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"Lancaster Host Resort Update from HMGS BOD" Topic


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Personal logo Colonel Bill Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 11:32 a.m. PST

Provide without comment FYI only

Ciao, Colonel Bill
ageofeagles.com

HMGS, Inc. Membership Update from the Board of Directors

The HMGS, Inc. Board of Directors would like to provide the membership with another update on the progress of renovations at the Lancaster Host Resort & Conference Center (Host). The information below was communicated to us on August 1, 2017:

Room renovations: The Host has 319 guest rooms. As of today, 34 are completely finished. Another 152 are currently gutted for final bathroom installments. These are located in the 200 and 400 hallways. All of the 152 currently gutted rooms are expected to be completed by Fall-In!, resulting in a total of 186 completely renovated rooms at the time of the show. As we were previously informed, another 50 rooms are expected to be under construction and not available during the show. This process will continue and is scheduled for completion in January 2018.

Expo Center or "Tennis Barn": The Tennis Barn is not being torn down. The roof modifications are already completed and sealed. The interior ceiling and walls are already painted. Permits have now been obtained for work on the AC, Heat, and Bathrooms. Currently, the kitchen and bathroom areas have been gutted and work continues. We have been provided with a copy of the new floor dimension layout to help plan our vendor space locations. The expected timeline for completion is the middle of September since the Host already has a group scheduled to use to space on September 29th. New doors are also being added and damaged ones are being repaired. The nearby Pro-Shop building is being torn down, but the time frame has not been determined. In its place will be a fire-pit and picnic area that our attendees and vendors can use.

Heritage Room area (Hobby University): There are no changes now scheduled for the Heritage room area where Hobby U is located. Instead, the nearby Heritage Boardroom has been converted into an office for the new owner. We never used that space anyway.

Lampeter (Tournaments and Flea Market): There are plans to replace the two doorways to the outside parking lots to provide better access with double doors that are handicap approved. There are also plans to install carpet in the entire area. These renovations are not major and are scheduled to begin after all of the room renovations are completed in 2018. Estimated time to complete is two weeks. If the timeline changes, management will make the necessary scheduling adjustments so as not to affect any of our shows or any other client shows.

Wheatland (Registration): There are no plans to turn Wheatland into a gift shop. The place that they are considering for the gift shop is the smaller nearby area where the pool table is located. This will be a non-staffed gift shop with beverages and snacks that people would pick up and pay for at the front desk. The plans for the gift shop are still in development and need to be reviewed in conjunction with the proposed enhancements to the bar and lobby areas. The plans for this area will also need to be approved by the Wyndham franchise before any work can begin.

Chairs: The Host has completed the purchase of 2,000 brand new chairs for our use. The chairs have all been delivered and are now on-site.

Tables: The Host just completed the purchase of 1,400 new tables for our use. As a courtesy, HMGS was able to provide feedback on the potential models. The final version selected is extremely durable and meets all of our requirements. 1,000 tables are 6x2.5 feet. 200 tables are 8x2.5 feet. A further 200 round tables were bought as well. While we don't normally use these tables, they are still available to us for any special functions we might have during our shows. The tables are expected to arrive in 3 to 4 weeks. Since these tables will be available for Fall In! 2017, we will save approximately $4,000 USD since we had already budgeted for a higher table rental expense.

We hope this information update helps. We will continue to contact the Host on a regular basis to obtain accurate information.

Respectfully,

The HMGS, Inc. Board of Directors

Dynaman878905 Aug 2017 12:02 p.m. PST

Wow, the new owners are really putting in some work on the place. Hopefully it stays in the HMGS price range.

Thanks for the update!

Winston Smith Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 12:17 p.m. PST

Looking good.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 12:29 p.m. PST

Nice to have the info, and all good news at this point.

As for the price range, I've got rooms reserved through Historicon 2018 and the rates looked pretty familiar--presumably locked in when the BoD signed the three-convention contract. I'm going to go out on a limb and say the Board is unlikely to sign a contract for 2019 without knowing what the prices are going to be.

rmaker05 Aug 2017 12:50 p.m. PST

If they're going to tear down the Pro Shop, where are they going to run the golf course from?

Personal logo Colonel Bill Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

I stay at the Wingate as I can use Wyndham Reward points and cut my rate in half or more. If the Host becomes a Wyndham franchise, now THAT would be suite (pun intended).

