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Laura Kentala
Condensed by Frank Pelurie, 7/1/00


These guidelines have been compiled to help the hosts of any future convention.  They are written mainly for the larger international conventions, but many aspects can also be used for regional or smaller conferences.  The guidelines are written to help you plan your convention and they can be used any way which will allow you to achieve your objectives and goals.  They need not be literally followed they are only a guideline.  They have been compiled from notes taken by attendees of numerous conventions over the years. Included in this booklet are letters and various other examples of items used in previous conventions.  These can be used any way you  want.  Great thanks go to Bruno Falanga for all his help and notes.  Thanks also to the Board of Directors and past convention hosts for their help.




The American Rhododendron Society’s international conventions are held annually.  These conventions are held for the members of the ARS to meet with old friends, meet notable people in the field of rhododendrons and azaleas and further their knowledge of the genus Rhododendron.  This education may be in the form of garden tours, speakers, audio-visual presentations, and other creative formats.  Conventions are usually five days long, but there is no required length.  They are generally held on alternate years in eastern or western parts of North America as well as other parts of the world.  On even numbered years conventions are held on the eastern part of the North American continent and the odd numbered years are held on the western part of the continent, but they may be anywhere on the planet.  The Society Board of Directors schedule the convention five to eight years in advance.  Chapters may request from the Board of Directors the year they want to host the convention. The convention expenses are the responsibility of the host chapter.  There are only a few required events that each convention must hold (See the list of required events).  The Executive Director can provide the location of future conventions.

Regional conferences are held yearly or every other year depending on the regional standard.  These conferences are held over a long weekend.  They are held to further the education of members about the genus Rhododendron.  Traditionally, hosting of regional conferences is rotated through the districts.  A chapter wanting to host one of these conferences should make its request to the Executive Director.  To determine the list of regional conference locations consult the Executive Director.  There are no required events for these meetings.  A board of directors meeting is held annually at one of these conferences, generally rotating from east (in odd years) to west (in even years).



International conventions are held yearly, generally rotating between eastern and western North America as well as other parts of the world.  Chapters wanting to host a convention should ask their District Director to request the Society Board of Directors for a specific year.

The host chapter(s) will establish the exact month and day.  The date should be centered around the prime blooming period for rhododendrons in their region.

The general convention funding is the responsibility of the host chapter or chapters.

The division of profits should be established at the beginning of the planning.  If there is more than one host chapter involved it is extremely important to make this decision at this juncture.  The Policies of the Board (11.1.2) requests that 10% or more of the profit be remitted to the General Fund of the Society.

Although there is no other required division of profit to the Society, additional amounts of money have also been given to the Endowment Fund at the discretion of the host chapter.  Some convention hosts have had special events such as a silent auction during the convention to raise money specifically for the Endowment Fund. Revenue development is encouraged to assure the future of our mission.


The annual convention is usually scheduled Wednesday through Sunday.  But the length is up to the committee. Each event is scheduled to meet the needs of the committee.

Events should be scheduled so that conflicts between activities are eliminated.  For example, Garden tours tend to conflict with convention speakers; the Plant Sale should not be opened while people are on tours or when banquets are in progress.  Besides helping attendees, this will allow convention volunteers to participate in convention events.


The initial phase of the convention tends to be the most difficult task.  After your chapter has been accepted as a convention sponsor, the chapter president needs to assemble a group to discuss convention site and convention host(s).

Hotels book early.  Site selection is most important and must be done three to four years in advance to get the location for the required dates.  Do not delay.

The selection of a competent chairperson is of primary importance.  Getting people to volunteer for this monumental task is difficult.  When selecting persons remember that this is going to be a huge job.  Dividing responsibilities between two people is an alternative.  Couples often work well.  Past successes of volunteers in chapter activities will be helpful in determining their organizational skills.

A theme for the convention needs to be decided and should reflect what the chapter is trying to show the Society.  It can also be used to give focus to the committee.

Rules and regulations of the convention should be established early in the planning of the convention.  All financial distribution should be discussed and agreed upon at the onset of the convention planning, generally including all chapter representatives, conference chairmen, and the district director.  Allocation and distribution of funds is also entirely at the discretion of the host chapter or district agreement.  The only request the ARS makes is in the Policies of the Board (see following subsection) which requests that 10% or more of the annual meeting (Spring) proceeds be donated to the Society's General Fund.  The Society takes no position and makes no mandates to the hosting chapter or district.

Volunteering is what makes conventions great; but how much volunteering is required for free registration, free banquet, or free tour needs to be define early in the planning.  This will avoid conflict in the end.

