American Cichlid Association Convention Guidelines
These are the guidelines for a local club that wants to host an ACA convention.
Thank you for your interest in hosting an American Cichlid Association (ACA) convention. These guidelines have been written to help you and your club, prepare, write and submit a competitive convention proposal for the ACA Board of Trustees (BOT). They are somewhat flexible and almost all items can be negotiated for almost any situation. They have been designed to insure that hosting an ACA convention will bring many benefits to both the ACA and your club.
Hosting a convention is a lot of work but the rewards you and your club can receive are very enticing. Clubs historically have earned up to $6,000 for hosting a convention. All attendees must be either a member of your club or a member of the ACA to attend, so there is a very good potential to increase your local club membership. Tanks, filters and supplies remaining after the convention can be sold to club members at cost, so they can get a good deal and expand their hobby for a reasonable investment. Some fish that will be offered at the auction cannot be obtained anywhere else. Club members on the other hand, with fish to sell, will probably have them up at the largest auction in the country. There is also the pride a club gets by hosting a convention and sharing their part of the country with the rest of the ACA membership.
Although the ACA is a cichlid organization, this does not mean that your club needs to be a cichlid-only club. Many clubs that have historically run conventions have been general aquarium societies and have done a very good job. Usually there are two or more clubs bidding for the convention each year, so part of your proposal will be in selling your club to the BOT. Many bodies are required and club size can be a factor. An average club of 50 members should be able to run a convention. It has been done by smaller more active clubs, but beware, that some workers may become overwhelmed by all the activities. Your club should be financially sound and a financial report should accompany your proposal. Your club’s actual assets will be of some importance but the BOT will be looking for a club that keeps good records and is well-organized. Activities play an important role in the BOT’s decisions. Club histories in running weekend workshops, shows, and hosting other conventions will be taken into consideration. The ACA convention should not be the time or the place to try something for the first time. You will need to plan well in advance. ACA Conventions are usually awarded as far as two years ahead of the scheduled date. Much of the publicity and much of the registration is handled over the internet. It is important to have personnel and software that is capable of handling these tasks.
Most clubs have a speaker, bowl show, raffle and auction at their regular meetings. The people that run these functions at the regular meeting could also expand their roles and handle these same positions for the convention. It is recommended that your club start by writing an article for your club publication, announcing that your club is considering hosting an ACA Convention. This should be followed-up with a presentation at a general meeting to determine if there is any interest from the membership. Interested parties can then start by appointing a convention chair to start putting all of the people and things together. The chair should then appoint a committee from the volunteers to assist the chair in determining the feasibility of your club hosting a convention. If your club is ready, then the first thing you need to do is find a suitable place to hold the convention. Once a place is found then a date needs to be determined based on the hotel’s availability. Typically, conventions have been held during the summer but bids will not be restricted to only those months. Conventions usually run from Thursday or Friday to Sunday. Once a place has been established then you need to get some speakers for presentations, some tanks for the show and some help to run the big auction. Of course it is much more complicated than this, but this will get you started and thinking about what kind of convention you want to have. It would be very helpful if the members of your club actually attend a convention to observe how they are typically run.
Put yourself in the position of someone coming to your area for the first time from out of town. Depending on your area, some will drive but most attendees will probably fly. Start your search for hotels near your closest major airport. They should have free shuttle service to and from the airport or at least have a reasonable shuttle service for those hotels a little further out. Parking should be free for those wishing to drive. The hotel itself should be able to seat at least 400 comfortably in a theater-style auditorium. It should have a facility to handle at least 300 people for the awards banquet. Other rooms for the fish show, trade show and specialty clubs will be necessary. The hotel should be able to handle at least 150 room nights on Wednesday, 225 room nights on Thursday and then 250 room nights for both Friday and Saturday. Prices should be based on a per-room basis with up to four persons in a room. You should get at least one free room night for every forty room nights booked. These free room nights can be used to house speakers and reduce their overall costs. When negotiating for the banquet, be sure to vary the menu and give the attendees a choice. Recently buffets have become popular at the conventions and are worth looking into. All facility rooms needed should be available at no additional charge. Some guests may wish to stay until Monday so they will not miss the auction. Make sure that the negotiated rate will be good until then and you get credit for Sundays rooms towards your compensated rooms. It is helpful to talk to the manager of the hotel and warn/advise them of what kind of things to expect at the convention such as tanks in the rooms and fish bags etc …Room rates should be competitive. Work hotels against each other to get the best deal. Remember that you may be competing with other clubs in other parts of the country and rates do vary greatly based on areas. There may be a situation where the hotel cannot handle any more attendees so they need to have an arrangement with a local hotel for the overflow attendees. Once you have selected a hotel and have a confirmed room rate, an additional charge may be added by the clubs. Discuss this with the ACA Convention Coordinator. They will be listed on page 2 of any ACA publication.
