Congress Planning Guidelines

Revised July 27, 2023

Preface

These guidelines are designed to assist experienced rangeland professionals to host a successful International Rangeland Congress (IRC). They are not a step-by-step instruction manual; instead, they are intended to capture the unique elements of success for an IRC based on the experiences from past Congresses. An IRC is held every 3-5 years and aims to bring the global community of rangeland users, professionals, scientists, academics, policy makers and other stakeholders and interested parties together to share knowledge and experience. Sponsorship is important, as all money raised is to be used to support people who would otherwise be unable to attend, such as pastoralists from remote areas and young women scientists as two examples.

The IRC should be hosted, as much as possible, in a rangeland environment. There is a balance in choosing a congress venue that can host 800-1200 delegates in a location that can accommodate this many people, whilst also having ready access to rangeland environments for pre, post, and mid-congress tours. Personal interaction and catching up with friends and colleagues is a key aspect of IRCs and needs to be encourages and supported. If an online component is included, and technology advances, new and innovative ways are likely to become available to encourage and support interpersonal interaction at online events. However, beware of trendy and complicated technology that cannot be supported in regions with poor internet connections; we want these Congresses to be inclusive of people around the world.

These guidelines were first developed by Jim O’Rourke after the 2008 International Rangeland Congress (IRC)/International Grassland Congress (IGC) held in Hohhot, Inner Mongolia. They were revised by the Argentina Organizing Committee and Jim O’Rourke with Israel Feldman as Chair after the 2011 IRC Congress held in Rosario, Argentina. They were again revised by the Canadian Organizing Committee and Jim O’Rourke Chaired by Bruce Coulman and Duane McCartney following the 2016 Congress held in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada. They were then revised again following the 2021 Virtual IGC/IRC in Kenya by the Kenya Organizing Committee and Dana Kelly, David Phelps and Jim O’Rourke.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  • Preface
  • SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONGRESS OF LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE (LOC)
    • Management Structure
    • Congress Structure and Content
    • Publishing
    • Congress Chair Responsibilities
    • Post Congress Responsibilities
  • LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE
    • Role of Local Organizing Committee Co-Chairs and Secretariat
    • Committees
    • Secretariat tasks
    • Congress Management Plan/Timelines
    • Virtual Congress planning
    • Website Design and Update
    • Congress Mailing List
    • Virtual Congress platform
    • Registration Process
    • Registration Form
  • Timelines
    • Four Years Before the Congress (First Announcement):
    • Forty-two Months Before the Congress
    • Thirty Months Before the Congress (Second Announcement)
    • Twenty-four Months Before the Congress
    • Eighteen Months Before the Congress (Third Announcement)
    • Eighteen Months Before the Congress (general activities)
    • Twelve Months Before the Congress (Fourth Announcement)
    • Six Months before the Congress
    • Five Months before the Congress
    • Two Months before the Congress (Fifth Announcement)
    • One Month before the Congress
    • One week before the Congress
    • During the congress
    • Daily throughout Congress
    • One Month Post-Congress
  • LOCAL ARRANGEMENTS COMMITTEE
    • Hotel and Conference Center Contracts
    • Meeting Space Needs
    • Meeting Room Signs and Direction
    • Poster Session Needs
    • Audio/Visual
    • Submitting Speaker Presentations Power Point
    • Local Transportation
    • Information Market Place and Trade Show
    • Meals
    • Congress Banquet/dinner
    • Hospitality Area
    • Coffee/Tea Breaks or Nutrition Breaks
    • Accompanying Partner Program
    • Social Activities
    • Special Meetings/Group Needs
    • Workshops Needs
    • Visa Needs/Processing
    • Accident and Liability Insurance
    • Registration Desk and Congress Bags
  • PROGRAM COMMITTEE
    • Program Theme
    • Schedule for the Week
    • Awards Ceremonies
    • Opening Ceremony
    • Closing ceremony
    • International Scientific Speakers Committee
    • Keynote/Invited Speakers
    • Program Timelines
    • Support for Keynote Speakers and Procedure for Payment
    • Session Format
    • Concurrent Sessions
    • Poster Sessions
    • Workshops
    • IRC Business Meetings
    • Rangeland User Forum
    • Virtual (on-line) formats
    • Presentation formats
    • Trade displays, workshops, meeting spaces and breakout sessions
    • Communications
    • Staffing
    • Delegate Mobile App
  • PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE
    • Paper Submission Process
    • Presentation Format
    • Paper Submission dates
    • Paper & Recording guidelines
    • Paper Review Process
    • Congress Program Booklet
    • Copyrights
  • TOURS COMMITTEE
    • Pre-Congress tours
    • Mid-Congress tours
    • General Tour Needs
    • Hotel check-in for pre and post congress tours
    • Pre- and Mid-Congress Tour Confirmations
  • FINANCE COMMITTEE
    • Budget
    • Budget Philosophy
    • Budget Line Items
    • IRC Bank Account
    • Airline and Bus Contracts
    • Levy of IRC
    • Loan from IRC
  • SPONSORSHIP SUBCOMMITTEE UNDER FINANCE COMMITTEE
    • What constitutes a Sponsorship?
    • Who should be a Supporter or a Sponsor?
    • Fundraising
  • INTERNATIONAL DELEGATE SUPPORT SUBCOMMITTEE UNDER FINANCE COMMITTEE
    • Speakers
    • Delegate Support
    • International Assistance to Local Organizing Committee
  • PUBLICITY SUBCOMMITTEE
    • Assistance with Publicity
  • APPENDICES
    • APPENDIX A: HOTEL INFORMATION REQUEST
    • APPENDIX B: HOTEL INSPECTION CHECKLIST
    • APPENDIX C: AGREEMENT BETWEEN (HOTEL) AND LOC
    • APPENDIX D: TEMPLATE LETTER OF REQUEST TO REVIEW PAPER
    • APPENDIX E: ORAL PRESENTATION GUIDELINES
    • APPENDIX F: KEYNOTE SPEAKERS INSTRUCTIONS
    • APPENDIX G: ORAL PRESENTATIONS
    • APPENDIX H: POSTER DESIGN AND PREPARATION GUIDELINES
    • APPENDIX I1. BUDGET SUMMARY
    • APPENDIX I2. Administration Budget
    • APPENDIX I3. Finance Budget
    • APPENDIX I4. Sponsorship Budget
    • APPENDIX I5. Local Arrangements Budget
    • APPENDIX I6. Host Activities Budget
    • APPENDIX I7. Student Activities Budget
    • APPENDIX I8. Program Budget
    • APPENDIX I9. Trade Show Budget
    • APPENDIX I10. Publicity Budget
    • APPENDIX J: KENYA 2020 IGC-IRC SPONSORSHIP PROSPECTUS
    • APPENDIX K: THANK YOU LETTER TO SPONSORS
    • APPENDIX L: DELEGATE SUPPORT APPLICATION

SUMMARY OF RESPONSIBILITIES OF CONGRESS OF LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE (LOC)

The Local Organisation Committee is often called something like the Australian or Kenyan Organising Committee, depending on the country hosting the Congress in the specific year.

Management Structure

  1. The host country or sponsoring organization within the host country will, in consultation with the International Rangelands Congress Continuing Committee (IRC CC), name the Congress Chair, or alternatively an Honorary Chair plus an Executive Officer, and appoint a Local Organizing Committee.
  2. The Congress Chair, or the Honorary Chair and the Executive Officer, on behalf of the appointed Local Organizing Committee, will be completely responsible for the organization of the Congress.
  3. Once the country and its nominated Local Organizing Committee has been accepted to act as host to the Congress, it will, after consulting with the Continuing Committee, take the responsibility for deciding the precise venue, location, program, number of participants, etc.
  4. By mutual agreement, the host country or sponsoring organization within the host country of the ensuing Congress may allocate funds to cover office expenditure incurred by the President on behalf of the Continuing Committee but will regardless provide all the necessary facilities and meet all necessary costs of the Continuing Committee in holding committee and business meetings at the Congress.

Congress Structure and Content

  1. Every Congress shall commence with an inaugural function presided over by the Congress Chair, at which no business shall be transacted. The details of the inaugural function will be the responsibility of the Local Organizing Committee.
  2. There will be at least two business meetings of the Congress, one at or near the beginning, and one at the end. Two of the purposes are to elect new members for the IRC Continuing Committee, and gather resolutions for presentation to the Congress.
  3. The Local Organizing Committee is encouraged to consider the provision of educational workshops, pre and post congress tours, and mid congress tours and other matters or exhibitions consistent with the aims of the organization, as well as technical sessions.

Publishing

  1. Publishing of the Proceedings will be arranged by the host organization and copies will be provided to all full members.
  2. An additional number of copies shall be made available for sale to the public and libraries throughout the world.
  3. Likewise, the Congress host will be responsible for inviting contributions to the Congress and presenting them in the form of pre-Congress documents.
  4. Copyright shall be vested jointly in the IRC Continuing Committee and the host Local Organizing Committee (until the next Congress).

Congress Chair Responsibilities

  1. The Congress (or Honorary) Chair will Chair the Local Organizing Committee.
  2. The duties of the Congress Chair will include chairing the inaugural function and, where thought appropriate by the Congress Chair in consultation with the President of the Continuing Committee, opening and closing Plenary Sessions.
  3. The Congress Chair will become an ex-officio member of the IRC Continuing Committee for one term immediately following their term in office. Alternatively, the Congress Chair may nominate an ex-officio member to participate on the IRC Continuing Committee.

Post Congress Responsibilities

  1. Within one month from the last day of the Congress, the Local Organizing Committee will pay to the IRC Continuing Committee a levy of $20 (US) per head for each full membership attributable to the Congress, or such other amount as decided by the Continuing Committee and advised to the Local Organizing Committee at least 18 months before the Congress.
  2. At the completion of the Congress, the Local Organizing Committee of that Congress should hand on as much information as possible to the organizers of the next Congress and to the President of the IRC Continuing Committee. This should include (preferably in digital form):
    • The complete mailing list used by the outgoing Local Organizing Committee.
    • A full list of members of the immediate past Congress, associates, etc.
    • The list of pre-registrants including the names of the people who were unable to attend the Congress.
    • Samples of all relevant forms and documents, membership badges, etc.
    • Detailed budget and expenditure of the last two Congresses.

LOCAL ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Role of Local Organizing Committee Co-Chairs and Secretariat

The Local Organizing Committee (LOC) needs leadership and support from a national rangeland (or equivalent) organization. Where such an organization does not exist, leadership may exist in government, NGO or academic institutions. Leadership, coordination and support in these situations needs to be presented as a key part of the congress bid. Leadership and financial support by the host government and organizations is critical for the success of a Congress.

The LOC may be renamed by the host country. For example, in Kenya it was the NOC (National Organising Committee), and in Australia, the AOC (Australian Organising Committee).

The LOC Co-Chairs need to be identified as part of the initial bid, as they are responsible for the successful conduction of the congress. In order to do so they must:

  • Be respected leaders in the range management/science community
  • Be in a position to devote four years to the leadership of planning a congress
  • Be effective in obtaining host country political and financial support for the congress
  • Have attended one or more International Rangeland Congresses and be thoroughly familiar with a typical congress organization and operation
  • Work on a daily basis with the Secretariat Office and all Sub-Committees to ensure that deadlines are met; it is critical that someone has an overview role and ensures that committees liaise with each other as needed
  • Prepare a progress report to the IRC Continuing Committee every six months following acceptance of the bid
  • Name a Permanent Secretariat, fluent in English, one month after acceptance of bid is received
  • Name two Co-Chairs for each Committee within two months after acceptance of the bid is received
  • Submit Work Plans for each Committee to IRC CC three months after acceptance of the bid is received
  • Submit a revised budget, including a cash flow budget, to the IRC CC four months after acceptance of the bid is received
  • Sign Hotel and Conference Center contracts, Memorandum of Agreement, or the equivalent no later than three years before the congress date
  • Have contingency plans for finance and continuity in case of domestic or global disruptions, including hybrid or all-virtual congress hosting capabilities organized at least 12 months before the Congress.

Committees

The LOC will usually be structured into several sub-committees, as follows:

  • An overarching (lead) committee with at least one representative from each of the following committees (who all report to the overarching Local Organizing Committee)
  • Local Arrangements committee
  • Program committee
  • Publications committee
  • Tours committee
  • Finance committee
    • Sponsorship subcommittee
    • International Delegate Support subcommittee
  • Publicity committee.

Each committee reports to, and is responsible to, the LOC. The LOC operates as an independent entity. It reports to, and is responsible to, the IRC Continuing Committee.

Secretariat tasks

The Secretariat is a person, or organization with one specific person, devoted full time for four years to ensure that every detail of a congress is accomplished. Ideally, this person should be familiar with a typical congress, having attended at least one international conference. He/she will work with the Co-Chairs to carry out the tasks as assigned by the Co-Chairs and Sub-Committees. Principle tasks of the Secretariat Office include, but are not limited to:

  • Ensuring that timelines are established by all subcommittees, in liaison with the Chair of the Local organizing Committee
  • Ensure that all reports, from sub-committees and the LOC, are submitted to the IRC Continuing Committee on time. Maintaining regular and clear communication with the IRC Continuing Committee is essential, and the failure to do may result in the cancellation of the Congress.
  • If many of the organizational tasks are allocated to an external Secretariat or professional conference organizer, it is vitally important that they understand the unique differences between an IRC and many other scientific conferences, especially with Tours and the Review of papers. The cost of a conference organizer needs to be considered in comparison to volunteers from scientific and/or professional organizations.
  • The Secretariat will work with the LOC to ensure that delegate questions are answered, delegate requests are fulfilled, registration confirmations are sent out, local arrangements are made to handle the needs of delegates and that host desks are set up and maintained at the host country international airports into which delegates will be arriving, as well as at local airports in the city of the venue of the congress. Special visa lines to ensure fast processing of delegates may be considered appropriate by local customs officials.
  • When a delegate registers for the Congress the people in charge of registration should immediately confirm the registration with the delegate, including the choice of tours. The tour leaders also need to be notified immediately that this person is signed up for a specific tour.

Tour logistics may be a component of the Secretariat tasks, especially in terms of responding to Delegate questions. Delegates will need sufficient detail to enable them to choose between tour options; they will expect responses WITHIN ONE BUSINESS DAY.

Congress Management Plan/Timelines

  • The Local Organizing Committee and Secretariat must very carefully read the constitution of the IRC, as well as these Planning guidelines, and abide by the rules set forth in the Constitution for the conduct of the congress. Attention is particularly drawn to clauses 3, 5 and 6 in the Constitution.
  • The Local Organizing Committee will establish timelines, either in the bid or immediately after the bid has been accepted. Many of these occur in the bid acceptance letter or later in this document. It will be the duty of the Secretariat and the Co-Chairs to ensure that they are met.

Virtual Congress planning

  • The decision to have a hybrid or all-virtual congress should be made at least 12 months prior to the Congress.
  • The organizing committee should ensure that all facilities required to support a virtual platform are put in place from the start of planning.
  • Organizers of every congress need to consider how to incorporate an online option that encourages attending in-person, while building opportunities for online delegates. A hybrid congress (both in-person and virtual) can enable wider participation, even without the restrictions of movement of people.
  • Change from an in-person to a virtual Congress will affect the registration of

Delegates, as many will want to visit the host country of the Congress and participate in the tours.

