UIST Committee Responsibilities

Conference Chair


Overview of Responsibilities

Preliminary TMRF Prepare preliminary TMRF form
Conference location and dates Select conference location and negotiate with hotels about dates
Committee selection Select the committee
Publicity Choose publicity chair
Conference web site
Call for participation
Flyers to conferences
Interactions or CACM advertisement
Advance program mailing
Final reminder mailing
Design UIST logo
Budget Choose treasurer
Prepare budget TMRF form
Prepare meeting TMRF form
Open bank account
Sponsors Obtaining sponsors
Thank you letters
Plenary Speakers Obtaining plenary speakers
Program Papers program
Demos program
Paper/electronic/video proceedings
Final program
Registration Choose registration chair
Set registration deadlines
Student Volunteers Choose student volunteer chair
Conference t-shirt
Site planning (Food and AudioVisual) Menu Selection
AV Selection
On-site management Registration
Plenary Speakers
Committee Luncheon
Coffee Breaks
Town Meeting
Organizational Meeting
After the conference Thank you letters to the hotel
Prepare expense report

15-24 Months Before the Conference

Program Chair

Choose the program chair either at the UIST conference where you are named general chair or shortly after the conference. The program chair will work hand in hand with you so it is important to fill this committee position as early as possible. The program chair should be informed that normally it is good to evenly divide the program committee between industry and academic researchers. This balance will 1) reduce the cost of your program committee meeting because industry will often pay part or all of their employee's travel costs, 2) ensure a wide range of views, and 3) involve industry people in key conference positions, which might make them more willing to sponsor the conference.

Preliminary TMRF

As soon as possible after being appointed conference chair, contact ACM Sig Services and introduce yourself to the person at Sig Services that you will be working with. The current UIST chair should be able to tell you whom to contact. During this first contact, ask the Sig Services person to send you the preliminary TMRF form. This form must be filled out and approved by the sponsoring and cooperating Sigs before a hotel contract can be negotiated. Currently, Sigchi and Siggraph sponsor UIST and Sigsoft is a cooperating Sig.

Site, Hotel, and Dates

ACM should help you in your negotiations with the hotels. They may have had experience with hotels in your selected site and they may be able to steer you away from "bad" hotels. ACM also has a policy of having you prepare some type of conference specs that hotels can bid on. However, the bids you get back are for your information only and you can do with those bids what you please. Consequently, you will probably identify a couple hotels in the early going that you are seriously interested in and will do most of your negotiationg with them. The bids will be in all likelihood a "pro forma" process.

The principal things you care about in the hotel negotiations are 1) the number of rooms you must guarantee, 2) the date when they will release the conference's block of rooms, and 3) the amount the hotel wants to charge you for meeting space. Most hotels will not charge you for meeting space if your room guarantees are large enough. Your goal is to shoot for the minimal possible hotel guarantees. In general, remote sites will net more rooms because attendees will not have alternative hotel options. Urban areas will net you less rooms because attendees have other hotel options and can also stay with friends and relatives. In 1999 we ended up with 485 room nights in the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. These were distributed as follows:

  1. Friday night: 2
  2. Saturday night: 68
  3. Sunday night: 115
  4. Monday night: 119
  5. Tuesday night: 119
  6. Wednesday night: 59
  7. Thursday night: 3
The Grove Park Inn was held at a remote site however so these room nights will probably be less in an urban area. I believe that UIST98 netted about 270 or so rooms in San Francisco. Also note that the UIST99 conference in Asheville attracted 170 attendees and the UIST98 conference in San Francisco attracted 250 attendees, so the siting of the conference does significantly impact your room nights. As far as the date when the hotel releases your block of rooms, you should try to make that date no earlier than a month before the conference. The closer you can push that date toward the conference, the better.

When getting meeting space, consider whether or not you want a speaker prep room. We had one at UIST99 and no one used it (I forgot to announce that there was one and no one ever inquired about the lack of one). Given that everyone is giving their talks on laptops these days, you probably do not need one either. The only reason to have one is if a speaker is using 35mm slides and they want to practice their talk. It can't hurt to try to reserve space for a speaker prep room and then drop it if no one uses a 35mm projector.

