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May-June, 2008

IASB tries to match JAC housing requests

Sandy Boston, IASB assistant director for meetings management, answers the question for this issue.

Question: How does the Association handle the housing assignments for Joint Annual Conference? We never seem to get our first request.

Answer: Last year, more than 12,000 school board members, superintendents, business officials, exhibitors, staff from the three host associations and everyone's guests met in downtown Chicago for the 75th IASB/IASA/IASBO Joint Annual Conference. Housing that many people takes a big effort, both in planning and execution of the reservation process.

This year will be more of the same. Packets with information on the reservation process and the hotels that are available will mail out from Springfield to all member school districts on June 6. Even though we have 5,548 rooms available, some of the smaller hotels tend to fill up rapidly.

Each year IASB receives more and more next-day FedEx and UPS shipments with housing requests. But because popular hotels like the Swissotel and Embassy Suites have fewer rooms overall, they always fill up within one day. Others often fill up during the first week.

IASB maintains a different contract with each of the nine hotels where conference registrants are housed. At least three of the hotels have contracts that extend until 2016. That's what allows the Association to maintain such a good room rate for downtown Chicago.

Some people may think they can get a reservation at the hotel of their choice by making it on their own, but they will soon learn the room rate will be much, much higher, if there are any rooms available for those dates at all. And, with using our reservation process, your district is less likely to get to Chicago and either be disappointed with your accommodations or not have a room at all.

Also, having all the contracts and reservations go through the Association allows us to maintain a high standard for your accommodations. If we receive too many complaints about a specific hotel, we can put our considerable numbers to work to make certain that the problems are rectified before the following year.

For the 2008 conference, our housing contracts will include 500 rooms at the newly renovated Palmer House Hilton at 17 E. Monroe Street. While it is slightly farther from conference headquarters at the Hyatt Regency Chicago on Wacker than some other housing contracts, the newly revived contract will offer conference attendees the opportunity to stay at one of the city's most historic hotels ... but with a new look.

The Palmer House Web site offers this about its renovation efforts: "Although standard in name, the interior design and appointments of the Standard bedroom are equal to what other hotels refer to as deluxe."

Your Association is committed to helping you get the best rooms and rates available for your stay in Chicago during the Joint Annual Conference. Getting your forms filled out completely and submitted as soon as possible is your best chance at getting the hotel of your choice.

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