  • To host a virtual Congress, in-country capacity should be supported and strengthened.
  • It is important with a virtual Congress, to have the organizers manage the virtual component from a central point, with robust internet connectivity and ICT facilities (compatible screens, address system, computer software etc.)
  • On-line options need to be budgeted for accordingly, including exploring options for full hybrid, partial hybrid, some sessions only, the cost of the virtual platform, the cost of professional on-site AV teams, the potential for companies in the host nation vs the standards of international options.
  • Any on-line options need to be checked for performance and weighed up against the IT and internet capabilities of the host nation as well as delegate locations.

Website Design and Update

  • A host congress website will be established within the IRC website immediately after the bid is accepted and as the First Announcement is ready for distribution. The link to the IRC web-site is important and needs to be established before the development of the in-country web-site.
  • This website will be hosted on the IRC website https://rangelandcongress.org/ to integrate promotion, mailing lists and publications. The IRC website is maintained by the IRC website editor and the congress website is maintained by the LOC website editor. A website editor will be appointed by the LOC to design and maintain the host nation’s congress web site within the IRC website. This is one of the most important positions in organizing a congress. The web site needs to be established as soon as the location and dates for the congress are identified.
  • The LOC website editor will liaise with the IRC website editor to ensure each congress website is correctly hosted on the IRC website. All details of the congress will be posted on the host nation’s website during the four-years leading up to the congress (this enables international visitors to plan, and get appropriate permissions to travel)
  • The LOC website editor needs to include a tracking system to monitor visits to the congress web site (this is needed to plan additional advertising if necessary)
  • The First Announcement, and all subsequent Announcements, will be posted on the Congress website The web site will be the sole location for up-to-date congress information and the principal mechanism to advertise the congress and to relay information to potential delegates.
  • The congress website will host, or include links to, registration, delegate payments, abstract submission, visa, accommodation and transport options, and other essential information deemed necessary to successfully attract delegates to attend in person.
  • Translations of initial advertisements for distribution to non-English speaking countries should be considered.
  • The congress website will also provide access to the virtual congress platform, if used.
  • The LOC is responsible for developing an online editorial process for receiving and reviewing submitted and invited abstracts and papers, which includes:
    • sending acknowledgements of receipt to authors
    • the review of abstracts and papers
    • distributing abstracts and papers to reviewers and returning reviews to authors
    • a right of answer for authors to clarify, accept or reject reviews
    • storing approved abstracts and invited papers for distribution at the congress and for publication of congress proceedings
    • linkages with the congress payment system to ensure all authors are paid delegates (including sponsored or supported delegates).
  • Special attention needs to address the issue of delegates in countries such as China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Argentina who may not have access to the Congress web site due to country restrictions. Email may be the only method that delegates in these countries receive updates, and links to the website should not be relied on. It is possible that a sperate system will be needed to receive abstracts and invited papers from these countries. This might be done directly by email. Determining which countries these are and a process needs to be developed at least two years in advance of the congress.

Congress Mailing List

  • The IRC has developed a very large master list of email addresses of potential delegates from around the world that can be contacted from time to time to direct them to new information posted on the website.
  • This master email list should include all potential delegates i.e. government rangeland and grassland extension agencies, grassland and rangeland producer organizations, ranchers, pastoralists and grassland farmers.
  • The LOC will provide the IRC website editor with additional names to add to the distribution list and not create separate mailing lists. The mechanism for this should adhere to global and host nation privacy standards and laws.
  • The First Announcement, and all subsequent Announcements, will be emailed using the IRC mailing list. This will be the principal mechanism to advertise the congress and to relay information to potential delegates.
  • Hard copy mailings are discouraged due to cost and lack of assurance that the mail systems around the world will deliver these materials in a timely manner.
  • The IRC will up-date the IRC master email mailing list after each mass mailing.
  • Announcement emails should request people to express an interest as a delegate, sponsor and/or supporter of the congress. This is essential to estimate potential delegates for budgeting purposes. However, all subsequent mailings should go to the master IRC mailing list, not just to
    the “show of interest” list.
  • Announcements will be developed by members of the LOC but the IRC web editor will send out all notices advertising the congress.
  • Special attention needs to address the issue of delegates in countries such as China, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Argentina who may have email restrictions from the master list. A direct email system will most likely be needed to contact potential delegates in these countries. It will be necessary to work with contacts in these countries to develop a large communication network of potential delegates within the country e.g. through regional IRC CC members. In addition, the receipt of abstracts and invited papers from these countries may rely on email. Determining which countries these are and a process needs to be developed at least two years in advance of the congress.
  • Translations of initial announcements for distribution to non-English speaking countries should be considered.

Virtual Congress platform

As mentioned above under “Virtual Congress Planning” organizers are strongly encouraged to develop a Virtual Congress platform. This decision needs to be made, and the virtual platform must be established no later than two years prior to the Congress. Below are some additional guidelines if a virtual component is included.

  • Employing good and effective local ICT platforms and professional website co-hosting is key to full control and management of the event.
  • It is essential to have a stable and robust platform that is managed by people experienced in the platform’s capabilities.
  • Presenters/ authors of papers must be provided with detailed support so that they are well prepared to deliver professional live and recorded presentations. ALL presenters should pre-record their presentations, which can be used as backup in case of inevitable technical glitches which prevent live presentation on the day. Recorded presentations are also needed for any Virtual component. Most people are not well practiced for on-line presentations, and many aspects are new and often not considered e.g. ensuring lighting is correct, backgrounds are not cluttered and presenters do not wear finely striped shirts (all busy patterns should be avoided).
  • Technical support is needed for all sessions to ensure the smooth running of presentations on the virtual platform.
  • Presenters will require advice and training before the congress to ensure high quality presentations are achieved. This can be achieved through written materials, web-based training and some live training sessions should be provided. All presenters need to have their internet connection and computer setup (webcam, microphone etc) checked before delivering a live presentation.
  • It is essential to strictly adhere to session schedules for virtual delegates to be able to attend presentations at the advertised times. This is very important if there is a virtual component.
  • It is essential to build in breaks and on-line activities that accommodate both on-line and in-person delegates. Different time zones and the location of most delegates needs to be considered when planning the virtual component.
  • The LOC should consider the additional functionality that a virtual platform can include e.g. incentives for delegates to visit all on-line booths and posters; live polling is an excellent way of maintaining on-line audience engagement during presentations.
  • The LOC should keep up-to-date with quickly changing technologies and trends in delivering a virtual congress. However, it is important not make significant changes e.g. the delivery platform should be decided no later than two years from the congress date, and should not be changed.

Registration Process

  • It is essential that registration is available online to delegates and that this integrates with the abstract process and in-person congress registration. The Registration process needs to be ready before the call for Abstracts. It is highly recommended that the LOC obtain the services of a professional management company that can do “online” computer registration services locally. If the LOC chooses to obtain and manage such a software program it is recommended that the LOC select a person that is already a skilled user, or can be quickly trained to be a skilled user of the program. The software package used will manage all aspects of congress record keeping to include paper submissions/review/acceptance, delegate support, all aspects of registration including tours, etc.
  • The registration process will require a dual system. An effective & secure local international banking system needs to be linked to the system which can [1] process credit cards and [2] accept and transfer funds internationally. Some countries have limitations to what systems can be used. The registration system will also need to be able to handle invoices for paying registration fees.
  • Be aware that the user fee for credit cards will be costly to the local organizing committee and this user cost will need to be incorporated into the registration cost.
  • On line credit card fraud can be an issue. It has been noted that unscrupulous people can fictitiously register for a conference and immediately cancel their registration and request a refund. The refund is then automatically sent before the original invoice has been paid. This is caused by a time laps in processing the original payment. There are online computer payment companies that can be used to prevent this happening.

Registration Form

  • It is recommended that each delegate book their own accommodation. The congress website should provide a list of recommended hotels or university dorms, where rooms have been reserved and discounts arranged. In some cases, where the delegate from a developing country is unable to directly book their hotel the congress secretariat could provide assistance.
  • Delegate should be asked to indicate the next of kin on their registration form in case of an emergency.
  • The delegates should indicate the airline, flight number and arrival time on their registration form (so pick-up transport can be arranged, especially for high volume arrival times).
  • Special food needs should be requested on the registration form (by checking the appropriate box indicating the special food needs).
  • Opportunity to indicate choice of mid congress tours and booking the congress banquet tickets must be included on the form.
  • Early registration and payment should have a deadline different from late registration. Early registration/payment could be 12 months before the congress with late registration/payment 6 weeks before the congress. All delegates have to pay their registration fee in order to have their paper or abstract included in the proceedings. This needs to be completed by the early or the normal registration deadline (but never the late deadline), in order to allow time to do the final edit of the proceedings. This will be extremely difficult to manage if a large proportion of delegates will not pay until the very last minute; as you will not know who will be presenting and cannot prepare the program, which people will want at least 6 months before the Congress.
  • It is not recommended to publicize a one-day registration fee. This one-day fee could be done on request. In past congresses international delegates thought that they could cut their cost by registering for one day. All delegates should be required to pay the full registration.

Timelines

These timelines have been developed in response to problems that have arisen at previous Congresses; especially around the expectations and needs of delegates to choose which international conferences to attend. Many organizations and country also have strict requirements about travel, which can take more than 12 months to complete.

Timelines consider the interactions between tasks. Some tasks have very early deadlines. It is usually not obvious to various sub-committees how their tasks impact on the ability of other sub-committees to complete their tasks. This can become even more complicated with the introduction of hybrid or virtual components.

Four Years Before the Congress (First Announcement):

  • Immediately following the previous congress, where the bid to host has been accepted, the first announcement will be emailed to the mass email list of potential delegates. This initial email will simply provide the location and dates for the Congress. A request should be made for delegates interested in future email information on the up-coming congress to reply. This will assist in predicting attendance but is not to be used as a separate mailing list.
  • Preliminary reservations of conference venues and hotels should be made.
  • Congress Co-chairs should be chosen who will facilitate establishment of a website for the Congress and a
    person should be chosen to manage the website.
  • All website visits should to be tracked as to number of hits by country and pages on web site visited. Use Google Analytics (analytics.google.com/) or similar to accomplish website visit tracking. Having these metrics will help determine the amount of interest in attending the congress.
  • Extensive advertising in addition to the master email list will be required. News items outlining the congress will need to be sent to all major international scientific organizations that are involved with grazing, grassland, rangeland, wild land management, restoration, remote sensing, ecology etc. These news items should be distributed to their membership and posted in their newsletters and web sites. It is useful to develop MOUs with these organizations, which could include free booth space for them at the congress and/or reciprocal meeting advertising.

Forty-two Months Before the Congress

  • Identify chairs and Co-chairs for each committee
  • Committee co-chairs add members to their committees
  • Prepare work plans for each committee
  • Develop draft Program
  • Establish a Congress logo
  • Finalize venue and hotel bookings
  • Engage a company to handle registration, and identify and establish a secretariat
  • Revise the budget
  • Organize system to approach potential sponsors & start to get to know key people in organizations to scope out likely opportunities

Thirty Months Before the Congress (Second Announcement)

  • The second announcement is sent to the IRC master email mailing list plus other interested parties. The LOC needs to advise the IRC web-master of additional email addresses, both individuals and organizations. The second announcement will contain information on the congress program, including subject areas, and a few details on anticipated tours.
  • Again, a request for expression of interest in attending the congress by sending a return email is important. This expression of interest will be useful in establishing a budget for the Congress.
  • Include general information on congress city and conference facilities with links to websites for more detailed information.
  • Schedule of when call for papers and registration etc. will be available.
  • Post detailed information on sponsorship on the website, inviting sponsors for the Congress. Sponsorship committee should be contacting potential sponsors (as previously identified).
  • Include information on how to obtain a visa and which countries are affected.

Twenty-four Months Before the Congress

  • Develop space use plan for Convention Centre two years before congress.
  • Sign audio-visual contract two years before congress.
  • Appoint a production company or organizer for the Virtual component of the Congress (if any online component is agreed on; and depending on the size of the Virtual component)Prepare brochure for potential Exhibitors. Place on web site with:
    • description of area
    • size of booth
    • what is included in booth, both for commercial and information booths
  • range in prices for on-shore and off-shore exhibitors; for in-person and online exhibitors
    • organize to provide boards for display to avoid need for exhibitors to ship display boards/panels
  • indicate how exhibiting materials can be shipped to the congress convention center.

Eighteen Months Before the Congress (Third Announcement)

  • Call for papers. This will include instructions to author and submission deadlines, and a list of specific program sessions. The deadline for papers submission should be 6 months before the congress. If necessary, this could be extended to four or five months before congress, keeping in mind that there has to be sufficient time for the review process.
  • Provide detailed descriptions of pre- and mid-congress tours.
  • Provide information on the accompanying persons program, if having one.
  • Provide detailed information on the accommodations available for the congress.
  • Clearly show cutoff date for hotel rooms/rates in Third Announcement and on web page.
  • Include information on how to obtain a visa and which countries are affected.
  • Announce the application and selection details for delegate sponsorship. Deadlines for delegate sponsorship applications should be 6 months before the congress. This should allow sufficient time for sponsored delegates to obtain visas.
  • Provide information on pre-congress workshops, if known.
  • Detailed information on registration procedures and costs
  • Provide information about security in the country if this is likely to cause any concern for delegates, both on the web-site and a link to this in the Third Announcement.

Eighteen Months Before the Congress (general activities)

  • The final budget needs to be set 18 months before the congress in order that the delegate registration fee can be posted on the congress web site at that time.
  • The Finance Committee will inform the Program Committee and the Delegate Support Sub-committee of the total figure of funds available for Keynote/ Invited Speakers and Delegate Support.
  • Invitations to all keynote and plenary speakers should be completed by the Program committee (make every effort to encourage speakers to obtain their own support for travel and associated congress expenses. If speakers are not able to provide their own support they will then be considered for sponsorship.
  • Based upon number of Keynote/Invited Speakers and the categories of support as determined by the Program Committee, the Program Committee will prepare a list of recipients of these funds and the amount offered to each.
  • The Program committee will inform each of these speakers of the decision for sponsorship and, after agreement from the speakers, will turn the list over to the Chair of the Delegate Support subcommittee and Finance Chair at least 12 months before the Congress. As there are 2 stages of review for Delegate Support, the Finance Committee needs to continue to liaise with the Delegate Support subcommittee.
  • The Program Committee needs to remind all speakers of the visa acquisition process.
  • Delegate Support Application must be on website 18 months before the congress.
  • The Delegate Support Application Form (or process) must be on the website as soon as the review/acceptance process of volunteer papers begins to allow accepted paper authors to apply for support. A decision on who will get support for their Registration needs to be provided ASAP, as all delegates are asked to pay their Registration BEFORE their papers are accepted. Deadline to apply for Delegate Support is 6 months before the Congress.
  • A committee needs to be appointed to assess delegate support applications and advise delegates of the success or otherwise of their application, as well as the extent of support which will be provided. Consideration needs to be given to what happens if the Congress needs to be all-virtual.
  • Paper submission will be open at least 18 months before congress, and close 6 months before congress. Submission dates should not be extended more than once; and submissions should not be accepted after the closing date/time.

