Return on investment: Attending the GWS conference delivers value.
In a world where travel and training budgets are getting cut to the bone, conferences have to be looked at as an investment: in both an individual's career and in the mission of the organization she or he works for. And, like any potential investment, a conference has to demonstrate that it will deliver a solid return for the money. The GWS Conference has a 30-year track record of providing value.
Why is GWS2013 a "must" to attend?
- Challenges to parks come from many directions — and so must responses. If there is one thing that has become apparent in recent years, it is that issues facing parks can't be solved by any one discipline. Teamwork across disciplines is needed. Unlike the conferences of other professional societies, GWS2013 is not narrowly focused on a single area. It is is the only professional meeting that brings together the entire range of interests focused on parks: cultural and natural resource professionals, social scientists, educators and interpreters, administrators, museum professionals — if it’s relevant to parks, it’s at GWS2013.
- Getting together face-to-face is still indispensable. Virtual meeting technology has come a long way, but it can never completely replace people coming together to learn — both formally and informally. One of the biggest benefits of in-person meetings is the impromptu meetings that happen in the hallways or over breaks. Face-to-face meetings provide a dynamism that sparks innovative thinking, and helps build a "vibe" that energizes people to put ideas into action when they get back home.
- GWS is a one-stop-shop for the world of parks. The GWS2013 program will be the one of the largest and most diverse ever offered. There will be well over 100 sessions that cover the whole range of topics facing parks, protected areas, and cultural sites.
- We keep costs low without sacrificing customer satisfaction. At GWS, we plan and carry out our conference with value foremost in mind. Our registration and special-event fees are at the lower end of comparably sized civil-sector and professional society meetings. Our conferences receive high marks (greater than 4.2 on a scale of 1–5) from attendees on overall satisfaction.
- The GWS Conference is the leader in our field. The George Wright Society Conference is the USA’s largest interdisciplinary professional conference on parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. It takes place only once every two years. For professionals working in national parks, other kinds of protected areas, and cultural sites, it is the country’s largest and most important meeting of its kind. And we try to minimize the environmental impact of the conference through "green meetings" practices.
What will attendees take home with them?
- Usable information, focused on problem-solving. The entire GWS Conference is designed to provide attendees with information that has an immediate impact. Discussions focus on current problems and how to solve them. Many sessions at GWS2013 are oriented toward hands-on knowledge that managers can use in their daily work right away.
- Perspective: The secret ingredient of success. Both individuals and organizations flourish when they look outside themselves, going beyond a narrow focus on pressing problems. GWS2013 attendees will find out how their work fits in with what is going on elsewhere in the world of parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. This is especially important for people working in smaller parks or at isolated duty stations.
- A sense of “connectedness” — to the peers in one’s discipline and to other parks, protected areas, and cultural sites. It is critical for resource professionals to keep up with the state-of-the-art in their discipline, and the easiest and most economical way to do that is to attend GWS2013.
- Links to new colleagues. The GWS Conference is the premier place to meet others who do what you do.
- Renewed enthusiasm. Many GWS attendees report to us that one of the biggest benefits they take home is a reinvigorated commitment to their jobs and their organization's mission.
I'm a supervisor ... and I'm dealing with a travel budget in shreds. Why should I let my employees attend?
- We understand the challenges you face in deciding how to parcel out a slashed travel and training budget. In the end, your decision has to be what is strategically best for your park, organization, or program. Aside from the personal benefits (listed above) that your employees will bring back to augment your team, a major advantage the GWS conferences offer in terms of bang-for-your-training-buck is that you can use our meeting to schedule Workshops and Business Meetings that you would otherwise have to do on a standalone basis. By piggybacking onto GWS2013, you save money (and let us handle all the site logistics).
- It's also quite possible that key people you need to meet with will be attending the conference anyway, so there is the potential for synergy — and cost savings.
- Despite increased costs, we are holding conference fees unchanged from the last conference in 2011. We are also helping attendees cut travel costs by facilitating room-sharing and carpooling.
- If you can let your people attend only one meeting a year, GWS2013 is a very good choice to be that meeting.