New: Registration Rates and Conference Budget

  • January 5, 2021

This blog post has four sections: introduction, registration rates, categories (country list) and budget. If you have any questions or suggestions on how we might improve this blog post please send us an email so we can address your question or suggestion. This blog post was last updated on April 6th when the decision was taken to extend the reduced rates for those from economically developing countries through the regular and late registration period. 



Aaron Quigley and Yoshifumi Kitamura, CHI 2021 General Chairs,    



SIGCHI brings together a global HCI community and as we come together for the virtual CHI 2021 conference this presents us with a unique opportunity to offer reduced registration rates for everyone and even further reduced rates for individuals residing in 139 economically developing countries who take advantage of early or regular or late registration. Of course, there may be delegates residing in one of these countries who don’t wish to make use of these reduced registration rates due to their personal or work circumstances. The $ dollar figures quoted here are USD. 


For early and regular and late registration we have three categories: C, H, and I. Categories H and I are the ones further reduced for those residing in economically developing countries. Categories H and I are listed below and represent two distinct groups the ACM have identified, while category C is for those not from an economically developing country. 

Workshop registration fees are lower but we still ask people to register to attend some of the conference (one day or more). Once early registration has passed there are regular and late registration rates for everyone. In the pursuit of equity of access we are developing the main CHI program as a 24hr a day event so that no matter where you are, regardless of time zone, you can attend an exciting program of events. In the lead upto CHI 2021, delegates and everyone involved in CHI must abide by the ACM policy against harassment and be aware that SIGCHI CARES is here to support everyone. 


You might wonder how we came up with the registration rates. The budgets for the past six versions of CHI (2013-2019) have averaged about $2.4m (USD).This year the budget for CHI (explained in detail at the end) will be about 1/3rd of the physical conference, which means registration fees can be reduced down to approximately 1/3rd of the physical conference. Some fees, for example those for attending workshops, will be even lower this year. 


As this is the first fully virtual CHI conference this presents our global community new opportunities to attend. By balancing the overall budget we have been able to introduce lower registration rates for everyone and much reduced rates to widen participation from economically developing countries. We based our rate reductions on the approach that the ACM has developed for reduced ACM membership rates for members from economically developing countries


If you would like the budget explained please skip over the next two sections on registration rates and country categories. The $ dollar figures quoted here are USD. 


Registration Rates


Full Conference - Early Registration 

Reg Types  Category C: Category H: 

(See Country List below)

Category I: 

(See Country List below)

ACM or SIGCHI Member $260 $104 $65
Non-Member $360 $144 $90
ACM or SIGCHI Student member $130 $52 $32.50
Student Non-Member $180 $72 $45


Full Conference - Regular Registration 

Reg Types  Category C: Category H: 

(See Country List below)

Category I: 

(See Country List below)

ACM or SIGCHI Member $350 $140 $87.50
Non-Member $450 $180 $112.50
ACM or SIGCHI Student member $175 $70 $43.75
Student Non-Member $200 $80 $50


Full Conference - Late Registration 

Reg Types  Category C: Category H: 

(See Country List below)

Category I: 

(See Country List below)

ACM or SIGCHI Member $400 $180 $112.50
Non-Member $500 $200 $125
ACM or SIGCHI Student member $200 $80 $50
Student Non-Member $250 $100 $62.50


Emeritus -Registration (Must be at least 60 years of age, retired from full­-time employment that allowed for regular registration in SIGCHI conferences, and SIGCHI members for the last 10 years to quality.)

Reg Types  Early  Regular Late
Emeritus $130 $175 $300


One Day Conference  


Reg Types  Category C, H, I: Early Category C, H, I: Regular Category C, H, I: Late
ACM or SIGCHI Member $100 $175 $250
Non-Member $140 $220 $300



Workshops are only for invited attendees who have an accepted position paper or who are invited by the workshop organisers to register. Those attending a workshop must also register for at least one day of the conference. 


Reg Types  Category C, H, I
Per workshop $30





Reg Types  Category C, H, I
Symposium ONLY $130
Per symposium (with conference) $30


Available for $25 per Unit. To attend a course you must also register to attend the conference on the day the course is being held. Course are either 1, 2, 3, 4 Units (Unit=80 minutes).



Categories (country list) 


Category C - all countries not listed in category H or I.