It is advisable, if room permits, to allow non-members to attend convention.  This could be a way of finding new members.  Make a decision early in the planning if non members will pay a higher registration fee.


1-10 not applicable



11.1.1 No Chapter shall be required to host an annual meeting, but each of the larger chapters should plan to host an annual meeting when it seems convenient and desirable.

11.1.2 The host chapter takes care of all details including selecting the date, providing meeting rooms, registration personnel, projectors and any other materials or facilities needed. It will arrange for a headquarters hotel or motel and for reservations to be made. Chapters will take care of the publicity for the annual meeting from the local standpoint and should provide the Editor with sufficient pictures and other information so that he can give the meeting ample publicity in Journal ARS. The chapter is encouraged to set a registration fee high enough to take care of the necessary expenses but not so high that it will prevent attendance of a large number of members. The Board requests that ten percent (10%) or more of the profit from the Society's annual conventions be remitted to the General Fund of the Society and, beginning in 1992, that the Society will indemnify convention sponsors that lose money up to a maximum of $5,000.

11.1.3 In conjunction with the annual meeting, the host chapter is encouraged to have an international flower show.


The meeting of the Board of Directors will be held as specified in Article VI, Section D of the Bylaws.  The Board shall have at least two meetings per year.

If a Board of Directors’ meeting is scheduled to take place during your conference, please refer to this guideline, Conference Rooms, 4A, Board of Directors’ Meeting Requirements.


When choosing a site for your convention, start with a hotel that may have been used successfully by other organizations in the past.  Contact the local tourist bureaus.  These bureaus are designed to do a lot of your leg work, and will have information about the convention hotels in your area, capacity of meeting rooms, etc.  You will usually be able to negotiate a better guest room rate if you are considering several competing hotels.  If there are meals, this will also improve your negotiation.  Hotels usually give you meeting rooms free if a certain number of guest rooms are booked by the attendees.  Work closely with the hotel sales staff as the contract is worked out.  Be sure to include all items you may need; a set price for the guest room rates, number of conference rooms you can use, use of floral decorations, audio and visual equipment that will be included free, etc.  Have in writing all items needed even if the hotel says its not necessary.  Have a lawyer read over the contract carefully before signing.  Check for cancellation clauses and make sure your side is covered should the hotel attempt to change dates or conditions after the contract is signed.

Some hotels offer free guest rooms if a set number quest rooms are reserved by paying guests.  These free rooms can be used by the host committee any way they want.  Society officers don't expect free accommodation, but if available it is always welcome.  The Society pays for the executive director and the journal editor.

Other details to consider:



Registration Area


Lecture Rooms

Other Rooms







Registration packet with registration form for the international convention should be included in the Winter journal, just prior to the convention (Check with the editor for journal deadlines).  The ARS Journal printer can also print the packet or if it is convenient can be printed elsewhere and forwarded to the Journal for insertion.  The packet can be any length and can include anything you want.  You will have to select the weight and color of paper.  The cost of printing and inserting the registration form is the responsibility of the convention committee, not the ARS.  One point to remember is that the journal is mailed out by weight and if your form has enough pages its weight may push the Journal over its budgeted amount of postage and the extra cost will be the responsibility of the convention committee.  Contact the journal editor for complete instructions and costs.

Items that can be included in the packet:

Registration form should include:

The age of computers is here and keeping track of all the aspects of registration should be done on one.  Assign a person who is well acquainted with computers to be in charge of registration.  This person will have to keep track of all attendees, put together an attendees guidebook, compile a list of people attending the convention to be added to the attendees packet, and other items as required by convention hosts.  Use of a computers will facilitate the storage and recall of this information, as well as, allow for changes on a real time basis.

If your convention is being held in an area with a flower and garden dhow or other plant sales before the ARS convention, it might be good to have ARS information and registration forms at these other events to bring in interested people.


Garden tours are one of the main events for the international conventions.  It is the one aspect of a convention that is most critical and deserves serious in-depth consideration.  Both private and public gardens of suitable size can be considered.

Select a strong, easy to work with, knowledgeable and very organized chairman for garden tours.  Select one or two alternates if possible.  The chairman must keep the alternates well informed.

Communicate in writing with all concerned parties, bus company, caterers, committee members etc.  Ideas will come and go so write them down.

Garden Selection:

Tour Planning details:

Bus Contracts:

Bus Tour Costs:

Expenses Associated with Garden Tours to consider:

Other considerations:

Bus Host Instructions:

Provide each person with a list of individuals to contact, list of tours for each day, time and departure area



This is not a required element of any convention.  The registrants have always expected a plant sale and it is one of the anticipated highlights of the convention.  The plant sale is an excellent source of money to defray some of the expenses of the convention but also provides additional funds for the Chapter.


