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Dear CONvergence 2012 (An open letter) - Paint It Black
Living the American dream one heartbreaking piece at a time
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Dear CONvergence 2012 (An open letter)
Dear CONvergence 2012,

If the hotel that serves as your function space sells out its room block in 36 hours from the time it opens, then it may be time to look at a new venue.

I love the Bloomington Radisson Sheraton Double Tree, I really do. It has served this convention very well for many a fun and incredibly inebriated, traffic-cone-wearing years. I have special love for the pool and cabana area, because the way it is laid out makes the room parties a unique experience with a level of guest interaction that would be nigh impossible to duplicate in any other environment. That rich engagement is a wonderful thing and I have many fond memories of CVGs past because of it.

But if you can sell out the entire hotel within thirty-six hours of opening the room block, there is something wrong. To put a fine point on it, the thing that is wrong is your venue is woefully undersized for the needs of your (consistently expanding) audience.

Your website's hotel page1 says it all:

2 years ago, the room block at the Sheraton for the 2010 convention took 1 month to fill.
1 year ago, the room block at the Sheraton for the 2011 convention took 1 week to fill.
This year, the room block at the Double Tree (same building as the last two years) took roughly 36 hours to fill.

As our primary obligation is to the Double Tree, and we had worked with last year's fill rate of a week, and have not as yet secured all agreements with the Sofitel to be able to take room requests for that venue. Hopefully needless to say, we are working on securing that agreement, as well as an agreement with other hotels as rapidly as possible. We ask everyone's patience.

I am a reasonable man. I accept that things that have limited supply and high demand will sell out quickly. But look at those metrics! They are telling an important story and the CVG board seems to be willfully ignoring that story. Since 2009, with every year that passes, you are selling out the main hotel's room block in approximately ¼ (1/4th) of the time of the year previous.

We are talking about a hotel room here, not tickets to meet Bono in person, nor free ounces of gold (or, for those DS9 Trekkies out there, bars of gold-pressed latinum). You are not Ticket Master. These are hotel rooms we're talking about. These are part of the lifeblood of your convention. I refuse to sit, salivating, over the "register!" button. Spending time, on notice from an email, hoping to reserve a hotel room? Waiting with hundreds of other attendees for time to tick down and the lock to open so the mad frenzy may begin to reserve a place we pay to sleep? That is not how I want to spend my time. It is disrespectful to expect us to expend our time this way as convention attendees.

The second paragraph on the hotel page, about the obligation to Double Tree and having not yet secured agreements with Sofitel? This simply highlights the problem. The demand has far outstripped the capability of the existing facility to support this convention's needs. If a thirty-six hour sell-out is a surprise and you do not have alternate options readily available (without the hotel page giving a chiding warning to people who choose to be proactive instead of becoming victims of an artificial shortage that, "any reservations made at the Sofitel before we have reached an agreement may not receive a convention rate") then you are Doing It Wrong. Either understand you have an overwhelming demand that is growing every year and plan accordingly (hint: that means having your plans with Sofitel and other venues in place before the main hotel sells out) or move. Anything else is penalizing your attendees.

I love this convention, but I'm starting to wonder if the people who are in charge are so in love with memories of a facility that they cannot see how they are doing their key demographic (hint: the Convention Attendees) a crucial disservice. And while I am but one man, I am surely not alone in feeling that the already frustrating & convoluted experience of dealing with the CVG Hospitality Staff paired with the inability to get a room booked IN OCTOBER is enough to put me off attending the con at all.

Yours,

-Feren

This entry was originally posted at http://feren.dreamwidth.org/430572.html.

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Current Location: Bolingbrook, IL

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Comments
moryssa From: moryssa Date: November 2nd, 2011 05:10 am (UTC) (Link)
I didn't even know they'd opened hotel reg. :/ We were actually just talking about it on Saturday night, and we all said that we hadn't heard anything about them opening it up. That sucks. :p

And I totally agree with everything else you wrote in your letter, as well.
enveri From: enveri Date: November 2nd, 2011 05:43 pm (UTC) (Link)

I have been really waffling on whether I wanted to try to attend Convergence. This is offputting to me as a potential attendee.

And if they're looking at this as a means of inhibiting growth of the convention, then that is even more repulsive and offensive. I have a hard time fathoming how the Board failed to see the pattern and plan accordingly. I'd say that MFF has spoiled me with good planning and forethought, but even Anthrocon, with all of its problems, understands that overflow hotels need to be in place before the main hotel goes up for reservations.
From: cadmarydini Date: November 2nd, 2011 07:09 pm (UTC) (Link)
Very happy I found your site. Will note it and return for more info.

ben_mouse From: ben_mouse Date: November 2nd, 2011 08:17 pm (UTC) (Link)
I wonder if this speaks to the state of general SF fandom. Are other major cons having this kind of growth?

Yes... it sounds like they need to plan for bigger crowds.
chefmongoose From: chefmongoose Date: November 11th, 2011 12:49 am (UTC) (Link)
Either understand you have an overwhelming demand that is growing every year and plan accordingly (hint: that means having your plans with Sofitel and other venues in place before the main hotel sells out) or move. Anything else is penalizing your attendees.

Agreed. Sometimes.. well, damnit, you get multi-year lock-ins, and it's hard to do. Anthrocon is struggling for hotel space- we'll be across five hotels this year in downtown Pittsburgh. But even as two of our hotels sell out in the first day now (and there's nothing we can do about it, they're full), we have the others ready to go. Those filled too, but it took us two months. (All this is why our growth this year was an anemic 3%- we just ran out of hotels).

I've heard that the hotel there is a wonderful, wonderful venue. But honestly, if the main hotel sold out in a week last year, you can be damn sure any convention I worked with would be told "Okay, so let's line up with the second hotel, and get feelers out to the third." Furfright in 2010 took about two months to sell out their main hotel, and then another month to fill their overflow. THEN they had a scramble for a third, and found it. This year the third hotel was there from the get-go.

So, agreed. It's time to either move, or have overflow hotels ready to book at the beginning.

Edited at 2011-11-11 12:50 am (UTC)
mia_mcdavid From: mia_mcdavid Date: November 20th, 2011 07:50 pm (UTC) (Link)
Well put. Having come to TC fandom too late in life to ever have been here for the wear-a-traffic-cone phase of my party career, I have no affection for the cabana area and think it probably draws too many people who are in it for the alcohol. And, everything else that you say is true beyond true.

Hint: Sofitel will take reservations over a year out, and if you book real early the rooms are not expensive. It's a much nicer hotel, too.
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