Category H















Cook Islands

Costa Rica



Dominican Republic



French Guiana















North Macedonia



Marshall Islands








Russian Federation

Saint Lucia



South Africa

Sri Lanka

St. Vincent










Category I 






Burkina Faso


C African Rp



Cape Verde





Congo, Democratic Republic



El Salvador




Federal State of Micronesia









Ivory Coast


















North Korea



Papua New Guinea

People's Dem. Republic of Lao


Republic Moldova


Sao Tome and Principe


Sierra Leone

Solomon Isl


South Sudan












Viet Nam







Now that travel, subsistence, visas and accommodation costs are not part of the cost to attend CHI in 2021, one question you may have is, why does CHI have registration costs at all?


In other communities, sponsorship is at a level such that the conference costs can be covered by sponsors alone. Sadly, CHI has never been so fortunate. In most years sponsorship only accounts for 10-15% of the budget. While sponsors bring much more than just financial support to CHI, they cannot be relied upon to cover all the costs of a CHI conference. 


Some people think that SIGCHI or the ACM are running CHI to make a large profit. This is not the case. The CHI budget, as approved by the CHI Steering Committee, the SIGCHI Executive Committee and the ACM is a “break even budget”. While SIGCHI makes no profit from CHI there is an overhead of 10% of operating expenses budget. This overhead goes to SIGCHI which allows it to function as a SIG. The SIG itself has to remain financially viable and provide support to the ACM to ensure the central costs which the ACM provides to SIGCHI, and hence CHI, can be covered.  


So, the sponsors don’t cover the full cost and the overhead is a small fraction of the overall budget so where does nearly $800,000 to run CHI 2021 go? The CHI budget is made up of hundreds of items which can be broadly categorised into ten areas of “operating expenses” we will now explain.  


1. Conference Management

Long before CHI decided to become a virtual conference, then a hybrid conference, and then a fully virtual conference, we engaged a conference management company to support us. This company bids for the work and as our needs changed over the course of 2020 so do the services they provide. They support the conference volunteers with help on requests for proposals, vendor interactions, planning, training, working with volunteers of matching physical CHI experiences to a virtual platform, merchandise support, meetings, accessibility support, agenda planning, reviewing bids, event management etc. In addition, the CHI program committee meeting, while virtual this year, still required support and coordination which this vendor also assisted us with. There is also a small discretionary fund which the chairs maintain in this section of the budget which allows us to address unforeseen issues which the chairs feel they must address beyond any contingency.  


2. Registration Management

Setting up and monitoring the registration system for CHI is a time consuming process. You might only ever experience it in a simple way, entering your details and paying the registration cost. However, behind the scenes there can be many problems and issues from revisions, cancellations, swaps, manual payments to rejected payments. All of these issues require human support, which is beyond what volunteers at the scale of CHI can do, hence we have a vendor to support us with this. This results in a “per delegate registration fee” and we also need to pay for the registration system we employ to take payments. The registration system also requires people to be available during the conference itself in case there are issues, which is an additional cost. 


3. Sponsorship and Exhibitors

While sponsorship and exhibitors largely provide income to the CHI budget, they require careful management and support. Finding sponsors and arranging matters with them can be a very intricate process. In addition the arrangement of  payment requires some effort. Supporting the myriad of questions and support issues sponsors and exhibitors have takes time. In many specialised conferences dealing with sponsors is often the purview of general chairs or a dedicated sponsorship chair. However, at the scale of CHI, and given the support both sponsors and exhibitors have come to expect, there is a lot of professional support required in this area. As such CHI has employed a dedicated sponsorship vendor to help us for many years. Moving to a fully virtual conference and still giving sponsors and exhibitors and delegates a meaningful and productive way to engage with each other is a challenge for everyone in 2021. However it is an opportunity for these sponsors and exhibitors to reach a much wider set of delegates in an entirely new format. 


4. Planning meetings

While this is less than 1/3rd of 1% of the overall budget it’s important to note that there were costs associated with visiting the planned conference venue in 2018/2019. This may now seem like wasted money but in time the knowledge gained in planning a physical CHI in Yokohama will be important for future conference planning in this venue. 


5. Merchandise

This year we are planning some quite unique pieces of CHI 2021 merchandise. Overall the cost and sale of merchandise should break even. The guiding principle here is that “merchandise doesn’t make a profit”. However, some items of merchandise which we plan to give as part of the early registration have a cost. The traditional Japanese happi coats for the organising committee and the new happi coats for SVs have a cost. In addition, at previous CHI conferences we had some fans which we could distribute. Many but not all of these were given to us for free but some had a cost. Shipping costs for merchandise also has to be considered. 


