Have you ever wondered how the SPSP convention committee and SPSP board select the location for each conference? Below we describe the selection process in an effort to improve transparency surrounding the convention.

Selecting a location is a multi-step decision-making process that originates at the SPSP board meeting every year. The entire board (e.g., the president, president-elect, treasurer, etc) and all SPSP committee chairs have a lengthy discussion about location. They take many factors into account, described below, and vote on top locations. If needed, the SPSP staff then investigate further to get the information needed to choose between the locations that received the most votes. The convention committee then makes the final decision about where the conference will be held.

In making a decision, we take into account a million different factors! The size of our conference limits our options quite a bit right off the bat. We are large enough that many cities can't accommodate us, but we are simultaneously too small for some of the really large venues. Out of the options that can accommodate our size, cost is also a really important factor, since this is a critical ingredient of whether people can attend. We have to consider both the cost of the conference itself (e.g., reserving the space), and the cost it will require for people to travel there. Unfortunately, sometimes those don't match up, and a place that would be cheap to reserve would be expensive to fly to or vice versa. This also means that we don't want to only have the conference in one location (e.g., San Diego), because that means traveling is more expensive for people on the East Coast than on the West Coast. So, we try and move from west to central to east coast for this reason. Another important factor in selecting the location are the laws in each state. For example, some states have anti-LGBTQ laws in place that would directly affect LGBTQ members in attendance (e.g., bathroom bills), and we will not have a conference in a location that is unfriendly towards attendees. We also take into account (in no particular order): weather, accessibility to international members, marketability, and any special opportunities that may exist in a city.

Needless to say, once we have taken all of these considerations into place, we are left with relatively few potential options. This is a complex process, and a lot goes into the decision for each year.