The American Society of Association Executives plans to relocate its 20005 annual meeting, originally scheduled for Los Angeles, and is soliciting bids from five U.S. cities in the East and “mid-East” to host that convention, says Michael S. Olson, CAE, president and CEO of ASAE.

He says there are several reasons for the relocation. Threats of sizable cuts in the L.A. convention bureau budget as well as the city's budget were one factor, as was the fact that ASAE decided to flip the sites for its '04 and '05 winter management meetings (held each December). “The '05 meeting is now scheduled for Chicago ['04 in D.C.], meaning that our two primary meetings in '05 would have been in the Midwest and West. We needed a location more central to the core of our members,” Olson explains.

He adds that no contracts have been violated, because there were no contracts yet in place. “We had a letter of agreement with LA Inc., the Convention and Visitors Bureau, to hold those dates at the convention center and hotels.” ASAE typically does not sign contracts with hotels and centers until 24 months out. Pulling out from the letter of agreement “might have been more of a problem had we not given the intention of coming back,” Olson says. “ASAE is not requesting proposals from any other city for the 2010 meeting, so we hope to be able to confirm Los Angeles as our host city for that year,” Olson explains.

“Hopefully, at a later date, the city will be able to showcase itself, have a completed sports and entertainment complex, as well as more hotels,” Olson continues. “Right now they're talking about cutting police, fire, and the bureau's budget. Hosting ASAE is a big financial commitment: It cost $2.5 to $3 million in expenditures for a host city to support us. L.A. is facing budget deficits, and we felt we were being a burden. We decided to reschedule for the first available year that made sense.”

Bill Buckley, executive vice president of sales, LA Inc., says ASAE signed a commitment letter initially in March 2001. In the summer of 2001, the CVB changed the way it defined confirmed bookings and instituted a much more strongly worded standard letter of agreement with meeting planners. “We went through the process of asking our customers to recommit, and ASAE did, in October of 2002,” says Buckley.

“ASAE is vital to L.A., and George Kirkland [president and CEO of the bureau] is a past chair,” continues Buckley. “We've been fortunate to have some of their smaller meetings, and we do not want to jeopardize that relationship. So it behooves us to work with ASAE to reschedule.” He adds that no decision has been made to cut the bureau's budget, and that, if ASAE had decided to come in '05, the financial commitments from the bureau and city would have been met.