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People holding reservations shouldn't call the hotels to confirm, yet, as the hotels don't have the information. When One-Stop sends the information to the hotels, you can then re-confirm, if you feel the need to do so. we'll post when this happens.
We are checking to see whether the number of double-doubles reserved at the Hyatt significantly exceeds the number available. If there is a potential problem, we will get in touch with affected members in an effort to devise satisfactory solutions.
Also, we will soon be sending an e-mail survey to a random selection of members in order to verify the accuracy of the hotel reservation lists. If you receive a survey, please don't treat it as spam. Your response will make it easier for us to accommodate everyone at the con.
The Fairmont is giving us the steepest discount from standard rates of any of our hotels. Rooms are large, with especially spacious bathrooms, and none is farther than four doors from an elevator. Also, the Fairmont will be the site of the Masquerade, the Hugo Awards Ceremony, and several plays and musical performances. This is a particularly good choice for singles and doubles. (Triples are harder to accommodate, and more than three to a room is not allowed.)
The Swissotel won rave notices from Chicon V members who stayed there in 1991. Like the Fairmont, it is upscale with "European" touches. It will be the location for films and gaming.
Both the Fairmont and the Swissotel are close to the Hyatt (the former slightly nearer, the latter connected by an underground Pedway).
Chicon offers you a choice of three hotels: the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the Fairmont Hoteland the Swiss˘tel. The three facilities are close together. The Fairmont is directly south of the Hyatt, across a narrow street with little traffic. The Swiss˘tel is to the Hyatt's immediate east, reachable across another narrow street or by the underground Pedway.
All reservations must be made through our booking service, One-Stop Chicago. (See the hotel reservation form, above.) The one exception is suites at the Hyatt, which must be booked through Chicon's Suites Coordinator.
DO NOT CALL THE HOTELS TO MAKE RESERVATIONS.
Chicon rates for all three hotels are far below both their standard rates and the rates that they are currently charging attendees at other conventions. By comparison, the lowest rates available on Travelocity [www] for the weekend before Chicon (double room) are Hyatt $179/night, Fairmont $304/night, Swiss˘tel $189/night. Our rates are available for up to three nights before and after Chicon (that is, from Monday, August 28th, through Thursday, September 7th).
1. Members who want to reserve rooms during the period before and after the convention have encountered delays in obtaining confirmations. This problem is not due to any shortage of rooms. The cause is the hotels' practice of putting rooms into One-Stop Chicago's inventory little-by-little - especially for nights well outside the "core" of the convention. Some mundane conventions overblock badly and don't release unneeded rooms until it's too late to resell them. To avoid being stung, the hotels hold back space until demand emerges. In Chicon's case, demand emerged much, much more rapidly than they expected. Both One-Stop and the hotels are scrambling to catch up.
2. Our room rate negotiations with the Swissotel suffered a serious snafu that led to our announcing the wrong rates. The rates that the hotel meant to offer are very good - $109/night for single/double and $139/night for triple/quad - but are a little higher than what we thought they were. I'm very sorry that this mistake occurred. If I had been paying closer attention, it wouldn't have. The moral is, if you set up a fool-proof system, take into account the ingenuity of fools.
3. If you encounter any difficulties in making your reservation, please let me know at email@example.com. If we hear about problems first-hand, rather than via newsgroup gossip, we can deal with them more effectively.
When we learned that the room rates at the Swissotel would be different from those announced, we sent an explanatory letter and revised reservation forms to all of our members. Some people apparently misapprehended that the new form means that they must redo their reservations. Not so. If you have already made your hotel reservation and are satisfied with it, you can simply ignore our latest mailing (or pass it on
to a friend).
Chairman, Chicon 2000
Important Hotel Information
PLEASE READ BEFORE MAKING YOUR RESERVATION
(800) 424-5248 (U.S., Canada)
+1 847 940-2152 (Rest of World)
8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. U.S. Central Time
About One-Stop Chicago
Information from Progress Report 5
by Tom Veal, firstname.lastname@example.org
One-Stop Chicago is the Chicago Convention and Visitors Bureau's official booking service, used by most of the major conventions held in the Chicago area. It has been in operation for over 50 years. In fact, its direct predecessor handled hotel reservations (quite satisfactorily) for Chicon IV in 1982.
One-Stop's main facility in suburban Deerfield has 192 voice phone lines and 33 round-the-clock fax lines (16 incoming, 17 outgoing). It is staffed from 8:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. every weekday. An 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shift takes reservations by telephone, while the 5:00 to 11:00 p.m. shift handles mail and fax reservations. Reservations can also be made at any time over the Internet.
Although One-Stop has a first-rate reputation and is very convenient, our initial plan was not to use a booking service for Chicon. As will be discussed below, the service would cost our members something (not a lot, but more than zero), and it didn't seem essential in light of Chicon V's mostly trouble-free experience with booking rooms directly with the hotels.
