Author Topic: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan  (Read 29500 times)

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Offline eth0s

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Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« on: Wed, 21 January 2015, 12:01:25 »
Attention Geekhackers:

We can organize to buy keycaps around the world, but we can't come together to make some hotel reservations?  I do not believe that.

I joke around sometimes, but this is serious beans.  We should try to negotiate a block of rooms at a hotel in Chicago.

It would help if we knew the venue of Keycon 2015, so we can try to be within walking distance.

However, even without knowing where exactly we are going, we can plan a hotel. 

Step the First:  Does anybody have a friend, relative, sister, cousin, uncle, brother, ex-wife, current lover, anybody you know that works for a hotel or hotel company?  If yes, then you should be named the honorary king and/or queen (or both) of Keycon 2015, because you can get a us a discount rate, if you pick up the phone and call your contact person.  Don't be shy.  Maybe you haven't spoken to that person in 20 years.  So what.  Call and pretend like you didn't realize it's been so long.  Be like, "hey bud/bro/sis/uncle/ex-wife, wussup?  So can you get a deal on some hotel rooms for some nerds I know on the internets?  kewl beans, thx."  It will work.  Trust me.

Step the Second:  If Step the First doesn't work, then I will have to call hotels and try to negotiate a block rate.  This sounds great, but all hotels will want to know how many rooms we want to rent, and for how long, of course, so this is where the planning part comes in.  You need to work on your planning skillz.  Read a book.  Take a seminar at the Adult Learning Annex.  Read a self-help pamphlet.  Watch an infomercial.  I dunno.  Make a Plan.  Stick to the Plan.  Remember, failing to plan is planning to fail.  I just learned that at the Learning Annex.  So, let's get the dates you want to be in Chicago.  And how many rooms.  I want my own room, b/c I shy, and I don't want you guys to see me in my sexy sleepwear, but some of you might want to share a room to save money.  Which is a good idea.

Step the Third:  Group-buy.  This is the worst option, because it involves collecting money up-front.  However, it is also the easiest way to negotiate a group rate, when offer to pay up front for a block of rooms.  If we had enough rooms, they would let us use a conference room for free.  But that would take a lot of rooms.  Plus, it involves collecting money up-front.

Anyway, can we try to plan this?  Please?
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Offline mkawa

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 21 January 2015, 14:57:52 »
we need a venue as well. i'm all ears here. also, if you are a student of university of illinois at chicago, please shoot me a PM

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #2 on: Wed, 21 January 2015, 15:10:06 »
we need a venue as well. i'm all ears here. also, if you are a student of university of illinois at chicago, please shoot me a PM

PM'd I think I can help.
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Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 28 January 2015, 13:58:10 »
I would wait until we get a venue nailed down.  It's easy to get a venue, but getting one for free is the tricky part. 

My suggestion is rent a Keycon House on AirBNB, pile everyone into that, party through the night, cook a giant brunch in the morning, take a party bus to the airport, send off new friends with hugs and gourmet chocolates, and never forget.

The biggest difficulty I see is actually getting enough commitments from out-of-towners far enough in advance to reserve an exact number of rooms.  I think simply picking a hotel close to the venue, without regards for a reservation of a block of rooms, would be an achievement.

My roommate used to work in the Hilton family, he used to travel with rock bottom rates, maybe he could help us out if we need it, I'm not sure.
« Last Edit: Wed, 28 January 2015, 14:12:35 by prdlm2009 »
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Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #4 on: Thu, 29 January 2015, 07:00:47 »
Another suggestion.  For the venue, get a hotel conference space.  Have the hotel cater a meal, probably lunch, then we can go out to dinner.  Because we will pay for other services, they probably will give a discount on rooms.  Everybody has to chip in a few bucks for the total event, but it could provide security and convenience for the venue, along with helping with long-term planning for attendees.  How much would a conference room for a day and catered meal cost for the expected amount of attendees, really?

Plus, I think this community has enough generosity that we will not have trouble funding such a setup and providing donations for those that are short on funds.

