I am finally attending more conferences and by now it’s become clear that I need a more formal checklist for future conferences, since there were many things I should have done further in advance. Hopefully this checklist will serve me well for future events.

  • Start planning for travel (plane tickets, hotels, etc.) no later than the point when I know I am attending for sure. The conferences I would attend mandate that someone from the author list of an accepted paper has to attend in order for the paper to appear in the “proceedings.” It is very likely, though, that authors can tell if their work will be accepted before the actual decision gets sent to them 2-4 months before the conference. This is especially true for conferences that offer multiple rounds of reviews, since the scores from the first set of reviews usually remain the same even after rebuttals. Thus, any planning of any sort should start before the final paper acceptance decision.

  • Email other Berkeley students or those who I know about the possibilities of having joint activities or a group hotel reservation. I would rather not miss out on any gatherings among awesome people (i.e., Berkeley students). For this, it’s helpful to know if or when the conference offers lunches and dinners. If the conference is smaller or less popular among Berkeley people, ask the organizers to add it to ConferenceShare and search there.

  • Normally, in order to get better rates, we book hotel rooms through the conference website, or though a related source (e.g., the “Federated AI Meeting” portal for ICML/IJCAI/etc.) which is not the official hotel website. Be extremely careful, however, if trying to upgrade or adjust the room. I nearly got burned by this in IJCAI because I think an external source canceled one of my original hotel reservations after I had upgraded the room by emailing the hotel directly. Lesson: always, always ask for confirmation of my room, and do this multiple times, spaced within a few weeks to avoid angry hotel receptionists.

  • Regarding academic accommodation (e.g., sign language interpreter or captioning), first figure out what I am doing. This itself is nontrivial, owing to the tradeoffs among different techniques and considering the conference location. Then, draft a “Conference XYZ Planning Logistics for [Insert Dates Here]” and email the details to Berkeley’s DSP. Email them repeatedly, every three days at minimum, demanding at minimum a confirmation that they have read my email and are doing something. I apologize in advance to Berkeley’s DSP for clogging up their inboxes.

  • If the accommodations will involve additional people attending the venue, which is nearly always the case, then get them in touch with the conference organizers so that they can get badges with name tags, and to ask about any potentially relevant information (e.g., space limitations in certain social events).

  • One thing I need to start doing is contacting the conference venue about the services they offer. For instance, many venues nowadays offer services such as hearing loops or captioning, which could augment or mix with those from Berkeley’s DSP. It’s also important to get a sense of how easily the lights or speakers can be adjusted in rooms. IJCAI was held at Stockholmsmässan, and the good news is that in the main lecture hall, it was straightforward for an IT employee to adjust the lighting to make the sign language interpreters visible (the room gets dark when speakers present), and to provide them with special microphones.

  • Attire: don’t bring two business suits. One is enough, if I want to bring one at all. Two simply takes too much space in a small suitcase, and there’s no way I’m risking checked-in luggage. Always bring an equal amount of undershirts which double as workout clothes, and make sure the hotel I’m in actually has a fitness center! Finally, bring two pairs of shoes: one for walking, one for running.

I likely won’t be attending conferences until the spring or summer of 2019, so best to jot these items down before forgetting them.