Twelve Months Before the Congress (Fourth Announcement)

  • Reminder for papers submissions and delegate support applications with final deadlines.
  • Publish biographies of plenary speakers and titles of presentations on the web-site.
  • Volunteer papers must be reviewed and acceptance or rejection made to authors at least six months before congress date. Some delegates will require 12 months’ notice of acceptance in order to get permission to attend the congress. Identify which countries need longer in the early planning for paper submissions and make sure delegates from these countries are advised ASAP.
  • Encourage people to book for Tours early, and ensure Publicity Committee promotes Tours as soon as information is available (as cancellations & adjustments need to be made 6 months prior to the Congress).

Six Months before the Congress

  • Delegates selected for support are informed and requested to submit an acceptance of the sponsorship funds. As stated above, some delegates will require 12 months’ advance notice in order to obtain permission to attend.
  • A decision to be made on whether to extend the paper submission deadline by an additional month or two months, and if so, inform potential delegates.
  • Remind delegates that they have to pay their full registration in order to have their paper accepted, presented at the congress and published in the proceedings six weeks before the congress. In this email, note that delegates who have been given support for their Registration do not need to pay; and delegates who have applied for support should wait until they are advised of the result of their application. Make sure the web-site registration system allows for delegates to indicate if support has been requested or granted.
  • Decide on whether pre-congress tours have been well enough subscribed to take place and inform those who registered for them.
  • The deadline for delegate support application should be 6 months before the congress. The decision on support should be sent to the delegates as soon as possible in order to provide enough time to get the necessary travel documentations.
  • Congress Secretariat will be receiving delegate applications. Congress Secretariat will send all applications immediately upon receipt to the Chair of the Delegate Support subcommittee.
  • Delegate Support selection process must be completed 6 months before the congress. Emails outlining the outcome of the Delegate Support process should be sent early to those who need this; and again, as soon as application close at 6 months before the Congress. These emails should also remind successful delegates of visa acquisition process.
  • If an Invitation Letter is needed to secure visas, automatically send to delegates when they register and/or when their paper is accepted.

Five Months before the Congress

  • Reviewers need to return all papers 5 months before the congress dates. The publications committee needs to decide on this completion date. (This allows time for a preliminary Program to be prepared and published on the web-site).

Two Months before the Congress (Fifth Announcement)

  • The finalized program is available with all poster and oral presenters indicating times and locations of presentations.
  • Include instructions on transport from the airport to hotels and convention centre.
  • Indicate location and hours for registration desk.
  • Highlight workshops
  • The deadline for submission of virtual exhibitions should be done at least two months before the Congress dates to allow for uploading and training of the exhibitors on using the virtual platform.

One Month before the Congress

  • Repeat the two-month information

One week before the Congress

  • Send out email including additional reminders about the venue, registration, opening ceremonies, etc.

During the congress

  • It is recommended that the registration desk open Saturday morning to accommodate workshop participants and remain open during conference hours of the entire congress.
  • Hold sponsored workshops on the Saturday and Sunday before the congress opening.
  • Hold a welcome function (e.g. stand up drinks and finger food) on the Sunday evening i.e. the night before the congress sessions start – time this with the arrival of pre-congress tours. Music and dances from the host nation’s rangeland people could be included.
  • The IRC Business Meeting is held on the Monday (one hour) and Friday (two hours) mornings. There should be no other planned activities at this time.
  • Open the first day (Monday) of the congress with a welcome address from a dignitary and consider short performances of music, dance etc. from the host nation’s rangeland people.
  • Sessions occur Monday after the opening IRC Business Meeting and the plenary session, and all-day Tuesday, Thursday, and on Friday morning.
  • Hold social nights (preferably) on the first and second full day of the congress with an appropriate theme.
  • The mid congress tours are held on the entire day Wednesday. It is difficult to plan when these Tours will return, and no other sessions or events should be planned that day.
  • The concluding or summary sessions and congress closing is late Friday afternoon.
  • The congress banquet is held on the Thursday or Friday evening. Note that some delegates start leaving for home on Friday afternoon/evening. A Friday evening banquet may encourage them to stay through Friday.
  • Consider including rangeland art shows and performances throughout the congress.
  • Allow delegates two evenings free from planned activities.

Daily throughout Congress

  • Provide a daily email update to attending delegates so that they are aware of any changes to the program as well as making them aware of what is happening for the day ahead. Make this also available in electronically and/or hardcopy on the Information Bulletin Board.

One Month Post-Congress

  • Send out email to delegates thanking them for attending the Congress and provide a link to the posted Proceedings and possibly the presenter slides. Remind them of the next location for the Congress.
  • If a post congress survey is not done on the last day of the congress do one immediately following the congress.
  • Send out thank you letters with complete report to sponsors.

LOCAL ARRANGEMENTS COMMITTEE

The local arrangements subcommittee is responsible for ensuring local logistics including:

  • Choosing and contracting the congress venue, including meeting the needs for audio-visual, workshop, meeting and poster display space etc
  • Securing suitable accommodation at a range of prices and quality
  • Local transport
  • Catering (meals, welcome function, banquet, hospitality area)
  • Accompanying Partner program
  • On-site speaker support (including receiving Speaker Presentation Power Points)
  • Information Market Place and Trade Show
  • Social Activities
  • Special Meetings/Group Needs
  • Workshops Needs
  • Visa Needs/Processing
  • Accident and Liability Insurance
  • Registration Desk and Congress Bags
  • Organize appointment of Production Company for any online component; and ensure close collaboration id the in-person AV organization is a separate person/company.

Hotel and Conference Center Contracts

  • Site inspection checklists and hotel contracts are included in Appendices A, B and C.
  • Need contracts for the Convention Center signed no later than at least 3.5 years before the Congress starts
  • Need hotels of different cost levels to accommodate students and other low-income delegates. This could include University residence. It is extremely important not to guarantee filling all the blocked hotel rooms. If there are no-shows, then the congress might have to pay the hotel for unused rooms. Most delegates will check the internet for best prices on hotel rooms. Need to make sure that hotel web site prices match the convention contract rates.
  • Initiate contracts, Memorandum of Agreement or similar agreements for all hotels that agree to hold blocks of rooms and offer special rates for Delegates, 3.5 years before the Congress. This needs to be finalized & published on the website before the Second Announcement, which is 2 years and 8 months prior to the Congress start.
  • Clearly show cutoff date for hotel rooms/rates in Third Announcement and on web page.
  • Develop space use plan for Convention Centre two years before congress, including Posters; and Exhibition space for Sponsors and other organizations (including any online component).

Meeting Space Needs

For a successful congress there needs to be one large room to accommodate all delegates for the opening, plenary and closing sessions. In addition, there needs to be at least (5) break out rooms for the simultaneous sessions.

A person/people from a Local Arrangements Committee, Secretariat and/or appointed AV specialists are needed to be responsible for the room, the management of lighting system during presentations and audio visual and sound system.

Each meeting room must meet the following requirements:

  • Location for easy movement between sessions
  • Soundproof partitions to prevent distracting noise
  • Adequate ventilation for the room capacity
  • First-class PA system with a crew to keep it in perfect operation
  • Light control panel and tie-in for A/V equipment
  • Floor to Ceiling projection screen
  • Raised speaker podium – at least for larger rooms – with lighted lectern
  • Entry door(s) near back of room as far as possible from the speaker
  • Adequate seating capacity i.e. 150 to 200 seats in each breakout room
  • Floor microphones in the largest rooms and table microphones for panel groups
  • Room named for easy identification and name of session
  • Emergency response plans in place e.g. for Security, Covid-safe practices, Fire Management plans

For any Virtual component, the “venue” for the virtual congress should allow for the management of concurrent sessions from different rooms. Chairs (and back-up Chairs) need to be trained and appointed by the organizing committees for effective management of the concurrent sessions. Back-up Chairs need to be nominated, as experience shows that Chairs frequently have technology issues and cannot get online – one backup Chair for all sessions is very difficult. An on-line option should consider having participating ‘hubs’ in other locations where delegates can be located together to watch, interact and view the presentations together. While this is very effective in supporting some face-to-face interaction, it does require more organisation.

On-line options should plan for delegate participation beyond just watching presentation on-line. Some suggestions include survey tools, virtual booths, on-line panel sessions, student attendance and learning opportunities, ECP attendance and learning opportunities etc.

Meeting Room Signs and Direction

  • Signboards will be placed by the door of each meeting room to show the session underway (and papers being presented, with time allocations). Timing is critical if coordinating with any online sessions.
  • Proper direction of congress attendees to the various meeting rooms also will be essential when all sessions are being conducted on a strict time schedule. Room layout diagrams posted on pedestals in the hallways and in the Congress handbook will be required.
  • The best directions can be given personally by members of the Host Committee who should be identified with conspicuous ribbons or conference organizing committee clothing.
  • For Virtual Congresses, a Help Desk with a person online during all sessions is necessary. A short training video may help all online delegates to navigate the site.

Poster Session Needs

  • An adequate room is needed so that the posters can be displayed without crowding. Ideally, 10 feet or 3 meters between rows is needed. Committee needs to decide how many posters per board and if they are horizontal or vertical posters before the official call for posters. Delegates need to be advised prior to the conference on the physical method of attaching their posters to the poster boards.
  • All poster boards need to be numbered in the top right-hand corner. These numbers will refer to the poster numbers in the program hand book. The main author’s picture should be on the top left corner of the poster.
  • A committee person needs to be in charge when delegates are putting up the posters to provide assistance with extra poster attaching supplies.
  • Session numbers or topic descriptions of different poster areas need to be identified for easy viewing.
  • If poster sessions are at the end of the oral afternoon sessions, providing a refreshment bar (user pay), will increase participation at the poster sessions
  • The poster area and the Information Market Place and Trade Show should be adjacent to each other. This will increase exposure to the exhibitors.
  • Online poster sessions open to all could be considered, maybe in conjunction with the in-person session. The opportunity to interact with poster presenters is important.

Audio/Visual

  • If there is a virtual component, these tasks need to be linked to the online production company, probably even the same company.
  • Contract signed two years before congress.
  • Ensure that projection screens are elevated high enough for people at the back to see. Thus, the need for large floor to ceiling projection screens.
  • If necessary depending upon the country, include simultaneous translation equipment and head sets. This comes at a high cost.
  • Each session room will require a person to operate the audio-visual equipment and room lighting.

Submitting Speaker Presentations Power Point

  • All presentations should be submitted electronically via a cloud platform.
  • A due date determined by the online production company, at least 4 weeks before the Congress.
  • Chairs for sessions should be able to view the presentations for their session in the week before the actual session begins. Time and technical support need to be factored in for poor quality presentations that may need to be re-done.
  • Provide a room with a computer for speakers to fine tune their presentations.
  • There needs to be a room where all the speakers can meet their chairpersons of their respective sessions. The location and time should be given to the speakers and the session chairpersons when they register. The details of how the sessions will operate will be given at that time.
  • If online presenters are allowed, these people should be present electronically, via Zoom or similar. A platform that people in all countries can access needs to be considered.
  • All speakers need to meet (in person or virtually) the session chair 30 minutes before the start of the session.

Local Transportation

  • It is recommended that there be an information booth at the airport to greet the congress delegates before the conference begins.
  • There should be congress signage directing the delegates to the booth. It is recommended that transportation be provided to take the delegates to their hotels. The cost of this transportation could be a joint effort between the hotels and the city tourism department. Different sizes of busses or large passenger vans could be used.
  • If independent taxis are used, designated signage to the various hotels would assist people joining up to share the taxi fare.
  • Delegates staying at University dorms or other cheap accommodation may need to use the local bus system to get to the conference center. If so, the LOC should arrange for bus passes, bus schedules and route maps to the delegates staying in University residences. This could be done through the city’s tourism department or Secretariat.

Information Market Place and Trade Show

  • Combine commercial and information exhibits in one location. One option is to have an organization representing local artists be invited to sell local art and craft to the delegates as souvenirs.
  • If the conference has the middle day as a tour day (Wed) there could be the opportunity to have two separate exhibitor groups. One group could be on location for the first two days of the congress and the other group could be there for the last two days of the congress. One of the major expenses in having exhibitors at an Information Market Place/Trade show is personnel expenses and accommodation. With two 2 day shows this would cut down their expenses and allow for more exhibitors to participate. It also gives a fresh look to the congress.
  • The physical location of the Information Market Place/Trade Show Area is important. It should be in short proximity to the flow of traffic during the congress and adjacent to the poster presentation and refreshment area. It should be readily accessible to the congress participants for maximum exposure. Food courts, snack bars and coffee/tea breaks facilities in the Information Market Place /Trade Show Area tend to attract more participants to this area.
  • There is a need for casual seating in the area for people to network.
  • Consideration needs to be given to add virtual exhibit screens to the in-person area.
  • If the Congress is all virtual, an area for commercial and information exhibits may be better in different online locations.

Meals

  • Breakfasts at hotels. The Local Organizing Committee should negotiate with the hotels to provide a buffet style continental breakfast (cereal, hard boiled eggs, toast, juice, coffee, tea, milk) that the delegates can quickly serve themselves. At past congresses slow service at breakfast has caused major problems.
  • Lunches at Convention Center in Trade and Information Show area. The facilities for providing quick meal service are essential and are of prime importance. We need to have all delegates through the food lines in 20 minutes!! Food courts, buffet or snack bars for breakfast and lunches adequately staffed, are the best means for handling congress attendees. A
    choice of items is better than a flat cost for the meal.
  • Delegates could have the choice when submitting their registration form to purchase noon lunch tickets separate from the registration cost. Otherwise lunches could be included in the registration cost. It will be necessary to print “Lunches included” on the registration receipt to prevent delegates from double charging their employer. Including lunch as a cost to the overall registration might be the simplest way of having all delegates fed in time for the opening afternoon sessions. The lunch tickets are required and should be collected upon entering the room designated for lunches. A committee person will be required to collect the tickets for each luncheon.
  • It is essential to accommodate special dietary needs based on health, religious and ethnic needs. Their names must be placed on these lunches or on a list to prevent other non-diet people from taking them.
  • Evening meals: At least two nights free for delegates to dine on their own.
  • Evening socials: There should be some evening socials so delegates can meet each other and network. These events could be a pay as you go event.

Congress Banquet/dinner

  • The Congress dinner should be on the Friday of the congress. Delegates would purchase tickets on registration form.
  • Feature the culture of the region in the after-dinner program.
  • Diner activities could include special awards.
  • An online component for Awards is recommended to allow pastoralists in remote regions to participate; maybe at the banquet.

