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UPDATE: San Marcos 2023 Embassy Suites Room Block...


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Greetings All,

An important update to the room block going live and open for reservations on the 3rd of September. The new time for the opening of the block is MIDNIGHT, central time, on the 3rd. So, essentially Friday night. The reason for this is, as I was discussing this issue with our room block manager the original time I negotiated of 10AM central will rely on a staff member to manually go into their system and unlock it at the time we requested. This introduces an element of human error that I want to eliminate. The room block manager can program the system to open on a certain day - in our case, 3 September - but it has to be at 00:00 if left in automatic mode. 

I know this may be inconvenient for many and I apologize up front. However, I want to eliminate the possibility on the morning of the 3rd, the room block not opening as we had expected. 

Between now and the 3rd of September the room block is my number one priority to ensure that to goes as smooth, transparent and as fair as possible to all potential convention attendees. 

I'm going to go back to my original post from 2 days ago and edit the time in that post as well to eliminate any confusion this may cause.

As always, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you many have. You may contact me at chair.nats2023@gmail.com.

-Len Pilhofer

 

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Ok, I got shut out this year and want to avoid that next year and I want to make sure I've got this right. From what you said the room block will open at Midnight CST on Saturday, Sept. 3rd, or 1:00 AM EST, on SUNDAY Sept. 4th. Or is it 1:00 AM  EST on Saturday, Sept. 3rd? I just want to know on which night I'm going to lose sleep. 

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Hum...I guess that means I don't loose any sleep because that is 7:00pm Hawaii Standard Time Friday, Sept. 2nd. Lucky me.

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Ron...the block will open Friday night when the clock turns to 12:00AM which is the first minute of Saturday, 3 September. This is central time which means 1:00AM for those on the east coast. The reservation system that Embassy Suites uses - essentially Hilton's - is programed to open the block on 3 September.

-Len

 

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Len: I have some questions that hopefully you can answer and provide some clarifications for trying to get a room when the block opens at 12:01AM (CST) on Sept. 3rd...

1) Should we be trying to reserve a room on the Hilton/Embassy Suite website (on line)?  While you mentioned working with the "room block" manager; is their WEBSITE set up to take reservations at that time?

2) IS THERE ANY SORT OF CODE NEEDED TO GET THE CONVENTION RATE? And, is the code the same whether you reserve by phone or on line?

3) If we try to reserve a room through the Hilton/Embassy Suites 1-800 number (their national reservations call center); are THEY aware of the convention rate and ready to give us that? Many times in the past THOSE people have not been aware of the local arrangements for the convention.

4) Will we be able to call the San Marcos Embassy Suites hotel directly at 12:01AM to make a reservation for the show? Will they have any extra people on duty to handle the reservations at that late hour, considering the anticipated "rush"?

5) For that matter, is the H/ES national reservation center aware they will get over 100 calls in that first half hour of the middle of the night and are they staffing any extra people to handle that "rush"?

What we could really use from you and your staff is instructions on the BEST way to make our reservations, the best way that Embassy Suites says they'll be able to handle/process our reservations, as well as the phone numbers and website info.

It's great to know that y'all are working to avoid the "early sales" problems that Omaha had so that we all have an equal chance to get a room at the convention hotel. However, at the same time, the method you've chosen is setting up a possible "stampede" for rooms in the middle of the night when "reservations" (locally and nationally) are likely the least staffed and less likely to be able to meet the demand. I'm also wondering if their website is equipped to handle 100s of reservation requests in a 5-10min period when the "clock" clicks to 12:01, or if it might crash.....

Looking forward to hearing your answers to my (our) concerns!

 

Gil Hodges

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Just out of curiosity I tried booking a room at the embassy suites during our convention and it is showing the hotel is sold out! 
There is a total of 283 rooms at the hotel and our block is 260.

Mike

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To answer several of your questions above:

The room block for our convention - 260 rooms - will not be visible or available to book by anyone until the block opens up at midnight, 3 September (Friday night, early Saturday morning). I have looked myself via the link given to me by our room block coordinator and indeed it shows "sold out". This will change on the 3rd. For the rooms above and beyond the 260 (20 or so) I do not have insight as to why they are showing sold out for the same time frame. I am only focused on the IPMS block and my requests/questions to the hotel in San Marcos are again, only focused on those.

On a day or two before the 3rd, I will be creating a link on the convention website - www.nats2023.com - that takes one to the Embassy Suites booking site dedicated to our convention. This link/site also has the code needed to get our special rate - $160/night. I am not posting that code or the link any earlier due to the fact that some will take that code and attempt work the reservation system to their advantage. I am under no obligation to release that code early and I am working to make the very-high-in-demand reservation process as fair and transparent for all members regardless of status within the society.

