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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or contact Norwescon through our social media sites.