View topic - possible NDC Convention in Branson, MO in 2018

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 7:50 pm 
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I’ve been working with Fred Roman of Branson, MO, about the possibility of having our 2018 NDC Convention held in Branson. One possibility is to have our convention at the Branson Hilton and Convention Center. The prices for the rooms and meals would be higher than what we’re use to paying, so we'd like to know if our members will be willing to pay more knowing that they are going to get their money’s worth by staying in the heart of Branson. By staying right downtown, you'll be within walking distance of many of the attractions and shows, and there's a free trolley system to get you to places a bit further away.

The room rate would be $145.00 plus tax (currently 12.6%) for a total of $163.27 per night. This rate does not include a breakfast, and there is an additional charge of $20 per person per night if you have 3 or more people in your room. The Hilton has set aside 100 rooms at this rate for us for the dates of August 15th through August 19th, 2018.

The cost of the Awards Banquet dinner is estimated to be $40.00 per banquet plate per person plus tax (9.75%) and service fees (21%) for a total of $52.30 per person. The ice cream social on Friday is estimated to be $15.00 per person plus the same tax and service fees for a total of $19.61 per person. (And no, we can NOT bring in our own ice cream as we have done at some places during past conventions.) The farewell breakfast on Sunday is estimated to be $20.00 per person plus the same tax and service fees for a total of $26.15 per person.

And the car show would be inside the Convention Center! Just think - no worries about rain or if the temperature and/or humidity is too high. (That should make our judges happier!) Our Awards Banquet would be in the same room as our show - minus the cars.

In case you're not familiar with Branson, MO, here's a link that I hope works:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M3bmip_HQEs


So, is it worth paying more to have our show inside? Are these prices acceptable? Please let me know what you think of all of this; thanks.

Bill Noble
NDC Convention Coordinator


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:13 am 
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Bill,

Pat and I have been to Branson several times but are by no means experts on the area. However, my experience is that there is no benefit to one location vs. another as the town and most of the must-see shows are spread out throughout town and not within walking distance of one hotel or another. Traffic on the main routes in peak travel season is a nightmare with bumper to bumper traffic in the afternoon well into the evening. Much of the area is not pedestrian friendly so everyone drives everywhere.

Although the attractiveness of an indoor show in late August is appealing, I would recommend getting some competitive bids from alternate hotels that might be off the main routes.

There is a lot to see and do in Branson and we are very much looking forward to the NDC being able to hold a convention there. God willing, I would be willing to assist Fred with some of the chairperson's duties as I know he is a bit of a "Lone Ranger" in the area. Good luck with your work on the planning for this convention.

Mark


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 06, 2017 2:33 pm 
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Everyone:

Mark is correct to a certain point. The entertainment activities are not within walking distance of the hotels and the traffic is slow at times which is a good thing for those not familiar with the area - there virtually are no accidents!

However, the shows are only 5 or 6 miles at most from the proposed downtown host Hilton Convention Center where there are a vast number of restaurants, shops, etc. well within walking distance or using the free trolley service. Branson is extremely safe and any entertainment is easily accessed with routes well marked and the city map is available most anywhere - basically, you don't get lost. It might take 20 minutes to get from one place to another but it isn't a lifetime for sure.

Yes, there are other places than the Hilton Convention Center (everything is included in the Hilton prices - no extra cost for parking or other amenities) and I will be glad to check them out for comparison purposes and report. The biggest difference is convenience(s) and the important question is: Within reason, is value more important than price or is price more important than value? Please be sure to click on the link provided in Bill's post above and and let us know. Your input is of utmost importance as time is of the essence. We have to have a commitment to the Hilton by the end of this March (2017) for the dates of August 15 to August 19th 2018.

Thanks and best DeSoto regards,

Fred Roman

"It's delightful, it's delovely, it's DeSoto"


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 07, 2017 7:19 pm 
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Prices are outrageous. $20 for a scoop of ice cream ? Really ?

I think we could do better pricewise, by having the convention a month to six weeks later. If you're gonna have it at the height of the tourist season, it's gonna be expensive.

Ron


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 4:51 am 
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My thought is it is pricey compared to past conventions and there seems to be discussion at most conventions about how we can make the conventions more family friendly. Some couples may not have a problem with the cost but I can see a family with children having a problem with it. The ice cream social at $19 for a family with 2 or 3 children I think would be a problem for most.

How much research has been done on other possibilities? I was looking at Stone Castle Hotel and Conference Center on line and unless there is problems with parking etc. it looks pretty good. The tripadvisor reviews are about the same as the Hilton, very good, the location is 2 blocks off the strip right in the theatre district, it has seven conference rooms and banquet facilities. It appears to have what we need for the convention and the rack rate for a room is about $89 and that includes a hot breakfast. I haven't been to Branson in years and am not familiar with either hotel but if it hasn't been looked at I think it is worth a look.

If we find a location that will allow it I think the Great Lakes Chapter would host the ice cream social again. I can't say that for sure but we have enjoyed doing that for other conventions and we would certainly consider doing it again.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 5:56 am 
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Fred,

First, I would like to thank you for stepping up and working towards hosting a convention! Also, the National DeSoto Club has never been hosted in Missouri and I think a lot of members would be excited for the chance to attend. Add that to a venue that is kind of a central location in the country and you could have the potential for a great turnout.