Colonel Bill
ageofeagles.com

JAFD2605 Aug 2017 4:45 p.m. PST

Salutations, gentlefolk !

A couple of points on ye Lancaster Host:

It was built in 1960. Heating oil. and acres of ground in what was then the 'countryside' near Lancaster, were relatively a lot cheaper then than now. The building is as obsolete as an F-102, and nobody would build anything like it now. The balance sheet of whomever owns it has the 'structures' depreciated to $1 USD – but the ground the Host (and the golf courses) sit on is worth a hellova lot.

It's the biggest convention facility between Valley Forge and Harrisburg. Until there's a replacement, the Lancaster County CofC won't want to tear it down. The likelihood of a Lancaster casino being built and providing that is slim (if in Atlantic City, note the average age of the folks at the slot machines). So the Host's owners are going to keep it up to 'convention hotel' standards (and not a penny more)

At some point, PennDoT will have the money to build four-lanes of limited access connecting the Lancaster-York bypass with the Coatesville-Downingtown-Exton bypass, putting the stretch of 30 in front of the Host into secondary 'business route' status. When that happens…


The problems with HMGS conventions: For ten years in the '90's, I was on the committee that produced Philcon – the Philly SF convention. We had similar problems:

We use a LOT of function space – cannot fit another event in the hotel that weekend. Also tables and chairs – probably the hotel's entire supply, and 'get the broken ones fixed'

There are no 'banquet' events – a lot of the kitchen and waitstaff will be off that weekend, and the 'food revenue' – even with the 'fast service stations' in the lobby – will be under average.

For municipally-owned convention centers, we have the dealers saying "We're paying more to get our stands set up then we're making from the event" and the workers (who vote in that jurisdiction) "Our taxes paid for this, we oughta make a decent living from it"

Finally, We Ain't On Expense Accounts. 98% of the people at Historicon are paying out of their own pocket.


Back in the '50's, science fiction author and fan Wilson 'Bob' Tucker considered this, and sketched out plans for the perfect venue for science fiction conventions, and other hobby gatherings, the Hotel Tucker. For decades afterwards, SF fans would help him realize his dream – at the end of a convivial evening, they would go to the downtown post office and mail him a brick.

And, if you are on the Con Committee and received a complaint about one or another flaw in the facilities, the handy response be "We're sorry, but the Hotel Tucker was already booked for this weekend."

SteelVictory Inactive Member05 Aug 2017 6:31 p.m. PST

The World Boardgame Championships convention moved out of the Lancaster Host to Seven Springs Mountain Resort (1hr east of Pittsburgh) last year and aren't looking back. It's been a huge success, they signed a ten year deal with Seven Springs.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 8:33 p.m. PST

Ya, so?

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP05 Aug 2017 8:43 p.m. PST

I live just several miles from Seven Springs and it is a beautiful resort. Eat there all the time-- and also it is in the middle of no where.

Regards
Russ Dunaway

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 5:54 a.m. PST

This is really great news! I'm excited to see some of the improvements at Fall In!!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 8:28 a.m. PST

Thank you JAFD26--an excellent summary of the problem.

No chance of moving Historicon to Hotel Tucker for 2019?

Ottoathome06 Aug 2017 9:16 a.m. PST

Thanks Col Bill for the information.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 11:34 a.m. PST

Thank you JAFD26--an excellent summary of the problem.

No chance of moving Historicon to Hotel Tucker for 2019?

Ok – I'm probably setting myself up – but what is the "Hotel Tucker"?

doug redshirt06 Aug 2017 12:47 p.m. PST

Already planning on spending my convention money next year at the WBC at Seven Springs. After hearing nothing but nice things from the people who went this year for the second year there. The Host is like the Black Hole of Calcutta, but if you are into that enjoy, painting the walls won't hide that fact.

The WBC is growing even if it is in the middle of nowhere and after moving away from the Host. So what does that mean?

TSD10106 Aug 2017 1:16 p.m. PST

So what does that mean?

It means board games and miniatures games are two different things but you'll make a stretch to try and prove your point. Fredericksburg is technically a "nicer" facility than the Host, and what happened? Historicon attendance is down over 20% from Valley Forge.

As for spending your convention money elsewhere, aren't you long gone according to past posts? So what does it matter, other than another pointless Host bashing post offering no solutions?