Hospitality Area

  • One large area, with a sitting area within the Information Market Place/Trade Show, should be available for continuous use each day of the congress, morning and evening.
  • An Information Desk should be located where it is readily accessible to all congress attendees. A Bulletin Board will be a main part of the Information Center. It will serve for exchange of information among delegates. All adjustments in the printed program will be posted, such as changes in meeting rooms, replaced speakers, etc. The Information Desk should be operated from early morning until evening every day of the congress. All tourism information should be on hand, including maps, commercial tour brochures, and bus schedules. Large-scale maps can be posted to show the location of the hotel in relation to major points of interest. Local volunteers will be required to staff the information booth.
  • A very effective aid to visitors has been the preparation of written instructions on how to go, by auto or by public transportation, from the headquarters facility to the major points of interest, including shopping areas, restaurants, hospital, and tourism sites.
  • A separate sheet is prepared for each major tourism point of interest, showing how to combine hotel courtesy transportation with public busses where appropriate. Such written instructions probably will be clearer and more accurate than verbal instructions given at the desk, and they show a real effort made to help the congress guests.
  • A separate sheet should be prepared to list different types of restaurants, and bars, their menu type and their price range and location. This should be included in the registration packet.
  • A separate sheet should list local pharmacies, medical walk in clinics, hospital and walk in dentist etc. This should also be included in the registration packet.
  • A detailed map of the city relevant to the congress convention center should be included in the registration packet.
  • The city’s tourism department can help supply this information.
  • For Virtual Congress components, rooms where people can meet virtually need to be available. Encourage people to use these, perhaps by organizing a few key groups to hold informal chats in this space and advertise these on the first day of the Congress and other days.

Coffee/Tea Breaks or Nutrition Breaks

  • Locate in Information Market Place Show area.
  • Do not schedule Poster Session viewing during Coffee/Tea breaks
  • It is advisable to have an assortment of drinks for non-coffee/tea drinkers

Accompanying Partner Program

  • For in-person events, there should be some activities to attract accompanying persons to attend the congress. Some accompanying partners will be part of the pre and post congress tours. Accompany partner activities are not necessary for virtual components.
  • Accompanying partners should be invited to attend the opening ceremonies and opening reception (included in the Accompanying Person package cost).
  • A get acquainted session should be organized on the first day perhaps after the opening ceremonies. A local committee person needs to host this event. Refreshments could be served as means of introducing each other.
  • Representatives from the local tourism department should make a verbal presentation on possible things to do in the city with costs and transportation possibilities. These are local tours/activities of less than one day’s duration. The local host and the tourism staff will help the groups get organized for the activities that they are interested in for the duration of the week. The host would assist in arranging for transportation i.e. taxis, etc. The potential booking of passenger taxi vans would need to be done in advance.
  • Cost of tours or activities and transportation must pay for all expenses.
  • Do not duplicate mid-congress tours as the accompanying delegates should be invited to book and be part of these tours.
  • There would be an accompanying persons registration fee that would cover the costs of the reception, opening ceremonies, the social get together and the mid congress tours. The purchase of conference lunch tickets could be an option.

Social Activities

  • It is recommended that the congress hold a stand up catered reception with finger food and pay bar on the evening before the congress begins i.e. Sunday night. This is a means of getting people to meet and greet each other. Some simple short musical entertainment would be of benefit.
  • Allow delegates two evenings free from planned activities, the same two evenings as no meal functions planned.
  • The social nights with an appropriate name could be held preferably on the first and second full day of the congress. This is another way of people getting to meet each other. This could be an evening event at a local bar or pub or other facility that is within walking distance from the hotels or is relatively easy to transport the delegates to the venue.
  • It is suggested that the local organizing committee negotiate with the bar management or other suitable venue to basically take over the bar with the delegates for the evening. It would be a pay as you go event.
  • There could be a special drink price for the evening.
  • The bar management could provide some music for a portion of the evening and to allow conversation the remainder of the time.
  • There could be some contests with prizes/ draws. There could also be an auction of articles with proceeds going to the congress or a designated charity.
  • Food could be available and this could be as a cover charge or pay as you go or the bar could supply the food.
  • Some social activity should be considered for the online delegates, to facilitate networking. Some facilitation and/or a MC should be considered.

Special Meetings/Group Needs

  • To accommodate special groups, organizations or special meeting needs a call for space request should be in Second and subsequent Announcements.

Workshops Needs

  • Workshops are traditionally held on the Saturday and Sunday before the congress opening on Monday.
  • Workshops are the only activities planned for the Saturday and Sunday daytime and are reserved for Sponsoring organizations who have contributed substantial funding.
  • As part of the sponsorship activity some organizations might host a workshop, either in-person and/or online.
  • The congress would provide the room and audio-visual equipment and an operator. The sponsoring organization would be responsible for everything involved in the workshop. Coffee/tea/nutrition is the responsibility of the sponsoring organization.

Visa Needs/Processing

  • Include information in Second and Third Announcement on how to obtain a visa and which countries are affected. Also place this information on the web page. If there are VISA services companies that assist in obtaining visas this information
    should also be posted on the web site.
  • If an Invitation Letter will be needed by some people to secure visas, the letter could be automatically send to delegates when they register and/or when their paper is accepted.

Accident and Liability Insurance

  • There is a need for the Congress Committee Organization to carry adequate accident and liability insurance.

Registration Desk and Congress Bags

  • The local arrangements committee will arrange for voluntary staff to operate the registration desk during the congress; students from local universities can be a good option.
  • It is recommended that the registration desk open at Saturday noon and remain open during the conference hours of the entire congress. Special assistance will need to be provided to workshop participants who will be in attendance on Saturday workshops if they occur that day. An online desk is needed for any virtual component, and an email help line needs to be available well before the Congress starts.
  • Prior to the start of the congress a registration package for each delegate must be prepared. It would include the conference registration form and receipt of payment, all tour and meal tickets and name badge and the conference proceeding USB memory stick. The last name followed by first name should be printed at the top on the outside of the registration package envelope for easy distribution.
  • An online Registration package should be available with key brochures and information.
  • Information about the rangelands in the host country should be considered. This does need to be organized at least 12 months before the Congress, perhaps by enlisting the help of a local university.
  • The registration packages to be organized in alphabetical order and grouped together in groups of relatively equal numbers i.e. last names A,B one gr oup; C,D another group, etc.
  • There needs to be several lines depending upon numbers for delegates to line up to receive their registration package; i.e. last names starting with A,B,C,D,E one line etc. etc. Need relatively equal numbers for each line. The alphabetical letters of names for the various lines needs to be high above the registration desks for easy visibility.
  • Need to have a special desk location for onsite registrations. Need printed name badges.
  • Speakers need to be informed on when and where they will meet their session chair person. This could be done at a specified time in the speaker preparation room.
  • It is advisable to have counter height registration desks. A simple way to make these is to extend the legs of an ordinary long fold up table with a 2 ft (approximate) piece of ABS pipe over the existing metal table leg. Cloth drapery can be used to cover up the space below the raised table.
  • Congress bag and congress program booklet should be arranged as a joint effort of the fund-raising committee. This could be a sponsored item. The bag with program booklet could contain pens, writing pads, a list of recommended restaurants with menu style, and location, the list of pharmacies, hospitals and walk in medical clinics and dentists, local and regional maps. All the above items could be placed on a table in the registration area and the delegates could then select the items that they need. This is much simpler that having pre-stuffed congress bags.
  • Any virtual component needs a Registration desk, which is easy to see on the Opening Page of online Congress platform.

PROGRAM COMMITTEE

The Program subcommittee is responsible for planning, scheduling and delivery of the program including:

  • Developing a program theme
  • Schedule for the Week, including any virtual program
  • Opening and Closing Ceremonies
  • Arranging and supporting Keynote/Invited Speakers
  • Program Timelines
  • Planning the Session Format, including concurrent and poster sessions, and workshops
  • Scheduling the IRC Business Meetings
  • organizing a Rangeland User Forum (if held).
  • Organize or encourage another organization to host an event or Congress session specifically for pastoralists, perhaps consider Indigenous pastoralists
  • Ensure any Awards ceremonies are appropriately scripted, especially the online component (online recommended for this activity to allow remote pastoralists to attend).

Program Theme

  • The role of the Congress Theme is to direct the general theme of the plenary papers and be referred to in the various sessions, especially in the closing papers. It needs to shape the program in a significant way.
  • Program and publications sub-committees should work together to avoid overlaps and enhance the smooth implementation of the congress program.

Schedule for the Week

  • The program committee should develop sessions that include Ecology, Production/ Management and Social/Policy topics that related to all types of rangelands.
  • The congress generally opens on Sunday with workshops during the day Sunday and perhaps Saturday as well, and the opening reception is on Sunday evenings.
  • Plenary sessions are usually held at least each morning followed by concurrent sessions.
  • Poster presentations as they relate to the session topics are usually held late each afternoon with the authors present; often 2 or more sessions to allow for all posters to be viewed.
  • The IRC Business Meeting is held on the Monday (one hour) and Friday (two hours) mornings. No other planned activities at this time. Online participation should be considered.
  • The mid congress tours are held on the entire day Wednesday with no other sessions or events planned that day.
  • The concluding or summary sessions and congress closing is late Friday afternoon.
  • The congress banquet is held on the Friday evening.

Awards Ceremonies

  • Awards Ceremonies could be at the Banquet dinner (Friday evening).
  • Recommend running an online component for Awards Ceremonies to allow remote pastoralists to participate
  • Coordinate with IRC Continuing Committee and other pastoral organizations, including those who have run Awards Ceremonies previously
  • Online Awards ceremonies could be at the dinner.
  • All online Awards Ceremonies should be carefully scripted and need to have test run in conjunction with someone from the Program committee and someone from the online Production Company, to ensure the ceremony is concise and not boring, while acknowledging the details of the work done by local pastoralists.
  • Video clips (of no longer than 3 minutes) could be incorporated, but these must be provided to the Production Company at least 4 weeks prior to the Congress for quality checking and up-loading. Using internet connections from multiple countries to show videos is not recommended!

Opening Ceremony

  • The opening ceremonies should highlight the host country through plenary speakers that describe (visually) the history, geography, the agriculture and grazing/ livestock/ wildlife/recreational lands, the people, and the economic and demographics of the area.
  • Opening plenary session could feature rangeland managers from different eco regions of the host country to present the year- round story of their operation.
  • A high-profile dignitary representing the country and the region could be invited to participate. Additional speeches should be kept to a minimum.
  • For the opening ceremonies a party relating to the people and culture of the host country might lead the dignitaries to the opening ceremony. Representatives of Government officials and Indigenous people might be invited for the party.
  • Consideration should be given to broadcasting at least some parts of this online. Such video footage could be considered as promotional material for dignitaries to use elsewhere, and they be able to provide a video crew to support this.

Closing ceremony

  • There should be a summary paper from each of the major themes (ecology, production and social/policy) presented at the closing ceremony based on the information presented at the congress.
  • Potential summary presentation speakers need to be identified early in the planning process, at least 6 months prior to the Congress. The summary of the information presented at the congress is the most important aspect of the congress proceedings. This information should be sent to delegates via email following the congress.
  • These summary presenters should have access to the invited review papers from each day’s plenary presentations, concurrent sessions plus other relevant material
    from poster sessions prior to the congress in order to prepare the presentation.
  • These summary presentations should include conclusions coming from the congress and some recommendations on the management of the worlds rangelands. This is the most important function of the congress.
  • Closing session could conclude with announcements of international events from all continents, as well as highlighting the next congress.

International Scientific Speakers Committee

  • Establish an International Scientific Speakers Committee to assist with such activities as identifying keynote/invited speakers, sub-theme co-chairs, co-conveners, paper review committee, etc. The IRC Continuing Committee could be part of this group and/or suggest names of individuals to serve on this committee.

Keynote/Invited Speakers

  • All papers, including keynote/invited as well as volunteer papers, will be published in English but could be presented in either English or the local language of the host country, assuming simultaneous translation of these two languages occurs for all sessions. Simultaneous translation will be very expensive.
  • The online platform must be indicated for receiving all oral and written papers, abstracts and presentations. The format for recorded presentations needs to be provided, as well as Guidelines for how to record your own presentation (see Appendix for draft Guidelines)
  • It is suggested that for each sub theme, that one or two internationally known speakers be asked to present a SCIENTIFIC REVIEW paper on the topic as a Plenary presentation. The speakers should not highlight their own research. The review paper should be broad in scope and cover information from various regions of the world. One speaker could present the information from the northern hemisphere and the other speaker could present the topic from the southern hemisphere.
  • Representation from Northern and Southern hemisphere, developing nations and gender of invited speakers for the various topic areas needs to be addressed.

Program Timelines

Need to establish deadline dates for the following points:

  • A draft program will be included in the bid. This needs to be revised per suggestions by the IRC Continuing Committee soon after the bid is accepted.
  • The program committee will develop the overall congress program with the various sub themes for the concurrent sessions. This needs to be done as soon as possible so that the information can be included in the call for papers. It is suggested that this be completed two years in advance of the congress so that the first call for papers go out 18 months before the congress.
  • Each theme needs to have international input to find suitable speakers. Perhaps each theme could have a committee with one local and one international person involved; these people need to be briefed on program intent and obligations to sponsors. This committee could seek recommendations for possible invited theme speakers and eventually decides on the actual invited speakers.
  • The invited speakers committee is advised by the Finance committee on funds available for invited speakers travel expenses.
  • Each theme needs to identify lead speaker(s) and session chair’s (one for in-person sessions; and 2 for each virtual session, one Chair and one back-up chair for the online sessions) for each theme plenary presentation and each session and invitations extended.
  • Call for Papers will be in the Third and subsequent Announcements. See previous timelines under Committee Co-Chairs and Secretariat.
  • There will be far more oral requested volunteer papers submitted than program space available. These papers will need to be scrutinized for the most appropriate presentations, as oral or as posters.
  • There also may be gaps in the scope of volunteer papers submitted, and some additional papers may need to be sought.
  • Begin feeding volunteer papers (abstracts) submitted to the publications committee for review and to appropriate sub-theme co-chairs as soon as they are received.
  • Program committee decides on format for individual session including how posters will be utilized.
  • Final confirmation of plenary speakers and invited session speakers follows recommendations provided by sub-theme committee.
  • Final provision of voluntary papers to sub-theme committee and publications review committee to determine acceptance and session allocation.
  • Program committee will decide which abstracts/papers will be oral presentations and which papers at poster presentations.
  • Program committee submits 2 programs. One draft program needs to be up-loaded onto the website 12-18 months before the Congress. The complete program is developed by theme co-chairs. This is distributed by email and placed on the web site two months before the congress. This final program for the congress will include the authors/presenters names and title of oral presentation or poster and the presentation location or room number.
  • Delegates need to have paid their registration at least 6 weeks before the congress in order to have their abstract or paper printed in the congress proceedings. See information about Delegate Support process and emails under the heading “18 months before the Congress”.