The Truss Show is encouraged by the Policies of the Board (11.1.3).


This packet contains the information that is given to all attendees.  This packet can vary from a simple name badge, event tickets or as large as a cloth tote bag with lots of visitor information.

Contact your State, County, Province, City and Country tourist bureau and chamber of commerce to obtain flyers and gifts for your packet.




The guidebook should be kept small enough to fit in a man's shirt pocket.  Several blank pages should be included in the back for writing notes.  All advertising can be printed in the guidebook.

A suggested Table of Contents:


Box Lunches for Bus Tours:



This list of committees and their definitions were used for the 1999 convention.  The list will assist the various committees in the initial planning stages of the convention.  It may also minimize items that may be omitted during the early stages.  They can be organized or changed in any way to meet your needs.

An Executive or Steering committee can be assembled to run the convention.  This committee would be made up of the Chairman(s), Treasurer, Registrar, Chapter President(s) and the Committee chairmen listed below.

Registration - This person will create the registration form used by all attendees in cooperation with the Publicity group.  The registrar will create a computerized program to handle all items on the registration form.  The registrar will send out confirmation letters, giving each attendee a print out of all items attendees have signed up for.  Name tags for attendees and tickets will be printed for all events as needed.  If capable of providing Email for registration; have participants sign up for all events they want.  They will reply to Email plus send a registration number and a cost.  If possible arrange for tables and chairs for the registration area.  They will compile all the information needed and the form for the attendees guide booklet.  This booklet will be included in the attendees package.  They will ensure that this booklet is printed and provided to the hostess committee for insertion in the packet.

Programs - This committee will schedule speakers programs, workshops, films or other shows for all days of the convention. They can include speakers that pertain to gardening and or rhododendrons.  They may need to provide speakers for two talks.  Ensure that each speaker has all the props they may need (screen, computers, tables, slide projectors with proper slide carrier, drawing boards, etc.).  Consideration should be given to presenting a gift or fee to the speakers for their presentation.  The person who is responsible for introducing the speaker is also accountable for the activities in the lecture room.  Special room(s), equipped with the necessary equipment (projector, etc), should be available for the speaker and an assistant should be assigned to the speaker.  Alternate speaker(s) should be available in the event of a cancellation.  The Registration committee should receive all program information for use in the guidebook

Site/Hotel Selection - This committee will select a site or hotel for the convention and handle all negotiations for the contract.  The contract will include room rates, conference room rates, banquet rates and all other arrangements as needed.

Corporate Sponsors - This committee should meet with corporations that may want to contribute money or gifts to the convention.  These gifts will be used for the raffle or silent auction.  Money will be used to cover the expenses of the convention.  Sponsors should be given the appropriate credit and advertising for their donations.  A letter of acknowledgment and appreciation should be sent to each donor.

Treasurer - This person will set up a checking account in the name of the convention.  The Treasurer will handle all finances and give a final accounting at the end of the convention.

Plant Sales - This committee will locate nurserymen who are willing to offer plants for sale.  These plants must be healthy and capable of travel.  The nurserymen should be willing to take all unsold plants back into their stock.  These plants should be rhododendrons plus any companion plants or trees they wish to include.  This committee will supply a list of plants that will be included in the sale to the registration packet committee.  The committee should have enough volunteers to check out sales, answer questions about the plants, and pack plants for shipping.  They should arrange for a shipping firm to ship plants for buyers, arrange for phyto certificates for any foreign travelers, and arrange for boxes and bags for buyers.  Coordinate with the Publicity Committee to advertise if the plant sale is to be open to the general public.  Speak to other plant clubs to ask if they want to join the plant sale.  Some chapters have raised plants for the sale and minimized the use of commercial growers.  This can be worthwhile but work must start well in advance of convention.

Other Sales - This committee can include books, clothing, art work, garden supplies, jewelry and others. These items should be relevant to the rhododendron convention.  Committee should preview vendors items for quality standards.  This group can arrange for a book company to attend and sell books with a set fee payable to the convention.  Clothing could have a logo that has been picked to represent the convention.  Clothing can be any type: sweatshirts, tee shirts, caps, aprons, bags, etc.