Yes, there are 3 overflow hotels: Holiday Inn, Holiday Inn Express, and Candlewood Suites. We have signed contracts with these hotels and the rates will be $152-$154, depending on which hotel you choose. Like the Embassy Suites, I will be linking their dedicated reservation websites (with the IPMS code already programmed in) to our website - www.nats2023.com at the same time as the Embassy Suites link. All four will be on the main page of our site as well as under the "Hotels" link/page.

And finally, the reason the block is going live at midnight (central time) on the 3rd of September is that I had a choice of either letting the Hilton reservation system and our room block open up automatically on a predetermined date or request a hotel staff member to log into their system and open it up at a day/time I had requested. After chewing on this for a few days I thought that leaving it in automatic mode would be less problematic. If we are going to rely on a person to go in and manually open it up, I thought that anything could happen that day - the employee calls in sick (I hate to say it, but COVID is still swirling around out there), or the employee gets pulled away to address other issues before the time we asked him/her to open up the block, or, they just plain forget. Then, everyone is getting super frustrated when the block does not open when I told them it would. Since it is being left in automatic mode, the time is set for the beginning of the day - which is midnight - and I was told that time of day cannot be changed. Yes, there will be a "stampede", but the stampede will happen regardless of when we set the block to open up. This is just a facet of our conventions, unfortunately.

Trust me when I tell you that the hotel reservation process is the most stressful part of the convention for the chairman (well, for this chairman, anyway) ...and it has been the primary focus of my daily life since Omaha concluded. It will continue to be a main focus in my life in the coming weeks and months. I take this very seriously and am putting much effort to make it go as smooth as possible. 

I stand by to continue to answer questions that are within my knowledge base and reach.

-Len

 

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6 hours ago, MRechlicz said:

Just out of curiosity I tried booking a room at the embassy suites during our convention and it is showing the hotel is sold out! 
There is a total of 283 rooms at the hotel and our block is 260.

Mike

Me too.

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Len, thanks for the concise reply. I agree that waiting to post the codes and links needed til just before the opening time is good "insurance" against people who want to game the system. It's clear you and your staff have a good idea of what needs to be done and are taking action on the items within your control. I also agree that the rush may indeed be unavoidable no matter the time you select.

However, can you please check, address, and pass on to us what preparations THEY are making to accommodate the rush? Are ALL 3 of their reservation systems (website, 1-800#, and the San Marcos ES hotel) prepared, or just the link you'll be publishing? I hate to think that despite your plans and precautions that IF that website crashes, or people hold on the reservations phone line for 20-30mins (or worse, cannot get thru at all) and then cannot get a room; that you and your staff will be blamed for their lack of preparation.

Having been a member of the 1997 Nats committee, and a long time IPMS member and Nats attendee (over 30 shows), I understand and sympathize with the stress of trying to "get it right". It's been my experience that it's the hotel system (including last year's early sales) that's caused the consistent problems of not giving the convention rate on all 3 systems, or telling people that that the room block's sold out prematurely, or simply not being prepared so that people cannot get on line or through on the phone. Thus my harping on what THEY are doing to avoid these problems. Thanks!

Gil

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After experiences with IPMS Nats and booking hotels at other events with an incredibly high demand for hotel rooms, I concur with the above.  In sort, it seems:

1.  That the organizers make all due preparation for the opening of hotel room reservations.  They check and double check.

2.  In spite of those preparations, the hotel chain's system is seldom in synch with that preparation.  Computer systems, the host hotel itself, central reservations (located somewhere in Sri Lanka), and individual hotel chain employees seldom are on the same page.

3.  Problems occur.

4.  The hotel/hotel chain apologizes, but the damage is then in the past and cannot be rectified.  Most recently, the magic words --- "The pandemic is at fault because....." are seen as clearing the hotel/hotel chain of responsibility.

5.  People who played by the rules are unhappy.

6.  The organizers get blamed.

In short, it seems that the current technology and the state of the hotel industry are not up to a massive rush to reserve rooms held in convention room blocks.  And the organizers reap the whirlwind.

 

 

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19 hours ago, LenPilhofer said:

Trust me when I tell you that the hotel reservation process is the most stressful part of the convention for the chairman (well, for this chairman, anyway) ...and it has been the primary focus of my daily life since Omaha concluded. It will continue to be a main focus in my life in the coming weeks and months. I take this very seriously and am putting much effort to make it go as smooth as possible. 

I stand by to continue to answer questions that are within my knowledge base and reach.

-Len

 

Len,

     Regardless of all outcomes, I, as well as many others here I hope, deeply appreciate ALL of your efforts to make this work, work smoothly, and to keep as many of us Model Building Geeks as happy as possible.  Thank you.

 

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20 hours ago, jcorley said:

Mike, that just means that the non-block rooms are gone or on hold for special rewards members.

I checked the hotel website a couple of days ago, and it also showed sold out, but as a Hilton Diamond member, it would let me go ahead and book a room. . . for $880/night. I'll wait for the block to open up, thanks.

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