Every year since 1998 we’ve asked attendees the same multiple-choice question to get a sense of their overarching judgment of the event: “Please indicate how strongly you agree with the following statement: Overall, the AAN convention was a success.” Respondents are asked to select one of four different answers: Strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. (We dropped the “neutral” option in 2004, which throws the comparisons off a little. Our bad.)
As you can see from this chart (pdf), Tucson ranks high among the twelve conventions we’ve held since 1998, regardless of the metric. It places fourth, behind only New Orleans, Little Rock and Pittsburgh, in the passion quotient, i.e., those who “strongly agree” it was successful. And it ranks right at the top of the heap, in a virtual tie with Portland, Little Rock, San Diego and San Antonio, if those who merely “agreed” it was successful are also counted.
A couple of things about the chart, which we are all seeing for the first time:
1. It’s clear that AAN members have enjoyed all twelve conventions. Every single one was rated a success by over 80 percent of survey respondents (and half, like Tucson, were judged successful by over 95 percent). That’s not because AAN members are afraid to be critical; as you can see from some of the other ratings in the Tucson survey, members tell us when an event or program falls short. (Of course, on average, the people who respond to surveys probably like the convention more than those who don’t, so the picture may be a little more rosy than it would be if every attendee completed a survey. Having said that, I should also mention that we get an extremely high return rate on our surveys. This year over 65 percent of those who received one filled it out.)
2. Tucson is actually at a little bit of a disadvantage because, unlike the other conventions we are rating it against, its post-convention survey didn’t include responses from representatives of the host paper. We conducted the host-paper survey separately this year; if you add in the answers from the folks at Tucson Weekly, the “strongly agree” number hits 60 percent.
The complete survey results from Tucson, with individual respondents’ comments included, will be distributed at board and committee meetings this fall.