Raffle - This committee will collect special items, plants (rhododendrons and others), art work, books or clothing.  The committee members will need to set up a way of ticketing unique items for the raffle, a way of collecting money and a way of drawing tickets at the banquets.  They will need to set up a display of the raffle items and arrange for volunteers to sell tickets.  They will assist the banquet MC to expeditiously award the winners.  They will collect money and give an accounting to the treasurer.  Raffle items can be collected from each chapter, corporate sponsors or others.  They will arrange for a separate ticketing system for door prizes (such as number on registration badge).  Door prizes should be wrapped for presentation.  Door prizes can be books, art, gardening tools or other items.  Door prizes should not be the same value as the raffle.  The number and value can be determined by the committee.

Silent Plant Auction - This committee should collect choice plants (rhododendron and others) of the highest quality which will demand a high bid.  The committee needs to setup pages for bidding, an accessible area in the hotel and table displays.  They will assist the banquet MC with awarding winners.  They will collect money and give an accounting to treasurer.

Tours - This committee will locate suitable gardens both public and private, natural sites and visitor areas that will add to the quality of the convention.  The committee will arrange for tours during the normal period of the convention.  Pre and/or post convention tours may be scheduled at the discretion of committees.  These tours need to be half day and or all day.  Tours should encompass the entire area.  This committee's members must arrange the contract for bus service.  They will drive the tour routes, mapping parking, turn-arounds, walking area and toilet facilities.  The committee will provide tickets for tours and give them to the registration. Tickets should be easy to read and distinguishable from each tour. The committee should arrange for refreshments at various gardens.  The committee will find suitable box lunches and drinks, and sign a contract for lunches and see to their delivery.  The committee will work with garden owners to write a brief history of their gardens and develop maps of the gardens.  These may be handed out on the bus before each tour.  Send final schedule to registrar to be printed in program guide.

Other suggestions:

Publicity - This committee and registrar will create the registration packet which will be inserted in the winter issue of JOURNAL ARS.  The committee will be responsible for the printing of the form and its delivery to the ARS Journal printers.  Up to one year prior to the Convention, articles of interest can be published in the journal.  Notices should be sent to local and other newspapers and magazines a couple of months prior to the convention.

Banquets - This committee will make all necessary arrangements with the responsible hotel staff for breakfasts, lunches, dinners, etc.  Cost of meals will be negotiated. Select color of table linens and design table arrangement for tables.  Final information about meals should be forwarded to registration chairman for including in the registration form. Just before the convention get final number of attendees to hotel, and finalize table arrangements.  Small rhododendrons (two inch liners) can be used as table favors and have the pots covered with something clean and nice.  These plants should be selected to be hardy to a majority in attendance.

Hostess Committee - The committee members will prepare the Attendees' Package.  The committee will select a carrier suitable for collected information; this can be a cloth bag, plastic bag or paper envelope.  Collect all pertinent information to be given to attendees (See section on registration packet for ideas to collect).

Financial Committee - The committee will be responsible for the forming of a budget.  The budget will cover all aspects of the convention expenses and income.  The committee will work with the treasurer to be sure the budget is adhered to.  All budget changes must be approved by this committee.



July 1, 1997


The American Rhododendron Society's annual convention for 1999 is being held at the Bellevue Double Tree Inn (formerly the Red Lion).  This international convention will be attended by over 600 members.  One of the most important events of the convention is the plant sale.  The sale will be open to ARS members for four days and the public on the last day.

The plant sale will have to be heavily supplied with rhododendrons.  Our members are also very interested in companion plants.  Rhododendron growers are asked to supply species, hybrids, or both.  Newer or hardy hybrids and unusual species are highly sought after.  Companion plants should be some of the more unusual and the hardier varieties.  Members from eastern states and provinces need the hardier plants.

If you wish to participate in the sale you will be responsible for: 1. delivery, set up and pick up of your plants; 2. pricing and tagging of all plants; 3. inventory of plants before and after sale.  We would like to have one person from your nursery to be at the sale each day to answer questions about your plants.  There will be central cashiering provided by our group.  Plants will have to be inspected for shipment out of the country.  We would like to extend an invitation to your nursery to join our plant sale.  We realize it is nearly two years away but we also know how much growing time is required. P lease let me know as soon as you can if you are interested or require more information.



CHAIRPERSONS: name & phone numbers

March 1998

To whom it may concern:

District 2 of the American Rhododendron Society will be hosting the 1999 Annual Convention in Seattle.  This convention will be held the first week of May.  We will be privileged to host people from all over the world (England, Ireland, New Zealand, etc) as well as the east and west coasts of the United States and Canada.  We are planning on between 500 - 800 people attending this convention.