Support for Keynote Speakers and Procedure for Payment

  • Total payment to all keynote invited speakers must not exceed the amount in the budget.
  • Program Committee must negotiate with each keynote speakers (those invited to give the review papers) the amount that they will require for support.
  • Some speakers will be able to provide all of their own support, some speakers will need considerable support. This should have been discussed with each speaker at the time of inviting them as speakers. The attempt should be to ask the speaker to fund as much of his/her costs as possible to allow the sponsorship funds to support other needy delegates.
  • No promises should be made to any speaker until the entire list of speakers is considered and the total amount requested known.
  • Once the entire list of speakers is considered and the total expenditure does not exceed the budget each speaker will be contacted by the Program Committee to agree with each speaker the amount of support he/she will receive.
  • Payment to invited speakers will be as follows:
    • If Complimentary Registration is promised, the Program Committee informs the Local Registration Committee of the list of those who have been promised Complimentary Registration. The Program Committee instructs the invited speaker to select “Complimentary Registration” on the registration line of the Registration form when the speaker registers for the Congress. As registrations are received by the Local Registration Committee the Local Committee checks those showing “Complimentary” against the list supplied by the Program Committee. Thus, no cash is delivered to the invited speaker for registration.
    • Those to receive support for housing at the Congress will have their hotel bills paid directly by the Local Committee and thus no cash is delivered to the invited speaker. Note: No housing support should be provided for invited speakers on pre- or post-congress tours.
    • Those to receive support for travel will be reimbursed, similar to possible Delegate Support applicants, when the invited speaker arrives at the Congress. Invited speakers and Delegate support individuals will be asked to purchase their own economy class tickets up front to be reimbursed at the Congress. In the rare instance where they are unable to purchase their own tickets the Finance Committee will be informed and will arrange with that invited speaker. The invited review paper speakers will be reimbursed for their travel expenses in US dollars after they have presented their paper at the congress and the written review paper has been received and accepted by the publications committee prior to the congress.

Session Format

  • In terms of format we need to think about how we can get more participation from the delegates. In most sessions we have the traditional plenary papers with perhaps one or two offered papers with questions and a general discussion. Another option is to have one session with a few short papers to introduce the topic and then break up into small groups to discuss particular aspects and then have a short reporting back session. This could lead to more interaction between
    the delegates and allowed everyone to participate. This, of course, needs more work by the session conveners but we should encourage more imagination in the format of sessions.
  • Have short, focused presentations and allow time for discussion groups. A 15-minute presentation is usually long enough for the speaker to make the key points. Discussion groups let the audience be involved. This would allow the number of oral presentations to be increased.
  • Special consideration should be given to more papers presented by developing country scientists. We need thoughts from a greater range of countries and women. We are often dominated by South Africans, Americans and Australians.
  • Consideration should be given to activities and sessions that address the needs and interests of pastoralists and other land managers of the rangelands. Culturally appropriate activities in a context where local people feel comfortable should be considered, even away from the Congress venue (on Wednesday, at the Opening ceremony, and the Banquet dinner can all be considered). Indigenous or Traditional pastoralists need to be considered, especially those from the host country. Meeting and hearing from local pastoralists and land managers can be a highlight of Congresses.

Concurrent Sessions

  • Need a session chairperson for each session to introduce the speakers and monitor speaker’s time limits. Chairs and back-up Chairs are needed for online sessions, if these are live, but not if only “play-back” of presentations is provided.
  • Training of Chairs and Presenters is critical for a successful in-person or virtual congress.
  • Consideration needs to be given to what components will be provided virtually. Even with an in-person Congress, will all presenters need to be in-person; or could some people be allowed to present electronically.
  • Provision of a backroom for preparations of Chairs and session presenters is very important, both in-person and online presenters.
  • Concurrent Sessions would occur Monday after the opening IRC Business Meeting and the plenary session. Sessions would also occur after Plenary sessions, for most of the day on Tues, Thurs, and on Friday morning.
  • The program committee needs to decide if there are volunteer paper submissions of relevance to the sub theme concurrent sessions and are of value to be included in the sub session presentations. There would be no financial travel remuneration for these speakers unless they are considered for delegate support.
  • There could also be a speaker selected from the volunteer papers selected to present a more in depth review of the session topic at the start of the session.
  • Volunteer papers must be reviewed and acceptance or rejection made to authors at least six months before congress date, or earlier if possible. Some delegates will require 12 months’ notice of acceptance in order to get permission to attend the congress. Having an early date for a call for papers allows these individuals time to complete the process they must. Those who do not need or heed the early call for papers still have adequate time to submit their paper later. The deadline for submission is the critical date, not the call for papers. If the deadline set is too early it can always be extended.
  • Need careful identification and use of key words to determine congress sessions for papers, and the use of key words to define the joint sessions.
  • Sessions need to be focused on putting together and synthesizing common principles.
  • It is recommended that the concurrent sessions start at 8.00 am and 1.30 pm, leaving 1 ½ hours for lunch.
  • During the session the Session Chair persons will enforce strict adherence to the timing of the papers as listed in the printed Program. This is to give delegates the opportunity to attend specific presentations during the time intervals specified in the Program. Strict timing is critical for any online component; any recorded presentations must start playing at the nominated times.
  • Each session chair persons should be given the following mandatory rules:
  • Each presentation of a paper, along with discussion, must be terminated ahead of the time period scheduled for the next paper. The five minute and one-minute warning must be used.
  • Presentation of a paper must never be moved ahead of its scheduled time period, unless advised on the daily up-dates (and then to be avoided if possible).
  • The Session Chairperson should have on hand an alternate paper, or a planned discussion period, to fill any vacated time period resulting from absence of a scheduled speaker.
  • Topics must attract people interested in all areas of rangeland management (native range, temperate, tropical, polar grass and grazing lands, seeded pastures, intensive grazing, extensive grazing, wildlife, recreational and social uses of these lands, grazing land reclamation from oil well, mining, power line, pipe lines, road building past and present activities, government policy, park/ game park/ wild life, etc. from around the world).
  • Topics must attract land managers, policy makers and scientists.
  • Topics suggested from previous congresses include but are not limited to:
  • use of remote sensing and GIS in the management of grazing lands in various parts of the world.
  • computer applications of decision support systems to aid in grazing land management.
  • new ideas and methods in technology transfer or information transfer/ extension education for management of grazing lands.
  • topics that include intensive grazing management as well as extensive grazing management.
  • topics that include wildlife habitat, grazing management, and wild life/ cattle grazing interaction and conflict resolution.
  • topics that include the recreational and social use and conflict resolution of grazing lands around the world. Nomadic Maasai in Kenya vs big game companies and government: paid hunting on ranches in USA makes a very large portion on the ranch income.
  • examples of range land transfer and ownership in all countries.
  • wild life management and promotion of habitat.
  • topics involving land restoration of abandoned mines, oil wells, power line and pipeline corridors.
  • resources/land tenure and transhumance.
  • political decision making on rangelands.
  • fire science.
  • conservation at the expense of local land "owners”.
  • grazing land (range and grass land) education is in transition / decline?
  • the link between grazing land science and policy, focusing on how rangeland science can help in the development of policy with perhaps some examples of how this has been done successfully, or even examples of where it has not worked and why.
  • include native grass seed issues needed to be considered in the plant breeding session.
  • celebration of grazing land peoples including social issues, indigenous peoples, minorities.
  • success stories.
  • conservation areas. How managed, difference in management strategies, from communal area management. Include "strict" biology known on wildlife species. Integrate wildlife, livestock, crops and people.
  • ecological sustainability with the example of moving people to rehabilitate land.
  • integrated forage and grazing systems.
  • "Ideas".
  • addressing the increasing divergence of commercial livestock production and biodiversity issues.
  • grazing land end-users can be included for sharing their experience on the landscape.
  • key topics like “Political instability and extremism: its impact on rangeland and grassland management” need to be proactively solicited
  • current rangeland issues and innovations are likely to emerge, depending on the context at the time of the Congress.

Poster Sessions

  • Authors invest time and effort into developing their posters and anticipate the opportunity to engage with delegates on their topics. As such, posters should be an integral aspect of the congress, and not simply and ‘add-on’.
  • To maximize poster viewing, an option is to call participants back to the concurrent session room following review of posters where the session chair would summarize the posters and the invited speaker’s presentations to the session audience at the conclusion of the poster viewing.
  • Value posters more. Have a prize for the best poster(s) and make a big thing of it.
  • Allow adequate time for poster viewing.
  • Encourage session chair persons to highlight the key points from the relevant posters at the summary session.
  • Report the findings in the conclusion of the sub theme session and in the closing plenary papers.
  • Provide specific times for posters in specific sessions with involvement of authors. This can be incorporated into time allocated for the entire session with keynote speakers, oral presentations, posters and discussion all included in the allotted time slot.
  • Require poster authors to be at their posters at specific time periods for discussion.
  • Do not include poster viewing only during coffee/tea breaks and evening cocktails.
  • Poster viewing online could be open for longer time periods; but presenters of posters only need be available for set time periods, determined by the Program Committee. Email address could be provided for presenters online.
  • Provide pamphlet boxes on display boards for poster authors to offer full publication of their poster.

Workshops

  • Various agencies as part of the fundraising process might want to host a workshop for their organization as part of the congress. These workshops will be held on the opening Saturday and Sunday. The agency sponsoring the workshop is responsible for all aspects of the workshop. Workshops should be well advertised and should be open to all delegates.
  • The cost of the room rental, the audio-visual equipment and the complementary registrations associated with sponsorship must be calculated into the master congress budget.
  • Coffee break costs should be left to the sponsoring organization to provide. This needs to be made clear in the sponsorship materials.

IRC Business Meetings

  • The Congress business meetings are held on the Monday morning and the Friday afternoon. No other activities should be planned during this time as all delegates should attend this meeting. Online participation should be considered.
  • Business Meetings are the responsibility of the IRC Continuing Committee.

Rangeland User Forum

  • This event highlights the land users from different eco regions of the world. Their presentations would consist mainly of pictures telling about their operation. It would include their family activities and involvement, the history of their operation, their aspirations for the future, the economics of their operation and their year-round time table of activities on their operation.

Virtual (on-line) formats

Different approaches to Congresses need to be considered given the potential for international pandemics and global conflicts, which can develop quickly. The Kenyan Congress in 2021 transitioned quickly to a virtual (on-line) format due to the global COVID-19 Pandemic. Many conferences develop a hybrid format, so that the congress can broaden delegate participation, and enable a rapid pivot if is absolutely necessary.

All Congresses rely on a strong program, excellent keynote and volunteered presentations, and delegate participation, so much of the planning is generic to any format. However, the ways to achieve a good Virtual Congress differs in many ways from a face-to-face congress. Hybrid congresses, with all or most sessions available in both formats, are probably the most expensive to run, as two formats need to be developed, each having specific requirements. An all-virtual Congress is probably the cheapest, although the cost of a virtual production company is significant.

Various combinations of in-person and virtual sessions are possible, and this needs to be determined by the LOC for each host country. One alternative to a full hybrid congress, with all presentations livestreamed, is to hold a networking viewing event at the host location. This can include in-person social functions, meals etc. In this case, all presenters will deliver their talks on-line and the host location needs to include large viewing screens and good quality speakers for the audience. Presenters attending the congress will need on-site ‘studios’ to present from, with good quality hardware and a stable internet connection. Other “hubs” can be set-up to facilitate some face-to-face networking within regions or countries.

Developing an integrated package, with in-person and virtual components from the start is recommended. This allows the opportunity to adjust quickly. Integrating the registration of delegate interest in the Congress, payments, generation of email lists, the editorial process for submissions and frequent email communications is important. The extra cost will reduce the work-load for the volunteer committee and allow them to focus on other aspects of delivering the conference. It is important to budget for an integrated platform from the start and seek flexibility to scale up or scale down needs in the pricing package.

Registration fees: Options for in-person and virtual participation needs to developed early. Fees should encourage in-person participation, but have a scaled approach so as to not disadvantage remote communities who may only wish to attend one of the Awards Ceremonies.

Attracting delegates: It is recommended to maximize the number of in-person delegates at the host nation location. This can be achieved by having a full hybrid congress, with live presentations from the host venue and broadcast through an on-line platform to a global audience.

Virtual production company: A full or part hybrid congress requires good quality on-site audio-visual equipment and operators. This will usually require paid professionals, but other options could include seeking in-kind sponsorship from local AV companies, training for interested committee members, or accessing student training schemes.

It is highly recommended to have a Master of Ceremonies (MC) to keep track of session timing, make announcements for the audience and introduce Keynote speakers and “Theme” presenters. One MC will be needed for the overall congress, with additional Chairs for each concurrent session.

Presentations can be delivered live from anywhere with a stable internet connection. They can also be pre-recorded. There is no set mix of live and pre-recorded presentations, but consider:

  • Live presentations can still convey a sense of real time participation for the audience and can include live questions and answer or polling to keep delegates engaged. Keynote/plenary presentations should generally be delivered live.
  • Presenters with older hardware or an unstable/slow internet connection should be encouraged to pre-record their presentations.
  • Presenters should be given the final choice of live or pre-recorded, depending on their experience and preference for live or recorded talks over a virtual platform.
  • Pre-recorded presentations need to be scheduled and played on-time to avoid sessions becoming out of order.
  • Pre-recorded presentations can be recorded in a rangeland setting, adding extra interest for the audience.
  • Pre-recorded presentations may also be a recording of the presenter delivering a PowerPoint presentation in front of an audience, or simply the presenter recording their PowerPoint on the computer. Try to avoid too many presentations which are only a PowerPoint, which are less engaging for an on-line audience.
  • Asking all presenters to pre-record their presentations as back-up for technical failure of a live presentation is essential. These can also be made available to delegates who could not attend for a small fee.
  • Pre-recorded presentations can still have the author present live during their talk, and able to answer questions in real time.
  • A mix of lengths for presentations with 25-30 minutes for keynotes, 15 minutes for volunteered, and 3-5 minute short-format ‘lightning’ talks can keep the audience interested.
  • Maintaining interest with online formats is a challenge, and there are many tools to do this, which can also be fun for in-person delegates.
  • Recording live presentations and making all talks available for at least 3-6 months after the event.

All presenters will require technical training and rehearsals, including advice on lighting, audio quality, and the presentation of themselves (clothing) and their surroundings (choose a location that is not distracting or use a high-quality virtual background). Any live sessions, such as Panel discussions or Awards ceremonies need to have test runs, to check the flow, make sure presenters understand what is required and make sure the session is interesting for both in-person and on-line delegates. Remind presenters that this is an international congress, not simply an on-line meeting.

Presentation formats

It is important to allow an on-line audience time to take comfort breaks instead of missing portions of the sessions. It is easy for an on-line audience to disengage from the presentations and harder to attract them back in real-time. However, recording all sessions and making them available to delegates does allow people to view the presentations later, or at a time that best suits their time zone.

Base content on a ‘triplet’ of three 15-minute-long presentations and a 15-minute-long panel discussion with all three presenters and facilitated by a content expert, and:

  • Master of Ceremony introductions
  • questions for each presenter (top 2-3 questions up voted by the audience)
  • a 5–10-minute comfort break.

This basic ‘building block’ should total 1 hour and 15 minutes.

Note: on-line and in-person attendees have similar requirements for regular short breaks (2-5 minutes) between presentation triplets, whilst on-line delegates require more opportunities and time for networking.

Sessions should be allocated for poster presentations, which needs to be available in a viewing ‘room’ as part of the virtual platform. Poster presenters will expect to have time devoted to viewing, and for typed or spoken chat facilities for delegates to ask questions.

Many conferences are now using short-form ‘lightning’ presentations to allow more presenters and keep the audience interested. Lightning presentations are well suited to on-line conferences but posters still have a place. Authors should be provided the option to deliver the content they are most skilled at producing. Dedicated viewing times are still needed for presenters to feel their contribution is valued and to encourage interaction with delegates.

