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ATA Conference Overview October 31, 2011

Posted by Jill (@bonnjill) in ATA, Random musings.

The attendees came from all over

I am back home after a very successful ATA conference – a little worn out but full of ideas. It was a little dicey for a while, since Boston was hit with a Nor’easter on Saturday night, and many flights were delayed and/or cancelled. Luckily my flight was Sunday evening, so apart from the plane being full my return home was uneventful. Some of my colleagues were not as lucky.

The American Translators Association met this year in Boston for its 52nd annual conference. This year they unveiled a new tagline – The Voice of Interpreters and Translators. Interpreters have been complaining for years that they didn’t have a voice in the ATA, which I don’t think was necessarily true but what do I know since I’m not an interpreter. I hope the addition of this tagline changes that, and this is the last we hear of it.

I found it to be a very fulfilling conference. Everyone was very pleased with the GLD’s Distinguished Speakers. Craig Morris (a regular reader of this blog and a blogger in his own right (Always Greener – Notes from the other side)) held two sessions on renewable energy, and Jan-Philipp Sendker offered sessions on editing and a bilingual reading and discussion of his work. The photo to the right is of Craig during his entertaining and interesting preconference seminar. I thought the best session was Corinne McKay, Judy Jenner and Chris Durban’s Smart Business Panel. They had a lot of good advice, and the ballroom was packed with attendees to hear that advice (no small feat for the last session on the last day of the conference, which is traditionally less attended since most people have already started heading home). The best advice I heard and one that I hope everyone can take to heart is to stop complaining about low rates/bad clients, etc. and just focus on improving your own bottom line by ignoring the bad and focusing on the good.

Corinne, Judy, Chris (with Jost Zetzsche keeping things lively as the moderator)

I spent more time than I usually do in the Exhibit Hall and really enjoyed myself – getting a free chair massage every day, visiting clients, checking out the various tools and reconnecting with the FBI. I may or may not decide to work with them again, but my old boss has done a good job of convincing me to think about it.

I attended several Tools Tutorials this year too, and Eve Bodeux and I have made a pact to finally install Fluency (we both bought it last year and haven’t gotten around to using it). Every time I see it being used I am impressed. Let’s see how it fares in real life use…

The Fluency Tutorial

I also intend to help the Language Technology Division reach out to its less technically-savvy members by writing some blog posts about how to effectively use some tools and republishing them in the LTD newsletter or website (or even the ATA Chronicle). There are a lot of people who aren’t as technically curious as I am, so I hope to help them even if just a little bit. My first planned post is how to format effectively in Word.

And of course I enjoyed many lovely meals and get-togethers with my friends and colleagues. The Welcome Reception did not have enough seating options, so several of us sat on the floor in a corner of the ballroom to enjoy the lovely turkey, cranberry sauce and stuffing that was served. I also wasn’t too pleased with the Division Reception format (but again, this was because the hotel lacked the facilities). It also seemed too rushed this year. An hour simply isn’t enough time, and the tables did not offer an intimate setting among colleagues. I preferred last year’s format of separate rooms much more. It was easier to talk and hear each other. Also, unfortunately for many of us, the Business Practices Happy Hour was held at the same time as the German Language Division Reception, so I had to choose one. Hey, it happens 🙂 . The GLD was invited to the Goethe Institute, and it was nice to enjoy a glass or two of (free) wine with colleagues. Over the course of the week I was able to enjoy many nice meals – including two lobster dinners and one lobster roll, and for that I am truly thankful.



1. patenttranslator - October 31, 2011

Welcome back to full time blogging again!

A practical question, how much should I plan on spending for airfare, hotel and other necessary expenditures if I finally decide to go to the ATA conference next year?

The last one I went to was in San Francisco in 1998, I think. A big factor for me was the fact that I did not have to fly since I lived in the area.

