Monday, December 31, 2012

Convention Costs

Recently, I had a comment posted to the blog that I thought warranted some more discussion. The comment is as follows!

"Why is convention so expensive when you have children in the other two youth groups and they want to go to their convention also. Is there a way to bring down the price. Oh I don't know...not have it at a SHERATON!"

Hi there - and thanks for the feedback!

Before I address your question, I would like to make a point of clarification for all commenters on this blog - please sign your comments so I know to whom I am responding. :-)

This question comes at just the right time, as I just returned from a visit to the site of our next Convention over my holiday break. No rest for the weary, as they say.

The cost of Convention is an ever present concern for everyone. Each year, I work very hard to come up with a way to keep costs stable. The first thing I did when I took over as Director was to cut a day off of Convention and thereby reduce the cost of the event by about 20%. That, however, was nearly five years ago. In that time, the cost of Convention has gone up about $30 for a quad room, which is what we base our prices on, as that is the most popular option. When cut across 4 years, that is about a 15% increase in cost. We've done our best to keep costs down, while still offering a quality program to the members and guests - and I feel good about being able to hold costs as well as I have.

Now, to address the question as to why we are going to a Sheraton property...

We, as an organization, make every effort to take our Convention to all parts of the state. Some parts of the state are cheaper to work with than others - especially in the season we hold our event in. This summer, we are going to the Sheraton in Erie. Why did we pick the Sheraton? For two reasons, actually. First, summer is a huge tourist season for Erie. Previously, we have utilized one other hotel in that city, but had a very poor experience, as a staff, in dealing with the hotel, hence why we refuse to go back. When we looked at other hotels that had suitable space, we found there weren't many options. We did some comparison shopping and found that the Sheraton offered a competitive price and space in comparison to what else was available. On top of this, it was a newer facility, in a beautiful location. These points led us to go with it.

I know that I am not going to please everyone as Convention Director. Heck, the survey results from last year prove that! Some people want to go to the cheapest possible place and make it work. Others, would prefer to pay the extra money and go somewhere nice with high end service. It is very hard to find a balance in the middle. Last year, many people complained about the hotel. We used an older facility, with cheaper room rates, to keep the cost down. In the end, people were dissatisfied with the experience. I know that the comfort and cleanliness of the rooms at the Sheraton will not be an issue, which addresses this concern. The one thing I've found is that everyone wants a Hilton experience on a Days Inn budget. Unfortunately, the world just doesn't work that way, especially when it comes to getting Convention space.

Serving on Convention staff is a learning experience. Quite frankly, it's one of the most berated jobs in our organization. For every "good job" I get, another five "complaints" slide in. With that said, I didn't take the job as Director of Convention to receive praise. Rather, I took it on because I remembered how much I enjoyed Convention as a DeMolay and I wanted to give that kind of experience to the next generation of members. This will be my fifth year as Director and I feel that I have accomplished that goal. I will be stepping down after this Convention and turning the event over to the next team. Hopefully, they can address your concerns better than I have. In the mean time, I hope your experience at this year's Convention is a positive one that leaves you with some great memories!

As a bonus to this post, I've included some pictures I took on my recent trip. They show the facility and the surrounding area. This is a very nice hotel and I"m sure everyone is going to enjoy it! Don't forget, you can click the pictures to see them bigger.

Frat! ~ "Dad" Seth Anthony

1 comment:

  1. I vote for a pasta bar with a variety of pasta and sauces and also bread. This would be very inexpensive for the hotel, very easy to do, and will go over well with the boys! There should also be an option for the boys to have milk. It could be white milk or even chocolate! They are growing young men and need milk and it should be available at few of the meals.

    Joyce Rauschenberger