Finally, when selecting dates bear in mind that UIST attendees prefer a Wednesday-Friday conference to a Monday-Wednesday conference because they do not like to have to go back to work after the conference is over. However, if the hotel has a strong preference for a Monday-Wednesday conference, you should accede to their wishes. The conference is usually held during the last two weeks of October or the first three weeks of November. It is most common to have it in the first two weeks of November.

12-15 Months Before the Conference

Demos, Panels, and Technote Chairs

These selections should be made in consultation with your program chair. UIST2000 will not have a technote chair and it may not have a panels chair. These decisions can be made in conjunction with your program chair. These chairs should be decided before your "pre-UIST" conference (the UIST held one year before your UIST) so that they can find committee members at the conference.

Right Before the Prior Year's UIST

Deadline for Papers

You will want to set the deadline ahead of the prior year's UIST so that you can include it in the CFP. It is not necessary to have the deadline set and in the CFP but it helps. The deadline is normally set for early May for a conference held in early November. You can adjust this deadline if the conference is either later or earlier than early November.

Prepare Call for Participation (CFP)

The call for participation should minimally tell conference attendees where your conference will be held and when it will be held. It is also helpful if you have a papers deadline so they can mark it on their calenders. Usually the CFP will also list the sponsoring and cooperating SIGS and the conference and program chairs. If you have the panels, demos, and technote chairs already appointed, it doesn't hurt to have them on the CFP either.

Survey Form

The survey form can be used to gather feedback from conference attendees that you think might be helpful to you. The survey form should be distributed at the previous year's UIST conference. Typically the same survey form is used from year to year with little or no modification.

During the Prior Year's UIST

Hints on Choosing your Chairs

Right after the Prior Year's UIST

Conference Web Site

The conference web site is www.acm.org/uist. You should contact ACM as soon as the prior year's uist is over and obtain an account on the ACM computer system, so that you and your publicity chair can set up the site. Initially the site will consist only of the CFP. As you develop registration forms, get sponsors, etc. you will find yourself adding content to the web page.

Advertising Blurbs for SIGCHI/SIGGRAPH Bulletins

The blurbs for these bulletins need to be relatively brief. Typically the bulletins want an ascii text blurb. The bulletins have extremely long lead times so even if you get your blurb to them shortly after the previous year's UIST, they still may not appear until the March or April editions.

Ad in Interactions

You may or may not want to place an advertisement in Interactions. Opinion is divided as to whether it makes any difference or not. If you decide to put an add in Interactions, you probably want it to appear about a month before the registration deadline. It seems we get enough paper submissions without the ad but that it might be helpful in drumming up registrants. If you decide to place an ad in Interactions, you should contact the magazine shortly after the prior year's UIST to figure out what their lead time is.

Design UIST Logo

The design can be done at any time and usually is done by a student with good graphic arts taste. Often the job of finding a person to design the logo is delegated to the student volunteer chair. The logo can appear on advertisements, the advance and final program, the web site, etc. It is not crucial however.

Late Fall/Winter/Spring

Plenary/Invited Survey Speakers

Good plenary and invited survey speakers can help pump up conference attendance. Hence you often are going for plenary speakers with some name recognition and invited survey speakers with either name recognition or hot fields that you think UIST attendees would be interested in. Of course, plenary speakers with name recognition are often in high demand so you may not be able to land the ones you want. For this reason it is good to start as early as possible after the previous year's UIST in attempting to line them up. That way you can always try other people if your initial selections turn you down. You also won't go crazy if it takes them a few weeks to respond. The same caveats hold for invited survey speakers.


During the year leading up to your UIST you will want to distribute fliers to conferences whose attendees might consider attending UIST. Usually you will send a bunch of fliers to one of your conference committee members who is attending the conference and they will simply put the fliers in the appropriate place. Usually we do not ask conferences to stuff our fliers in their registration packets. Potential conferences you might want to consider sending fliers to are: The flier will typically be an expanded version of the CFP you distributed at UIST. The flier should contain additional information about the conference since you should not assume that attendees from other conferences are familiar with UIST. The flier should be sure to include the conference web-site.

Spring (February-April)


If you decide to do it yourself, find out from the previous year's chair whom the contacts were at the previous year's sponsors. This is a good place to start. You should prepare some type of email request and mail it to the people you have targeted.

