The Visitor Studies Association (VSA) seeks to foster a sense of community among colleagues, who gather once a year to pose intriguing questions, explore diverse opinions, debate controversial issues, challenge assumptions and share their successes and their struggles—in essence, to learn from one another.

Join us July 10 - 13, 2019, in Detroit, Michigan, for 32nd Annual Conference!

Ways of Knowing

How do we know what we know? The story of visitor studies is long and somewhat winding -- and it continues to grow and evolve. Over the years, visitor studies professionals have built a breadth and depth of knowledge around visitors and their experiences, and although our work is generally grounded in the social sciences, we have sought to find meaning in a variety of ways and through a wide range of approaches. From research to evaluation, to facilitation and everything in between, we are tasked with answering questions that are sometimes big and sometimes small. These questions may inform specific institutional strategies, and they may also inspire and inform our field and beyond. But how do we know what questions to explore, or what questions are worth exploring? Who is responsible for exploring these questions?

For this year's Conference, we invite attendees to consider how epistemologies of visitor studies are articulated in our practice. Some questions we think this Conference theme will allow speakers and presenters to address include the following:

  • How can we conduct studies that honor stakeholders' needs and perspectives while also informing our field's "big" questions?
  • What counts as research, evaluation, or evaluative thinking, and what kinds of professional roles and stakeholder relationships do these domains imply? In what ways do the lenses of practitioners inflect visitor studies, and what can we learn from experiential knowledge that may or may not include systematic investigation?
  • What do we assume about the outer limits of our field? What are the implications of those boundaries in the work we do?
  • How can we better respect and honor ways of knowing that differ from dominant lenses, especially when dominant lenses may include the disciplinary traditions that underpin visitor studies? How can the specific approaches of visitor studies be leveraged in support of greater equity among stakeholders?
  • How do the professional competencies we associate with visitor studies reflect specific beliefs and responsibilities about the nature of expertise? How does this translate to our efforts in capacity building and career pipelines?
  • How can we acknowledge and reflect our roots as multidisciplinary while continuing to contribute to a cohesive, shared domain of scholarship? How can we build on the foundational knowledge of our field?

View the Conference Schedule at a Glance here.

View the 2019 VSA Conference Brochure here.

To learn more details about the 2019 VSA Annual Conference Sessions, visit here or download the Conference Abstract.

Why Attend the VSA Conference?
With limited travel and training budgets, a strong justification for attending professional conferences is more important than ever. Use the tools in this kit to help explain how attending can improve your practice, expand your professional network, and provide new perspectives to your organization.  Download our Conference Justification document to support why being in attendance at the Conference is a worthwhile investment.  Feel free to also call us at (303) 500-5026 to have your questions answered.

Conference Registration
Be sure to join hundreds of professionals interested and/or involved in visitor studies at the 2019 VSA Conference.

Early Registration ends May 15, 2019.  Regular Registration ends July 5, 2019. Be sure to register today.

  Early Regular On-Site
Member $500 $550 $600
Non-Member $650 $700 $750
Student $250 $300 $350


Conference Lodging
Be sure to reserve your space at the Conference Hotel, Westin Book Cadillac Detroit, right away. Let them know that you are with VSA in order to get the discounted rate of $185/night. The hotel is the perfect environment for learning and networking.  Built in 1924 and lovingly restored, The Westin Book Cadillac Detroit is a historic landmark in the heart of the city's resurgent downtown district. When not in conference sessions, enhance your well-being with a visit to The Spa Book Cadillac, move well in the WestinWORKOUT® Fitness Studio or take a dip in the heated indoor pool. Unforgettable dining options include a sophisticated steakhouse restaurant and downtown Detroit's only Starbucks® Reserve Store. Should you wish to explore, the hotel is a short walk from Comerica Park and Ford Field, as well as the Cobo Center and Detroit's scenic RiverWalk.

Westin Book Cadillac
1114 Washington Blvd
Detroit, MI 48226

Reserve your room here. Or, if you prefer, call the Central Reservation Line at (888) 627-7150 and reference "Visitor Studies Association".

If your plans involve arriving at Detroit Metro Wayne County Airport, you can take a taxi directly to the hotel or arrange with the Westin Book Cadillac in advance to have a private car service or rental car waiting for you. The Westin also offers a taxi stand directly in front of the hotel, facilitating hassle-free access to various points of interest. Should you wish to experience Detroit by monorail, the Westin Book Cadillac is only one block away from the nearest station.

Transportation from the Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW):
Note the Westin Book Cadillac does not provide shuttle service.
Bus service: $2.  Estimated taxi fare: $50.

Driving from DTW:
Follow Interstate 94 East to Michigan Highway 10 South/Civic Center Drive.Exit at Larned Street/Cobo Hall. Turn left onto Washington Boulevard.

Find additional location and transportation details on the Westin Book Cadillac website.

April Award - A long-standing tradition at the VSA Conference, the April Award is given to an emerging professional in audience research/evaluation who shows great potential in the field.  We look forward to announcing this year's winner at the 2019 VSA Conference in Detroit, Michigan. (The Call for April Award applicants is now closed.)

Student ScholarshipStudent scholarships are given to promising young talent to support continued growth of the field. Please note the student scholarship is intended for current students and those who have completed their degrees within the current conference year. Note the application period is now closed. We are excited to announce our student scholarship winners in July in Detroit.