Frequently Asked Questions
Where will the conference be held?
Most conference activities, including education sessions, special events, and the Williamsburg Lodge, all under one roof, unless otherwise noted.
GardenComm leadership and staff are continually monitoring the situation surrounding the current COVID-19 outbreak. It is GardenComm's position to continue with the Annual Conference, scheduled for August 10-13 in Williamsburg, Virginia. Should a health emergency be declared in the Eastern region of the United States that results in a travel ban to the area, closing the airport, hotels or hospitals in Williamsburg, then GardenComm will reassess the situation. If attendees cancel due to personal concerns about traveling and GardenComm has not canceled the convention, then the standard cancelation refund policy remains in place. We are all optimistic that the situation will be resolved long before August.
Do I need to register in advance?
Yes. Attendees are encouraged to register as early as possible to ensure that you are not disappointed if an event fills up. Education sessions are open seating and do not require advanced registration, but all story tours, the early morning photoshoot, and the Awards & Honors Dinner do require pre-registration.
Also to help facilitate the overall planning for the conference, the local arrangements committee and GardenComm team need to know well in advance the number of participants expected at the conference for meal planning, transportation, logistics, registration preparation, room setup and many more factors.
Registration Opening Soon
Planning Events to Attend
When available, the early morning photo shoot is a great opportunity to photograph a garden setting during the magical first light of the day.
Most conference programs include several opportunities for horticultural industry, public and private garden tours. These story tours are designed to showcase a broad selection of local horticulture – both industry, public and private. Often these tours will give attendees a “behind the scenes” look that may not be possible otherwise. These educational and inspirational tours are excellent research or scouting opportunities for attendees. Many destinations will provide press kits, samples, handouts or tour guides to enhance the experience.
At the start of every conference, there is time set aside to gather with the other members in your region. The regional meetings are designed so that members can get to know others in their geographic area. The business portion of the meeting is chaired by each National Director (or one of the Regional Directors) and includes updates on GardenComm news, opportunity for input and discussion on garden communication issues and time to plan future regional events.
Every year at the conference, first time attendees are recognized at the first time attendee meeting. This meeting is a special event just for first timers and is designed to make first timers feel welcomed. First timers are encouraged to attend, be teamed up with a friendly veteran mentor and become more familiar with what to expect during the conference. All first timers and returning attendee mentors are encouraged to register for this event.
The #GardenComm2020 host hotel will be the Williamsburg Lodge. GardenComm has negotiated a discounted rate of $179 single/double (does not include taxes). Complimentary wi-fi and on-property self-parking is included in the rate.
The Williamsburg Lodge is located in the heart of the Revolutionary City, just steps from the action. The lodge boasts a world-class restaurant and convenient access to spa and golf amenities. Admission ticket discounts and special daily events are just the beginning of the exclusive benefits you'll enjoy during your stay.
Please find the online reservation link below. If you have questions or need help with the link, please do not hesitate to ask. Looking for a roommate?
310 South England Street, Williamsburg, VA 23185
$179 USD per night | Deadline: July 10, 2020
+1 855-231-7240 (Reference GardenComm)
Book your group rate for GardenComm
Registering at the hotel
Reserve your room as soon as possible so that you can get a room in our reduced rate group block. Participants are required to make their own hotel reservations. The conference hotel group rate is extended 3 days pre- and post-conference based upon hotel availability. Call GardenComm if there are any problems getting a room in our group block. If it is still early, we may be able to extend our room block, find an alternative hotel, etc.
Why should I stay at the host hotel?
To get the best rate for a large group of people, GardenComm must contract for as large a block of rooms as possible. If we don’t use all the rooms we commit, we must pay for the shortfall. Members reserving rooms outside the convention block could necessitate raising the meeting costs for everyone to offset losses on the room block. If we stay together, we can keep everyone’s costs lower.
What to Expect
Expect lots of activities from early morning to late evening, both indoors in the hotel and outdoors touring gardens and nurseries. There will be lots of quick changes involving jackets, sweaters, hats and shoes. The outdoor story tours often can include lots of walking (especially if you want to see it all) and some hotel complexes are large and involve plenty of walking, too.
Expect tough decisions on which educational sessions to attend. Most sessions have three running concurrently and the roundtables features 10-15 session running at the same time, in the same room.
Expect a “large family reunion” of the best kind of feeling. For many attendees, the conference is a time to see old friends, make new acquaintances and catch up with others in the industry. Hugs and business card exchanges are commonplace.
The Expo is open for several hours over two days to visit with suppliers and manufacturers of consumer lawn & garden products or services. Often exhibitors will have samples that they are distributing. This is an excellent opportunity to see what’s new, network with new contacts and pick up some story ideas.