Budget and TMRF

Try to get working on the budget as early as your ACM contact will allow you because ACM will probably sit on it and as the days to the conference dwindle away, you will start getting nervous. Hence, the sooner you get the budget to ACM, the better off you will be.

The budget is prepared using an ACM-supplied excel spreadsheet and the TMRF is prepared using a number of Microsoft Word documents. You can get the files for the budget and TMRF from your ACM contact. You should be aware that there is a bug in the ACM spreadsheet which causes the breakeven figures to be way off. Don't worry about that. The figures for projected surplus/deficit are correct. The TMRF is relatively straightforward to complete if you just follow the directions. The budget is a different matter:

Revenue Projections

Most UIST conferences have averaged about 200-210 attendees. UIST98 in San Francisco had 250 attendees and UIST99 in Asheville, NC had 170 attendees. These two conferences represent the outliers. I believe that all other conferences came within the 200-210 attendee figure. The ACM spreadsheet gives you the various categories of registrants (early/late ACM members, early/late non-ACM members, early/late students, and complimentary). The easiest way to project figures for each category is to figure out the proportions from the previous year's conference, assume they will hold the same, and then estimate each category based on your projected attendence and these proportions. Usually you will give complimentary registration to the student volunteers, the plenary and invited survey speakers, and some members of your conference committee. You probably do not want to give complimentary registration to all your committee members, especially if their companies can afford to pay for it. Some committee members, such as your program chair, your treasurer, your registration chair, your sponsors chair (if you have one), and your publicity chair, do so much that you should generally readily agree to a request for a complimentary registration. Other chairs, such as the proceedings chairs, may require more thought, especially if the budget is tight.

The second big source of revenues is from sponsors. Normally there have been about 4-6 sponsors for UIST. UIST99 had 13 sponsors but that was unusual and you should not count on duplicating that feat. The normal rate for sponsors is $1500.

The third source of revenues is from proceedings sales and banquet/reception sales but these will be quite small. Proceeding sales seem to number around 10 and banquet/reception sales number less than 5. Price your banquet and reception tickets reasonably so that spouses can attend. I felt that my greatest mistake at UIST99 was pricing the tickets so that I fully recovered the cost of the person at the banquet/reception and all that did was chase away the two or three spouses who wanted to attend. If you price the tickets reasonably, say at half your cost, you're going to lose a little money but only a small handful of people are going to buy the tickets and you won't incur a lot of ill will.

Publicity Expenses

  1. Call for participation: We typically do our own typesetting of the CFP using Microsoft Word or some other document formatter. Hence the cost of the CFP is typically limited to making copies and mailing it to the conference site or to people whom you want to distribute it at other conferences. You can use the previous year's numbers as the estimates for the CFP.
  2. Advance Program: The publicity chair typically typesets and designs the advance program using Microsoft Word or some other document formatter. We then send the advance program to ACM and they make copies of it and send it out. You can use the previous year's conference numbers as your estimates for the advance program.
  3. Final Program: The program chair typically typesets and designs the final program using Microsoft Word or some other document formatter. The program chair then runs off enough copies for each conference attendee and sends the copies to the conference site. You can use the previous year's conference numbers as your estimates for the final program.
  4. Advertisements: Sometimes we have placed an advertisement in CACM and sometimes we haven't. I felt it would be a waste of money so I never did. I think if you do want to advertise, that Interactions would give you a bigger bang for your buck. If you decide to create an ad, you will have to contact the advertising departments of the appropriate magazines to determine how much an ad will cost.

Committee Expenses

Committee expenses cover the cost of your conference committee. The ACM budget spreadsheet has another section for program committee expenses. There will be two main expense items for your committee: travel expenses and the committee luncheon at the conference. Travel expenses are by far the larger of the two. They include the cost of housing your student volunteers and any committee members to whom you decide to grant free housing/travel. For UIST99 only the sponsors chair and the general chair had their housing and travel covered. It is rare that you would give free housing or travel to your committee members. The program chair is the one exception to this rule. The sponsors chair was the exception for me because he generated a substantial amount of sponsor revenue.

Your other expense is the committee luncheon. You'll usually have to guess at a per person figure but figure high because both restaurants and hotels have a way of charging you an arm and a leg. $25-30 per person is not an unduly high figure to expect. Whom you might want to invite is discussed more in the section Committee Appreciation Lunch.

