Our meals must be catered; this adds to the cost.
We solicit donations for products that Adventists enjoy (for example: veggie meat, nuts, non-dairy milk, etc.), to lower costs.
Last year, we used disposable products that cut two dollars off the cost of each meal.
We negotiate on menus to keep labor-intensive items down.
Catering services have a flat fee—even if we only eat beans and rice—which means the base cost is much higher than eating out.
We are charged for every item, so sometimes we have to limit condiments.
We also cater to attendees with certain dietary restrictions/preferences: vegan, gluten-free, certain allergies, etc. We do our best to accommodate everyone within our price range.
Adventists typically eat more fresh fruits and vegetables than other crowds. We explain this to the catering staff, but they don’t fully realize this fact until after the first meal when they run out.
Boxed meals: Usually offer minimum food.
Potluck: Unfortunately, not practical.
No meals: That would be a nightmare.
Adventist chef volunteers: Because of liability, logistic, and union issues, volunteer chefs are not practical, and it’s too expensive to rent a kitchen.
Raising registration fees to lower meal costs: zero-sum game.
In conclusion, there is a ton of work that goes into organizing ASI’s annual International Convention. We realize that costs can be steep, but we do our best to be as efficient, realistic, and cost-effective as possible. We recognize that ultimately, the ASI International Convention is merely a medium to inspire thousands of people around the world to better reflect Christ in their daily lives and in the marketplace. When inviting speakers, renting space, and organizing such a massive event, we encounter an infinite number of setbacks and frustrations. But what keeps us going? You do. Your experiences, stories, passion, and love for the Lord inspire us to press on with this God-given initiative. Thank you for your support, suggestions, ideas, and comments. We read them all, we take them to heart, and we do the best we possibly can to improve—for you, our favorite people.