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TSA-Bash/Hosting A Bash
There are three basic components to getting a Bash in the city of your choice: making sure the city and people involved are qualified, making the proposal, and actually going out and making it happen!
Bash proposals pretty much revolve entirely around people we call Potential Bash Organizers (or "PBO"s). These are the folks who make Bashes happen. The workload is as follows:
- There has to be an "information" PBO who is able to do the preliminary research, keep folks up-to-date on progress via the Bash mailing list and through the website, and so forth.
- There has to be a "hoofwork" PBO living at the location city, or near enough to reasonably travel there. The "hoofwork" PBO needs to be able to physically check out candidate hotels (for reasons anyone at the '01 Bash will understand), scout out sites for potential sightseeing trips (zoos, etc), and so forth.
- There has to be a "sugar daddy" PBO willing to support the Bash at this location who has the financial resources to come up with money needed to reserve conference rooms, con-blocks, etc., until they are paid back (not always in full) by the Bash attendees.
- The location city must have appropriate transport available (airport size will be a consideration, for example), a place to hold the Bash (see hotel considerations below), and so forth.
Multiple people aren't really necessary (all those various PBOs can be the same person, or roles can be split among multiple people), but they may make things easier - say, if you have someone willing to do the hoofwork but without the available cash, or similar. 2009, for example, was mostly managed by Viqsi, but Sheep did much of the research and Mintz helped with some of the hoofwork.
Bash proposals, by and large, are made at meetings during Bashes - we decided on the '07 Bash during a meeting at the '06 Bash; the '08 Bash was then decided during a meeting at the '07 Bash, and so forth. We've tried online voting and mailing list discussions in the past and they frankly haven't worked, alas. In some cases discussions will come up on the Bash mailing list if there's post-meeting decisions to be made - for example, 2005 was going to be our original Bash in Canada but the PBOs had to back out, so a new location was quickly determined - but for the most part, if it's not at the meeting, it's not going to happen.
If you can't make it to the Bash the year prior, you are strongly advised to seek out a proxy who will present your case for you. There are several "regulars" who can and will do this - some suggested folks to talk to are Phil, Viqsi, Matthias, Weremoose, Sheep and the Dragon de Monsyne, as they are frequent Bash attendees who have all been involved in these things for a while.
There is a "cycle" to cities which we try to adhere to that carries significant weight - from East Coast to West Coast alternating years, with locations in the "middle" (Austin, 2004) or in special spots like Canada (Toronto, 2007) interspersing here and there. Case in point: Columbus (2009) was first proposed in 2007, but missed out that year because nearby Florence was the prior year's location (and we had a viable Canada option), and then missed 2008 because that was designated ideal for a West Coast trip. Keep this in mind!
Making it Happen
So, you've got your Bash proposal accepted. Congratulations! Now comes the hard part. :)
Finding a hotel becomes Priority #1 at this point, and that's normally handled by whomever's handling the "information" role. The hotel is one of the most important parts of this whole affair and has some special above-and-beyond requirements of its own (outside of the usual clean/well-run/reasonable neighborhood type issues). Generally, they're prioritized in this order:
- an available conference room with 24-hour access (this is where most of the madness takes place)
- reasonable room cost available or negotiable ($70-90 a night is a common range)
- available free transport to the hotel (generally this means airport shuttles)
- free Internet access (since we are an online community and like to include people who can't make it)
Of the above, the one that really isn't shakable is the first (conference room availability). Price can sometimes be fudged slightly (although attendance may be affected), transport can be handled by volunteers as necessary sometimes if you have enough people with cars, and Internet access is really just a good bonus to have, but the conference room is absolutely vital. Large amounts of online research are usually involved here. Expect this step to take a few months. If you can keep the Bash mailing list up-to-date on how this is progressing, that's good.
It is a good idea to have a date - or several dates - in mind at this point. The Bash is normally held over an extended weekend in July (or late June). Opinions differ as to when to definitively set the date; some have announced it right off the bat so people can make their plans; others have held off on announcing one until all the paperwork has been signed to allow for flexibility as needed. You are strongly advised to learn of the dates of major conventions (such as furry cons, science fiction cons, etc.) as well and try to plan around them, if necessary - Anthrocon, in particular, is frequently a major conflict for folks.
Once you've got a hotel or three researched that might work out, your hoofwork organizer(s) need to go and take a look-see. This usually involves going in, looking around, checking out the rooms and the conference facilities, and spending a night there as part of a test run. This step absolutely can't be skipped; we've gotten poor hotels as a result of improper reconnaissance before (St. Louis, 2001). If you're the verbose type, this is another good thing to communicate to the Bash mailing list.
Negotiations will also need to be made with the manager of the hotel you're considering. This is to reserve the conference room (expect something in the neighborhood of $150-200/day; more expensive than that will mean more expense for "sugar daddy"), get a block of rooms reserved (10 nonsmoking double-queen-beds is the usual standard; you can normally assume 20-25 people will show up, although the true range is about 15-30 ;) ), and generally get everything nailed down and ready to go. You may be asked what the event is for - we usually call it a "writer's conference", which is pretty close to the truth. You will need to furnish a group name; "TSA Group" is pretty standard.
If negotiations don't work out (say, your planned dates are unavailable), you will probably have to try another hotel. This will mean another hoofwork test visit, if you haven't done this already!
Most folks expect a hotel and date to have been decided upon by November or December, approximately - this is because some of your attendees frequently need about six months advance warning to be able to get vacation time off. If you haven't by then, don't panic, but do make sure the Bash mailing list is aware. (2008 came "down to the wire" when it was decided in mid-January.)
Once all this is done and everything's signed and reserved, things become much easier. Make sure the Bash list and the main TSA-Talk list know that this is all set and ready to go, and give them all the relevant information they'll need (hotel location, dates, what number to call to make reservations, the deadline to make reservations, and the group name and rate). At about this time you may also want to set the "registration fee". This is intended to help the "sugar daddy" recoup costs from reserving the conference room. $20 or $30 is the usual; if you have twenty guests, that'll get you approximately $400 or $600 back. If you break even, consider yourself fortunate. :)
For the next few months, you'll want to send reminders to the mailing lists now and again. Keep in touch with the hotel, too; make sure there are rooms still open (frequently there are up 'till the last minute ;) ) and so forth. And don't forget your own reservation!
As the Bash approaches - and during the Bash itself - at least one of the folks involved in Organizing will be expected to be a "contact person" in case anything goes wrong with the hotel or if someone gets stranded or the like. You'll also want to be present at the very first meeting of the Bash (the "introduction meeting") to get things started. Don't forget to set a time for folks to get back together to plan the next Bash.
At this point, all that's left are congratulations - for now, you have a Bash. :)