Norwescon 36 Room Cancellation Policy

This entry was published on December 11, 2011 and may be out of date. For the most current information on this year's Norwescon, please see our most recent blog posts. Thank you!

A change is coming in the way we reserve rooms for Norwescon. It is a significant change for our members but we believe it will help us make more convention rooms available for our members at the cheaper convention rate.

This year, for the second year in a row, Norwescon’s room block was sold out in November, six months before the con. Our members are forced to reserve early or risk being shut out. Current policy allows these reservations to be snapped up for free, and then cancelled with no penalty as late as 48 hours before the convention.

With early reservations come last minute cancellations–lots of them. In recent years Norwescon has lost hundreds of room nights in the last weeks before con. The room block for Norwescon 34 fell from a peak of 2,078 room nights down to 1,673, with 255 room nights lost in the final two weeks before con. This total barely exceeded our contractual obligation to book 1,620 room nights at the convention.

That was a good year, however. In 2008, 2009, and 2010, cancellations caused the room block to fall even farther–below our contract obligation, down to 1,603, 1,437, and 1,610 nights, respectively. The Doubletree could have, but did not, enforce penalties against the convention during those years.

The worst part about last minute cancellations is that cancelled rooms do not go back into the room block. Instead, the hotel resells these rooms at a 40% (or higher) premium over the convention rate–or else the rooms remain empty. This is not what we want. During Norwescon we want to fill every room possible with Norwescon members who are paying the Norwescon rate.

The Doubletree is not a villain here–they have been very willing to work with us. Norwescon has been the victim of its own growth and success. We have decided to make a change in an effort to make this better.

Starting with Norwescon 36, we have asked the Doubletree to collect a one-night room deposit when the room is first reserved. This deposit will remain fully refundable until 90 days before the convention, which for next year would be Friday, December 28, 2012. By agreement with the hotel, all rooms cancelled by this date will be returned to the room block and made available for reservation by other Norwescon members.

This year, the room block for Norwescon 36 in 2013 will be open on Sunday, April 15, 2012, the Sunday after Norwescon 35 ends.

We know it is an inconvenience to pay for a hotel room months before it will be used, and that this change will present a difficulty for some. We believe, in the end, this will make rooms more available for our members at the cheaper convention rate.

To ask questions or provide feedback, please write to us at, or contact Norwescon through our social media sites.

21 thoughts on “Norwescon 36 Room Cancellation Policy”

  1. I can understand the new policy for the 2013 convention. What I am not sure about is the 90 day grace period. I figure a 30-45 day grace period may be better. Many people are not able to guarantee they will have that time period off from their jobs 3 months in advance. On the other hand, I do see a need for the policy to be started for some cancelling up to the last 2 weeks and others not being able to get the convention rate. As for the hotel not allowing that cancelled room being put back into the room block, not sure why they do not do that.

  2. I like this. One suggestion: at the beginning of December of next year, send an email to everyone who has a reservation (or have the hotel do it) reminding them that this is the last chance to cancel their room without penalty.

    As for why the hotel wouldn’t put the room back into the block: they can charge extra if it’s not part of the pre-arranged convention rate. 😛 That aside, glad to hear the hotel has treated the con so well when we’ve come in under our room block!

  3. So let me get this right — I have to somehow pull another at least 120 dollars out of thin air at Con this year, when I’m already scraping the bottom of the barrel to be able to simply attend this year, in order to reserve a room for next year? Now I can totally respect why the Doubletree would want a deposit, and why they don’t return cancellations to the convention room block (they want to make more money, this doesn’t make them a villain, just a business), and I can see why this would make them happier with the convention — but don’t try to tell me this is “for the members” cause I know spin when I hear it.

  4. I agree that 90 days is far too long. I think 45 would be a happy compromise between 90 (too long) and 30 (too short). Planning ahead on the part of the convention goer is just hat. Planning ahead. I think that many people are capable of it, you just have to be firm and forthcoming about what your policy is ahead of time. There are plenty of forums available to get rid of a room you cannot use after it has been reserved and paid for. Maybe if the con strengthened those contact resources on its website, that would be a good thing, too.

  5. I understand that the way things have been has not been working, and that the last minute cancellations have affected how many people can get a room at the discounted rate. however, I have to agree with tamara and say that for me, it takes all those extra months to save enough to pay for the room by the time norwescon rolls around. what this means is that who will end up staying at the double tree in 2013 are the members who have money to spare, while those of us who are less well-heeled will have to stay elsewhere where we can reserve in advance without coming up with a bunch of money. ultimately this creates a hierarchy within norwescon. I think that a bunch of creative people could come up with a policy that doesn’t penalize its poorer members so severely. one idea would be to have cancellations go through norwescon instead of the double tree and ask members to pay a deposit 90 days before the con. that would still allow the less wealthy members to reserve a room

  6. and commit to it with a deposit in advance or give it up, allowing another norwescon member to step in at that time and get a room. please be more creative and consider those of us with fewer resources to spare.

  7. Thanks for the comments. We were not pressured to make this decision–the executive team voted to move forward. The problem with a shorter cancellation period is that the room block closes 21 days before the con (even if there are unsold rooms) so that the hotel has a chance to sell the rooms to other customers. This is a standard clause with hotel contracts. So, if we cut off the grace period at 45 days, there would only be 24 days to get the cancelled rooms into the hands of other members.

    It is our hope that rooms in the convention block will be available much later in the year for people who do not want or are not able to pay for another room right at the end of con. You will have an excellent chance of getting a room 90 days before con, when cancellations occur from people who want to avoid the penalty and the rooms are returned to the Norwescon block.