Registration Expenses

Registration expenses should be pretty minimal and you should be able to estimate them from the previous year's expenses.

On-Site Logistical Expenses

These expenses are incurred at the conference hotel and typically will appear on the master account:

Conference Food and Beverage Expenses

Food and beverage expenses will be far and away your biggest expense item so it helps to pay close attention to this category. Your food and beverage occasions will be roughly broken down as follows:

Proceedings Expenses

Ask your ACM contact how much each proceedings will cost and then budget for that amount.

Speaker Expenses

The section on plenary/invited survey speakers covers the expenses associated with speakers. You will need to estimate transportation costs (air fare, travel to and from the airport, and parking) and meal costs for your speakers. The rest of the expenses should be known (honorariums and hotel rooms). If in doubt use the previous year's numbers. Be careful though because the previous year's numbers may be low if one or both speakers declined to be reimbursed (at UIST99 one of the speakers refused to be reimbursed, thus lowering our speaker expenses).

Program Committee Expenses

These expenses will probably be second only to your food and beverage expenses and they are tricky to estimate. The two major components are travel costs and committee dinners. In the last few years we have been lucky to find companies (Xerox and Merl) that have agreed to provide meeting space and breakfast/lunch free of charge. By the time you write the budget your program chair should have an idea of whether or not such an arrangement can be made. If not you will also have to budget meeting room space and breakfast/lunch on the day of the program committee meeting.

Each program committee member is reimbursed for their hotel, transportation, and meals. The meetings are usually held on a Saturday so that attendees can get the cheaper Saturday layover fare. You should only reimburse for two hotel days. If the committee members wish to stay longer that's their right but they should pay for it. The conference typically provides dinner for the committee members on both Friday and Saturday nights so there should be no dinner costs to reimburse (however some members may not be able to make the Friday dinner so you may need to reimburse them). Often you will have to reimburse the other meals on the members' travel days. If breakfast and lunch on Saturday is picked up by a sponsoring organization then you do not need to budget or reimburse for those meals.

The tricky part about estimating the expenses is that you do not know how many members will have all or part of their expenses reimbursed by their organizations. Usually the program chair should try to have a 50-50 split between industry and academic researchers. You should expect to reimburse all the academics but you will get some help from the industry people. You might estimate that about 2-3 industry people will pay for themselves. Estimating air fare is next to impossible. I broke it down by the distance people had to travel (west coast, midwest, and east coast) but it didn't help. In the end I underestimated program committee expenses by $7000 (I estimated $4000 and they were $11000) so don't be surprised if you're ambushed.

The program committee dinners are easier to estimate. They tend to have a high per person cost because the wine flows freely at these functions. $35-40 a person is the cost I incurred for each of the two dinners (entrees, dessert, wine, tax, and tip add up).

Financial Services

These expenses are pretty much impossible to estimate. Take them from the previous year's numbers or estimates, whichever are available.

Sig Services

They get 9% and you can't change that.


ACM puts a contingency of 15% into the spreadsheet and they include this figure when they calculate your surplus or deficit. Consequently it is almost impossible to budget a surplus. Previous chairs have negotiated this figure down to 5%. I left it at 15% and with it had a few hundred dollar deficit which ACM approved (the contingency is pure profit to ACM). However, I missed some things in the budget (e.g., SV party, SV housing) which would have made the deficit higher. I still think ACM will approve your budget as long as it shows a reasonable surplus without the contigency.

Opening a Bank Account

As soon as the TMRF is approved you can open a bank account through ACM. It's good to open the bank account as early as possible so that you can deposit sponsor's checks and use it to reimburse expenses as they are incurred. Until you have a bank account ACM will reimburse expenses. Also if you do not have enough money in the account to reimburse an expense, ACM will take care of it.


Program Committee Meeting

Your program committee chair runs the show. He or she determines where it is held, where the dinners are held, etc. You decide the budget. Other than that you just show up. One of the things your program chair will need to know is the deadline for authors to submit their final versions so that this deadline can be included in the authors' acceptance letters. See Preparing the Proceedings for information about how to set this deadline.


