Yesterday was a busy day here at Auto Assembly… an incredibly busy day – for us and for all of our attendees and one that was a day of frustration for many of you as well when hotel rooms went on sale at the convention discount rate at the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel for Auto Assembly 2015. As expected, rooms have been selling at a phenomenal rate but unfortunately this has affected many of you and booking your accommodation for the convention this year so we wanted to bring you all this important update (taken and updated from the post written by Billy on our Tumblr account in FAQ form) which should bring you all up-to-date on the current situation with the hotel.
Q. Is the Hotel website broken?
A. No, we’ve been checking the site regularly on computers and mobile devices to make sure that it’s working perfectly for everyone.
Q. The website says rooms are unavailable for my stay. Is this a complete sell out?
A. No. The biggest problem people are having is that, if you book a few days – say three or four – and one of those days is full for the type of room you have selected, the the system is unable to complete the booking so it reports that your requested room isn’t available. In this scenario, initially the best option to try is to consider a different combination of days for your stay. The days which bookend the con – Wednesday, Thursday, Monday – are in very limited supply. So try booking for the convention weekend only Friday onwards (for instance). However, some attendees have successfully booked their stay by splitting their bookings into single days (which doesn’t cost any more) or in two halves so this could be a successful option as well.
Q. Will any more rooms be added for the days which are now sold out?
A. We are certainly going to request more next week when the event staff are back in work, but we can make no guarantees. The Hilton has been able to add rooms to our allocations several times in the past but this is dependent on availability and their other commitments which is why we can’t make any promises at this stage. A show like AA is so large that it has to be booked very early – but that means other shows book throughout the year which we and the Hilton can’t anticipate, giving the hotel additional obligations. We will try our best.
Q. Did AA reserve less bedrooms than last year?
A. Quite the opposite! Because of the increasing demand for rooms every year we’ve been working with the Hilton to ensure that we actually had substantially more than last year. Every year without fail, we have secured more and more bedrooms. We fight as hard as we can and the Hilton is as accommodating as it can be.
Q. Why does AA not just reserve the entire hotel?
A. As lovely as that would be, this is a question of economics. Our bedroom rate is fantastic but from a business point of view we would need to provide the Hilton with a guarantee that we would sell every single room in our allocation. We are getting an extremely generous discount on accommodation rates – far greater than any other event or promotional offer made to other events – and the hotel also has regular business which they would lose if the entire hotel was reserved for the convention. Ultimately, for us to be in a position for this to happen in the future (and this is purely conjecture right now) we would potentially need the convention to grow in size considerably using virtually ALL of the Hilton’s function capacity and more than doubling in size in terms of attendees to ensure that food and drink sales generate a substantial increase in income for the hotel as well. There would also be a potential room rate increase as well to compensate for the lost income from their “regular” full-price paying guests.
On a personal level, with any hotel that has event space, in over 25 years I have never seen a hotel that has been able to offer a convention exclusive use of a venue for function space and accommodation regardless of the size of the event purely from a practical level. Sadly all we can do is continue to increase our room allocation year on year and endeavour to work with the Hilton to add rooms to our block wherever possible.
We appreciate that it can be frustrating when you are unable to get the room you want. All we ask is please, do not take your frustrations out on any of our team. We are all volunteers, giving up our spare time to try and give you the best convention we possibly can. We will keep working hard to try and do this and we will fight for every room we can get and we will always fight for you full stop.
We will bring you more updates here on the website, Twitter, Facebook and Tumblr as soon as we can. Thank you.
The Auto Assembly Team