6. Technical Program

To create the technical program we have a number of costs. First, if you submitted content to CHI you will have used PCS. There is a cost to CHI to use PCS. Next, while courses have a small charge, there is an honorarium given to course instructors (per the CHI steering committee policy on courses). To receive certain types of grants for the doctoral consortium, CHI includes fellowships which are accounted for here in the budget. Finally, some plenary speakers receive an honoraria for presenting at CHI, which we budget for here. 


7. Virtual Facilities and Operations

This accounts for nearly 40% of the CHI budget in terms of accessibility and virtual platform (which are tightly coupled).  


We strive for CHI 2021 to be a safe, inclusive and accessible conference. Accessibility has been at the forefront of our planning for years. Physical visits (even before the venue was built) and later remote site visits spent a large percentage of our time on discussing accessible and all gender restrooms, walking distances, spaces to rest, wheelchair access, movement times from public transport, accessible hotel rooms, smells, visual noise,  accessible website, program, etc. Accessibility supports often require external parties (e.g. sign language interpreters), who must be paid. 


Now with a fully virtual conference the goal is to have a virtual conference platform which supports the needs of the CHI community. Our accessibility chairs and many others have been closely involved at every stage. Even before registration opened, authors with accepted work were encouraged to contact the accessibility chairs. When registration opens, delegates will be asked to indicate what accessibility needs they have. Given we are running a 24hr conference in a virtual setting, not all requests can be guaranteed. However, what is key will be to register early so we have as much time as possible to find ways to address your needs. If you have questions on accessibility now please email


Virtual Platform: In 2020 many large and complex conferences, such as SIGGRAPH, moved to be online virtual events. They did this by using dedicated virtual conference platforms. Since April of 2020 the CHI hybrid conference advisory group has been exploring such platforms. Months of effort went into exploring what would have made an accessible, equitable and viable platform to connect the physical and virtual worlds. When we decided to move to a fully virtual conference everything we learnt was baked into a “request for proposals” (RFP) which describes the unique makeup that is CHI. This RFP was sent to virtual platform vendors who could offer an accessible platform. The bids have come back and following demos a final platform will be selected. This decision process is in line with other conferences. If we were to have decided on a  virtual platform a year ago we would have missed the opportunity to see better options, as we have now. Much has changed throughout 2020 and virtual conference platforms have evolved considerably in the past months. Working with the ACM and a conference management company allows us to have a “master action plan” so that decisions can be made at the right moment to maximise benefit for CHI delegates and to ensure our volunteers have sufficient time to learn and make use of the platform. 


8. Credit Card

Depending on the type of credit or debit card you use, CHI might need to pay upto 7% for merchant fees. Most of the fees are much lower than this, and thanks to the negotiating power of the ACM they are reduced even further, however, they are not always 0. You might think that everyone attending CHI would use a debit card with 0% fees for CHI to register but you would be wrong. Many organisations and people end up using corporate credit cards which attract large credit card fees. 


9. Contingency

At this stage we are keeping a low contingency of 3% of the overall budget. In a typical year a currency movement or change in taxation can knock your budget from the black to the red in a moment. This year, we have a few unknowns from the possible need for extra platform features, support time and video costs etc. 


10. Overhead

Without this, SIGCHI wouldn’t be viable and by extension the ACM couldn’t provide us the many supports they do. 


In the lead up to, and during, CHI we will have various events where you can ask more questions about this budget. Some questions, which relate to how much precisely we paid a particular vendor are confidential. The ACM helps to organise hundreds of conferences and as such they have bargaining power which other organisations don’t have. How much a particular vendor is paid for a particular service for a particular conference needs to be thought of with respect to how much other business they do with the ACM.  


So, when registering for CHI please consider the wider community of delegates and volunteers. The registration rate you pay may allow for someone else to have a reduced rate, or someone else to have their accessibility needs supported, allow you access to an accessible and well designed platform which can support thousands of attendees, or an exhibitor who might not otherwise attend will come and enhance the conference for you in new ways etc. 


If you have any questions or suggestions on how we might improve this blog post please send us an email so we can address your question or suggestion


By Aaron Quigley and Yoshifumi Kitamura, CHI 2021 General Chairs

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