Many of the attendees will be from out of the area and will wish to see some of your local sites. They may or may not be fish-related. Local public aquariums, wholesalers or unique and impressive aquarium shops may be of interest. If your area has any significant tourist hot spots, it might pay to set up a tour to one of these. The money raised by the trip portions of the convention will belong to the host club and does not have to be shared with the ACA unless the host club wishes to share it as an incentive for the ACA to award the convention to your club.
A cichlid show is required by the ACA bylaws. The number of tanks required is dependent on the number of entries. Typically a minimum of about 200 aquariums, of which, most are ten gallons in size would probably be enough. The entries could be cut off if the number of entries outnumbers the available tanks. Tanks should be available before the first day of the convention. Each tank will have an appropriate filter. The aquariums should be placed on stable foundations. Entry fees should be reasonable. Try and get sponsors to help pay for the trophies. Judging criteria is based on the club hosting the convention.
Classes for the show will be as follows:
Division A – New World Species
Class 1 – Symphysodon (discus)
Class 2 – Pterophyllum (angelfish)
Class 3 – Apistogramma, Apistogrammiodes, Biotecus, Dicrossus, Crenicara, Nannacara, Microgeophagus and Taeniacara
Class 4 – Laetacara, Aequidens and related genera
Class 5 – Geophagus, Gymnogeophagus, Satanoperca and related genera
Class 6 – Central American Cichlids less than six inches in total length
Class 7 – Central American Cichlids more than six inches in total length
Class 8 – Astronotus, Cichla, Crenicichla, Petenia, and Division A species not listed above
Best of Division A
Division B – Old World – African Rift Lake Species
Class 9 – Mbuna – Pseudotropheus, Melanochromis and Metriaclima
Class 10 – Mbuna – Cynotilapia, Labidochromis, Labeotropheus and all other Mbuna species
Class 11 – Lake Malawi peacocks (Aulonocara)
Class 12 – Lake Malawian haplochromines and all other Lake Malawi species
Class 13 – Lake Tanganyikan Shell-dwellers
Class 14 – Julidochromis, “Lamprologus”, Chalinochromis, and Telmatochromis
Class 15 – Tropheus, Petrochromis and Tanganyikan goby cichlids
Class 16 – Lake Tanganyikan Featherfins (Cyathopharynx, Ophthalmotilapia, Cunningtonia and Aulonocranus)
Class 17 – Callochromis, Cyprichromis, Ctenochromis and Xenotilapia
Class 18 – Cyphotilapia and all other Tanganyikan species not listed above
Best of Division B
Division C – Old World – Non Rift Lake Species
Class 19 – Chromotilapia, Limbochromis, Nanochromis, Parananochromis, and Pelvicachromis
Class 20 – Lake Victoria and Lake Kivu species
Class 21 – Etroplus, Paretroplus, Paratilapia and all other Madagascar species
Class 22 – Hemichromis, Lamprologus, Saratherodon, Steatocranus, Teleogramma, Tilapia and Division C fish not listed above
Best of Division C
Best of Show
Photography and Art Classes
Class1 – Color Print
Class2 – Color Slide
Class3 – Frame able Art
Class4 – Cichlids on T-shirts
Class5 – Other Art Forms
Trophies should be awarded to 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each class. Hand-carved fish trophies for first in each fish class are not necessary but are recommended if the budget allows for it. Additional awards are to be given for best of each division and best in show for the fish classes.
Try and get speakers that are both entertaining and informative. Topics should be cichlid-related, but a few talks on general aquarium topics can be used. Speaker’s compensation is negotiable. Work out the details prior to getting a firm commitment. Contact the study groups and arrange a time for them to meet in one of the rooms. They must all be registered at the convention. They may wish to have a speaker at their meeting too. These meetings will be considered part of the convention and open to all registrants. Utilize some local talent for a few of the talks. In order to try and reduce costs, try and get speakers sponsored by vendors and manufacturers.
The auction is a major fund-raiser at the convention. It should begin mid-morning on the last day of the convention. Registered attendees may both buy and sell fish. Non-registered attendees may purchase fish only and may not sell anything at the auction. The auction chair should approve all items. Fish offered for sale at the auction should be cichlids, although the chair may modify this. Splits and bag charges should be published well in advance of the auction. Auction profits shale is split between the two clubs.
A room should be dedicated to allow vendors and manufacturers to display their wares. They should be provided a reasonable space and be charged accordingly. Each 10×10 area should be provided with a table and two chairs. Show hours should compliment the speakers’ schedules as well as when tours are returning. Profit from the trade show shale is split between the two clubs.
