MLA 2008 – really, now, $505???

After MLA 2007, my only real suggestion to the MLA 2008 planners was to provide wireless.  It was frankly ridiculous to have no wireless available in the conference rooms.  And, now, I see that the registration packages are up on the web site, and lo and behold, wireless is available.  For an extra $75.

Yes, it’s $505 to register for the super inclusive plus internet package.  Now, since my organization pays for internet access for me, this isn’t really an issue for me financially.  But what about for those people whose organizations aren’t quite as generous?  For a “connection”-themed conference, it seems bizarre.  Of course, I realize that MLA was going to be charged a fortune by the hotel and apparently, it was going to be enough that they’d have to pass that on to recoup costs.  But I really have to wonder, why choose this hotel, then?  Why not go for a hotel where wireless is considered a basic amenity?  Maybe conference hotels just don’t do anything for free.

I have issues with the idea of paying for wireless up front when all it says is “Internet access in the Hyatt Regency Chicago public areas.”  What are public areas?  Does that include all the conference rooms and the ballrooms and etc.?  I guess I will go scour the hotel web site for more information.  Until then, my only conciliation is that at least it’s not Internet Librarian.

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12 responses to “MLA 2008 – really, now, $505???

  1. I travel to conferences & meetings a good bit and it is an unfortunate fact that the big conference hotels have no compunction about charging exorbitant rates for Internet access. It’s just another money-maker like the $9 beers in the hotel bar. The ones that bundle it in for free are the mid-range hotels, and the boutiques, that are pursuing the individual traveler market. Right now there’s not a hotel in the country big enough to serve as the conference site for an MLA meeting that offers internet access for free. And if the hotel website doesn’t say upfront that it’s free wireless — assume that it’s not. (Disclaimer — I’m currently a member of the MLA Board of Directors and I’m not trying to justify this, just express the facts. Let me assure you that we’re just as pissed off about it as you are.) (Oh, and these are of course my own opinions and do not represent the official views of MLA, blah, blah, blah….)

  2. Just an addenda — I’m impressed with how hard the MLA staff work with the hotels to try to get the best deals, the lowest rates, and shave costs for members wherever they can. Problem is that we’re not in a very advantageous position — at roughly 3,000 attendees per meeting, we’re too big not to go into the large conference hotels, but too small to carry a big stick when negotiating.

  3. I do wish they had better explanations of where wireless will be located. I would be *very* surprised if ‘public areas’ includes conference rooms and exhibit hall. I think I’ll send a note to MLA and ask…

  4. Pingback: davidrothman.net » Blog Archive » links for 2008-01-25

  5. Unfortunately Scott is right, many of the “nice” large hotels require you to pay for your internet access and charge an arm and leg to use the business center.
    For example, Hilton charges for Internet access but Hampton Inn (owned by Hilton Hospitality) does not, it is “free” for all hotel guests. I say free because we know it is factored somewhere in the cost of the room.

    One other thing to note:
    I am guessing that the negotiations and the hotel contract for the conference was made at least a year ago (probably longer) before MLA 2007 when some people complained about the lack of wifi. It is very hard to add something into the contract once it has been signed. Even if it were possible, my guess is is that it was too late (contract already signed) to try and negotiate free wifi for attendees.

  6. MLA answered my query.

    “Internet access does not include meeting rooms or the Exhibit Hall. It only includes public areas such as the hallways or the lounge. ”

    It also does not include your hotel room, so if you want to surf in your room, that costs more too.

  7. I, personally, share your frustration about the limited availability and high cost of Internet access at conference hotels – for all the meetings I attend, not just MLA.

    However (disclaimer: I’m National Program Committee co-chair for MLA’08), I have to second Scott’s comments about hotel policies and pricing, the effort the MLA staff go to with member needs in mind, and the suboptimal size of our meeting when negotiating with hotels.

    In the course of the NPC planning meetings, and in our discussions with MLA staff, we all wanted to find an internet access solution. While it isn’t possible to offer the universal access we would like, MLA is again offering the 24-hour free Internet Café in the exhibit area, which will have both computers and wireless access. Those who need additional wireless access can buy it on a daily basis from the hotel, or purchase at the same cost through MLA by selecting Registration Package E, Super-Inclusive.

    Attendees that purchase Package E will get a ticket to take to the Hyatt desk to buy Internet access. In turn, Hyatt will provide access to the guest and charge the cost to MLA. It includes, according to the Hyatt staff, access in your guest room and in the Skyway Terrace on the 2nd floor. It does not include access in the meeting rooms or exhibit hall. The hotel does not provide free access anywhere in its buildings.

    Package E is offered as a convenience for members who asked for Internet access to be bundled with registration. The added $75 is passed on to the Hyatt as its fee for Internet access in the guest room and Skyway.

    The NPC also plans to address the specific access needs of bloggers, and we’ll be sharing information in that regard closer to the time of the meeting, along with other initiatives for this meeting.

  8. Thanks for all the comments. I basically am thinking it’s time to buy an iPhone. What a fiasco.

  9. I did get clarification that the MLA registration Internet package will include your hotel room, contrary to my earlier message.

  10. Blackberry is better then iPhone 🙂

  11. The high registration costs for 2008 MLA that include wireless access should be a good preparation for the 2009 meeting in Hawaii – the cost of that meeting won’t come as such a shock. I’m glad for all the 1979 MLA annual meeting attendees who will be able to attend this “reunion” before they retire, but for the rest of the rank and file MLA members, this is one meeting that is going to be well out of our reach.

  12. Stop by the Epocrates booth at MLA; #239, and enter to win a FREE Centro!

    Our team looks forward to meet you!

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