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A Sneak Peek Into the NASPL Event Planning Process

April 23, 2024

NASPL Insights Online

I had always wondered how NASPL chooses its locations for its conferences every year. Lottery Leadership Institute, Professional Development Seminar, the Directors’ Meeting and the Annual Conference are all very different in function. As we enter the busy conference season, I figured since I always wondered about it, maybe it was something you all were curious about too. So I thought I'd pull the curtain back, for you to learn how these destinations are chosen.


It is now no surprise that COVID forced absolutely everyone (in any industry) to turn on a dime in 2020 and immediately seek new ways to care for their business. NASPL was certainly not immune to the changes brought on by the pandemic. As an organization that hosts regular events – in person – one of the biggest challenges we faced was finding alternative ways of maintaining communications and offering educational programs to our members. Prior to 2020, NASPL had already signed several contracts for each of our events planned for the year, as well as those scheduled for 2021 and 2022. As our conferences were canceled or moved to a virtual format, we quickly worked with each of these properties to renegotiate our contracts. This often included rescheduling events with these properties for future years, during limited time frames. This was a real challenge, but we’ve finally been able to work out alternative dates and locations for all the rescheduled events.  Much credit should be given to the hard-working NASPL staff for their patience while working their way through all of the many changes along the way!


The selection process for determining NASPL event locations is a meticulous one. We’d love to hear from Directors who want to host a conference! We always want to choose a site that will allow the hosting lottery to highlight their jurisdiction, while also maintaining our budget. But we look at other factors too, such as ease of access to the destination, property location, lodging amenities, activities offered locally, ambiance and atmosphere, weather, and much more. Additionally, since the pandemic, many of our costs have increased by a staggering 30-40%, which can wreak havoc on the budget I mentioned.


The selection process begins with NASPL going out to bid for locations. We deal directly with Convention and Visitors Bureaus, using a service that distributes our required specifications. Once the bids are submitted, NASPL then reviews each proposal to determine which submissions might work. 


After we have our list of possible locations, we then contact the potential lottery director(s) for each event to determine their availability and desire to host. Depending on the size of the event, we are sometimes restricted to certain locations that can handle our large hotel block and necessary meeting and/or trade show space. With the agreement of the potential host director(s), we then begin negotiating with the properties. In most cases, NASPL will make a recommendation to the membership based on the information gathered and the needs of a specific event.


At the end of the day, we always hope to select the best location for each event. The pandemic certainly disrupted our usual process, but we now have most sites solidified for 2025 and 2026, and we are soliciting bids for 2027 and 2028. This will put us back on track to have locations selected at least three years in advance. As a planner, I know I am very excited to know what is upcoming so I can plan accordingly!


My team and I are also working on an updated “Conference How-To Manual,” to further assist our host lotteries in the event planning process after their location has been chosen. Throughout the planning and hosting of the 2023 NASPL Annual Conference in Milwaukee last year, we at the Wisconsin Lottery got to see and be a part of the whole shebang. And let me tell you, it's so incredibly worth it! We hope to continuously simplify and streamline the process, thereby creating even more successful events for everyone.


I hope this gives you an idea how conference sites are chosen. Certainly, please let me know if you have any suggestions or ideas. I love hearing from you! 


We hope you’ll join us at a NASPL conference (or two) soon!

Cindy Polzin

NASPL President

Wisconsin Lottery Director 


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