Hello The Peoples and Members of ConFusion!
This is a post that no ConChair or Board of Directors Member ever wants to make. Please, take time to read thru this post.
As your ConFusion 2021 ConChair I want to be as transparent and informative as possible, and that means a longer than typical post.
Our 47th ConFusion brought to you by the AASFA, scheduled to be held (tentatively) January 15-17, 2021 will not be happening in 2021, due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The AASFA Board of Directors worked with me, and has voted to table (postpone) the 47th ConFusion until January 2022. We will have no in-person convention event in 2021.
What does “voted to table” mean? Instead of cancelling the 47th ConFusion completely, the Board discussed options, and voted to push the 2021 Conchair, Guests of Honor, ConCom, and 2021 plans to the January 2022 date. Our 47th ConFusion will happen, not in 2021, but 2022.
Why is this being done? The short answer is obviously due to COVID-19. But that Answer has intricacies to it that I’d like to share.
As I, and my ConCom Staff, began planning 2021, we started with the hotel contract. It’s been a very long negotiation process. We are not only impacted by the Pandemic, but so is our venue. Once the venue staff returned from furloughs, we began working on details of the contract. I want to be clear, The Sheraton Novi has been excellent at working with us as we tried to hammer out the best contract.
Last week, I was presented with the best options for our contract and it gave me great concerns when considering the impact COVID-19 would also have upon us.
For those who may not be aware, when we contract a hotel, we’re agreeing that we will fill the hotel to the agreed upon number of room nights. For us, it is typically 90% of all available rooms we guarantee our membership will book. In past years, this has not been a problem. We often have waitlists for cancellations. For 2021, however, it could be a huge problem.
COVID-19 still runs rampant in our physical communities. We have no way of seeing what it will be doing in January 2021, but let’s be real, with no vaccine, it doesn’t look good. And January is a peak time for flu’s, viruses, and other illnesses we often call “Concrud”.
Because COVID-19 is still raging onward, our membership is impacted in ways more then just health. The financial impacts have been devastating to many. As a ConChair, I have to consider this when deciding if in reality we can fill a hotel to 90%.
If we went forward with the 2021 ConFusion and did not fill the hotel, we, ConFusion, would have to pay the difference. For a 90% Hotel Block that is over $60,000 dollars – not including our event rental space cost ($5,000), our Banquet Services Cost ($2,500), and adding Fees, and Taxes.
The Sheraton did address our concerns when we spoke to them, and offered a 60% Room Night Guarantee – but that came with it’s own issues. At 90% we receive X amount of “Complimentary Room Nights”. We use those nights, to provide our guests of honor their accommodations for their time with us. 5 GoH’s staying from Thursday to Monday equals a lot of Hotel Room Nights that we’d have to pay for, were they not provided in “Complimentary” manner. At 60%, we lose many of those “Complimentary Room Nights.” and we have to pay for our GoH’s rooms. Plus every other thing I’ve spoken of.
The 60% Contract Option also means we MUST close reservations by the Middle of November, so the Sheraton can try and book the other 40% of rooms on their own – which means suddenly – we’re not the only people in the Hotel.
That alone is reason for concern, because if we’re not the only people in the hotel, we can’t be guaranteed things like our Non-Gender Bathrooms and other important details that make our con ours. If we book a 60% Hotel Contract and outsider guests arrive and don’t wear masks, or don’t respect our culture, as ConChair, I am powerless to do anything. Those outsiders would not fall under our prevue.
The 60% Hotel Contract would alleviate some concern over owing large sums, but the con’s of it far outweigh the pro’s.
ConFusion, and AASFA can not afford to pay for a contract should we not be able to fill the hotel. Period.
Financial Concerns are not the only concerns though. Thinking, as we have been doing, on how to have a safe ConFusion, suddenly the rooms where panels occur become “smaller” because now the already limited seating, is cut in half as we keep chairs empty for social distancing.
Masks – While I myself say, “wear one”, not every person within our community may agree. Ensuring that every single person is wearing masks at every space other then their personal hotel room is a HUGE concern to me, the ConCom, and the Board.
Social Distancing – How do we do that and make certain every single person is 6 feet apart in every place in the hotel? And if we did fill the hotel, do I send people to their private rooms when the event hotel spaces are filled by members standing/sitting 6 feet apart?
ConSuite – Can I just say, Sweet Bejeebus NO! Just, no! I’m sorry, but as long as COVID-19 is uncontrolled and raging, we can not allow any of us to gather in a large room, un-mask, and eat and drink together. No.
Last Thursday, July 16, I approached the AASFA Board of Directors and laid this all on the table. We had lengthy discussions. The Board Decision was unanimous. Heartbreakingly Unanimous. The 47th ConFusion can not occur in 2021 without incurring a massive amount of detrimental risk to our community and future con.
If we tried to run an in person event, and failed, the financial losses will crush and end the 47 years this community has worked to keep ConFusion going. I’m not willing to throw it all away just to be able to say, “We tried.”
If we tried to run an in-person event and our members became sick…. I can’t. I simply can’t. I may not be friends with every community member, but I love this community and its members, and I don’t want to lose any more of us. We have lost more than enough to COVID-19 already.
Going forward, now what? Currently the AASFA Board is looking at our options for holding some type of online, virtual fun during the originally scheduled ConFusion weekend. We will be updating you regarding that as soon as we have any info.
We strongly encourage you to think about hosting your own Virtual meet up that weekend, and posting it on our facebook group.
If you pre-registered for 47th ConFusion during ConFusion 2020, your pre-registration is still active and will still be in place for 2022.
If you need or want to reach out to us please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to thank my ConCom for the efforts we all put in to try and begin planning while we’ve waited in limbo. I also want to thank the AASFA Board of Directors for being so very supportive.
I am so sorry, ConFusion. I’m heartsick and sad. So very sad. I hate being the ConChair in ConFusions long history that had to tell our community that this coming year, we’re not holding a con – but I am.
I hope that come January 2021, every single one of you comes here and tells me, “LITHIE, You Overreacted! It’s all fine now!!” I truly do. I would mean this horrible COVID-19 was somehow eradicated and that – that would be so worth it!
Stay Safe! Stay You! Stay in Touch!
Until further updates,
ConFusion ConChair -Lithie Dubois