Friday, February 27, 2009

4 weeks and counting, new event, Westin deals

4 weeks from today I'll be on the road, headed north, toward what is likely to be a wet week in Seattle. To say that I'm looking forward to it is an understatement.

I just got a tweet that ComponentOne is adding an event on Sunday, what they are calling "Doc-To-Help Day 2009." It looks like it is basically a half-day seminar on Doc-To-Help. It's free for conference attendees (another reason to come), and $250 if you want to attend just this alone.

Not sure how Joe feels about this. I'd guess on one hand he's happy that ComponentOne is stepping up like this, on the other hand, I'd wonder if this event risks cribbing potential attendees from the official conference half-day seminars. But WritersUA is a partner in this, and I think the positive thought that this could bring more people in overall is a good one to hang my hat on.

Here's the link.

Meanwhile, Can you get a better deal at the Westin that the "official" conference rate? Yes, you can.

I was originally reluctant to publicize this because I worried that WritersUA gets credit for only the people who register through the conference site, but I'm told that no matter where you book your room, if you stay at the Westin and tell them that you're there for the conference, WritersUA will get credit.

Why is this important. Well, I'm not sure I understand all the details, but what little I do understand goes something like this. conferences such as this at business-class hotels typically commit to a certain number of room-nights (one occupied room for one night). In return, they get discounts on rack rates for conference attendees and sometimes other concessions (such as, perhaps, discounts on the rental fee for meeting rooms).

If you click through the link on the conference site to the Westin, you'll find what seems to be a "reasonable" $189/night. (Personally, I don't think that's "reasonable" at all, but then, my purpose for a hotel is typically a place to sleep, shower, store my stuff, and get on the Internet, and as long as it's clean comfortable, quiet, and everything works, I'm happy. I have simple needs.) Business-class hotels typically charge well into the $200s for weeknight stays, so at the time this arrangement was made, last year sometime, this was a break.

And then the economy tanked. People were laid off. People who weren't laid off reduced drastically their travel for business. And the laws of economics kicked in.

I went directly to the Seattle Westin site a few days ago and found that I could book a room directly for a bit more than $150/night. It has gone up since, but is still a few dollars less than the $189/night.

In addition, Westin is offering, through their main site, a buy-one-get-one-half-off promotion for anyone arriving Thursday through Saturday. There's a kicker though. If you take advantage of this promotion, the base rate you'll start with is not what the local hotel is offering at the moment (in the $180s), but the standard rack rate for the room of $220.

Still, if you're arriving on Saturday and leaving on Wednesday, that means you would be eligible to get 2 of your nights at $110/night. That $660 for 4 nights (plus all the taxes and local fees), for a $165/night average.

In this economy, economy is a good thing, and every little bit helps.

I should add that while as a technical writer, I seldom have need to travel on business, but when I do, I have always treated my company's money as if it were my own. I don't mean being an utter cheapskate, but I do mean being frugal. No expensive meals on the company dime. If I can find a hotel for half a block or two away, I'll grab it. I'm always amazed and astonished when I meet people traveling on business who are not of this mindset. I actually find it moderately appalling, the cavalierness with which some people treat their company's money.

Anyway, I really hope that these items might tip you into making the decision to go. And if so, we'll see you in Seattle.

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