  8. About time there is an intelligent effort to fix the reservation mess. Each year, I phone in early November and always the rooms are full. Even if I filled out a room request the year before. Now I find out that 1/3 of those people renege on their reservations forcing me to pay full price? About time you tried to fix it. All the internet reservation sites make you pay for your entire stay at time of reservation and there is no refund for cancellations. One night’s down payment gets you off easy and it’s refundable into the bargain! I doubt that all the rooms will be reserved right at April 7, 2012, especially if it requires a commitment of money. People will likely have a couple months to get the $120.00 together. Or even better–how about someone who reneges on their reservation never gets to reserve in future years without putting down a good-size deposit?

  9. I’m also glad you are addressing this problem. I have experienced the room block being sold out three years in a row and have had to pay the higher Double-tree rate as a result. This year I booked in October and could only get 2 of the 3 nights at the Norwescon rate. The room block was sold out for one of the nights– 6 months before the convention. It is really frustrating to find out that Norwescon wasn’t even making their room block after all of that. I’m also glad that you are announcing this so far in advance so I can plan for the expense ahead of time.

    • If anyone has trouble reserving rooms in the Norwescon room block before an announcement is made that the room block is sold out, please contact the Norwescon hotel liaison at We can usually intervene and get this sorted out for you.

      So–If you have a reservation outside the Norwescon room block (higher than the $120/night pre-tax convention rate) that was made before November 7, 2011, please e-mail us, and include the confirmation number in your e-mail!

  10. What happens if you have reserved 3 nights and then find out you can’t make it Thursday night (and have to arrive Friday instead)? Are we allowed to cancel only 1 of our 3 nights less than 90 days in advance without penalty? I’m asking because half the time I think I can arrive on Thursday and then I get pulled away on business and can’t arrive until Friday. Will I be forced to pay for Thursday even though I’m only using the room on Friday and Saturday night? Or am I exempt from the penalty since I’m still keeping my Friday night and Saturday night reservation?

    • Krisha, I received the following response from the hotel:

      I spoke with David and to answer the question below – there would be a charge if they altered their arrival date after the cancellation period. If they shortened their stay there would be no charge but if they changed the arrival date to come in later then they would be charged for that night like a cancellation. So if they had a reservation for Thursday – Sunday and they decided after the 90 days they wanted to check out on Saturday there would be no charge / penalty. If they made a reservation for Thursday – Sunday and then after the 90 days expired decided to arrive on Friday they would be charged for that Thursday night as it would be considered canceling a night.

      Me again: I asked a follow up and this is apparently a limitation of their reservation software.

  11. “This year, the room block for Norwescon 36 in 2013 will be open on the last day of Norwescon 35, which is Sunday, April 7, 2012.” Sunday is April 8. I’m sure this is all over & done but the shouting, but with regards to ‘if we cut off the grace period at 45 days, there would only be 24 days to get the canceled rooms into the hands of other members’, I have to wonder: with almost everyone seemingly living connectedly minute to minute on their smartphones, and with your regular emails, why do you consider three-plus weeks too short a time for getting canceled rooms back to attendees?

  12. From what I have always been told – in previous years I have even been told I was placed onto it – that there is an actual waiting list of people who are waiting for cancellations to get into the NorWes Con reservation block.

    I know with me and my family(and friends) between us we have 3 rooms reserved – and back-up people in line to take them if we can not take them.

    perhaps if a policy was made to get the Con rate people reserved through the Con Hotel Liaison – then cancelled through them also – a waiting list could work with a shorter grace period of 45 days? But that would mean more work for our poor Liaison staff – ( I would volunteer to set up and run the list for NorWesCon 36 and beyond if needed – I have been looking for some new volunteer opportunities)

    Also – how does this affect the people like myself who need the handicap accessible rooms? there is a HUGE demand for them but very FEW of them available?

  13. Dear Mr. Black: Thank you very much for assisting in the running of NorWesCon. But the fact remains that since this is the first year of this new system you have absolutely no idea how fast the reservations will go, so the only way to guarantee myself a room in the Doubletree for next year is to make my reservation on Sunday. I have limited mobility and in practical terms cannot stay in any other hotel and still enjoy my convention (I’ve tried) — so you’re reassurance of an “excellent chance” of getting a room at the 90-day-out mark doesn’t exactly cut it for me. I’ve been attending NorWesCon for over 20 years, I have never ghosted and I would never cancel a hotel reservation without a genuine emergency being involved. I’m not mad at the con or anybody else (and obviously there’s nothing personal about a policy change) — I just can’t help but get frustrated whenever I feel like I am, yet again, being punished for the irresponsible actions of other people.

  14. So I reserve my room and just before con my son or daughter has to go to the hospital and I cannot make it, you keep my $120.00 and say thanks for 20 years of patronage? Nice! Another example is groups like ours that utilize 20+ rooms have to shell out $2400.00 plus Uncle Sams cut 6 months before the convention during a recession? Somehow I think there is a solution without punishing your patrons.

    Blaine Burgess

  15. A downside of this change is that it will cut out a (not so small) segment of the fandom that save their money over the course of months in order to afford their hotel room at the convention and cannot afford to part with the $120+ for the “one-night deposit” up front.

    You state that the rooms that get cancelled are not returned to the room block, the hotel marks them up instead by 40% and then complains that they can’t fill them. If they simply returned them to the room block maybe they wouldn’t have this problem.

    Why do they need to charge deposits in order to make this happen? People every year are looking for a room at the convention at the last minute and get turned away. The rooms could be filled easily if they didn’t mark them up when they are cancelled (and cancelled in compliance with their regular cancellation policy, no less).

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