asa: it’s on

I just booked my trip to ASA. For those interested, I found a cheap hotel bidding on Priceline ($80 for the Westin – well below the $200 ASA rate, as well as what the Westin is selling the rooms for on their website; email me if you want the info). I know I should book through the ASA given problems with filling hotels. But local hotels are oh-so-much cheaper. ASA needs to get a better deal with these things. Plus I like staying a little bit away. I love you all, but I need my space. I’m flying on Virgin America for the first time! They have free wifi! We’ll see how that works. Now to the important things:

1.) We need to start planning our party.
2.) I need to figure out which Giants game to go to. I’m thinking one on a later date, when they’re playing LA. I’m fired up.

14 thoughts on “asa: it’s on”

  1. Shamus, sorry you missed the scatterplot baseball train. For you, or any other scatterbrains out there who would like to meet up, we will be up in the nosebleeds* in Section 313, Rows 6 and 7 for the Aug 11 game against the Dodgers.

    *hmmm, not quite the right metaphor for AT&T about “we’re up in the data roaming section”?


  2. I’ve wondered how sustainable the current way the ASA does conferences with major hotels is, given the diffusion of knowledge about online travel sites, and what great deals you can get through them. I suppose it also goes to show how much hotels have been gouging customers in the sans-internet era. If I’m not mistaken, the ability to the use conference meeting areas and rooms is predicated on the ASA filling a quota of hotel rooms at the full gouging price.

    While I don’t think the ASA really needs the hotel rooms, it still needs the conference rooms. Perhaps we’ll have better negotiators on behalf of the ASA this time around, so we aren’t stuck holding another conference in Atlanta with relatively low attendance, in lieu of paying a buy-out.

    I suppose forgoing the hotels altogether might be an option, and convention centers and universities might be feasible alternative places to hold meetings. Then again, I was just at the CSA meetings with Tina, and some of the rooms used for sessions at the university there made my junior high shop class look like the Four Seasons.

    Regardless, the internet age seems to have shifted some power back to consumers vis-a-vis hotels. Does anybody have ideas regarding how the ASA could leverage the state of the industry, in order to get better deals for its members, and hold better conferences? For that matter, should the ASA consider alternatives to hotels, if we have this recurrent problem of filling hotel spaces at full price? If not, is it fair or reasonable to expect ASA members to altruistically pay “gouging prices” for hotel rooms for the good of the conference and the association?

    Just my $0.02…


    1. I don’t have any bright ideas. I don’t feel as bad about this with San Francisco since I figure they won’t have problems filling the rooms. I might have made a different decision if it were Atlanta (where I know they need every last person to book at the hotel). Then again, I might not go to Atlanta.

      I must say I feel less bad about my abdication from responsibility/the collective good of booking rooms in the ASA block after writing a $500 check to pay for my membership and conference dues.


      1. (I’m late to this as I was out of the country.) It’s never occurred to me to make booking a room in a conference hotel a matter of altruism or professional duty. ASA membership rates are high enough without people feeling that they need to further tap their research funds to buy hotel rooms if they have another place at a cheaper rate that they are fine with.


  3. Shamus, for someone who repeatedly talks about his research fund riches, it seems a curious choice to advertise the fact that you’re free-riding on others at the annual professional meetings. Presumably ASA registration would be much more expensive if the organization didn’t make the agreement about filling a certain number of rooms. It would seem reasonable that people with large research budgets would bear at least their share of that cost. Many other academic conferences are much more expensive, perhaps because that’s what one gets when there’s not a deal of this sort between the association and a hotel.


    1. True. One of the results of having a confessional ethic – which I do – is opening up to being called out. I’m not sure that makes me a worse person, or simply someone who is honest about what he’s doing.


  4. $80?! Holy f***ing sh**! That’s lower than the AEA conference rate from 1996 [$85 when it was the ANA]. guess that’s what a collapse of the hotel business will do for you. (cf. [1] [2])


  5. I don’t think Shamus or anyone should feel bad about not being gouged on hotel rates by an inefficient organization. We pay more for everything at ASA, and comparisons with AEA/ASSA are striking. There seems to be no attempt to reduce meetings costs for members, despite the exceptionally high price we pay for membership. I wasn’t planning to go to ASA, and they sent a nasty note saying my paper would be pulled if I didn’t pay for preregistration (my graduate student coauthor who was presenting the paper was already preregistered). I pulled the paper; it’s forthcoming at SSQ anyway, and that way the student doesn’t have to stick around for another 4 days paying for expensive hotels.


  6. I don’t think ASA is out of line on membership or meeting rates relative to other very large professional meetings (e.g., APSA, which from memory is very similar). It’s a very different ball game when dealing with much smaller meetings.

    My view is that part of the problem is the refusal almost ever to use conference centers (Boston and Montreal being the exceptions). That leads to needing LOTS of hotel space, which leads to needing lots of people to pay the captive-audience rate. My wife’s meetings are routinely held in conference centers and, frankly, they’re better set up for this kind of thing anyway!


    1. “I don’t think ASA is out of line on membership or meeting rates relative to other very large professional meetings (e.g., APSA, which from memory is very similar).”

      I don’t know about most years, but certainly last year I paid $75 less per night at APSA than ASA, for nearly identical hotel rooms. (Both conferences were held in Boston last year, in the same three hotels.) Granted, the APSA is held two weeks later, and hence closer to the Labor Day cutoff point in hotel rates.


  7. It’s true that sociology is not alone, I was lamenting these problems with a friend in Anthro, and they’re screwed as well. But my spouse is in Econ, and her membership fees are much lower, and the orgs (especially the Allied Social Science Association) bargain for good rates for the meetings–often by using those nice conference facilities Andrew mentions, and many organizations use universities for smaller conferences. Price is not just about size. I’ve often stayed at the Association for Sociology of Religion hotels at ASA because ASR always bargains for better rates than ASA.

    Thre’s a good dissertation somewhere in analyzing the annual meetings costs of professional and voluntary organizations annual meetings…hotel costs, membership dues, cash bar/open bar….


  8. I couldn’t get anything comparable for $80 through Priceline today but I got the Clift hotel for $100/night plus fees. Apparently the Clift is a decent hotel above a popular bar and it is a block from the conference Hilton. Usually I can get either a King or two doubles via a Priceline reservation but in this case, the Priceline room is limited to a Queen/King.


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