Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Qualities of a Convention Room

I'm in Reno, Nevada to attend "Renovation," the 69th World Science Fiction Convention or "WorldCon."  Along with the San Diego Comic-Con in July, WorldCon is one convention that I am compelled to go to each year.  This is my sixth WorldCon in a row, which includes the one day I went to the 2006 WorldCon in Los Angeles.  As I did with Comic-Con, I'm going to be writing a blog entry about each day that I attend, which formally opens later today.  
For this first entry, though, I thought I would write something about one of the most important aspects of one's WorldCon experience: your motel room.  One of the first things convention friends ask you when you run into them is, "where are your staying?"  I've learned over the years that the answer to that question can have a big impact on how much you enjoy the convention and how much you get out of it.  
Obviously you want your room to be clean and comfortable, but beyond that it doesn't have to be fancy.  You'll be spending your day at the convention or joining friends and the people you meet at the parties and get-togethers later.  Most of the time when you'll be in the room you'll be asleep or getting ready to go.  How fancy does it have to be for that?  
The most important feature of a good convention room is location.  You want to be within walking distance of the convention center and/or the hotel where the venue is being held.  This is not just to save time driving to and from the center, with the additional cost in time, money and hassle for gas and parking.  It is also to allow you to maximize your opportunities to attend the post convention parties where you can meet other writers, publishers, artists and agents that work in the industry.  It also means that you can indulge yourself in some fun, to a degree, and not worry about jeopardizing yourself and others.  
My room this year, at the Vagabond Inn on Virginia Street, is ideal.  It is situated between the Reno-Sparks Convention center and the Peppermill Hotel, which is being used for a number of the venues and parties this year.  It's a 10 minute walk to the convention center and five minutes to the Peppermill.  The worst room I ever had was at Denvention, the WorldCon in Denver.  It was a twenty minute bus ride to the convention center, and I found out to my peril one night that the buses stopped running at around 11:30 PM or so (an additional $25.00 in cab fare).  The best rooms I've had so far were in Yokohama in 2007, about two blocks away in a beautiful shopping and entertainment district, and last year in Melbourne, a five minute walk with plenty of shops and restaurants along the way.  
Other features of a good convention room include: 
Free WiFi or internet access.  This isn't just a convention going plus, it's become a necessity of modern life along with a phone and a working toilet.  
A good writing desk.  It's important to me, and I too often have to make do with side tables in the room.  
A refrigerator and/or microwave.  Going to conventions can be expensive.  Anything you can do to save on costs, such as buying groceries to keep from eating out all the time, can help.  
Gym or work-out room.  You need to stay healthy and fit in order to endure a convention grind.  The room I stayed in while attending last year's WorldCon in Melbourne had an agreement with a gym a couple of blocks away that allowed me to use that facility as a guest.  
Overall, the room I have this year rates pretty well.  It's location is ideal.  They give the guests free access to WiFi.  The writing desk is a REAL writing desk, with a writing surface on rollers that pulls out, with room for my journal and laptop at the same time, and a wide shelf on an raised level with dedicated electrical outlets built in for my computer, plus rechargers for my cell phone, bluetooth headset and camera batteries.  It doesn't have a microwave, but there is a refrigerator I'm making use of.  There's no work out room, but there is a gym across the way that has daily rates that I'm going to use a couple of times while I'm here.  
With a room like this, I'm ready to go conquer the World...  Con.  


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