Mail Code 5711
New York, NY 10027-6902
Phone: (212) 854-9400
Fax: (212) 854-9401
CSPA is affiliated with the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University in the City of New York.
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Conventions and Workshops
Spring Convention Hotels
The CSPA is no longer able to obtain reduced group rates from hotels without facing substantial penalty fees for unbooked rooms in those groups. These fees would be assessed against the CSPA if all rooms in those room blocks are not sold out.
For the March 2012 convention, delegates stayed in 33 different hotels or motels in and around the New York area, finding affordable rates that met their needs. Unlike other conventions in our field, we do not meet in hotel meeting rooms but on the Columbia University campus. Advisers and staffs are free to secure rooming arrangements that meet their budgets.
Kathleen Zwiebel, a veteran adviser who brought large groups of students for more than 20 years, offers these suggestions on how to arrange for hotel bookings.
PLANNING FOR THE CSPA CONVENTION
The 2013 CSPA Spring Convention does not fall over the St. Patrick’s Day holiday; it runs from March 20 to March 22, 2013. This is good news because that is a traditional “slow“ time in NYC and there will be hotel bargains available.
Power up your computer and let’s find a hotel.
STEP ONE: Determine how many rooms you will need; most NYC hotels offer some type of discount if you need five or more rooms. Consider combining with another group; the more rooms needed, the lower the per room cost.
STEP TWO: Decide on arrival and departure dates, your number of nights and how many quads, triples, doubles and/or singles will be needed.
STEP THREE: Now, you’re ready to start checking out travel sites; Kayak and Hipmunk will each compare scores of sites for you so they’re a good place to begin. Jot down any hotels that look like possibilities. Next, double check Hotels.com, Expedia, Orbitz and Travelocity for any special value deals being offered. Even though Kayak and Hipmunk include those sites, it’s better to double check because sometimes the only place you’ll find the special deals is on one of these. Based on your research, add to your list of possibilities
STEP FOUR: Now you’re ready to comparison shop. Check the amenities: money-saver questions: is breakfast included; is there a refrigerator/microwave in the room; how many people will the room sleep; is there a subway or bus stop close by? Tripadvisor.com is invaluable for obtaining this information. The site has reviews and photos for every hotel and its surrounding area.
STEP FIVE: You’ve narrowed the list down; if you need more than five rooms, call the hotel directly and ask to speak with the group sales manager. In NYC, there are several “hotel groups.” The sales manager may be responsible for six or more different properties, so if the one you are checking on isn’t available, he may be able to direct you to another one. See if your group qualifies for a special group rate. If breakfast is not included, but there is a restaurant on the premises, ask if that can be part of the package or will they comp your group for at least one morning’s breakfasts. Don’t be shy. This is the time to negotiate.
STEP SIX: List the pros/cons for the hotels you’ve narrowed it down to: cost, breakfast, room amenities, room size, neighborhood, proximity to public transportation, traveler comments.
STEP SEVEN: if you need four or fewer rooms and you’re a real bargain hunter with a spirit of adventure, go to Hotwire.com. On this site you don’t get the name of the hotel until you actually book it. So why would anyone do that? Cost, there are real bargains available. You can select the NYC neighborhood(s) you are interested in, the number of stars the hotel has. It will list properties and their amenities without giving the name of the hotel. If you’re a real super sleuth, compare the write-up for the property to all the research you did; in most cases you’ll be able to figure out what the unnamed hotel is. The closer one gets to the booking date, the better the bargains; the hotels know they have empty rooms and want to fill them.
STEP EIGHT: MAKE YOUR RESERVATION
For more tips for planning your trip to the convention from advisers, click here to read their advice.