This Isn’t a Robot
FIRST Championship Housing
Championship housing opened last week, and for the most part, seemed to go fairly smoothly. A few folks, though, had questions about availability and pricing, and I want to see if I can help answer those.
Just like in any other cities, if there is a big convention in town, room prices rise. We’re bringing tens of thousands of participants to both Houston and St Louis. All these folks want good quality housing near the venues. Prices will go up at desirable properties, it’s a basic supply and demand situation. We do however, negotiate prices with hotels that want to be part of our hotel blocks. Their incentive to negotiate is that they want attendees to be able to easily find their rooms. We use this as leverage to reduce prices. However, that leverage is not unlimited. So, if you compare prices at some of the hotels during a non-peak period with prices during Championship, it’s not surprising that they may be higher during Championship. However, it’s unlikely you will be able to find a group of rooms at the same hotel during the same time period for less than you can get by going through our housing provider. Maybe not impossible, but unlikely.
Also, not every hotel in the area is available to every attendee through our housing provider. Some may have decided not to be part of our block, some may not have had the quality we were looking for, and some may be reserved for other programs, volunteers, or staff. We try to allocate rooms to the participants in a way that makes sense for all. As an example, FIRST Tech Challenge participants have access to hotels closer to Union Station in St Louis where most of their activities are being held, while FIRST Robotics Competition teams do not. FIRST LEGO League Jr teams, while they are fewer in number, get access to some very close hotels, as we want to minimize walking and travel times for our youngest (and, BTW, most adorable ☺) participants. Staff and volunteers also get closer hotels, as they tend to be on their feet constantly during what can be some incredibly long days. And tired, cranky staff and volunteers do not create positive experiences for teams.
I hope all this makes sense. The system isn’t perfect, but we do try to do the best we can with the resources we have and our understanding of the situation.
We’re making it official for the 2017 season. It will be against the rules to throw things from the stands or bleachers at our events. Paper airplanes count as things. As well as being a safety hazard, throwing paper airplanes can be disrespectful, depending on what is happening on the field. We probably should have put this rule in place years ago, but I hope we can now count on you to help keep our events safe and respectful.
*Yes, the voiceover says ‘hydraulic’ when they probably meant ‘pneumatic’ or just ‘mechanical’. Please listen for the poetry, not the precision.