Tickets may be sold for dry good items donated to the convention by both vendors and local stores. The profit from the raffle will be split evenly between the two clubs.
T-shirts offered for sale at the convention that are convention-related will be sold at a profit and that profit will be split between the clubs. Sales of host club T-shirts and host club paraphernalia do not have to be shared. Filters and rental /show tanks will be sold to attendees after the convention and any profit will be split.
A booklet should be provided to inform registrants of the schedule of events. Selling ad space in the booklet will offset costs. Both clubs will share any profit.
Hopefully these guidelines will give you somewhere to start your convention bid package. ACA Convention Liaisons are always available to help. They may be contacted by referring to their addresses found inside every BB. Convention bids are usually taken up to two years prior to their commencement. Have your members attend a convention to see what it is all about. A bank account should be set up separate from the host’s club regular account. Start-up money, up to $500 may be loaned to the host club from the ACA if it is requested. Enclosed is a convention proposed timeline and convention job descriptions that will help you meet deadlines and delegate job duties and responsibilities.
TIMELINE FOR AN ACA CONVENTION
Months Before Convention Starts
31 — Start by writing an article for your club’s publication. Discuss why your club should do it and how it can be done. Be sure to ask interested persons to attend the next general meeting so you can see if there is any interest and if other members share your desire.
30 — At the general meeting you can discuss the possibility of hosting a convention. Find out who is interested. Share these guidelines and ask for volunteers to form a committee.
27 — By now you have your committees established and they can start to do some research to see if it is possible that your club can host an ACA Convention.
25 — Decision time. You need to determine if your club is capable of handling a convention. By now you have talked to your members and other local clubs to see what you and they can do. If the decision is to proceed, then you need to immediately seek a hotel that will work.
22 — By now you should have a pretty good idea of what hotels will work and what they will cost. Pick a hotel and start to put together your convention bid.
21 — Submit your bid package to the ACA Convention Liaison. They will review it and comment on it. Make any needed changes and resubmit it to the Convention Liaison. The Convention Liaison will review all the submitted convention bids and send them to the ACA BOT with their recommendations. The BOT may have additional questions or clarifications.
19 — By now the ACA BOT will have made a decision and the convention will be awarded. If you were awarded the convention then congratulations are in order. If you did not win the bid then don’t be discouraged. The BOT is well aware of all the hard work that goes into placing a bid and you should try again the following year. The winning club should start to confirm the hotel, side trips etc … Get firm-price quotes and start to prepare the flyer for the convention.
17 — Get the information on the flyers and get printing quotes. Have the flyers ready by the current ACA Convention. Prepare the presentation for the awards banquet. Contact the current convention club members to get an idea on how many need to be printed.
13 — Send the flyers to the club so they can be inserted in the handout packet at the convention. Give the current convention club an estimate on how much time will be needed at the banquet for your presentation.
12 — ACA Convention At the current convention it would be helpful if your members could pay attention to the proceedings and discuss if any improvements could be made. Talk to the vendors and manufacturers and start to make contacts to confirm trade show spaces, donations and sponsorships for speakers and show classes. The presentation at the awards banquet should be both entertaining and informative. It should take no longer than 5 minutes.
10 — Contact the club that just held the convention and pick their brains for suggestions. They should also be able to provide information like numbers of attendees, show entries, etc …
06 — Get the website up and going. It should be complete with all the info like: Registration form; programs; hotel; side trips and contacts. Send a one-page advertisement to the Managing Editor of BB (contact the Editor for specifications) for the convention and referring people to the website. Prepare registration form. Letters should go out to manufacturers and local stores announcing the convention and requesting support in the form of donations, sponsorships, and trade show spaces.
05 — Mail out registration forms to ACA members and your local club members. Make up posters and start to hang them in local fish stores and pet shops. Ask owners and managers for raffle donations. Get bids for T-shirts for both attendees and for the staff. Should be getting some money in for sponsorship and registrations.
01 — Send out a press release to the local papers to try and stir up some free publicity. Cut-off date for show entries and early registration.
Monday – Tuesday
– Try and get into the show/rental tank room(s) no later than Tuesday morning and start to get things set up.
– Show Set Until Complete
– Registration table opens at 6:00 P.M.
– Guy Jordan fish picked up and put away.
– Show/rental room(s) open by 6:00 P.M.
– Guy Jordan Bulletin Board available by 6:00 P.M.
– Trade Show Room Set Up
– Registration table opens one hour prior to the departure of the first tour.
– Side Trips
– Trade show room opens
– Jordan Auction
– BOT Meeting
– Hospitality Suite
– Study groups
– Registration table opens one hour prior to the departure of the first tour.
