By Derek Cooper
(Reprinted with kind permission from the January 2019 edition of InfoPlus, ISTC’s free monthly online newsletter for scientific and technical communicators.)
Happy New Year from the TCUK organising team.
We’ve been busy with the early stages of planning for TCUK 2019 – the tenth anniversary of TCUK in its current form – and later in this article I want to tell you about it.
But first, I want to give you a brief insight into what planning our conference involves, to help you understand the compromises we have to make, how those compromises affect your experience of TCUK, and how we fine-tune them to give you the best experience we can achieve.
Venue selection criteria
The criteria we apply when we choose a venue include (but are not limited to) a series of important requirements:
- The venue must include syndicate rooms for the three presentation streams, with the ability to combine two of them for keynote speeches. The third room should be close to the other two.
- Sponsors of the conference must have a suitable, large area where they can network easily with delegates during the conference and in the evenings. Ideally that area should also provide space for refreshments served between presentations.
- Restaurant food must conform to a high standard, and must provide a good choice for delegates including those with special dietary requirements.
- It must be possible to combine syndicate rooms for the Gala Dinner.
- There must be bar areas where attendees can network and relax in the evening.
- There must be sufficient bedrooms available for the expected number of attendees, and those bedrooms must be clean and comfortable, and must be within the same building as the conference facilities.
- Access for disabled delegates must be supported fully by the venue design and facilities.
- The venue location must be reasonably easy to find and must be within reasonable distance of transport links including major roads, rail, and international airport links. Ideally it should also be reasonably close to a city, town or other location where attendees can sample the local amenities.
- There must be sufficient complimentary parking space for attendees who drive to the venue.
Naturally, it must be available for the full week of the conference. Autumn is a popular season for conferences, and we are finding it increasingly difficult to find a conference venue that meets our criteria and that is available for one of the weeks we specify.
Hotels that support these requirements invariably also provide other facilities such as a leisure pool and gym, but these are not part of our search criteria. If they exist at the hotel (which they usually do), then they are a bonus that delegates can enjoy.
Inevitably, there are compromises involved, because all this has to be affordable for delegates, many of whom pay for their own attendance or who have to justify the cost of attendance to employers. Locations that are within major cities, or are close to major airports, are usually too expensive.
So, what have we decided for TCUK 2019 which, as I have already mentioned, is the tenth anniversary of the conference in its current form?
We’ve identified a venue, a date, and a theme:
Our venue for TCUK 2019 is the Chesford Grange Hotel, near Kenilworth in Warwickshire.
This is a location that meets or exceeds all of our requirements, and that also meets most of the “nice to have” features too. The hotel is located in a rural area close to the town of Warwick in central England. This is in the heart of Shakespeare country, and there are some wonderful visitor attractions nearby including the stunning Warwick Castle.
The conference dates for your diary are from 10 to 12 September 2019. This is a week earlier than the earliest week we usually reserve for the conference during September, and this has been forced on us by restricted availability.
And for the theme – our title for TCUK 2019 is simply “10”.
This title – prompted by the tenth anniversary – is deliberately enigmatic. You can use your imagination and interpret it in a number of ways, for example:
- Ten years – the past, the future.
- Ten things you have learned during the past decade.
- Ten Commandments of technical communication.
- We’ve deliberately presented the theme title in figures in case you might interpret it as a different number base – binary 10 might lead you to explore the impact of digital technology on technical communication.
The choice is yours – these are just suggestions. We offer a prize for the most innovative and imaginative interpretation of the theme.
As usual, we will also be looking for off-theme submissions from presenters who have something to say that doesn’t fall within the formal theme context.
Timetable and deadlines
We will be publishing the timetable and deadlines early in January. Note that the earlier date of the conference will affect these timescales.
Please refer to the social media channels for further news of the conference details. I’ll also include updates in future issues of InfoPlus.