The Annual Meetings are Highway Robbery, Part II
So I just registered and got my program. I did a little calculation. According to the program, there are about 5,075 participants in the participants index. In order to participate, you have to pre-register for the conference. If we assume the average pre-registration rate is about $150 per participant (about halfway between the student and professional rates), then the AAA makes $761,400 on pre-registration fees alone. This does not include any annual membership fees (which at least doubles this amount) or the fees associated with on-site registration of people who are not presenting.
In addition, there are 59 exhibitors who have purchased a total of 84 spaces in the exhibition hall. If the average cost of a space is about $2200, then the AAA takes in another $184,800 from renting these spots.
For most large conferences, the exhibition and meeting rooms in the hotel are complimentary to the organization if that organization can guarantee that a minimum number of hotel rooms will be occupied. They negotiate a conference rate for the rooms (which is not always cheaper than hotels.com, for instance), but this guarantees that they make their room quota. (I was once the program chair of a professional organization that did not meet their room quota and had to then pay for the meeting rooms, so I know that this is how it works). So they are not spending this money on the hotel. The program has advertising in it and the conference bags seem to be sponsored by Wiley. Aside from the opening reception on Thursday night, there is no food provided. Can all this money really be going to print name badges?
Anyway, the point of all of this is that the AAA makes bucket loads of money from the annual meetings. I am not sure what all of this money is used for, but it certainly does seem that the conference registration fees are a bit on the excessive side. This is especially hard for people without institutional resources, but I am not sure how to change things. Sigh.