Sunday, September 8, 2013

In about a week I’ll be traveling to Albany for this year’s Bouchercon.  It seems like just yesterday that we were submitting our bid to host the conference in Long Beach.  I can’t believe how fast the time has gone.  I get asked all the time how cities are selected to host a Bouchercon.

As you may or may not know, National Bouchercon is a non-profit corporation, run by volunteers, whose purpose is to support the mystery writing community. Their main activity is the Annual Bouchercon event.  All full-registrants attending this conference are “members,” and have member rights.  The primary right, of course, is to attend the event, but you also can and should be involved in “business” decisions. The most exciting, of which, is helping to select the locations where the conference will be held.  This happens at the General Members Meeting each year.  In Albany, the General Members Meeting will be Friday, September 20th, at 11:30am and members will have the opportunity to select (or not) two future Bouchercon locations.
This year, both New Orleans (2016) and St. Petersburg, FL (2018), will present bids at the General Members Meeting.  I know exactly what those Local Organizing Committees (or LOCs) are going through right now as they prepare to attend Albany.  When Long Beach presented our bid in San Francisco in 2010, it was exciting, but it was a little terrifying as well.  What were we thinking?  Putting on a Bouchercon is a big task.  Just like the two cities submitting bids this year we were running unopposed, meaning no one else was proposing to host the same year, but that didn't automatically mean the membership would approve our bid.  No, they could have chosen to “not choose” and see if a different bid would be submitted in a following year.  Or they could have asked us to go back and work out some details and resubmit the following year. I’m glad they didn't, but they could have.

If you are attending Bouchercon this year, you can check out the bids being submitted for consideration at   Here’s a basic guideline for what to look for.  Every bidder is required to supply these four basic things in their bid:

     1)    Location and Date.
This seems pretty obvious.  Where are they proposing the conference take place and when?  They should give you a little background about the place and an explanation as to why they think it will be a great location for the conference.  How hard is it to travel to the destination?  What’s the weather like?  Is it a big city or a smaller more intimate place?  The dates must be Thursday through Sunday, in the months of either September, October, or November, but there are lots of considerations.  Do the dates coincide with any holidays? Or are there local events that might interfere?  Some cities have college or National football teams which could have home games that may cause issues.  Has the LOC taken this sort of thing into account?  In Long Beach, the Queen Mary has an annual haunted house that opens the beginning of September and runs through the beginning of November.  It draws about 18-20,000 people weekly, so we chose dates in November when we knew the town would be free of goblins, ghouls, and such.

     2)    Meeting Room Space
Where will the conference take place? In a convention center?  A hotel?  Or maybe a combination of both?  How much space is there?  Is it close together or will shuttles be required? Have they thought about how the space will be used? Is there adequate space for the book dealers? Are there restaurants or food in the facility or nearby, so people can grab lunch quickly and easily?

     3)    Hotel Room Block
How many rooms do they have reserved for us?  The average Bouchercon has 1,500+ attendees, so having enough hotel space is important.  The minimum room block should be around 700-800 rooms, with an availability of additional rooms close by in the area.  If they are planning on having multiple hotels in the room block, how close are the hotels together? Is it easy to walk or will shuttles be required?  How expensive are the rooms?  Did they negotiate a good rate? What about parking? In Long Beach, none of the hotels have over 400 rooms, however three five-star hotels are less than a block apart from each other and the convention center.

     4)    Who is the Local Organizing Committee?
There should be a short bio for the basic committee members.  Have they done this before?  If not, do they have experience with this sort of thing?  How long have they been coming to Bouchercon?  Why do they want to put on a Bouchercon?  Are they crazy? What are they planning?

And that’s it.  Remember, if you are attending Bouchercon in Albany, come to the General Members Meeting on Friday and help decide the future of Bouchercon.  It’s your right.
I also hope you’ll stop by and say hello.  Murder at The Beach: Bouchercon 2014 – Long Beach will have a table in the dealer/book room.