Trade displays, workshops, meeting spaces and breakout sessions

Trade displays, workshops, meeting spaces and breakout sessions can all be included in a virtual congress. On-line delegates may not proactively seek out trade displays and posters. Many platforms include incentives, such as prizes or games, to encourage delegates to explore all components of the congress. These should be used as much as possible, especially to draw delegates to trade displays of sponsors who will expect a return on their investment. Providing free Exhibition space is one of the “benefits” for sponsorship, and sponsors need to get visitors to ensure they feel that their contribution is worthwhile for their organization or company. Other opportunities to “advertise” their organization/company needs to be considered, to ensure sponsors feel that they are well looked after.

On-line workshop and breakout sessions are more challenging on-line than in-person and require careful planning and resourcing. Thorough planning, thought and communication is needed to ‘on-board’ conference delegates to join on-line discussion groups. Some fun and even somewhat controversial topics could be included in discussion groups early in the program, so that delegates become familiar with the opportunities to connect with others.

Many platforms offer technology to allow delegates and exhibitors to request appointments with each other, or networking spaces to meet in. To be successful, all delegates need to be informed of these options, and given the opportunity for training or testing prior to the congress starting.

Communications

Clear and regular communication is essential for a virtual congress, including social media for promotion and email of instructions for presenters and delegates to access the on-line platform. Regular communication is very important if there are any global concerns that may make delegates hesitate to register or submit papers. Concerns need to acknowledge, not considered as irrelevant. Delegates will decide to not attend if there is a vacuum of information.

Provide instructions on:

  • Registration
  • Presenter hardware requirements
  • How to access the on-line platform, including personalized links
  • Presenter training for the on-line platform
  • A platform preview day for all delegates

Email clear instructions to authors on how to prepare poster submissions (an A0 pdf poster), pre-recorded Lightning Slidecasts (5-minute long PowerPoint narrated recordings) and full oral (15-minute long) pre-recorded or live presentations. Registration information is included in these emails. (Appendices provide examples of Guidelines which can be adapted)

Staffing

Highly skilled and technically trained staff are needed to host the on-line platform. It is recommended to engage a professional production company who is skilled in using the on-line platform. Volunteers can assist in roles such as MC, concurrent session chairs for a hybrid congress, both on-line and in-person.

Delegate Mobile App

It is highly recommended to choose a platform with an integrated mobile app for:

  • Hosting the program
  • Viewing presentations, posters etc from a mobile device
  • Meeting and chat functions
  • Hosting question and answer sessions
  • Polling and voting functions

It is important to prepare live-polling questions well in advance of the conference, and ask authors to submit questions for polling during the presentation submission process, to ensure polls can be set up and tested in a conference or polling app. Live polls are engaging for audiences and also provide valuable feedback to presenters and organizers.

PUBLICATIONS COMMITTEE

The Publications subcommittee is responsible for:

  • Implementing the paper submission and review process
  • Instructing authors with the paper presentation format
  • Publishing the Congress Program Booklet
  • Publishing the Congress proceedings.

IMPORTANT:

  • The deadline for paper submission should be 6 months before the congress. If necessary, this could be extended to four or five months before congress, keeping in mind that there has to be sufficient time for the review process.

Details of key tasks are below.

Paper Submission Process

  • It is very important to post instructions and an example of a correctly formatted submission on the congress web site, as well as emailing to potential delegates and/or organizations (emails to individuals have a MUCH better response rate than generic emails to organizations)
  • The official language of the International Rangeland Congress is English.
  • Papers should be lodged electronically, with submission by email if necessary. Abstract, paper and poster lodgment must be acknowledged, either via the Congress platform or via email. Only papers in final form should be sent. Only papers written in the standard format will be accepted.
  • A maximum of two (2) papers will be accepted from any one corresponding/lead author.
  • Papers describing programs and projects should focus on what was done and restrict background information such as the description of organization/institution/country to a minimum.
  • All offered papers could be peer-reviewed by experts, or peer review could be left until key papers are selected for publication of Special Issues of Journals.
  • The selection criteria will include: (i) Relevance to the congress theme and sessions; (ii) Significance of information and enriching current state of knowledge; (iii) Originality and novelty; (iv) Structure and clarity; (v) Scientific validity.

Presentation Format

  • Presentations at the congress will be in either Oral or Poster format. Allow for indication of preference for oral or poster presentation in submission. The Editorial Committee retains the right to decide whether the abstract is more suited for Oral or Poster presentation.
  • Authors who have papers accepted for Oral presentations should prepare a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation and a recording of their presentation to be submitted at least 4 weeks before the Congress.
  • Presenting authors, both Oral and Poster, will receive detailed instruction about congress computing facilities, requirements and appropriate guidelines prior to the congress. Oral presenters are limited to 13 minutes plus 2 minutes of audience questions & discussion.

Paper Submission dates

  • Paper submission will be open 18 months before congress, and close 6 months before congress. One extension for Submissions is a good idea, with 5 or 4 months being the final cut-off date. Keep in mind that there has to be sufficient time for the review process. Submissions will not be accepted after the closing date/time.

Paper & Recording guidelines

  • Guidelines need to be provided on the web-site and via email for [1] written Abstract/Paper, [2] Posters and [3] Format and how to record presentations (some examples in Appendices)
  • All papers should be typed and formatted in Microsoft (MS) Word (.docx) format in digital form. The MS Word version and a PDF version should both be provided through the LOC nominated process.
  • Unless mentioned otherwise, all text should be single spaced. The font should be Times New Roman Font size 11 in single column. A4 size (letter) paper with uniform margin of 25 mm (1 inch) on all four sides should be used. Left and right justified typing is preferred. The headings should be bold in font size 11. Do not apply page numbering or line numbering.

Paper length:

  • Abstracts can be a maximum of one page
  • Offered papers can be a maximum of two pages (maximum 1000 words).
  • The length of invited papers needs to be determined by the Publications Committee.
  • Longer papers should be requested for Special Editions of Journals related to Keynotes speakers, topics or themes of the Congress.

Title and key words block:

  • The title should be centered at top of the first page. Font type should be Times New Roman, size 14 points, bold and single spaced. After one blank line, type the corresponding author’s name, affiliation, mailing address, an e-mail address followed by the name, affiliation, and mailing address of all collaborating authors; all authors’ details should be in upper- and lower-case letters, centered under the title in Times New Roman Font size 12.
  • Key words: Leave one blank line under the Title. Type "Key words:" flush left in bold letters, followed by a maximum of five (5) key words that are not a part of the title. These are placed below the author’s name and before the body of the text.

Main body of text:

  • Type text single-spaced, Times New Roman, Font size 11, with one blank line between paragraphs, and the following Major headings in bold print: Introduction, Materials & Methods, Results & Discussion, Conclusions & Implications, and References sections. Start paragraphs flush with the left margin.

Headings:

  • All headings should be typed using upper- and lower-case letters in Times New Roman font size 11 in bold without underlining. Major headings: Major headings should be flush with the left margin followed by a single line space.
  • Sub-headings: Type sub-headings flush with the left margin, in bold italics, capitalizing the first letter of the sub-heading.

Footnotes:

  • Avoid footnotes, but if needed, then mark footnotes in the text with an asterisk (*); use a double asterisk (**) for a second footnote on the same page. Place footnotes at the bottom of the page, separated from the text above it by a horizontal line.

Illustrations:

  • A maximum of three (3) figures/charts/graphs/tables/photographs may be embedded within the paper.
  • All tables with number and caption should be placed directly within the text. Figures: All figures must be in digital form in the appropriate location in the document. Photographs: All photographs should be in jpeg/jpg format and numbered accordingly. Placement: Tables, Figures, photographs etc. must be placed in the appropriate location in the document, as close as practicable to the reference in the text.

Captions:

  • All captions should be typed in upper- and lower-case letters, centered directly above tables and below figures and photographs. Use single spacing if they use more than one line. All captions are to be numbered consecutively (Fig. 1, Fig. 2, Table 1, Table 2).

Copyright:

  • If the article contains any copyrighted illustrations or imagery, please include a statement of copyright such as: (c) SPOT Image Copyright 19xx (fill in year), CNES. It will be the author’s responsibility to obtain any necessary copyright permission.

Equations, symbols and units:

  • Equations should be numbered consecutively throughout the paper. The equation number should be enclosed in parentheses. One blank line should be left before and after equations.
  • Symbols and units: Use the SI (Systeme Internationale) Units and Symbols. Unusual characters or symbols should be explained as footnote.

References and/or selected bibliography:

  • A maximum of 5 references should be provided. References should be cited in the text, thus (Smith, 1987b; Kawamura et al., 2000), and listed in alphabetical order in the reference section, leaving a blank line between references. The following arrangements should be used:

References from Journals:

Stanford, G., Smith, S.J., 1972.Nitrogen mineralization potential of soil. Science Society America Journal 36,465-472.

Kawamura, K., Akiyama,T., Watanabe,O., 2000. Estimation of aboveground biomass in Xilingol steppe using NOAA/NDVI. Grassland Science 49(1): 1-9.

Names of journals can be abbreviated according to the "International List of Periodical TitleWord Abbreviations". In case of doubt, write names in full.

Reference to articles in conference proceedings:

Kosta, L. D., S. D. Upadhyay and M. K. Awasthi. 2000. Guava based agroforestry system for rainfed agro ecosystem. In: Proc. International Conference on Managing Natural Resources for Sustainable Agricultural Production in the 21st Century (Feb.14-18, 2000), New Delhi.

References from books:

Bogdan, A.V., 1977.Tropical Pasture and Fodder Plants. London: Longman, 205-212.

Robson, M. J., Sheehy, J. E., 1981. Leaf area and light interception. In: Hodgson J, Baker R D, Davies A, et al. Sward Measurement Handbook. Berkshire: British Grassland Society, 115-139.

Articles in edited books:

Tran, V. N. and A. K. Cavangh. 1984. Structural aspects of dormancy. In: D. R. Murray (ed). Seed Physiology, vol. 2. Germination and ReserveMobilization, Academic Press. Sydney. pp. 1-44.

Robson, M. J. and J. E. Sheehy, 1981. Leaf area and light interception. In: Hodgson J, Baker R D, Davies A, et al. Sward Measurement Handbook. Berkshire: British Grassland Society, 115-139.

References from other literature:

Smith, J., 1987.Economic printing of color orthophotos. Arlington, VA, USA: Report KRL-01234, Kennedy Research Laboratories.

Smith, J., 2000.Remote sensing to predict volcano out bursts. In: The International Archives of the Photogrammetry, Remote Sensing and Spatial Information Sciences Kyoto, Japan: Vol. XXVII, Part B1, 456-469.

References from websites:

Moons, T., 1999.Report on the Joint ISPRS Commission III/IV Workshop “3D Reconstruction and Modelling of Topographic Objects”, Stuttgart, Germany[EB/OL]. http://www.radig.informatik.tu-muenchen.de/ISPRS/WG-III4-IV2-Report.html.

Unpublished articles:

Articles in preparation or unpublished observations should not be included in the reference list but may be mentioned in the article text (e.g. Singh, pers. comment.).

Paper Review Process

  • The Publications Committee will be responsible for the review of all papers and abstracts (if the latter are requested), electronic publication of the scientific review papers, the congress proceedings, the Congress Program Booklet and the daily congress newsletter.
  • All papers will be printed in English.
  • Use authors from the host country and individuals throughout the world who have published in relevant scientific journals to review the invited review papers and volunteer abstracts.
  • Involve many experts (50-75) to review the papers. These can be identified with the help from the International Scientific Committee., if one is established. This could be an informal group of people to make suggestions for Reviewers.
  • Reviewers must make sure that all papers are formatted correctly according to instructions posted on the web site. This is extremely important otherwise it will cost considerable labor to have the congress secretary make the formatting corrections.
  • Reviewers are asked for summative judgments on acceptance of a paper:
    • Accept as is (minor corrections can be made by the reviewer)
    • Accept with minor revisions to be made by the author(s) (please specify using Track Changes mode in MS Word)
    • Accept after major revisions (specify using Track Changes mode in MS Word)
    • Reject (specify the major reason)
  • Reviewers are also asked to be very careful when giving reject judgment to a paper. The number of rejected papers should be minimized.
  • Each reviewer will be asked to review some 10 to 15 papers of one-page-length (A4 size), and to accomplish the review task and return all the reviewed papers 5 months before the congress dates. The publications committee needs to decide on this completion date.
  • A template Invitation to Review Paper letter is provided in Appendix D.
  • Guidelines for Authors are in Appendix E, F, G and H.

Congress Program Booklet

  • The program committee will develop the entire congress program and present this information to the Publications Committee for printing. Liaison between these 2 Committees at regular intervals is recommended from the formation of the committees.
  • The booklet should include names of all invited speakers, the name of their presentations, the location and time of presentation, the list of posters with author’s name and abstract titles and poster board number/location. Information for the website, including photos and Bios of the Keynote and “Theme” speakers should be provided at least 12 months before the Congress. Providing information as it comes to hand makes the web-site look more dynamic, do not want until all information is assembled.
  • The booklet should include the day to day congress program, logos of all sponsors, the names of the IRC Continuing Committee and the LOC names and welcoming addresses from the President of IRC and the Co-Chairs of the LOC.
  • This booklet should be available electronically prior to the congress and also distributed to all delegates upon arrival at the congress to pick up with registration materials (both in-persona and virtual registration packs).
  • The Publications Committee needs to develop and create the congress proceedings electronically for distribution to the delegates at the start of the congress on a USB memory stick or similar device. The compilation of all the papers into the master document complete with index is very labor intensive and funds might be required to hire people to assist in the process.
  • Printing the congress program booklet would include the agenda of the opening ceremonies, and a list of all session presentations and posters.

Copyrights

  • The Congress Proceedings and other printed matter are to be clearly identified as the ___ International Rangeland Congress.
  • Copyright will be with IRC and the Local Organizing Committee Organization.
  • The invited review papers might be published in a host country’s scientific journal.
  • The Publications Committee should assess the need for printed copies of the proceedings at an extra cost to individuals requesting the document.
  • The Publication Committee will need to decide how many copies of the proceedings (paper vs electronic format) will be needed for libraries, sponsors, etc.
  • Proceedings will preferably be produced in electronic format for distribution to delegates upon arriving at the congress.

TOURS COMMITTEE

The Tours subcommittee is responsible for planning and conducting the Pre-Congress tours, Mid-Congress tours and (if held) Post-Congress Tours. This includes on-tour logistics such as accommodation and catering, and tour registrations and confirmations/cancellations.

Pre-Congress tours

  • Pre-congress tours are preferred over post-congress tours to allow camaraderie to develop which carries over into the congress.
  • The majority of delegates have preferred 4 to 5-day tours. However, depending upon the location, some prefer a longer 10 to 15 day tour. Offer several 4 to 5 day tours and one or two longer 10 to 15 day tours. Be prepared to cancel or perhaps amalgamate individual tours if interest is not sufficient.
  • It is recommended to base your tour budget on 24 participants but be prepared to operate the tour on less people using smaller vans. It still needs to be financially viable at these lower numbers. In previous congresses it was difficult to get sufficient numbers to operate large tours.
  • There needs to be a contingency plan to use vans if there are not enough people registered to warrant the use of a large tour bus.
  • Ensure Publicity Committee has all of the details about the pre and post Congress tours at least 12 months prior to the Congress, and encourage delegates to book early.
  • Delegates need to know six months in advance of the congress if their tours will be held. This will allow them to change their air flights if the tour is cancelled.
    Need to decide if delegates arrange all travel to starting point of tours or if local Organizing Committee arranges in-country travel as part of tour fee. Pre-congress tours need to allow a rest day at the start to allow delegates to get over jet lag
  • All pre- or post-congress tour fees must be set to pay all expenses including tour guides and any expenses incurred with planning the tours. The committee needs to decide on what capacity or occupancy percentage the tour is based on i.e. do you budget at a percentage of the number of seats on the bus.

