I've got an idea about how we could improve the MRS conferences: Day passes. There are a lot of attendees that are local and only want to go for one section of a symposium (half a day) or one or two talks. I think people right now resort to sneaking in to the MRS in order to see one research group that really pertains to what they're doing. Which is why we had to have that poor guard standing in the lobby all the time checking badges.
I think in order to address this problem, MRS should issue day passes-- charge maybe a little bit more than 1/5 of the full week price, so that if you wanted to go for 3 days you might as well get the season pass-- and maybe then people wouldn't have to sneak around in order to learn. I realize that the logistics of this might be a little difficult to figure out-- you've got to balance fairness to people from out of town, and keep the community feel of the meeting. But hey, just throwing it out there. So that students whose advisers won't pay for them to go to the full meeting can come, too!
Thought of this because my labmate N. Adelstein was reading the story from Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman! about going to a gravity conference a day late and describing to the cab driver what the scientists would have looked like (guys wandering around not paying attention to much and saying things like G-mu-nu! G-mu-nu!). How would you blend in at an MRS conference...? Look uncomfortable dressed in nice clothes, and get excited about anything with the word nano...?