The GardenComm Media Awards Silver Medal of Achievement winners will be on display. Don’t miss this opportunity to see the award winning submissions. The Gold Awards of Achievement will be announced at the GardenComm Media Awards presentation at the Annual Awards & Honors Dinner. Learn more about GardenComm Media Awards here
What to Bring
Bring an extra carryon bag or obtain a cardboard box to ship bulkier or heavier items home. This includes plants, press kits, books, samples, etc. Some conference destinations require plants to be inspected before they are shipped home. Arrangements will be made for a phytosanitary inspector to be present during the conference.
Pack comfortable clothes for garden touring. Layers are ideal and work well for outdoor temperature changes during the day and to fend off hotel air conditioning chills. Casual and comfortable are the two words that best describe garden communicator attire during story tours and the educational sessions.
Include a water bottle that can be refilled at the hotel for the story tours.
Attire for the Annual Awards & Honors Dinner is often a bit dressier than daytime garden touring wear, but this depends on whether the banquet is in the hotel or offsite (garden, zoo, museum). You may want to pack one outfit that isn’t khaki for this event.
Don’t forget your chargers and extra batteries for all your mobile devices.
Bring business cards. You will meet hundreds of interesting and helpful people. Give them your card and get their card to expand your professional network.
Your One-Sheeter. All attendees are invited to place copies of their one-sheets for distribution on the designated tables (TBD.)
At the Annual Conference & Expo
What Do The Ribbons Mean? The ribbons signify several important categories of people at the conference:
- First Timer: this is their first conference
- Mentor: a veteran conference attendee who is mentoring first timers (and willing to help non-first timers, too)
- Fellow: a GardenComm member who has been awarded a Fellow for exceptional skills. Learn more here
- Exhibitor: a representative of a company at the conference trade show. Learn more here
- Sponsor: a representative of a very generous company or organization that sponsored a meal, refreshments or item at the conference. Learn more here
- Speaker: a generous person who is sharing their knowledge, ideas or skills.
- President, Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary: the representatives of the Executive Committee. Learn more here
- Director: a regional or national representative of the 7 geographic regions that cover members’ home towns. Learn more here
- Program: members of the Educational Program Committee
- Local Arrangements or Volunteer: a group of dedicated people who organized the story tours and other local activities, are bus captains or guides.
What Does “Load & Go” Mean?
Most often during the conference, the buses will be loaded in sequence and leave as soon as they are full. This “load and go” system allows for faster loading. In this case, it doesn’t matter which bus you board since they are all going to visit the same location(s). Please take all your belongings with you when you leave the bus as you probably won’t get back on the same bus to return to the hotel. Please be prompt and be in the departure area at the designated time (or before).
Some story tour programs, such as the residential gardens, will not be able to provide restrooms on site, so one is available at the back of each bus.
Food & Events
What if I need an alternative meal?
Please indicate whether you are a vegetarian or if you have allergies when registering for the conference. Special meals will be set aside ONLY for those who indicate they need them. Please don’t ask at the time of the meal service or box lunch distribution to have a special meal as these have all been allocated. Also, once a prearranged alternative meal has been requested, please plan to enjoy only that meal.
Change of Plans
Can I make changes to my registration?
Some changes can be accommodated but notification must be received well in advance. If your plans do change— which happens sometimes—let GardenComm know as soon as possible.
Cancelation requests received in writing by Friday, June 26, 2020 will be subject to a 25% cancelation fee, which will be deducted from the refund. No refunds will be made on or after Friday, June 26, 2020. Substitutions will be permitted with no penalties.
Planning & Organization
Name Badge holder
Bring lots of business cards to exchange with new and old contacts. These can be stashed in your name badge holder for quick access. The name badge is also handy for your room key and your commemorative conference lapel pin (some veterans have their name badge decorated with several years of pins).
Generous sponsors have contributed funds to offset the costs of many meals, refreshment breaks, transportation, tour water, venue rentals, admission fees, name badge holders, welcome cookies, tote bags, keynote speakers, banquet wine, and more. Without the generous contributions of our many sponsors, GardenComm would not be able to offer so many events, meals, and amenities during the conference at the existing registration fee. Please take a moment during and after the conference to recognize our sponsors and give them your thanks.
Launched at the Washington, DC Conference (1992) and a tradition ever since, the conference closes with a karaoke party. Full of surprises, laughs and good times, the karaoke party is the time to kick off your shoes, park your inhibitions at the door and sing and dance into the night. What happens at the conference stays at the conference – until it ends up on YouTube.
Where Have We Been?
(& Where Are We Going?)
1984: Anaheim, CA
2005: Vancouver, BC