Mid-Congress tours

  • Mid-Congress tours are held on the Wednesday of the week with no other activities or sessions planned that day.
  • Mid-Congress tours will be organized by the local committee with perhaps the help of a bus tour company.
  • Mid-Congress Tours need to be developed to match the varying interests of the attendees. There should be sufficient tours to manage the numbers in reasonably sized groups. Remember that nearly all delegates will attend these mid-congress tours.
  • Budget all Mid-Congress tour expenses as one-line item to be included in the registration price.
  • Have delegates chose their first and second choice of Mid-Congress tour on the registration form. Delegates who do not wish to go on the Mid-Congress tour are free to develop their own activities for the day.
  • The tour committee might wish to have all Mid-Congress tours end at a designated place for the evening meal, fellowship and entertainment.

General Tour Needs

  • Pre-Congress and Mid-Congress Tours are a key feature of IRC Congresses, and a main attraction for rangeland scientists and practitioners. These are NOT TOURIST tours, although a few tourist spots may be included. These are scientific tours, with scientists from local research organisations or local pastoralists and farmers acting as tour guides. At least 1-2 tour guides will accompany the whole tour, and again these are rangelands scientists. Often specialists join for sections of the tour. Many of these tours go to “off-the-beaten track” places which tourists do not go to.
  • Maps. Give each passenger a map. This is very useful. A suggestion would be to provide roadmaps courtesy of the tourism department. The road maps can be then used to talk about the various ecosystems on the trip. Provide additional tourism pamphlets and information on what they will see.
  • Provide name tags.
  • Have various additional tour guides on the buses that know each local area i.e. for pre and post-congress tours, have a different local person or Agricultural Extension specialist that knows the area and history for each day. The guide on board needs to be completely familiar with the geology, vegetation, livestock systems, etc. of the area.
  • As you travel, the following are examples of the information that should be provided both verbally and in handouts to the participants.
    • Where we are.
    • What is the geologic history of the region, how did it evolve into present day
    • What is the social history of this area
    • What is the ecology of the area
    • Who lives here and how do they live (ie herders, cooperatives, seasonal, sedentary, etc.)
    • Who owns the land. Private, State, Cooperatives.
    • Describe the government of the area at the local and national level.
    • What are the past and current social issues for the people who live and work here (example: the moving of the herders into dairy cooperatives – why, when, impact on ecosystem, economy, people, etc.)
    • What are the natural resource issues (example: soils, water availability, impact of current use on water, future of the resource, water quality issues, who owns the water, past, current, and future use and availability, relationships of energy and water, wind power generation, etc.).
    • How do grazing lands play a role in this region
    • What kinds of forages, livestock, and grain crops are in this area
    • What are the management practices
    • What is the anticipated future of this region
    • What research is being done to improve grazing lands and livestock production
    • How is information being conveyed to the users of that information.
  • Need a portable PA system for use outside the bus and as a back up to the bus’s PA system if it fails. Ensure high quality, functioning audio equipment at all points including stops and on-board busses. Must have audio equipment and translation that ensures that everyone can hear easily and understand. Translations on tours are from local language of the presenters to English, multiple translations in various languages is not done on Tours. Have good, easy to follow written handout materials in everyone’s hands as well. People who are not hearing and understanding will break off into side groups and start their own conversations that are counterproductive to the objectives and disruptive to everyone.
  • Need adequate and reasonable restroom facilities available at least mid-morning, at lunch stop, early afternoon, and late afternoon where facilities can quickly handle the number of people on the tour. This is a major consumer of time and must be minimized but not by reducing the number of opportunities. On some tours, portable bathroom facilities have been used and in some cases these bathroom facilities have followed the tour to the various locations in rural areas. Need to stop about every 1.5 to 2 hours for washroom breaks. Tour bus companies might not encourage the use of their toilet on the bus. Need at least two bathrooms at each stop. The line ups can be very long. At the farm stops might need to bring in portable bathrooms.
  • Reserve the front and second row seats for people that have motion sickness problems. Assign the seats at the start for those people that indicated they had that type of problem.  (put place cards on the seats saying reserved.) Have some motion sickness pills available for emergency use. Ginger pills work well.
  • Good idea to play some local low-key music over the bus sound system during the last hour of the tour when everyone is tired.  
  • A possibility is to rotate passenger seat locations every half day. This aids in people meeting each other. Have the people move back one seat on driver side and forward on the other side going clock wise around the bus.
  • Logistics of handling a larger group will present specific challenges not encountered by small groups.
  • When planning tours, make sure people are not stuck on the bus for long periods of the day, unless completely unavoidable, and then for a limited number of days during the Tour.
  • Plenty of breaks should be scheduled, with interesting talks or landscapes to view at most stops
  • With 200 plus per mid-congress tour considerable time is needed just to load and unload buses and to make restroom stops.
  • Need adequate time at each stop for thorough presentation and time for questions and discussion. Do not start any presentation at a stop until all busses are unloaded and all delegates gathered.
  • Provide well designed signage for directing people to where they need to go as well as providing group leaders equipped with easy to see identification.
  • Safety issues – every effort must be made to ensure the personal safety of delegates. Biosecurity issues, such as the spread of disease on shoes between farms and research stations, may need to be considered. Tour leaders must know where and what medical facilities are available for emergencies and have a plan for getting someone there in an emergency. Stops along roadsides must be at locations where buses can get completely off the road so that passengers are not at risk from road traffic.
  • If there are multiple vehicles/buses, make sure that they stay together. Do not allow one group to deviate from the schedule and then attempt to catch up with the others. This adds to the risk and causes others to feel that they have missed an opportunity. If possible, consider having an escort vehicle that can help clear traffic in front of the procession and to be available in case of an emergency.
  • Inform delegates in the pre-congress information of what to expect from weather, altitude, sun exposure, insects, and personal needs. They need to be reminded to bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and any personal requirements such as medications that they might require.
  • Water must be constantly available.
  • It is recommended to have a sitting area at the tour site for the delegates listening to the oral presentations. Information hand outs and LARGE poster board presentations will be of benefit to the audience.
  • Involve media professionals from the initial planning stage to develop virtual tours to tap into their technical advice and guidance.

Hotel check-in for pre and post congress tours

  • In order to speed up the time of registering tour people at the hotel on overnight tours it would be advisable to have a list of all participants including their home addresses prepared ahead of time.  The tour guide sends the names and addresses of all the travelers to the hotel rather than have each person sign into the hotel.
  • This registration arrangement needs to be discussed with hotel management ahead of time.
  • Present this list to the hotels registration desk in order to give out the pre-assigned room keys. This will speed up the time that people get their rooms.
  • When the tour bus arrives at the hotel, the tour guide gets all the room keys.
  • The keys are in an envelope with the room number and the couple’s luggage tag number and couples name on the envelope.

Luggage Tags – Optional

  • Each couple/single person gets two large shipping tags which they tie to their suitcase.
  • Each couple’s luggage is identified with a large number, the same number on each bag.
  • The bus company unloads the luggage, the hotel people then find the luggage by the number code and put the room number on the tag then another crew carries the luggage to the designated room.  

Lunch and Dinner Menus – Suggestions

  • On the first night before the tour begins the tour guide gives everyone a list of all the meal choices for each evening of the tour.
  • There could be 3 choices for meals at the designated restaurants.
  • The tour guide then collects all the meal choices from the group and tallies the numbers for each meal and by choice.
  • Tour guide then gives the paper back to each person so that they can remember what they ordered for each day.  
  • The tour operator phones ahead to the restaurant and gives then a total requirement for each meal choice.
  • When the bus arrives at the restaurant the meals are ready and the waitress just asks which meal you had previously ordered. Service will be fast and everybody fed and done in 30 to 45 minutes. Sometimes there could be local entertainment during the meal.
  • Warn hotels and lunch caterers ahead of time about the number of special meal requests, including food allergies.

Pre- and Mid-Congress Tour Confirmations

  • Prior to registering, delegates will need sufficient detail to enable them to choose between tour selection options. When delegates register for the Congress they are going to want some specific information. Remember that they are going to expect AN IMMEDIATE RETURN EMAIL to their requests for information and upon registering for the Congress.
  • When a delegate registers for the Congress the people in charge of registration should immediately confirm the registration with the delegate, including the choice of tours. The tour leaders also need to be notified immediately that this person is signed up for a specific tour. The tour leader then needs to immediately respond to the delegate with at least the following information.
  • Complete detailed itinerary of the tour including:
    • travel arrangements in-country to starting point of the tour, from ending point of the tour to congress location, and from congress location to point of disembarkation from the country.
    • date, time and place of departure of the tour
    • a map
    • stops each day and what is to be seen there
    • place of location of hotels each night
    • distance traveled each day
    • special recommendation on clothing/items to bring along
    • date, time and location where tour will end.
  • There will be a need to accommodate special diet needs on the tours and at the congress. The delegate should select their special diet needs as listed on the registration form. It is advised that special diets be listed as vegetarian, vegan, Halal, glucose intolerant. Keep the categories simple for an easy food organizing process.
  • A cancellation policy for pre-congress tours needs to be established and posted to the tour section of the congress web site. A down payment should be required for all pre-congress tours at registration time. Full payment is required as soon as the tour has been sanctioned.
  • Publicity is key in achieving adequate numbers of people on the Tours and to attract Delegates to register for the Congress. The Tours are a key marketing tool for the Congress.
  • The Tour Committee should ensure that appropriate information is provided to Web-site Manager and the Publicity Committee BEFORE the Second Announcement, which is 2 years and 8 months before the Congress begins. This means Tour planning needs to start at least 3 years before the Congress. More detailed information is required for the Third Announcement.
  • Tour cancellations and amendments must be made at least 6 months before the Congress, to allow delegates to change flight dates and Visa as necessary.

FINANCE COMMITTEE

The Finance subcommittee is responsible for the Congress budget, including planning, execution of contracts, ensuring levy payment to the IRC-CC, fulfilling host nation requirements such as establishing a legal entity to run the congress or conducting financial audits, and interacting with all other committees to ensure the financial success of the Congress. The LOC may decide to include sponsorship (fundraising) and delegate support within the Finance subcommittee, or to run these as separate subcommittees.

Budget

Budget Philosophy

  • Host country sponsorships and registration fees (including tours, spouse events, etc.) must pay for all expenses of the congress and thus result in a break-even budget (including subsidy to IRC and profit to Local Organizing Committee).
  • It is recommended to keep the registration fee as low as possible in order to attract more delegates. To accomplish this, every line item in the budget needs to be carefully thought out to be sure it is necessary.
  • Local Sponsorships can be allocated towards any specific line items in the budget.
  • International sponsorships are allocated towards Keynote/Invited Speaker and designated Delegate support.
  • Attendance projections of from 500 to 1400 need to be made with a separate budget for several different levels in between attendance projections.
  • The number of interested delegates responding to the announcements will be the best estimate of the potential number of delegates attending the congress. This number should be used to determine the registration fee. The registration fee should never be more than $500 USD for in-person participation.
  • Registration fees for all delegates will be equal. If any country or organization desires a lower registration fee for their delegates they must make a sponsorship to offset this lower fee. This sponsorship will not result in complimentary registrations, complimentary booth space or free workshop time/space.
  • See Budget format in Appendix I1 – I10.
  • Authorization for expenditures must be approved by the Finance Co-Chairs.
  • It is recommended that the registration and tour fees be in US Dollars and that a US currency bank account as well as a local dollar bank account be established. The IRC CC bank account in the USA is usually available to collect & dispense money on behalf of the Congress. For example, many sponsors will only pay a US bank account; some invited speakers will need to present their accounts for travel expenses in US dollars.
  • Good cooperation of all host country committee members on financial management issues is important.
  • An online payment system may frustrate some delegates during registration when payments using credit cards may not complete for various reasons. The registration process will require a dual system. An effective & secure local international banking system needs to be linked to the system which can [1] process credit cards and [2] accept and transfer funds internationally. Some countries have limitations to what systems can be used. The registration system will also need to be able to handle invoices for paying registration fees.
  • Budget Dates: [1] A Preliminary budget is prepared for the Bid. [2] A revised budget is requested directly after the bid has been accepted, approximately 3 years and 9 months before the Congress. [3] The Final Budget needs to completed 18 months before the congress in order that the delegate registration fee can be posted on the congress web site at that time.

Budget Line Items

  • This budget will be used to calculate registration costs per delegate. The cost should not exceed more than $500 USD for the in-person participation.
  • Congress banquet is a cost that could be included in the registration fee or available on the registration form as an additional cost to the delegates.
  • There could be commercial exhibitors as well as non – profit organizations that basically are there to present information. The non- profit organizations could be charged a lower rate to participate or given complimentary booth space. There may be limited interest from commercial companies/industry to attend the trade show.
  • Sponsors will be offered free information booth space, depending upon level of sponsorship.
  • Prepare information/facilities/costs brochure two years before congress. Place on web site.
    • description of area
    • size of booth
    • what is included in booth, both for commercial and information booths
    • provide boards for display to avoid need for exhibitors to ship display boardsanels
  • range in prices for on-shore and off-shore exhibitors.
  • indicate how exhibiting materials can be shipped to the congress convention center.
  • The conference program booklet should list all exhibitors (and placed in delegate packets). Sell additional advertising if possible.
  • Obtain a list of potential exhibitors from related regional conferences and from the previous IRC and from Society for Range Management annual meetings or similar conferences.

Variable Costs

  1. All printing costs, all costs associated with editing and compiling all papers in the proceedings on USB stick, conference carrying bag, name badge holder and lanyard.
  2. Socials and meals including opening reception food (no alcohol), morning and afternoon nutrition breaks, lunch meal, evening social events, mid congress tour.
  3. Credit card user fee charges for delegate to pay registration fee by credit card. Using credit cards will be expensive.
  4. Levy to Continuing Committee Organization. $20 US per delegate

Fixed Costs

  1. Printing and production congress program, identification hats or name tag ribbons for local committee and volunteers, signage.
  2. Commercial company to handle delegate registration
  3. Additional Secretariat costs including cost of a paid congress coordinator if needed
  4. Software development for registration and paper submission and review process
  5. Speaker travel, accommodation costs and registration
  6. Opening reception entertainment
  7. Coffee and snacks for accompanying persons
  8. Plenary Speakers gifts, if any
  9. Promotion and fundraising expenses
  10. Venue including all meeting rooms, poster board rental, AV equipment.
  11. Insurance for liability
  12. Contingency fund at least $25,000 US
  13. Food and registration for volunteers including tour leaders, bus drivers and concurrent session monitors and AV operators.
  14. Costs associated with editing of papers and abstracts to get them into a uniform document for transferring as the congress proceedings to the USB memory stick
  15. Registration cost for the complementary registrations as part of the sponsorship program
  16. Room rental and AV cost for the workshop rooms.