– Side trip
– Trade Show Room opens
– Jordan Auction
– Hospitality Suite
– Study groups
– Registration table opens one hour prior to first speaker
– Trade show room opens
– Trade Show room closes
– Jordan auction
– Cash bar
– Awards Banquet
– Hospitality Suite
– Auction registration/auction
– Fish room tear-down
– Tank and filter sale
ACA Convention Job Descriptions
ACA Convention Liaison
This is a person with the ACA who will assist the club with preparing a convention bid or the convention itself. If there are any questions with the bid or the convention then they should be contacted. They can be located via page 2 of any Buntarsche Bulletin.
This person is a local club member who is in charge of the convention. This person follows-up on convention committees and is the primary contact between the hotel and the convention.
This person is responsible for getting the information about the convention out on a local and national level. This includes designing, printing and mailing of required publications. Posters and flyers should be made-up and distributed at fish stores, pet shops and given to other local clubs. Ad space may be available in national slick magazines. Check with them for availability. They should work through the local newspapers and television to assure as much information gets to the public as possible. They may be called upon to work with the media if necessary.
ACA Convention Treasurer
This is a local club person who sets up the separate bank account for the convention. They are in charge of collecting all the receivables and paying all the bills associated with the convention. Receipts need to be kept and filed.
This person is the primary contact between the speakers and the convention. They contact the speakers and get an itinerary. They make sure that the speakers are picked-up at the airport, checked into their room, get their registration packet, know when to speak and get them dropped-off back at the airport.
Trade Show Room Chair
This person contacts manufacturers and negotiates space in the trade show. The chair will assign spaces and make sure that the vendors have what they need, like electricity, water, etc … The day before the convention actually starts, this person should be around the room assisting the vendors as needed. While negotiating with the vendors they can be solicited for donations to the raffle or for sponsorship of show classes and speakers.
Cichlid Show Chair
Lots of work to be done here. As soon as the room is available, the crew needs to start to set up the show. The chair should have the room already planned and laid out. Materials should have already been purchased, and prepared as needed. Stands need to set up. Tanks placed, filled with filters inserted. Airline system needs to be hooked up and running. Tanks need to be labelled so the entries are together. The more people available, the easier and faster it will go. Everything needs to be done by 6:00 P.M. the day before the convention actually starts. During the convention, the room should be secured, so if problems arise they can be quickly dealt with. On Sunday morning the room needs to be torn-down. This is probably the most stressful time of the convention. Club members are tired. They are getting their fish out of the show. They need to check-in fish for the auction. They need runners at the auction, and the room needs to be torn-down. Filters and tanks that have been sold can go to a staging area. Unsold items need to be moved out of the room and stored until sold or disposed of.
Rental Tank Room Chair
The set-up and tear-down are the same as for the show room. Tanks need to be labelled for those who reserved a tank. Money may need to be collected for tanks rented the same day. Guy Jordan auction fish will be placed in the room until they are auctioned-off.
This person will receive and maintain pre-registrations. Only members of the host club or the ACA may attend the convention. One week before the convention, all registration packets will be assembled and ready to go by the time of the convention. This should include a program, badges, tickets, samples and literature. They can be placed in large envelopes or bags. At the registration table the chair will be responsible for giving attendees their registration packets during check–in. During peak times there shall be at least two persons at the table. The registration table shall be open from 6:00 P.M. the day before the convention officially starts, until noon on Saturday. Extra items like T-shirts and such may be available for sale at the registration table.
Guy Jordan Silent Auction Chair
Florida fish farmers will be sending fish to the airport for this auction. They may show up at any time. These fish need to be picked up at the airport and the freight paid for. They then need to be brought back to the hotel and tanked. The fish will be placed on a silent auction as scheduled by the club.
Awards for the show need to be designed, ordered, delivered, unpacked and ready by the banquet.
At least one person is needed to accompany each trip every day. They should check for tickets, take roll and to handle any problems that arise.
One or two people are needed to stay up to the wee hours to maintain the hospitality suite with snacks and refreshments. A smoking area will probably be needed. Attendees who overindulge may be asked to leave. Noise may become an issue too. Try to let everybody have a good time without hurting anyone or breaking anything. Try and get the food and drink sponsored to cut costs.
Club Sales Table
Items like T-shirts, publications and memberships to the host club can be sold at the Club Sales Table. A person will need to be there to handle sales and secure items. The hours are up to the host club.
This person needs to assemble the raffle items and sell the tickets during the convention.
Another very important committee. The room needs to be ready first thing Sunday morning. Fish need to be checked-in. Auctioneers need to be set-up with runners. It will run just like the club auction only much bigger. Some auctions have gone on late into the evening. Have plenty of staff on hand to give runners breaks.