What Is A TopCon?

  • TopCons versus RETECs
  • A TopCon/Conference is any meeting for which a registration fee is charged (other than a Minitec or regularly scheduled monthly meeting)
    • Features a program based on either a single subject or several closely integrated subjects
    • Is designed to appeal to a particular segment of the plastics industry
  • Sponsors can be a Division or a Section; both can co-sponsor the same Conference
  • Promoted internationally and to multiple Divisions
  • A bid for sponsorship, preliminary program, budget, site and committee must be submitted to headquarters when dates are requested. All petitions are subject to review and approval
  • RETECs are TopCons by another name

What Is A Minitec?

  • A Minitec is a one-day (or less) conference put on by a Section or Division, and promoted only within the (geographical) boundaries of that Section or Division. Minitecs are not approved by the SPE Headquarters Events Department
    • No revenue sharing with SPE Headquarters
    • Little servicing from SPE Headquarters
      • Website listing
      • “Local” promotion to host Division, Section and surrounding Sections
  • All other conferences, of any length, are TopCons and must be scheduled and approved through SPE
  • Headquarters under the existing guidelines for TopCons.

How Do I Get Started?

  • Develop a conference topic/theme
  • Recruit interested volunteers
    • Form a Conference Committee
    • Chair, Technical Program Chair, Treasurer, House Chair
  • Decide with whom you wish to partner: another Division, Section, SPE Headquarters?
  • Select preliminary dates and location
    • Consider unconventional dates
      • Better hotel availability and deals
      • Less competition with other established events
  • Develop preliminary technical program outline
  • Complete and submit petition paperwork to SPE Headquarters approval

Venue Selection Considerations

  • Which geographic area is best suited for your conference?
    • Where are other SPE events held (economies of scale)?
    • Where is there a sizable concentration of SPE members or industry who will be interested in your topic?
  • What type of venue/facility are you interested in?
    • Hotel
    • Conference Center
    • Convention Center
    • University
  • Where is SPE tax-exempt?

Working with Hotels

  • Develop an RFP (Request for Proposal)
    • Schedule of events
    • Number of meeting rooms required, type of seating and capacity
    • Expected audiovisual requirements
    • Anticipated food and beverage (F&B) events and spend per person (pp)
    • Room blocks
      • To have or not to have?
      • What is attrition?
  • Hotels submit bids – negotiations begin
  • Submit contract to Sue Wojnicki
  • Conference or House Chair signs contract

Developing Your Program

  • Typical TopCons have 30-50 presentations more than 2-2.5 days
  • Your program can be what you want it to be
  • Invited presentations versus call for papers
  • Collecting presentations versus papers
    • SPE Author Release Form
  • Conference Proceedings
  • Online paper collection available at cost through SPE Headquarters
  • Promote early, promote often!
    • Direct mail versus electronic promotion
    • Mailing lists and data via SPE Headquarters


  • No charge for registration processing; email confirmations sent to attendees
  • Membership dues and renewal fee is currently $109
  • Include one year of SPE membership in nonmember registration fee
  • At least $150 between member/non pricing
  • SPE can set up and collect funds from online registration
    • 2.7 percent credit card processing fee
    • Best to keep funds under one roof
  • SPE can also collect exhibitor and sponsor funds
  • Registration reports
    • Checks can be cut with two weeks’ notice to defray advance event expenses
  • Processing of on-site registrations
  • Final event financial summary

On-site Considerations

  • House Chair liaises with hotel/host venue
  • Identify two volunteers who will man on-site registration
  • Reg.-In-A-Box
    • Lanyards
    • Advance registration badges in alpha order
    • Ribbons (moderator, speaker, sponsor, exhibitor, usher, etc.)
    • On-site registration forms customized for your event
    • Plain white badge stock and empty badge holders for on-site registrations
    • Badge template emailed in advance
  • Technology requirements
    • Laptop or desktop computer with Office installed
    • Printer (for receipts and on-site badges)

Identify other on-site requirements needed from HQ; send list to Sue Wojnicki.