IRC Bank Account

  • Many U.S. organizations cannot grant funds to an international organization. In these cases, the IRC has established non-profit status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and has established a bank account in the U.S. through which funds are channeled to the LOC. The LOC will need to establish a local bank account that can accept dollar transfers electronically from the U.S.

Airline and Bus Contracts

  • The main value in airline contracts is the free airline tickets available.
  • “Site Inspection” tickets or a dollar value to be used on tickets is available for signing a contract designating one airline (or group of airlines) as the official carrier for the congress.
  • Commonly one complimentary ticket is available for every 40 seats sold. These tickets can then be used by IRC for planning the next congress.
  • Consider an international carrier contract as well as an airline and/or bus contract with a host country carrier.

Levy of IRC

  • The Host Country Organizing Committee will pay a per capita fee of $20 per delegate to IRC. This must be built into the budget.

Loan from IRC

  • One of the purposes of the levy paid to IRC is to build a bank reserve available as a loan to the Host County Organizing Committee for start-up expenses prior to receipt of sponsorships or registration fees.
  • The levy is also used to pay expenses incurred by IRC for web site charges, mailing list update, etc.

SPONSORSHIP SUBCOMMITTEE UNDER FINANCE COMMITTEE

The sponsorship subcommittee is responsible for planning and securing funds for the running of the Congress and for International Delegate Support. The LOC may decide to combine all fundraising activities into one subcommittee, or to have one subcommittee focus on local fundraising and for the International Delegate Support subcommittee to focus on international fundraising.

Sponsorship is getting more and more difficult to obtain, especially post-Covid. Building relationships with key people in potential sponsor organizations, such as international research organizations. Money of often only available from research project funds, and thus needs to be included in funding Applications, done years before the Congress. These relationships must be nurtured from the time the Bid is accepted! Developing a plan for getting sponsorship is essential, and Senior people will need to be involved early on. These discussions will need to occur casually and opportunistically, and sometimes these opportunities need to be created.

Sponsorship Philosophy

It is essential that the objectives for obtaining sponsorships is clear for two main reasons:

  1. So that the donor knows what their funds are being used for
  2. So that the Organizing Committee is clear how funds are to be spent

Sponsorship Origins

Sponsorships needs to be viewed as coming from two sources:

  1. Host country sources
  2. International sources

Use of Sponsorship Funds

Host country sponsorships are used for expenses incurred in running the congress such as venue, busses, etc.

International sponsorships are allocated for two objectives:

  1. Speaker support
  2. Delegate support

Message to potential sponsors

Host country sponsors

The message to host country sponsors is clear. Their funds are used for various expenses as laid out in the budget. Those options need to be shown to host country sponsors so that they can choose what expenses they want to support. Those line items are normally then designated in the agreement between the Host County Committee and the host country sponsor.

International sponsors

The message to potential international sponsors needs to be made clear that an amount equivalent to their sponsorship is NOT going to the host country but to support costs incurred by speakers and to individuals who need financial assistance to attend the congress (delegates). Their contribution will need to be channeled through the host country so that the host country can allocate those funds, but it is NOT a donation to the host country.

Often international sponsors cannot allocate funds to travel. If that is the case the international sponsor chooses a line item in the budget that they can legally support, and that designation is shown in the agreement. But it is made clear to the international sponsor that an equivalent amount of funds will be used for speaker support and delegate support.

Understanding of the Host Country Committee

The Host Country Committee needs to clearly think through the allocation of sponsorship funds. Without thinking through the final use of sponsorships funds it may seem that international sponsorships are not contributing to the congress. But international sponsorships are:

  1. Bringing more delegates to the congress who then make expenditures in the host country.
  2. Delegate support is normally allocated to 3 items of delegate expenses:
    1. Complementary registrations. This means that the funds received from the international sponsors are paid to the delegate for the delegate to then pay registration. Those funds are being paid in this manner to the Host Country Committee to offset congress budget expenses.
    2. Accommodations at the congress. If funds are sufficient to stretch this far those funds are paid to the delegate who then spends those funds at hotels and restaurants in the host country, as well as for meals provided by the Host Country Committee as part of the program and thus these funds are going to the Host County Committee to offset budgetary expenses.
    3. Travel. Seldom are funds sufficient to stretch this far. It is also very time consuming for the host country committee to get involved in being a travel agent.

What constitutes a Sponsorship?

The number one rule is to never say no to an offer that will support the congress.

However, there are those who will provide support only in a manner that supports themselves, their organization’s employees, individuals only from their home country or individuals in their project. This kind of effort is support for the congress in that it brings individuals to the congress who might not attend otherwise and thus it is called SUPPORT, not a SPONSORSHIP. Benefits received from these types of supporters are then far less than those received from a Sponsor. See the benefits received for various levels of Supporters/Sponsors). Thus, regardless of the amount of funds promised or individuals supported these are termed Supporters, not Sponsors.

Sponsors are those who give freely to those most in need. These sponsors not only provide sponsorship funds to be allocated to speakers and delegates as deemed most needed by the Host Country Committee, but they then also pay for the expenses of their own organization’s employees to attend the congress.

Who should be a Supporter or a Sponsor?

EVERY COUNTRY, ORGANIZATION, AND INDIVIDUAL.

NEVER say there are no funds available. NEVER give up trying to convince an entity to be a supporter or a sponsor. That entity needs to be convinced that they need to rethink allocation of the funds available to them. They need to be convinced that they need to be an equal player in the improved management of rangelands worldwide. That obligation should not be the responsibility of one country.

Fundraising

A Sponsorship Prospectus must be prepared for distribution to potential sponsors. See an example in Appendix J.

  • What constitutes a Sponsorship versus Support:
    • Support may be in cash less than $10,000 or in-kind services such as assistance to the congress by personnel, free booth space at their meetings to advertise the congress, posting congress website information on their website or in their publications, etc. Judgment needs to be used in the Support category.
    • Sponsorship must be greater than $10,000 in cash. Support for an organization own delegates does not constitute a Sponsorship but could be considered in the Support category.
  • Sponsors can select a budget line item if their internal requirements insist upon doing so. It is more advantageous to the LOC if the sponsor allocates that Sponsorship simply towards conducting the congress in a satisfactory manner.
  • Levels of Sponsorships/Benefits need to be developed by the finance committee. Past levels and benefits are as follows:
    • Diamond – $US50,000 which provides free Information Market Place/ Trade Show space, five complimentary registrations, the naming/conducting of a workshop, and name associated with all Congress promotional materials both prior to and during the Congress.
    • Platinum – $US 40,000 value which provides free Information Market Place/Trade Show space, four complementary registrations, the naming/conducting of a workshop and name associated with all Congress promotional materials both prior to and during the Congress.
    • Gold – $US 30,000 which provides free Information Market Place/Trade Show space, three complimentary registrations, the co-naming/conducting workshop and name associated with all Congress promotional materials both prior to and during the Congress.
    • Silver – $US 20,000 which provides free Information Market Place/Trade Show space, two complimentary registrations and name associated with all promotional materials both prior to and during the Congress.
    • Bronze – $US 10,000 which provides free Information Market Place /Trade Show space, one complementary registration and name associated with promotional materials both prior to and during the Congress
    • Supporters – Less than $US 10,000 or In-Kind Services which provides name highlighted on banners and handouts during the Congress.
  • IMPORTANT ACTION: The benefits offered to different Sponsor levels need to be adjusted if there is an all-virtual Congress, or even if there is a Hybrid Congress. Most of the current benefits refer to in-person Congresses; and Sponsors need to feel like they are getting appropriate recognition. The Publicity Committee and the Web-site Manager and the Virtual Production Company need to all be involved in developing an appropriate online sponsorship benefit.
  • Sponsors identify their own choice of who is to receive their complimentary registrations, complimentary booth space, and/or the desire to conduct a workshop. The Fundraising Chairperson keeps this master list and continually updates Registration personnel, Information Marketplace and Trade Show Chairs, Program Chairs, Tour Chairs and Workshop Chairs of this list.
  • All sponsorships, regardless of the forms or procedures required by the sponsor, might require a cash flow budget and receipts for documentation of expenses/payments.
  • Close follow up with potential sponsors is critical to ensure they honor their pledges.
  • A number of organizations that would sponsor the Congress and participate in the exhibitions will not participate when the Congress is converted to complete virtual.
  • It is essential to send formal thank you letters to all sponsors/supporters after the conclusion of the Congress. See Appendix K.

INTERNATIONAL DELEGATE SUPPORT SUBCOMMITTEE UNDER FINANCE COMMITTEE

Speakers

  • The Budget Committee will inform the Program Committee and the Delegate Support Committee of the total figure of funds available for Keynote/ Invited Speakers and Delegate Support.
  • Based upon number of Keynote/Invited Speakers and the categories of support as determined by the Program Committee, the Program Committee will prepare a list of recipients of these funds and the amount offered to each.
  • At the time of inviting speakers, the Program committee will make every effort to encourage speakers to obtain their own support for travel and associated congress expenses. If speakers are not able to provide their own support they will then be considered for sponsorship.
  • The Program committee will inform each of these speakers of the decision for sponsorship and, after agreement from the speakers, will turn the list over to the Chair of the Delegate Sponsorship Process and Finance Chair at least 12 months before the Congress.
  • The Program Committee will also remind them of the visa acquisition process.

Delegate Support

The International Delegate Support subcommittee is responsible for promoting and receiving applications to support in-person delegate attendance at the Congress, including designing and implementing an equitable process of selecting delegates to receive funding. The LOC may decide that the International Delegate Support subcommittee is also responsible for international fundraising to be used in delegate support.

  • The deadline for delegate sponsorship application should be at least 6 months before the congress. The decision on sponsorship should be sent to the delegates as soon as possible in order to provide enough time to get the necessary travel documentations.
  • Congress Secretariat will be receiving applications from delegates. Congress Secretariat will send all applications immediately upon receipt to the Chair of the Delegate Sponsorship Process who will have an international committee assist with allocation of funds.
  • Delegate Support is used to encourage as many delegates to attend as possible thus a smaller subsidy to a great many delegates is preferable to a large subsidy to only a few delegates.
  • It is suggested that the IRC provide funds to support and encourage more people from developing countries to be able to participate in congresses and meetings.
  • Depending upon the number of delegates applying for sponsorship and the amount of available sponsorship funds the sponsorship levels may have to be changed. Three levels of sponsorship are usually established:
    • Priority Level One – Congress Registration only
    • Priority Level Two – Congress registration and partial accommodation
    • Priority Level Three – Congress registration, partial accommodation and contribution towards travel of up to perhaps $US800.
  • Selection Process:
    1. Address Priority Level One for all applicants. Strive for balance in:
      • Need (e.g. Unable to access sponsorship from others)
      • Potential to contribute to congress through presentation of paper/poster, serving on Continuing Committee, etc.
      • More support for delegates from the least developed countries (based on United Nations designation)
    2. If additional funds exist after allocating Priority Level One funding to all applicants, use the same criteria as listed in step 1 above to allocate Priority Level Two funding (partial accommodation on top of what they have already received from step 1 above, which was congress registration).
    3. If additional funds still exist use same process to allocate for Priority Level Three (contribution towards travel on top of what they have received from Priority Levels One and Two).
  • Delegate Support selection process must be completed 6 months before the congress. Emails outlining the outcome of the Delegate Support process should be sent early to those who need this; and again, as soon as application close at 6 months before the Congress. These emails should also remind successful delegates of visa acquisition process.
  • Upon the decision of the delegate sponsorship evaluation committee the delegate will be informed of the amount of sponsorship available.
  • The delegate will be required to sign an agreement form that they will attend the congress using designated funds.
  • The Chair of the Delegate Selection Process will explain to the recipients that cash assistance for travel reimbursement will be paid to the delegate upon arrival and registering at the Congress.
  • Funds for accommodation should be paid directly to the supplier.
  • Delegates will need to approach their own organization, NGO or other aid agency to support their pre-purchase for travel.
  • See suggested Delegate Support Application (Appendix L). Application must be on website 18 months before the congress.

International Assistance to Local Organizing Committee

  • With adequate planning on the part of the Local Organizing Committee, most assistance can be received while in attendance at previous congresses or by electronic means thereafter. The bid has been accepted on the basis of the Host Country having the experience and capacity to conduct the congress on their own, with advice by mail or electronically with colleagues from around the world.
  • Any travel needed by advisors from around the world to the Host Country must be built into the budget.

PUBLICITY SUBCOMMITTEE

The publicity committee will:

  • Be responsible for developing and sending out the various announcements/call for papersress releases as previously outlined.
  • Be responsible for the development of the conference web site with the web master.
  • IRC will update the email list of potential delegates from around the world following mass mailings.
  • Be responsible for contacting host country press and news reporters to cover the highlights of the congress for the host country media.
  • Work with the members of the IRC Continuing Committee to submit press releases to relevant scientific, producer and industry news letters / journals around the world for free publicity on the Congress.
  • Be responsible for submitting promotional news items to all the major international scientific societies and related organizations whose membership might be potential delegates. This information should be posted on the society’s web site and emails to their membership.
  • Be responsible for organizing a congress promotional display booth or information at scientific meetings such as the Society for Range Management Annual Meeting, the Australian Rangeland Society, New Zealand Grassland Society, South African Rangeland Society, China Grassland Society, British Grassland Society, and Ecological Society of America etc. etc.
  • Be responsible for a Daily Newsletter during the Congress.
  • The second announcement is sent to the IRC master email mailing list. It will contain information on the congress program, including subject areas, and a few details on anticipated tours.
  • Ensure Tours are promoted at least 12 months before the Congress. Delegates will be asked to finalized Tours 6 months BEFORE the Congress, to allow for some tours to be cancelled or amalgamated.
  • Pre-recording all presentations is very useful for virtual congresses, especially where internet connectivity is unstable, as well as in-person congresses as a means of backstopping. Good internet connectivity is critical for the smooth implementation of a virtual congress.
  • Integrating different media types is important in disseminating congress information to enhance wider participation
  • Employing good and effective robust ICT platforms such as Dryfta and creating an interactive website is key to hosting a virtual Congress.
  • Some scientists participating in the congress do not engage on social media tools such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • Plans should always be made in advance on how to migrate information/data bases in the contracted online systems to local systems after the event for future reference.

Assistance with Publicity

  • It is advisable that the IRC Continuing Committee be involved in the dissemination of information and publicity for the congress. In addition, past congresses have found it useful to develop a list of representatives from countries around the world who would assist with publicity about the congress in their home country. The Secretariat would pass any news flashes on to these representatives who would in turn pass the information on to potential delegates in that country or region.
  • Papers on the host country may exist on the FAO web site:
    http://www.fao.org/ag/AGP/AGPC/doc/pasture/slide.htm that may be useful to link to the congress web site.
  • Worth consideration is a special booklet produced on the Rangeland Resources of the host country which could be included in delegate packets. Contact FAO for potential interest in production of this publication.

PDF version: CONGRESS PLANNING GUIDELINES FINAL REVISED August 2023a