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 1:29 p.m. PST

Already planning on spending my convention money next year at the WBC at Seven Springs. After hearing nothing but nice things from the people who went this year for the second year there.

Hey – if you're going to WBC – have a great time. Enjoy yourself. Play allot of neat games and I hope you roll high.

The Host is like the Black Hole of Calcutta, but if you are into that enjoy, painting the walls won't hide that fact.

You know what they say about opinions?

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 2:55 p.m. PST

The host is a dump
The convention should be within an hour drive of DC and NYC
It is too expensive
There is nothing to eat

Did I miss anything?

Dynaman878906 Aug 2017 3:06 p.m. PST

Toilettes are broken (perhaps a subset of the Host is a Dump but it deserves a separate mention)

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 3:47 p.m. PST

Toilettes are broken (perhaps a subset of the Host is a Dump but it deserves a separate mention)

We saw that at Fredericksburg.

historygamer06 Aug 2017 5:03 p.m. PST

Unless they upgraded Seven Spring in the past several years, those rooms were nothing to brag about. The main building easily goes back to the early 70s. Grew up an hour from there.

shthar06 Aug 2017 5:29 p.m. PST

It's always easiest to do nothing.

Mjr Stalwart06 Aug 2017 5:53 p.m. PST

I live in eastern North Carolina. I've been to Historicon in both Lancaster and in Fredericksburg. Fredericksburg was much closer and convenient for me. I pay my membership dues like everyone else. It would be nice to have one of the large conventions somewhere south of DC. Even if it isn't Historicon.

I appreciate the need for higher attendance but if it doesn't significantly improve in 2018 I think the idea should be reconsidered.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 6:18 p.m. PST

Even if the attendance drops at the Host, the cost of the facility is much less expensive. Besides Historicon was at FB for six years. In six years all that happened was the attendance shrunk. South of D.C. doesn't seem to be able to attract enough attendees.

They should leave the convention in the general area for at least six years to see if the attendance comes back.

What about Williamsburg Muster? Guns of August?

Mjr Stalwart06 Aug 2017 6:32 p.m. PST

I'm planning on going to GoA in a couple of weeks. I haven't tried Williamsburg Muster before. I'll try to go next year.

Ember52 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 6:42 p.m. PST

TheKing30,

To be fair, that's like asking folks from the Northeast: "What about Huzzah, Havoc, and NJCon: Fire in the East?"

Scott

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP06 Aug 2017 7:15 p.m. PST

I'd have to respectfully disagree. If FB could have increased in attendance, the convention wouldn't have to be moved. Instead it failed. The people who want to run for the BoD specifically to move one if the conventions back south of D.C. are being foolish.

If Historicon failed, you'd be hard pressed to have either of the other two HMGS conventions succeed there.

Rather than be rude all I did was offer alternatives. I'd hate to see people leave the hobby because they can't find anyplace to play.

historygamer07 Aug 2017 5:19 a.m. PST

Maybe HMGS (formerly East, but not sure "East" of what?)needs to define it's area of operations so as to better set expectations.

Naw, that would make too much sense. :-)

nazrat07 Aug 2017 7:32 a.m. PST

"As for the price range, I've got rooms reserved through Historicon 2018 and the rates looked pretty familiar--"

I would respectfully disagree. According to the reservation form I signed at Historicon '17 the cost for the Host for H'con is the same as what I paid at The Homewood Suites in Fredericksburg. So that would be about $40 USD a night more than I used to pay at The Host for a much worse room (and NO free dinner or breakfast). I can only imagine it going up from there as more money is spent on improvements.

historygamer07 Aug 2017 8:06 a.m. PST

So you signed a form for Hcon 2018 for the Host? So what is the room rate?

kyotePO07 Aug 2017 9:17 a.m. PST

I come from WA state so it doesn't matter just find a place and leave it there.

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 9:24 a.m. PST

Room rates near the host are much higher in the summer than the other shows. Rates at some of the nearby name brand hotels are on par with Fredericksburg (or higher), and several of these hotels are already unavailable. The local tourism trade seems to be doing just fine.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP07 Aug 2017 2:26 p.m. PST

Darn Nazrat – I didn't get ant free breakfast. I'm following you next time!

holien08 Aug 2017 9:53 a.m. PST

Nazrat, You forgot to mention the free beer as well!!!

Rooms had mini kitchens as well. Great hotel.

Good news about the host, I had better see what I can book for next year..