The bearer of this letter is a member of the Komo Kulshan Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society.  Our chapter covers Whatcom, Skagit, and Island Counties.  We also have members in Snohomish and King Counties.

Our Chapter is in charge of the hospitality bags that are to be given out at registration and all the decorations for the main banquet on Saturday of that week.  We would hope that you will be able to help us with this project. Please know that you will be formally recognized for all your help with this project.  This will be an opportunity for you to advertise your products through samples or name recognition through pen, scratch pad, brochures, etc.  You also have the option of being a corporate sponsor.

The bearer of this letter should be able to answer any question that you may have.  If for some reason there are questions they cannot answer, please call me at 360-____ .  Thank you in advance for your help with this project.



October 26, 1995

Dear Chapter President,

As you know the Seattle Chapter of the ARS has been designated host of the 1999 Rhododendron Convention.  At the very outset of our planning we decided to invite all the chapters in District 2 and Meerkerk to take an active part in the planning and performance of the convention.  You have all been invited to all of our planning meetings but we realize that travel distance and other commitments may preclude your attendance at these meetings so we will take this opportunity to bring you up to date on our progress.

At our planning meeting on October 24 we discussed the distribution of profits (best case scenario) from the convention.  Unanimous support was given to the following formula, pending approval of the Boards of all chapters in District 2.

All chapters are invited to make a monetary investment advance to the convention fund.  Assuming the convention turns a profit (all annual ARS conventions have shown a profit in recent history) this investment will be returned with interest after the final accounting is completed.  Our proposal is to distribute the remaining profit according to the following formula.

20% To ARS General Fund
20% To Seattle Chapter
12% To Cascade Chapter
12% To Komo Kulshan Chapter
12% To Pilchuck Chapter
12% To Whidbey Chapter
12% To Meerkerk

Please discuss this proposal with your board and give me your response.

In order to cover our small initial expenses we request that each Chapter send an initial deposit of $250.00 to Chip Muller, 6236 Sycamore Avenue N.W., Seattle, Washington 98107.  Please make the checks payable to ARS 1999 Convention Fund.

Please call or write if you have any questions.

Warm regards,

Lynn Watts


Convention 99 - Garden Tour Committee

March 1, 1998

Dear Garden Owner,

This letter is to confirm that you are still willing to show your garden during the 1999 Convention.  We need to finalize all the necessary information within the next month.  Therefore we ask for your cooperation and effort to respond to the information requested below.  Your response is important and your assistance will help us to conduct a successful event.

The article you submit will be reproduced and given to the attendees at the beginning of each tour.  Some articles and photographs of the gardens will be submitted for publication in the ARS Journal.

Required Information:

If you have any problems or questions, please call me immediately so they can be resolved.  If you need any help now, let me know that too.

* We will confirm the final information once the schedule is finalized.  See attached tour schedule with your tour highlights


November 1999

Ms. Jane Homes
3333 Main Street
New Town, WA 98001

Dear Ms Homes

This letter is to confirm our conversation of October 31, 1999 relative to our food requirements for May 1, 2000.

We agreed on the following items for box lunches:

One hundred box lunches are the maximum number required.  If a lesser number will be needed, for some unknown reason, I will be in contact with you about April 1, 2000.

Please acknowledge and confirm the above information by letter.


(1.) Please print each registrant's name in the spaces indicated as R1 and R2 as appropriate.
(2.) In the columns R1 and R2 place an "X" next to each activity for which the person is registering.
(3.) In the # column, write the total number of registrants for each registrant.
(4.) Multiply the number in the # column by either the Canadian or the US dollar price for each activity.
(5.) Write the results in the TOTAL column.
(6.) Add up and write in the GRAND TOTAL.
(7.) Send the completed form with the check payable to: ARS Convention '99.
(8.) Mail to:
(9.) Registration cancelled after April 25, 1999 will be subject to a $ charge.
(10.) You may contact Registrar at (phone number & EMAIL)
(11.) Anyone registering for any convention event must also be registered as a delegate, unless other wise provided for.

Name (R1) ______________________________ Name (R2) __________________________________

Address ________________________________ City ________________________________________

Prov/ State ______________________________ Chapter _____________________________________

Telephone (___)______________________ ARS Title ________________________________________

                                                                          $CDN $CDN  $US   $US
Date    Event                                 R1   R2     #     Price  Total    Price  Total

THU ARS Annual  Meeting & Awards
SAT Closing Banquet Chicken Beef
TOTAL AMOUNT ENCLOSED                                                                     _____ _____ 

Are you planning to enter the Truss Show? _____ and/or Photo Contest? ______
____Vegetarian box lunch desired