Blog team lead and ComCom chair-elect
With such a dramatic change to the upcoming calendar, it’s critical for the human brain mapping community to know what to expect for OHBM 2023 so that they can plan for the new schedule. To that end, we communicated with Alex Shun (Communications Manager at the OHBM Executive Office), Michele Veldsman (OHBM Council Secretary), and Michel Thiebaut de Schotten (OHBM Council Chair) to discuss the reasons for the change, the decision-making process, and the issues and opportunities that arise from this date shift.
Why have the dates of OHBM 2023 in Montreal changed, and why was the decision made at this point?
Michel Thiebaut de Schotten (MTdS): The Canadian Grand Prix is typically held in June in Montreal, but until very recently we didn’t know dates—it’s usually earlier in the month. When the overlapping event dates were announced last week, we knew it would be a big problem for accommodations (since around 300,000 people visit Montreal for the Grand Prix).
Michele Veldsman (MV): The Grand Prix overlap pushed the prices of everything up three-fold—which makes it completely inaccessible for most people.
Alex Shun (AS): The overall attendee experience was the driving force behind the OHBM 2023 date change. The Executive Office was in close contact with our local vendors as we awaited the Grand Prix schedule to be publicized and worked to create a solution when we learned of the overlap. Accommodation prices, flights, social venue costs, and the overall ease of getting around the city would have hugely impacted our community and we wanted to ensure our attendees have a positive experience in Montreal.
Who made the final decision to change the meeting dates?
MV: This was made across Council. We wanted to open it up to the membership, but as we were very limited by additional dates from the venue, we decided the only reasonable option was to move the dates to those we could have from the venue.
MTdS: We’ve been waiting for the Grand Prix date announcement for a few weeks. As soon as they were announced, I got an emergency call from Trish Shomion (OHBM Executive Director), and we got on the phone with Mallar Chakravarty (OHBM Program Chair) to discuss our options. Trish then immediately called the venue to find out available dates. Since the Annual Meeting requires five consecutive days, July 22–26 was the only window open to us. (And, in fact, we’re fortunate that there was any time available this summer.) The three of us made the proposal to shift the Annual Meeting to the new July dates, and we contacted Council to approve the proposal, which took about one day of email exchanges.
Was it important to make this decision early to provide enough time for all conference staff, volunteers, and attendees to plan accordingly?
MTdS: Absolutely—the earlier we can take action, the better for everyone involved. We expect vendors to be on board, as well, since there are no other conferences at that time (we checked). And the only other event in Montreal at this new time is the Fantasia film festival, so we don’t expect many conflicts.
Will the Educational Courses be able to continue as planned?
AS: The Educational Courses will remain on the first official day of the Annual Meeting (July 22), followed by the Opening Ceremony and Welcome Reception.
Are all locations available as planned, including those for related events such as the “Monday” Night Social?
MTdS: By communicating early with the venue, we’ve confirmed that we still have the main venue in full. Since auxiliary events are usually planned a little later in the year, we expect the rest of the OHBM-related events to work out fine. Additionally, to support our meeting space planning and event advertising, OHBM is now requiring that all events be submitted during the content submission window (and we fully expect most or all of these events to be accepted—this is purely for planning reasons).
Are submission deadlines also changing as a result of the meeting date change?
AS: We’re keeping the content submission deadline the same (opening on October 15 and closing on December 20). People will be able to utilize the extra time before the Annual Meeting for making posters, pre-recorded videos, etc.
Will this additional time play into hybrid planning, since you mentioned pre recorded videos?
AS: Like last year, we will still be requiring all speakers to submit a pre-recorded video of their presentation. Poster presenters will be given the option to upload a 2-minute video and an e-poster, which is strongly encouraged. People will be able to utilize the extra few weeks before the Annual Meeting for this portion.
MTdS: While specific plans are still in the works, we expect OHBM 2023 to be a primarily live, in-person event, with content available off-line to all OHBM members.
Will acceptances be announced at the usual time to better support visa applications?
AS: Acceptances will be announced in March—the same time as usual, giving attendees an extra month for planning and for any necessary travel visa applications.
Are there any other positive opportunities that arise from moving the OHBM meeting dates?
MV: The major benefit is the reduced costs for everything as a result of not being in peak Grand Prix season.
MTdS: While many people around the globe use July for family holidays, we think this will be a good opportunity to combine holiday planning with conference attendance. To help with these changes, we are planning to offer more family and childcare support to attendees (pending approval by Council). These resources have made a large impact on those receiving the support in the past few years, so we’re looking forward to expanding this!
A big thank you to Alex, Michele, and Michel for communicating with us and answering these questions on short notice. We’ll see you at OHBM 2023 in Montreal in July!