The Westin will charge a non-refundable deposit equal to one (1) night's stay (plus applicable taxes) roughly one month prior to the convention. This deposit will be applied to the final room bill. To cancel a room without having to pay the deposit, you must contact the Arisia Innkeeper by December 9th at @email. This deposit rule applies only to reservations made at The Westin, the primary convention hotel, and not the overflow hotel.
If you do not have a valid credit card on file at the date the deposit is charged the room reservation will be cancelled. This is a function of The Westin's system not under Arisia control.
For the last several years, Arisia has had an issue with members reserving one or more rooms at The Westin "just in case" and not cancelling the reservation until the very last minute. This has led to having many rooms left empty during Arisia because people on the waitlist will have made other arrangements by the time these rooms open up. By having a full month (rather than days) to get people off of the waitlist we can accommodate more people. For reference, the number of cancellations was 50+ in the week prior to Arisia. Waitlist for rooms at The Westin prior to Arisia 2016 was over 100 a week before the convention, but we ended up with empty rooms over the convention weekend because most people on the waitlist could not change their plans on such short notice.
How will this rule help?
The intent of this rule is to encourage members to cancel any reservations that they will not use in enough time for the Innkeeper staff to reassign the rooms to people on the waitlist, such that we will minimize the number of rooms left empty during the convention.
What other ways have we tried to fix this?
Arisia has made an effort to encourage people to cancel their unneeded reservations earlier, posting reminders to social media and the Progress Reports sent via email.
Arisia does overbook our hotel room block (meaning, we accept more reservations than the number of rooms we have available) in order to easily manage the large number of cancellations we get, which took several years of negotiating before The Westin would allow it; however, this alone has not had a large enough impact.
We discussed many other options with The Westin, but based on several limitations (including, but not limited to, the hotel's electronic reservation system and what we were willing to impose on our members), this method was the best compromise.
What if I can’t afford a deposit in December?
The deposit rule applies only to reservations at The Westin. For this year, the overflow hotel block will be at the Aloft, which is across the street from The Westin and only a half block from the lower entrance on D street, located near the Grand Ballrooms. There is no deposit charged for reservations made at the overflow hotel.
Are there any exemptions?
If you can’t afford the deposit in December and have a justifiable need to stay in The Westin, as opposed to staying at the overflow hotel(s), you may contact the Innkeeper staff and request an exemption. Exemptions will be granted on a case-by-case basis.
How does this impact volunteers using one of the Space Pilot programs?
The standard Space Pilot program (wherein a volunteer agrees prior to the convention to work a minimum number of hours at-con in exchange for being assigned a sleeping space in a room with other volunteers for the duration of the convention) is operated out of the overflow hotel(s) and therefore the deposit does not apply.
The new Space Pilot program (wherein a volunteer agrees prior to the convention to work a minimum number of hours at-con in exchange for Arisia to pay for (1) night of their hotel stay) is operated out of The Westin and therefore the deposit rule does apply. If a group of individuals staying in the same room all sign up for this program, such that every night in the hotel is covered by Arisia, the Innkeeper staff will work with the Space Pilot program head to determine the appropriate path forward on a case-by-case basis (be it exemption or reimbursement).
What happens to my deposit if….?
In case of emergency, like an illness or severe weather, please contact the Innkeeper staff as soon as possible and we will do our best to advocate for you with the hotel to get your deposit refunded. These situations will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, but The Westin has a history of being accommodating when it comes to last minute emergencies and we have no reason to believe they will not continue to be so.
After the deadline has passed, members may contact the Innkeeper staff to transfer their room(s) to a specific individual(s). Any financial arrangements would be between those members and Arisia would not facilitate any monetary transfer.
Anyone on the waitlist getting a newly released room will be charged the deposit at the time of the reservation assignment.
If you have any specific questions not answered here, you may contact the Arisia Innkeeper staff at @email. Any general feedback on this rule may be sent to @email.