Advance Program

As soon as the program committee meeting is over, you should get the program chair to mail you the names of the accepted papers and their authors. You will also want to get the names and authors of panels, demos, and technotes. The program chair should also send you a grouping of papers by sessions (this is the program chair's responsibility and prerogative, not yours). With this information in hand you should rough out the advance program. This program should include times and dates for the paper sessions, opening reception, demos, coffee breaks, and banquets. You can always change the schedule--that's why it is called an advance program. The advance program should be posted to the web site as soon as possible after the program committee meeting. Your publicity chair may be able to help you with the formatting of the advance program.

ACM Mailing

Once the advance program is set, it should be sent to ACM. Usually your publicity chair designs the advance program mailing and sends it to ACM. Hence you should not have to be too involved with the mailing. ACM will send the mailing to all the members of the sponsoring SIGS. I do not know if they send it to members of the cooperating SIGS.

Preparing the Proceedings

ACM has a deadline by which the papers must be submitted to them in order for them to have the proceedings published by the conference date. Either you or your proceedings chair should find out when this deadline is and then require the authors to have their final papers submitted about three weeks before that deadline. That gives you or your proceedings chair time to prepare the printed matter and also to get the papers from tardy authors.

The video proceedings is more informal. Shortly after the program committee meeting your video chair should send an email message to authors with accepted papers and encourage them to submit videos. The video chair should set a deadline for doing this. The videos will be spliced together onto a tape, copies will be made of the tape, and the copies will be shipped to the conference site. Enough copies should be made for attendees and a few additional ones should be made for sales at the conference.

Shortly after the program committee meeting the web proceedings chair should also send an email message to authors with accepted papers giving them instructions on how to prepare electronic versions of their papers and when they are due. The web proceedings chair should talk to ACM to figure out what formatting conventions should be used and when the papers should be due. Typically the electronic and paper versions will be due at the same time.

The three proceedings chairs may want to team up with the program chair and send one unified email to the authors rather than three separate emails.

August / Late Summer

Registration Form

The registration form should be posted roughly two months before the early registration deadline. If possible you would like the registration form to be posted before the advance mailing is sent out by ACM. However, most people will not register until immediately before the deadline so even if the form is posted after the advance mailing it should not be much of a problem. The early registration deadline should coincide with the day that the hotel releases the room block. Since registrants will probably be registering and reserving a hotel room at the same time, it makes sense to make the two dates concurrent.


Typically you or the student volunteer chair will try to find someone with some graphic design capabilities to design a t-shirt for the student volunteers and committee members. Student volunteers wear the t-shirts at the conference while they are on duty, which permits attendees to readily identify them. You may decide to make additional t-shirts to sell to conference attendees as well. To avoid confusing people at the conference, the shirts you sell to attendees should probably be a different color than the one you give to the student volunteers and your committee members.

Chamber of Commerce

It's useful to be able to stuff the registration packets with information about the city in which the conference is being held, including restaurants and things to do. The local chamber of commerce usually has some kind of informational packet that they will be happy to provide you in quantity for free, as long as you ask for it long enough in advance. If you can, have them ship the packets to the conference hotel so that you don't have to lug them there yourself. Your local arrangements chair can handle this task for you if you have one.

30 Days Before the Conference

Registration Numbers

About 30 days before the conference is when the hotel will probably release your room block. At this point you should talk to the hotel to figure out what your room numbers are. This will give you an idea of how many complementary rooms you will be getting, and will also give you an idea of whether or not you will have to pay any financial penalties because you failed to meet your room guarantees.

Hotel Arrangements

A couple weeks before the room block will be released by the hotel you should reserve hotel rooms for your student volunteers and plenary speakers. The rule of thumb is that you place two student volunteers to the room and that the student volunteer chair gets a room to their self. Plenary speakers also get a room to themselves. The invited survey speakers are responsible for making their own hotel reservations. Typically you can place the cost of the hotel rooms on the conference's master account. This is often a good time to speak to someone about establishing such an account.

Conference Supplies

Supplies that you will need at the conference include:
  1. Badge holders.
  2. Chains that allow people to wear the badges around their necks.
  3. Perforated sheets on which you can place registration reciepts, badges, banquet tickets, reception tickets, etc.
  4. Manilla envelopes to hold the registration packets
Wearing badges around the neck seems to be very popular with our attendees. We ordered 100 chains for UIST99 and we quickly ran out (registration was approximately 170).

Design Badges

At a minimum the badges should contain the attendee's name and affiliation. You may want to spruce up the badge with some type of art or logo. The person who designed the conference logo or t-shirt might also be willing to design the badges.

