--On Wednesday, 28 November, 2007 23:45 -0500 Dave Crocker
Your last sentence is interesting, however, in the idea that
we would have to pay extra in order to ensure that the hotel
does not make it impossible for us to do our work. While that
wasn't your wording, I think it is a realistic implication.
It is just a guess, but I think something else is going on, and
it was that, rather than "pay extra to get acceptable
accommodations", that was implied in my earlier comments.
As I understand the hotel selection process, we are getting
prices from the hotels for some sort of package. Those prices
--effectively bids when Ray and the secretariat contact more
than one hotel in the same city or even hotels in different
cities on the same schedule-- are for a time and place, not some
rate that they would give us at any time we asked.
Assuming that the hotels are rational --and few would be in
business for long if they weren't-- there are supply and demand
aspects of those bids, assuming we are quoted a penny under
nominal rack rates. Were we to consider Phoenix, we would
almost certainly get a better rate in July than in February. I
assume that we generally do better in Minneapolis in March than
we might do in June. But a hotel has a special incentive to
offer us (or any other candidate for holding meetings or taking
up a lot of rooms) very low rates (measured in the differential
from their average rack rate or even their standard corporate
rate) when, for some reason or another, they expect a
lower-than-usual occupancy rate, especially from people who are
booking only a short time in advance and who, in today's world
of information availability about facilities, can have access
before booking to information like "under construction, full of
noise and dust".
To take a not-very-random example for illustration purposes, the
average nominal rack rates at the Parker House are astronomical
and, when the hotel is not disrupted, my impression is that they
usually get them (or their standard corporate rate equivalent).
Our conference rate, while still fairly high compared to what we
would have spent at a nominally less exotic facility, was a huge
discount from those rates. Assuming that they didn't decide to
lose money on the IETF, my guess as to why we saw those very low
rates at that particular time was precisely because they knew
they would be under construction, that many of their facilities
would be closed, and that the place would be at high risk of
being generally disrupted. Even the seemingly marginal stuff
figures into this: while I agree with Phillip that it was bad
judgment to try to squeeze a private party into a high-traffic
corridor, if all of their facilities had been available, they
would have had less incentive to do so and, probably, more
alternate circulation paths available. So I fear that we are
getting some differentially low prices because the hotels know
that their facilities won't be up to their normal standards.
And I think we are finding that it is unwise to take such deals,
even (or especially) if the differential is very large.
FWIW, if the enemy is renovations, or even huge and noisy
construction projects across the street or in adjacent
buildings, a model of going repeatedly to the same venues and
building relationships would not help us get more than
better-quality sympathy. Hotel behavior is not a coin-toss,
even with the same hotel. If there have been no renovation
projects for several years in a row, that actually increases the
odds that there will be one next time, rather than assuring that
there will not be.
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