What changed our plans was the Hyatt chain's decision - made only a couple of months ago - to eliminate the in-house reservation staff at the Hyatt Regency Chicago. In the future, calls to Hyatt reservations will be transferred to a central facility that is oriented primarily toward the needs of business and individual leisure travelers, not conventions. The people with whom we work at the Hyatt were the first to warn us that the new arrangement was likely to cause trouble for Chicon. In particular, we would have no effective means to prevent overbooking, special requests (such as room blocking) would be difficult to honor, and dealing with problems would require inefficient back-and-forth among the national facility, the Hyatt's front desk and Chicon's hotel liaisons.
After considering various alternatives (such as setting up our own booking service, trying to make special arrangements with national Hyatt, etc.), we concluded that One-Stop Chicago would offer the best service for our members. All three of our hotels support this decision; in fact, they are paying One-Stop's $16 per reservation service charge. (Incidentally, Chicon room rates were negotiated months ago, so the One-Stop fee hasn't been loaded onto them; indeed, one hotel responded to our choice by lowering its rates.)
The down side is that One-Stop requires a $120 deposit for each reservation, payable by check or credit card at the time of booking. The deposit is applied to your room charge, but, as any fan can figure out, One-Stop gets the benefit of earnings on the float. The amount involved is tiny for any individual attendee, but nobody likes to pay for anything in advance. We are sorry for the inconvenience and hope that our favorable room rates (the best quality/price ratio of any Worldcon since Chicon V, we think) will provide some consolation.
Hotels. As of 29-Jul-1998, we have signed contracts with all three of our hotels. One lesson that we have learned from another Worldcon's problems is that room blocks should be too big rather than too small. Therefore, our block for the core nights is over 2,500 rooms, with generous allotments for fans who arrive early or stay late. A consequence of this strategy is that we risk having to pay substantial facilities fees if room pickups aren't up to expectations. Happily, because we don't have to pay charges to a convention center, we can face that prospect, if not with equanimity, at least without stark terror.
Contracts are complete with our three main hotels. The Headquarters hotel is the Hyatt Regency Chicago, with the Swissôtel and the Fairmont as overflow. They have all given us the function space as well as the rooms we need and are excited about having our business; and the space is wonderful. One doesn't even have to go outside to reach the other hotels from the Hyatt as they are all connected through an underground mall.
If one is a facilities liaison what would you think is the best news? Well how about more space at your disposal! They are taking out some fountains in the West Tower of the Hyatt and putting in a large divisible Ballroom, with construction to be done late 1999.
All the hotels are equipped with rooms for the physically challenged; parking rates have been negotiated; and we are working on some special deals in the restaurants.
We are looking forward to giving you all the information, and our great rates, about 8-12 months out. They are not yet prepared to take reservations!
Future reports will include what will be located where and hopefully answer any of your questions. Feel free to send any comments or questions to email@example.com.
A. Since hotel contracts have just been negotiated, patience is in order. Our three hotels - the Hyatt Regency Chicago, the Fairmont and the Swissôtel - have different characters, and each will appeal to a different subset of fans. As our headquarters facility, the Hyatt will be closest to "the action", but the other two hotels are very short distances away. From any spot in the Hyatt to the most remote reach of the Fairmont is no farther than one might walk in a mid-sized mall, and the trip can be completed without going out of doors.
Though we will have preliminary notions of hotel rates soon (probably before you read this), the figures won't really be set until hotel cards go out in late 1999 or early 2000. Many fans are apprehensive, we know, due to the relatively high prices at a few recent Worldcon hotels and the problems that the Boston in 2001 bid encountered in its negotiations (ultimately prompting it to decamp to Orlando). Chicago hotels are more reasonable than those in Boston, but it is only realistic to note that several recent trends have made it harder to obtain the dirt cheap lodgings that fans remember fondly.
First, the hotel industry isn't as "hungry" as it was a decade ago. Hoteliers have learned the art of "yield management" (pioneered by the airlines) and have overcome the disastrous vacancy rates that used to lure managers into desperate efforts to fill rooms at any price.
Second, Labor Day weekend is losing its wallflower status. One of our hotels has been approached by at least two other groups for the year 2000, and tourist traffic has picked up to the point where another has cut its proffered room block below what Chicon V filled in 1991. The period is still soft for the hospitality trade but not absolutely mushy.
Third, though the country as a whole doesn't worry about inflation these days, labor-intensive employers do. The U.S. has enjoyed an unusual period of wage stability that now seems to be coming to an end. Further tightening of the labor market, perhaps combined with yet another minimum wage hike, would slash and burn hotels' profit margins, leading to higher prices and leaner service for us consumers. No, this is not the prologue to announcing that single rooms will cost $300 a night, just an attempt at conservatism and caution. What we hope for - and will work hard to get - is rates that aren't much higher, in real dollar terms, than those at Chicon V.
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