Final Program

Things to include in the final program:

3-7 Days Before the Conference

Registration Supplies

ACM has a list of registration supplies that you should probably carry with you in their handbook for conference chairs. You should also bring:
  1. a list of pre-registrants,
  2. extra banquet and reception tickets
  3. extra registration receipts. You can use the extra receipts for onsite registration, proceedings sales, extra banquet and reception ticket sales, etc.

At the Conference



Many of the conference attendees will use the reception as a substitute for dinner so the food will fly off the trays in the first half hour or so. Do not panic and order a lot more food. You might arrange for a couple trays of food to be brought out at the beginning of the second hour. If you decide to do this, make sure that the food services staff knows to hold these trays in reserve and do not panic themselves and bring the trays out too soon. Once people get over their initial binging on food, they do not seem to eat much the rest of the evening. At UIST99 we ran out of food in less than an hour. I then ordered three additional trays of food (300 items) which arrived with about an hour and a half to go. Only about half of that food was eaten. Make sure you introduce yourself to the reception captain at the beginning of the reception and make your wishes about food service clear.

Plenary Speakers

It is customary to take the plenary speakers to lunch on the day on which they give their talks. Usually you have a lunch party of 5-6 people, which means that you can invite 3-4 other people. Typically you invite one student who is interested in the area and a couple other attendees whom you think might be interested in the speaker's area. You might also invite your program chair as one of the 3-4 other people. You should pick up the tab for lunch and charge it to the conference.

Committee Appreciation Lunch

Sometime during the conference it is customary to take your conference committee out to lunch and to pay for it (charge it to the conference). If the committee's lunch corresponds with the day on which one of the plenary speakers is giving a talk, then the lunch can double as a lunch for the plenary speaker (i.e., invite the plenary speaker along). The list of people you can invite to this lunch is up to you and varies from year to year. It always includes the conference committee, but can also include the program committee and/or the student volunteers. For UIST99 the student volunteers were invited and were encouraged to sit with committee members (we had tables set for 8 people at the conference hotel and we told the student volunteers that only three SVs were to sit at a table and they weren't to sit together). This arrangement worked out very well and the SVs were pleased at the opportunity they got to meet senior researchers in the area. In other years program committee members were also invited to the luncheon. My philosophy was that the program committee members had been thanked for their week at the program committee meeting and that the lunch should be used to thank the conference committee members. Your philosophy may differ. Remember, you're the boss so you can invite whomever you want!


There shouldn't be much for you to do here. Make sure you introduce yourself to the banquet captain at the beginning of the banquet. Also decide whether or not to collect banquet tickets. At UIST99 we did not collect banquet tickets and it came back to haunt us because the attendees thought the tickets entitled them to a free drink at the bar and we ended up footing the tab (and we hadn't budgeted for this cost because we had budgeted for an all-cash bar). Generally non-UIST people are not going to wander into the banquet so you do not have to collect the banquet tickets unless you want to. Also, if you have a bar and you want the attendees to get one free drink, then you will not collect the banquet tickets since they will use them at the bar.

Demo Reception

Your demos chair should oversee the set up of the room. You should allow the demos chair to tell the SV chair how many SVs to allocate to the reception. Typically there will be a fair amount of effort involved in setting up the equipment before the demos and tearing it down after the demos. During the demos there typically is not a big need for SVs. It helps to set up the food away from the equipment so that people eating food are well clear of the demos.

Coffee Breaks

Usually it helps to talk to your coffee break captain about any problems they foresee at the next coffee break. At UIST99 they told me at one coffee break that I had not ordered coffee for the next coffee break, an oversight that might have proved unpleasant!

Town Meeting

This meeting is typically held after the last session on the night of the banquet. Your role is easy. You introduce next year's chair and they run the meeting. Typical topics are feedback from the attendees about innovations in this year's conference, suggestions for next year's conference, etc.

Organizational Meeting

This meeting is where you discuss conference business, next year's chair discusses next year's business, and a chair is selected for the conference two years hence.

After the Conference

Finalize TMRF

Finalizing the TMRF means filing a final expense report using the same spreadsheet you used for preparing the budget (use a new file though). Your treasurer is in the best position to complete this final expense report because your treasurer should have all the receipts.