Personal logo Flashman14 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 10:32 a.m. PST

I'm not convinced economic malaise isn't a bigger factor than location.

Regardless of the stock market there is still significant anxiety out there.

historygamer08 Aug 2017 11:18 a.m. PST

And how do you explain the growth of the other gaming conventions if you are using the economy as the cause?

Dynaman878908 Aug 2017 11:37 a.m. PST

> I'm not convinced economic malaise isn't a bigger factor than location.

The problem is not the location per se, but that the other location cost more making it unworkable for further use.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 1:13 p.m. PST

There are really two factors involved – the cost of the facility and the inability of the location to attract attendees.

Even if the attendance is level next year the Host costs less.

Charlie 1208 Aug 2017 4:56 p.m. PST

And how do you explain the growth of the other gaming conventions if you are using the economy as the cause?

Different demographic, that's why. Gencon, Origins and others go for a entirely different crowd (just look at their websites and it becomes obvious).

Charlie 1208 Aug 2017 4:58 p.m. PST

…. the Host costs less.

You hope. And just how do expect the new investors to get a ROI after sinking so much into that money pit? Rest assured, a price increase is in your future…

vagamer63 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 5:30 p.m. PST

Just wait till the Sales Manager of the Host lays that first Wyndham Corporate contract on the members of the BOD negotiating team! As the Sales Manager of a local Wyndham explained it to me, "Your renting four walls to hold your event we throw in the floor and the ceiling for free, but EVERYTHING else from the electricity to the Hotel Staff has a price, and most of them are not negotiable!"

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 5:55 p.m. PST

Ok. Vagamer – know what I found funny? Tell us about the beer raid at FECC. People having to dump their outside beer? Talk about non negotiable.

TheKing30 Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 5:58 p.m. PST

You hope. And just how do expect the new investors to get a ROI after sinking so much into that money pit? Rest assured, a price increase is in your future…

As of now, the Host is cheaper than the FECC. I'm sure there will eventually be a price increase – everything goes up. Even the FECC goes up.

historygamer08 Aug 2017 7:32 p.m. PST

The sky is falling, the sky is falling!!!!!

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP08 Aug 2017 8:09 p.m. PST

Tell us about the beer raid at FECC. People having to dump their outside beer? Talk about non negotiable

Just a liquor law related issue. Threat to the license of the vendor in the facility, just like you cannot bring outside beer into a bar or restaurant. We have been lucky at the Host for years, but that could change. I have seen similar issues with this at conventions in other states, so nothing new. One just needs to be discrete with their beverages. We had beer at our booth for the entire show without an issue. Coolers out in the open are just asking for trouble.

historygamer09 Aug 2017 7:09 a.m. PST

"We had beer at our booth for the entire show without an issue."

Well, that would explain some things. :-)

vagamer63 Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 7:19 a.m. PST

King30,

You'll find even more to laugh about when the Host tacks on the food surcharge, the beverage surcharge, vending machine surcharge, ice machine surcharge for all those coolers everyone carries, and then the Staff surcharge! As a Wyndham Hotel the Host is going to get plenty more expensive!

By the way, as a Wyndham Franchise the Host will also be policing alcohol consumption outside the area of the bar which is not allowed except in your rooms! Just so you know ahead of time! It's not just the law it's a matter of Insurance Liability one that Wyndham takes very seriously.

I bet the Host won't be providing monetary kick backs like the three hotels near the FECC did either!

Of course HMGS may not have to fork out additional money for the creature comforts of the attendees like they did at FECC with carpet, drapery, and larger chairs but then you just never know!

So enjoy it while it lasts!

Disco Joe09 Aug 2017 7:44 a.m. PST

vagamer63, so you know all this from working in the hotel industry or is this just speculation on your part? Or are you a member of the Wyndham Franchise? You do seem very knowledgeable in this area.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 8:11 a.m. PST

Vagamer63 couldn't care less as he has indicated that he has no intention to return to any HMGS conventions after they left the FECC. Therefore he is just pissing on the parade.

Personal logo Bowman Supporting Member of TMP09 Aug 2017 8:12 a.m. PST

Just wait till the Sales Manager of the Host lays that first Wyndham Corporate contract on the members of the BOD negotiating team!

Oh my Gawd! They may have to say No! Kinda what happened at the FECC.

Personally, I don't worry too much as in a few years I suspect only one convention will still be in Lancaster.

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