The Guide to IAGSDC Convention Chapters 10-11
Travel Arrangements: Getting there is half the fun
Most Conventions start on a Thursday or Friday evening, and proceed through the following Sunday or Monday evening. The major dancing usually starts Friday or Saturday morning.
If you want to take in all of Convention, plan to arrive on the afternoon of the first day (usually a Thursday/Friday) and leave late on the last day (usually a Sunday/Monday) or the morning after.
Examine the convention's tentative schedule to get an idea of when things start and stop on the first and last day, and to check pre- and post-convention activity schedules. Moria Merriweather suggests a little sleuthing on pre/post-convention tours will help you adjust your final travel plans (airline, train, or bus tickets, etc.).
You may want to arrive early or depart late to take advantage of some of the activities...or just plan for a few days of sightseeing in the area. Many dancers find Convention is a wonderful excuse to explore a new city!
Flying? Each Convention usually has an "official" travel agent that will be delighted to book your airline tickets for you. If you prefer booking your own tickets, check for a special discount code for the Convention's official airline.
If the Convention airline discount code gets you the same or a lower price on your fare, we suggest using the code, as the airline usually applies part of your purchase as a credit back to the Convention committee. That credit can then be used to subsidize travel arrangements for the Convention's staff callers.
If you're flying to Convention and know that other dancers are on your flight ... consider transferring between the hotel and airport as a group, and share the cost of a taxi (or limo!) at one or both ends.
Enjoy traveling in style? Many airports offer fixed-price or hourly-rate limousine service; one stretch limo can easily seat 4 to 6 people, which brings a group's per-person cost down to around the same (or lower) amount as an airport bus ticket, but with a great deal more comfort. This is a lot of fun when you're travelling as part of a group.
Driving or renting a car? Check to see if the host hotel charges for parking. If so, be aware that convention guests staying in the hotel often get a discounted daily rate with in-and-out privileges. If you're going to use a car and stay offsite, you may not have in-and-out privileges, which can be costly if you drive back and forth a lot.
Each Convention has unique housing arrangements. Some Conventions and fly-ins have taken place at universities or academic conference centers during summer break, providing dancers with low-cost housing in dorms. Some Conventions have been held at luxury hotels. Some have been held at standalone convention halls.
If your Convention is being held at a chain hotel ... consider enrolling in that chain's "frequent guest" club before making your hotel reservations. Most hotel chains provide special check-in lines, upgrades or perks for frequent travelers. When you make your hotel reservation, be sure to include your frequent-guest program account number.
Moria Merriweather points out that some dancers may not have stayed in large hotels recently, and may be unfamiliar with some of the resources offered in such an establishment. Some things to think about when making your hotel reservation:
- What kind of bed do you want? King size? Queen? A pair of double beds?
- Do you want a nonsmoking room?
- Do you want a room that's located especially high or low? Some people are nervous about elevators or high places.
- Is there a "club floor"? For an extra charge, these floors usually offer some form of free breakfast and/or evening hors d'oeuvres and soft drinks. In Canada, some of the hotels serve afternoon tea on the club floors.
- If you just can't leave work behind while traveling ... do any of the rooms have high-speed Internet access?
Want to share a room to lower the cost of convention? Andy Chong suggests posting a message to the LGCWSD mailing list (or if the current convention provides an online bulletin board, use that) to find a roommate.
Once you've checked in, check out the lobby to see if there's a concierge desk. A good concierge is a guest's best friend, and should be able to make restaurant recommendations and reservations, locate and book show tickets, and find everything from emergency sewing kits to the nearest 24-hour photocopy shop.
Don't scoff at using a concierge to make reservations. Many hotels charge dearly for local phone calls, and it's usually cheaper to let the concierge handle it ... unless using your own cell phone won't invoke major roaming charges. It's not unusual for guests who booked dinner reservations via a concierge to receive little surprise extras, such as free desserts.