How to Treat the Hotel
Groovy Crash-Pad. You Can’t Throw a Con in the Street
Yes, I realize that as soon as I said that someone will figure out how to throw a convention in the streets. Damn, I think I’ve figured it out myself. If you don’t believe me, remember, I am the guy who started ElfCon, the very first camping con, back in the late 1980s. Sure, that con isn’t around anymore, although if I recover some more, I may revive it. But let’s get down to tacks of brass: Science fiction conventions and their related offspring, like Anime, Horror, Fantasy and Comic cons, have a symbiotic relationship with the hotels that house them. We need to treat those hotels well as long as they treat us well.
We are not the Shriners. We don’t trash hotels, and we are self-governing. We are also not a Protestant Christian church group that never pays its bills. We pay our bills. If you don’t start nothin’, there won’t be nothin’. Over the last few years, there have been a few incidents where not only hotel security has had to be involved, but local police. This should never be the case. One jerk can cost a convention the use of a hotel, or even so much money in damages that the convention goes under. In the Southeast this was easily handled due to fandom being a community and everybody knew everybody. Unfortunately, a convention that will remain nameless went out of its way to destroy that community and most of the other conventions, but Southeastern fandom is recovering.
Not all hotels are savvy enough to honor this relationship with the largest non-religious special interest group in America. I can think of two spectacular examples of this. One example was a privately owned hotel in Chattanooga that used to house ChattaCon every year. They filled the entire hotel for three or more days. (I personally was snowed into this hotel for an entire week, with the whole hotel booked one year.) The convention was always 1,500 to 2,000 people, every year, back then. At that time, Chattanooga was not as large and metropolitan as it is today, and we guaranteed that that hotel stayed in business. It came to pass that eventually they changed managers. The new manager was a moron who was rude to the convention and made it clear that he didn’t want us there. He did everything in his power to piss of the convention. We changed hotels for a year, and they had to declare bankruptcy. The hotel was bought by someone else, and we returned for one year. We had similar problems with the new manager and left again with the same results. All in all we gave them three chances, and every time we left they went under. Strangely, we thought that they would eventually learn, but they did not. They are now owned by one of the large hotel chains, and ChattaCon is firmly ensconced in the Chattanooga Choo Choo.
The second example is, perhaps, more spectacular. I will not name the hotel or the convention because neither one is particularly important to this story. We had a very well behaved convention that was booking the whole hotel for the weekend. There were no incidents on the side of the convention, not even a drunk and disorderly con-goer, if you can imagine that. Nevertheless, the hotel treated us so badly that it did not just piss off the convention, but every single attendee. It’s really not a good idea to piss off that many nerds. By the time I checked out of the hotel, every single fixture had been dismantled and laid neatly in piles in the hotel room, with every screw accounted for. Some rooms went so far as to disassemble the beds. No item was actually damaged and, mysteriously, the first of the next week all of the credit cards for the hotel, and all of its credit accounts, had been cancelled. I think you can guess how likely it is that they stayed in business so I won’t describe any of their further troubles. Besides, after the order to disconnect the utilities was sent in, I think they were rather busy.
Don’t get me wrong, there have been spectacular incidents on the part of the fans as well, like the battle-axe left in the wall of a hotel elevator by a drunken barbarian Viking at Fantasy Fair one year, and a mysterious incident where a chair was thrown through the window of a hotel by an extremely upset fan who was never caught, or the barbarian who went through the wall at DragonCon when it was just at the Hilton, or the tube television thrown off a balcony at DragonCon into the atrium.
And while these spectacular stories exist, the number of incidents that were averted by fans immediately dealing with a problem, or a drunk, before it even came to the attention of convention security, let alone hotel security, is in the vast majority. There used to be an occasional problem with hotel security shutting down room parties until we started putting the room parties on a particular floor, or sometimes a particular building depending on the convention, but I have not seen that particular problem in over a decade.
We must absolutely strive to have good relations with the hotels we’re in, but both sides need to realize that, by law, in Georgia and many other states, during the time in which you are renting a room, convention center, or entire hotel, it is your private property, but at the same time you should show it the respect that you would show not only your own home but someone else’s home in which you were a guest. Remember that what anyone does at a convention reflects on all of us and, ultimately, someone is going to have to pay for any damages. If the convention has to pay for it, then everyone has to pay for it, and this means you. So it is your business. Most situations can be averted through talking. On the other hand, there are a large number of martial artists, SCA people and Klingons who go to conventions and are more likely to be useful than con security. On top of that, the martial artists, at least, are more likely to be sober.
We are a community, and we should bloody well act like one. If we want to be treated with respect, then we’re going to have to act like adults while we’re dressing up in costumes, drinking homebrewed mead, having mock Anime battles, and spontaneously breaking out into Gangnam Style dances. All of the maturity, none of the stick-up-the-ass. Fandom. So let’s have all the fun that will allow us to come back and do it again next year.
I will see you next week, and if you really like my blog please direct other people to it as well. Same cat channel, same cat time, Cool Cats.
Copyright © 2012 Julian Thomas Reid III