[eDebate] Elephants in cheap hotels

Veronica Barreto veronica_m_barreto
Thu Apr 20 02:03:08 CDT 2006

Stefan discusses the need for debaters and specifically for tournament hosts to choose the uber hotel chains as hosting sites for the many amenities.
  First the problem of lack of adequate internet access...the impact turn:  good, collapse the entire internet at your Best Western or Comfort Inn of choice. The NDT committee concerned with equity and quality of life issues, passed a rule in Chicago limiting the amount of people who could work for each program.  (1) It's true that access to research at the NDT is a question of equity. Not every squad has the entourage or the technological resources (laptops, wireless cards, printers) or the time to research vociferously, even if we all happen to be equally capable researchers.  (2) It is also true that coaches, entourages, debaters run themselves ragged during the NDT gauntlet. Folks don't sleep for days...some naturally, others on coffee, caffeine pills from the local truck stop, or.....substances of choice. What we do to ourselves during the NDT is unconscionable.
  Many folks vocalized their opinion on the rule...
  Lupo was concerned with a loss of community and participation for alums and those that don't get a chance to compete at the NDT.
  Scott Harris pointed out that:
  It is entirely unenforceable. One lesson I have learned as a father is not to make rules for my children that I am unable or unwilling to enforce. How the NDT plans to monitor which web sites I visit on my computer in my hotel room is beyond me. Relying on the honor system for a rule that many of us view as a dishonorable rule is pretty silly. 
  Josh Hoe also claims that:
  I think his point is that the sq is literally 100% not in compliance with 
the rule 
  What better way to ensure compliance than to stay somewhere that doesn't support our infrastructural needs.  Sure, the schools with resources will still be able to afford rooms at the Westin, but it at least forces some trade offs. The tournament hotel holds registration, awards and elims (and next year's NDT prelims), it offers pairings, tells judges who is committed for the next day, etc. Not staying there requires a rental vehicle, add fuel costs costs, makes the day longer, makes it harder to network and socialize, etc.  There are numerous trade offs to not staying at the tournament hotel that slowly erode the tournament experience...I know...because I don't stay at the tournament hotel.  Let the schools with the resources to stay the Westin take on those trade-offs rather than the schools at the Motel 6 or the Best Western. Plus if there's a mass exodus to the Westin by resource rich programs, the internet wouldn't collapse at the more affordable tournament hotel.  

  Imagine a world where instead of 4 people getting up to their hotel room to furiously rush to their laptops and get started on updates those 4 people talked to each other, socialized, decompressed, watched a movie, took a long hot shower, SLEPT.  Doesn't this do more to create a sense of participation in the experience and a sense of community than retiring to our rooms and becoming cogs in the research machine? Wouldn't that make for happier people at 11 PM...better yet...wouldn't that make for happier people at 7 AM?
  My second concern, is that (I could be wrong) it sounds like the tournament subsidizes its costs on the backs of those who reside at the hotel.  Each individual program pays $99+tax +resort fee +parking +random exhorbitant unjustifiable charges to be at the tournament hotel (not because these participants are interested in the conference space, but to increase administrative ease in attending the tournament), as a result of tournament participants' patronage at the tournament hotel, the tournament host then gets a discount, or doesn't pay for facilities to run the tournament -- facilities that either not everyone uses or not everyone needs to use. Maybe there's a case to be made that this substantially lowers registration fees for everyone dramatically so that resource strapped programs can save on registration and save by staying somewhere else as well.
  In all likelihood, I won't be staying at the Westin for next year's NDT anyhow (unless an endowment falls from the sky, of course).  So as Tom Bodett says...we'll keep the light on for ya.  There's always room at the 6.  :)
SSbauschard2 at aol.com wrote:
    A couple comments on this thread:
  1).  Internet.  It seems in high-demand at debate tournaments. It often crashes hotel Internet networks.  I learned one important thing in prepartion for NDT 07 -- our expected Internet usage will likely exceed that Westin's traditional Internet usage/capacity by 3-4 times!  Absent their willingness to run/turn on additional lines (which they also did for CEDA), the network WOULD crash.    So, if you rent 40 rooms in a more limited service hotel, put 4 people in a room, and have 160 people sign on to the Internet at 11pm you may not be too happy.
  2) The Westin in particular.  As was the case with CEDA, the Westin (which also owns the Sheraton) is not charging for ANY OF THE TOURNAMENT COMPETITION SPACE.  Next year's NDT will be held in the convention area on floors 2-3 of the Westin, as well as as junior/senior suites on floors 17-19.  The room rate -- $99 -- includes free use of this space for the entire tournament as well as required meeting space on Thursday, a free breakfast for tournament participants on one of the days, free copying for the tab room, internet passwords for every registered tournament guest for the entire length of the tournament, and some other small things that I don't recall at the moment.  Elim day discussions aside, these room rates are incredible given that we are hosting the entire tournaments on site.  
  Obviously it is good to consider ways to cut costs, but people should keep two things in mind before jumping to conclusions based on simple price-comparrisons:
  a) We often have elephant-size resource demands that you have to be sure that "small service" hotels can accomodate
  b) In the case of CEDA and the NDT, you do need to account for the fact that the rate includes use of critical space.   
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Veronica M. Guevara
Weber State University
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