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Offline i3oilermaker

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #5 on: Thu, 29 January 2015, 09:08:30 »
Hotel space is likely the most expensive option

Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #6 on: Thu, 29 January 2015, 11:12:00 »
Hotel space is likely the most expensive option

Yea, I know, but we geeks have the cash to spend on all these keyboard goods, I figure we could open up the wallet for a little convention fee.  But that would reduce the accessibility of the event, so I can understand why it is not the ideal option.
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Offline SamirD

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #7 on: Sat, 28 March 2015, 21:42:47 »
So I'm glad I checked out the forum.  I've grown up in the hotel industry.

That being said, I don't have any connections to Chicago, but some very powerful tips from knowing how it works on the inside.

First thing, you will need to narrow down to hotels that have a conference space that is sufficient and available on the day(s) of Keycon 2015.

Next, you need to contact the properties that have this space and talk to their general manager, NOT the sales manager.  GM is the one who calls the shots.

You need to let them know about how many people will be in attendance for the conference room and get a quote for that.  See what addons they can provide and whatnot.  Ask if they have rooms available during that time.  DO NOT ask how much or reply with how many rooms you will need.  Just say, 'we will let you know' and thank them for their time.

Since keeping costs down is a big part of the equation here, the right conference cost/room availability will win out--especially if the GM is like 'oh we have plenty of rooms' or 'wide open'.  That means we are a big group and mean something.  Anything like 'we're getting pretty full' or 'there's two other groups that weekend' may either be bs to raise the price or real, meaning that we may not get full priority.

Once the venue is set with the GM at the property of our choice, here comes the big power play.  The rates you find on hotels.com, priceline, orbitz, etc. typically pay the hotel less than 80% of their lowest advertised rate.  It's true.  So if you're paying $60, rack rate is $75, the hotel is getting a paltry $45, which will usually be just enough to cover the expenses, royalty fees, and give them a few bucks for the trouble--not enough to make a real profit.  This is strong motivation to give a $50-55 rate for a special group.

So you call back the GM after heavily researching the rates for the rooms at the place online via the priceline et al sites.  You also research the brand web site to see how low they advertise their rate.  This should let you know how low this should go.  Then you talk to the GM about rooms--'We don't know how many rooms we'll need, and I know a lot of us will just go and book online which just makes less for your bottom line due to all the reservation fees.  So why not give us a special rate, that we will book directly with you, that keeps you in the green and gives us a deal we won't find elsewhere.'  This should lead to a very nice rate that anyone can get without committing to a whole block of rooms.  Worst case, the GM should be able to match the lowest rates on the priceline et al sites, but going $5 below those rates still puts more in their pocket than those sites, so play hardball.

I'm in Milwaukee, so Chicago is close by, but I'm terribly busy and depending on the date for Keycon, I may not even be able to attend.  I hope that I've been able to at least lend a hand via some advice.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #8 on: Sat, 28 March 2015, 21:48:57 »
Just FYI, the location/hotel has been chosen: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=67621.0

Thanks for the tips, very insightful! I wonder how many people are 100% committed and need a room. I've found that attendance at meetups can be a little flaky.
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Offline vivalarevolución

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 02 April 2015, 07:15:37 »
Wheel and deal, baby!
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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 07 April 2015, 10:44:36 »
Just FYI, the location/hotel has been chosen: https://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=67621.0

Thanks for the tips, very insightful! I wonder how many people are 100% committed and need a room. I've found that attendance at meetups can be a little flaky.
You're welcome. :)  Yeah, that's the problem with meets--it's hard to get a solid number.  But putting out an attractive rate doesn't hurt the hotel.  If we don't get the room, it will either sit empty or be rented for more if it's a busy weekend.


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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 10 April 2015, 15:46:37 »
100% committed for night of the 15th and 16th.  PM me if you're trying to buddy up! ;)
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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #12 on: Sun, 12 April 2015, 19:55:23 »
I'll be there however long CBA is, so I guess 15th - 18th.  Need to find a room doe.

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Re: Keycon 2015 - We Need a Chicago Hotel Plan
« Reply #13 on: Thu, 16 April 2015, 11:57:55 »
I will be there from 14th (afternoon) and leaving on the morning of the 17th. Staying at conference hotel. :]