NACEP National Conference Location Site Selection Criteria
NACEP's National Conference has been an essential annual event for the dual and concurrent enrollment community since 2000. Over the years we have received questions about the selection process for our national conference location. We want to be transparent about our conference site selection process and to ensure that our members understand the various factors in play in selecting the site for our next NACEP National Conference.
The National Conference site is chosen by the NACEP Board and Staff, several years in advance, using a series of criteria that reflect a balance of both practical and strategic considerations. NACEP does not have set annual locations for our national conference, we seek and contract with new locations every year. NACEP does not have a commitment to a particular hotel chain. Our decisions are made based on the ability of the venue to meet our needs, quality of the hotel and meeting facilities, the value offered to NACEP and our attendees, along with other factors outlined below.
Planning Timeline: NACEP books event venues two to four years in advance of the event, which is typical for an event of our size.
Selecting the Region: The location of our events moves across the nation in a windshield wiper pattern: East, Central, West, Central, East, and so on. East is loosely considered East of the Mississippi, Central from the Mississippi to the Rockies, and the West is from the Rockies to the West Coast. The pandemic required us to renegotiate contracts two of our event contracts which has temporarily altered this rotation.
Selecting the State/City: Due to our large event size and preference for holding events only in October (occasionally November), we must carefully consider our location options. Within each region, we narrow down a list of possible cities based on the availability of meeting venues that can accommodate our event size, the proximity of an airport served by multiple major airlines, and an event hotel with room capacity for the majority of our attendees. After addressing the practical criteria, the Board and staff consider additional factors when the selecting conference state/city, including the number of members in the region, the opportunity to reach a “new-to-NACEP audience,” and the current and historic support of dual and concurrent enrollment programs in the state/city.
Selecting a Venue: Once a city is selected, bids for venues are solicited from conference hotels. Each bid is reviewed for fit with our event budget and to identify the most favorable contract concessions for NACEP and our event attendees. We try our hardest to book locations that offer attendees reasonable room rates, multiple nearby dining and entertainment options, and opportunities to discover and enjoy the area. Venues that offer strong value to NACEP and our attendees are selected for a staff site visit. Staff site visits play an important role in assessing which venue offers the best attendee experience based on a wide variety of criteria. Staff utilize the site visits to assess the property layout, feel, and navigability, determine the exclusivity of space (share with another event or solely for NACEP), breakout capacity, access to walkable restaurants and activities, as well as venue and location safety.
Changes Can Create Challenges: By booking our events years in advance, we ensure that we will have a strong assortment of options in our preferred city during our preferred dates. Changes in the intervening years between contracting and the event can create challenges and we want to be transparent about that with our community.
- Attendee growth can outstrip contracted space. We book our event size with room for reasonable growth to ensure enough rooms are available and breakout session space is adequate at the event. Our contracts are booked with our best estimate of attendees at the time but sometimes, we have to adapt as best we can to accommodate increases in attendees.
- State leadership changes happen. In the intervening years between booking and having an event, the state leadership often changes, which can have a significant impact on the state and local context in which our event lands. This can also impact the ability of attendees to attend an event due to state travel bans.
- Attendee safety outside of the venue is important. We seek venues that are safe for all attendees so that they can enjoy the amenities outside of our conference location. That said, changes in an area and state leadership are totally outside of our control. Each year our staff visits the location a few months prior to the conference so that we can prepare for the event. We communicate with attendees about any updates or concerns.
- Event contracts are legally binding and carry significant costs for both NACEP and the venue. Because of this, penalties for canceling or modifying the agreement, even years in advance, can easily exceed several hundred thousand dollars.
At NACEP, we prioritize our members, our community, and the field. Our events are built with the attendee in mind, and we control what we can to ensure an outstanding experience for all who join us at an event. Because some factors are wholly out of our control, we believe it is important to be candid and transparent with our members and attendees so that they understand our rationale for choosing a given location for our conference.
Below is a compilation of the rationale for choosing recent and upcoming event sites.
2018 Location – San Antonio, Texas
- Easy to access the city, venue on desirable Riverwalk, favorable contract, desire to increase NACEP presence in the state given increased attention to programs and recent growth.
2019 Location – Salt Lake City, Utah
- 30+ year of statutory support for CE/DE and significant, longstanding state funding, strong engagement with NACEP in the state, favorable policy and practice to highlight emerging diversity in the state, Delta hub, and picturesque location.
2020 – Virtual (Originally contracted for St. Louis)
- No in-person event due to the pandemic. Contract renegotiated to next available year to avoid cancelation penalties.
2021 Location – Orlando, Florida
- Selected in 2018. Orlando and the Disney parks are always a major tourist destination in a family-friendly locale, with generally good weather. Desire to increase knowledge of NACEP presence in the state
2022 Location – Minneapolis, Minnesota
- Selected in 2019. A state with a long history of concurrent enrollment and a supportive policy environment. Minneapolis is a major airport hub with a lively downtown and lots of walkable food and entertainment options in the immediate area.
2023 Location – Saint Louis, Missouri (re-scheduled from 2020)
- Selected originally in 2017. A centrally located city in a state with many active concurrent enrollment programs, a major airport and family-friendly activities.
2024 Location – Orlando, Florida
- Confirmed in 2021. NACEP was able to renegotiate the terms of the 2021 conference contract and avoid significant penalties due to not meeting the contract’s terms (resulting from a 40% decrease in attendance due to a highly transmissible COVID variant). The contract was amended on the condition that NACEP rebooks the next available event (2024). Given the sweeping uncertainty of the time, this was in the best interest of the organization’s fiscal health.
2025 Location – Los Angeles, California
- Selected in 2022. Easily accessed by multiple major airports, proximity to the beach and coastal attractions, SoFi Stadium, The Forum, and many other So. Cal. attractions. A desire to support our expanding membership in CA and elevate their work. A favorable contract at a venue that is typically above our price range.
2026 Location – Central Region – Selection target Q3 2023