With that said, I think the biggest challenge you will face is the price. This has been somewhat conveyed already by the preceding posts, but I do not think I am out of line by stating that the general membership feels the same. It's not that anyone wants to stay in a bad location or anything like that, but neither will most people want to spend that kind of money. It's understandable - most people in this club are of average income and enjoy the cars as a hobby. Tie that into a long-distance trip (say from Washington state), add an average size family of 4, and costs increase very quickly. A banquet dinner at ~$50 each x 4 people is a $200 meal. Ice cream at $20 each (many people voiced complaints the last time the club did this) for the same 4 person family is $80. That same family will be paying an additional $20/person per night for a hotel room. I realize that we do not have a lot of families attending, but it may discourage such attendees. When Joe and Bobbi Youngblood (and the Great Lakes Chapter) hosted the 2015 convention in Kalamazoo, we saw somewhere around 10 kids (does someone know the exact number?), which is more than I remember seeing at a convention in a very long time. However, they had put a lot of thought into making the convention attractive to families and I think people of all ages had a great time. We may not have droves of young people attending, but we need to be making at least some effort to attract new members and not make it cost-prohibitive.

I guess what I'm getting at is that the general membership, even just an individual or couple, is likely to choose being a couple miles in a different direction to save some of these costs. I think it would be strongly advisable to consider other host hotels for the reasons above. If there are not any good alternative hotels, could the social and banquet be held off-site to cut down on some cost? This has been done a handful of times in the past (I think the 2003 Frankenmuth,MI convention may have had an off-site banquet and the 2013 Lake Elmo, MN convention was technically in the adjoining Machine Shed restaurant) and could be a potential alternative. Can we have a Friday night social without ice cream (strictly swap meet and socializing), or the option of attending without being required to order a $20 ice cream?

There are a lot of great members in this club. Every year I go, it becomes more and more about the people, with the cars becoming an added bonus. However, we want to make sure everyone is able to continue coming and entice new members to attend their first convention.

I hope I have given you a better idea of where the concerns are and hopefully a few ideas to pursue. I certainly look forward to making the drive from Wisconsin in 2018!


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 3:33 pm 
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Thanks to all who have responded - and please continue to do so.

I had considered the Stone Castle in addition to the Branson Convention Center but wanted to explore the BCC first because of the conveniences it offers with hope and anticipation it would be competitive.

Based on the response so far related to costs, I contacted the Stone Castle this morning and requested a meeting. I will report ASAP. There are even more alternatives but the Chateau on the Lake is very expensive and quite remote from the entertainment district as is the Silver Dollar City Best Western. For the money, Stone Castle seems to offer most of what we are looking for.

Thanks again and keep sending your comments and suggestions.

Best DeSoto regards,

Fred

"It's delightful, it's delovely, it's DeSoto"


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 08, 2017 8:03 pm 
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Hi Fred, As I said, we haven't been to Branson in years, probably 20 years, and I know it has changed a lot. A lot of the hotels I found on Tripadvisor weren't there the last time we were there so I don't know anything about them. The BCC, Best Western at SDC, for sure and I don't remember Stone Castle being there. Stone Castle stood out as probably offering all the services we need for the convention, the location right off the strip and the reviews were overall very good. To this poster boy for frugality (my wife says cheap but I prefer frugality) the price looked very competitive and less than we usually pay at a convention. But, check it out. Parking for trailers etc. will be important and I couldn't see on line what their parking situation is.

Our Chapter has hosted several ice cream socials at past conventions when the host hotel will allow us to bring in the ice cream and the toppings. We have a little money left from hosting a couple of conventions that we don't know what to do with and we think treating our fellow NDC members to an ice cream sundae is money well spent. And, we enjoy doing it. Our little gift to members attending the convention. The Chapter would have to vote on doing it but I think I can safely say they will be glad to if the hotel will allow it.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 09, 2017 11:54 pm 
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Greetings all,

Thank you all for your suggestions and comments. Feel free to keep them coming. Also thanks to those who have offered assistance - it is sincerely appreciated.

I did contact the Stone Castle Hotel and Convention people and had a great reception and meeting. Overall I believe this site would be very satisfactory and am awaiting the proposal.

No issues with parking (trailer parking available), rooms, and facilities are very nice, and the folks I spoke with are great. It is about a mile off the "strip" (entertainment district) but easily accessible. It was built in the 90's and has had some upgrades over the years. There are three building of which one would be dedicated to us. Parking lots are well lit and there is an area that could be used for our show field. The only downside I can see is that the exposure of our cars to the public is limited because of the remote location from the main stream of traffic. Probably not a deal breaker and I'm sure there will be enough outside interest to keep us occupied with onlookers, etc. A full hot breakfast is included!

Anyway, I will be reporting from time to time and am now awaiting their proposal. Looks like August will be the most economical from what I've been told.

Look forward to more info and I will keep you posted.

Fred

"It's delightful, it's delovely, it's DeSoto"


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