Jill (@bonnjill) - October 31, 2011

Good question, Steve. I generally figure I spend between $1500-2000 to attend the conference. The conference fee is about $300 or so and the room is about $500-600 if you share it with a roommate. The ATA offers a roommate referral service to help defray the cost. My roommate ended up leaving early so I ended up paying full cost for two of the five nights this time around. We have sponsors to pay for the wifi, which is much appreciated. One could easily eat on the cheap as well (ATA provides breakfast), but this time I didn’t look at the cost. It also depends on how much time you spend in the hotel bar ;-).

Karen Tkaczyk reported this morning on Twitter that someone who attended her presentation at the conference wrote her asking if she was available for a 16k word translation, so the conference has already paid for itself several times in her case.

Karen Tkaczyk - November 2, 2011

Since I was mentioned. 🙂
Indeed, 16K doesn’t pay several times over, but it’s still a great result.
I reckon like this: partial registration fee ($250ish with speaker discount) plus flight (usually $250-$300) plus hotel ($600-700 for four nights – either conf hotel with a roommate or cheaper hotel on your own) plus one or two meals out a day. That’s the big variable. $5 sandwiches or $50 dinners? Nothing at the hotel bar or a big fat bill at the end of the week?
This year I used Air Miles to fly, and had registration fee waived because I’m a division administrator. One year I did a pre-conf seminar so I got a stipend.
There are always people who are trying to keep the cost down, and others who are having a one-week splurge. It’s easy to find someone who’s on your wavelength financially. From what I remember of downtown San Diego it should be pretty easy to find affordable restaurants near the hotel next year.

2. patenttranslator - October 31, 2011

OK, thanks. So the airfare would be about 1,200.

“so the conference has already paid for itself several times in her case” … well, that would depend on the rate wouldn’t it? 16 thousand words is really nice at 29 cents, at 15, it’s just another long translation.

That’s my philosophy, anyway.

Jill (@bonnjill) - October 31, 2011

I don’t know where you are flying from, but my airfare from Cleveland to Boston was only $240.

3. Michael - October 31, 2011

It was good to see you at #ata52. Too bad we didn’t have more time to talk. Thank you for your support of the LTD. I am looking forward to your article.

4. mfdanis - November 1, 2011

>>My first planned post is how to format effectively in Word.

You could name the post “How using MSWord is not the same as using a typewriter” I am convinced that we could probably bail out the world economy with efficiency savings if people just learned how to use MSWord effectively… Looking forward to it.

5. Corinne McKay - November 1, 2011

Thanks for the post, Jill! It was really fun to see you at the conference and this is a great wrapup! I agree with you: awesome conference overall (and please, before anyone complains that ATA is “expensive,” check out Localization World or other similar industry conferences) but the opening reception should be longer and the division open houses really need their own rooms.

6. Madalena Sanchez Zampaulo - November 2, 2011

Hi Jill! I’m sorry I didn’t get to see you again at the conference, but it looks like you had a great time. I’m jealous of all the lobster you got to eat, but I had my fair share of cod, salmon and crab, so I’m happy 🙂

Great follow-up about the conference. I hope to post my own in day or two. I agree–the conference money is well-spent and even if it doesn’t bring business right away, it does bring knowledge. To me, that brings future business, as it helps us to sharpen our skills and business practices. I hope to get to see you next year in San Diego, if not sooner!

7. christinedurban - November 3, 2011

Hi Jill, glad you enjoyed the panel! I was really impressed by most sessions I attended, and the networking opportunities were great, as usual. Forums and blogs are terrific for exchanging info with colleagues, but there really is no substitute for linking up in person.

8. Rina S. - November 4, 2011

Thanks for the review and I am also very much looking forward to your blog post on MS Word. Hope to be reading it soon! 🙂

9. svetlanabeloshapkina - November 7, 2011

Thanks for posting your impressions from the conference, and the photo of the map, Jill! Did anybody else notice that the map was about 30 years old? It said “Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics” where Russia is supposed to be. Had to cross it out and write “RUSSIA” above. Well, at least the name of my hometown hasn’t changed since. =)
As a first-timer, I loved the conference! (And thank you for the wonderful “Tips for navigating..” webinar, it helped me maximize the experience).

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