I would like to express my appreciation to those of you who participated in the 123rd Continental Congress survey. The survey was sent to all members who attended Congress and had a valid email address on file. This year we had an almost 60% response rate, the highest it has ever been! I truly appreciate your feedback and insight as we plan for next year’s Congress and strive to make it the best one yet!
I am pleased to report that almost 25% of the people at this year’s Congress were first time attendees! These first timers as well as the seasoned veterans expressed overall satisfaction with the Congress experience. Some enlightening and encouraging comments from members include:
“Every meeting, forum and event provided insight into DAR. Our group of four first timers learned so much that there isn’t room to list it all. Suffice it to say that we came away VERY PROUD of the work of the DAR!”
“Some of the best [evening ceremonies] yet. They were interesting, well organized, and inspiring. The evening ceremonies were outstanding! Thank you.”
“Being with 3,000 women, all of who are smart, committed, talented, skilled, and generous. It is the most amazing time I have ever spent.”
We received a lot of positive comments about the first year at our new official convention hotel, the Grand Hyatt, with 85% of respondents saying they were satisfied with their stay at the hotel, many mentioning the exceptional customer service and attentiveness of the staff.
“The hotel staff was very friendly and bent over backwards to meet the needs of the DAR ladies! They also were very helpful with AV for the forums when something was not set up quite correctly. Excellent job!”
We look forward to working with the Grand Hyatt in the future!
In attempts to help streamline the busy Congress schedule, minimize the back and forth between the hotel and Headquarters, and accommodate larger attendance for events than can no longer fit in our Headquarters spaces, more events were held at the hotel this year. Survey respondents generally appreciated that change with 60% saying there were the right amount of events held at the hotel. Those wanting to spend more time in the Headquarters building said they made time earlier in the week and loved the consolidated, early ending daytime sessions so they could use the extra time for research, museum touring, shopping, or other administrative time. The Congress Committee Forums were very popular, sometimes overflowing, and we will work with the Grand Hyatt to arrange for even more space for this increased attendance.
Many survey respondents mentioned their appreciation for the van service the hotel provided. There were, however, still some concerns regarding transportation to and from Headquarters. Shuttle buses between Headquarters and the hotel were thoroughly researched last fall, and the realities of both cost and the wait time (a round trip to fill an entire bus, drive it to the hotel, and return to headquarters to pick up more members would take approximately 45 minutes each trip), made it very clear that it was not a viable option for our Congress. However, we will continue to work to improve the efficiency of the taxi line at Constitution Hall and to come up with new ways to address transportation concerns as we did this year in working with Uber to provide discounts to first time users of this car service option.
The inaugural Celebrate America Night went very well, with 80% of those who attended expressing satisfaction with the evening. Many respondents enjoyed a casual night to mix and mingle with other Daughters, learn more from the committees and listen to engaging presentations.
“This was a wonderful change! I liked that you could visit Committee tables, get handouts for later perusal and LOVED the community service opportunity.”
“I really loved being able to walk around, meet people and find out new things.”
“Very much enjoyed this event --- please have it again next year!”
Of course, as many of you noted in the survey, we know the noise from the Celebrate America Night information table interaction was louder than anticipated and sometimes overshadowed the presenters talking. The layout in the ballroom for this event had been designed to allow for more people to be able to listen to the presenters even if there were not enough seats, but, as we learned, separating the presentations and the information tables will hopefully mitigate the noise issue in the future. As this was our first year trying a very different type of evening event, there are certainly enhancements we have identified for next year. Overall I am very pleased with our new Friday night event!
We received many more insightful and helpful comments and suggestions, all of which will help greatly with Congress planning moving forward. Only 317 days until the 124th Continental Congress, June 24 – 28, 2015. Can’t wait to see you there!