Wednesday, September 16, 2009

APA Eastern Meeting Group Rate S.N.A.F.U.

An anonymous smoker writes,
WTF is up with the APA not reserving rooms at the group rate for the 26th of December? The meeting is from the 27th to the 30th. Those lucky enough to have interviews on the 27th should probably arrive on the night of the 26th. Of course, there is no special rate (student or otherwise) for that night. If a candidate wants to avoid traveling to NY the morning of their interview, they will have to pay an extra $300+ dollars for the privledge.

Seriously: WTF was the APA thinking? Can we have a post about this? Who do I complain to?
-- Mr. Zero

41 comments:

Anonymous said...

It is uncommon for interviews on the 27th to occur in the morning.

This is not going to be a great job market year. It will not be hard to have all of one's interviews on the 28th and 29th.

No SNAFU!

Mr. Zero said...

I wouldn't want to fly from my current undisclosed location in the morning if I had a job interview that same day in the afternoon. But I suppose it would be possible to schedule stuff around it.

Anyways, I don't stay at the conference hotel. Especially when it's the Times Square Hilton (SNAFU!!!1!).

When do they normally start the group rates? They really should schedule them for the night before the conference, not the day the conference starts.

Anonymous said...

Well, the program doesn't really begin until the evening of the 27th, that's why they don't negotiate a group rate for the night of the 26th. I wonder how hard it would be, though, to get the hotel to add a few rooms at the convention rate for the 26th. I don't see why they'd balk -- presumably they're happy with selling a bunch of rooms at that rate.

Zero, isn't it going to be tough to find a cheaper hotel in NY than the Marriott (not Hilton) at the convention rate? Even a hotel with fewer stars. Maybe a flea bag. Or are you going to stay with friends? I did stay with relatives once in NYC, and I was interviewing. It was a mistake. I should have ponied up the money.

Inside the Philosophy Factory said...

It is possible that the hotel wouldn't give the lower rate for the 26th, as it's a Saturday night and they may be thinking that they'll have guests in NYC for Christmas over the weekend.

Justin Sytsma said...

I was able to get the group rate for the 26th when I booked my room a little over a week ago. I wasn't able to get the student rate for any of the nights, though.

Maybe they reserved fewer rooms for the 26th and those rooms are now filled?

Anonymous said...

Justin - That's strange that you couldn't get the student rate at all, but you could get the group rate for the 26th. I would try calling them again. One of the people I spoke with when trying to sort this out didn't know about the group rate. I had to insist and make her look up the access code before she found the special rate. It's probably worth trying again.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick "heads up" for all those strapped for cash: I am positive that a quick search on hotwire/expedia/priceline would produce at least half a dozen decent hotels located within 10 city blocks from the conference offering rates lower than $150 a night.

Anonymous said...

How about this for a sub-thread: is it worth paying for the conference hotel vs staying with friends or relatives when you're interviewing? On the one hand, you're right there and can always run up to the room to collect yourself, on the other, the possibility of outside world interaction and saving big $$. Thoughts?

Anonymous said...

what are the exact pros and cons of staying with friends vs. staying at the hotel, btw? is it really so bad to not get a room there?

Aristophanes Hiccups said...

Inside the Philosophy Factory is probably right. The real problem isn't group rates for the day before, the real problem is that its scheduled (as always) right after Christmas. Not only are hotels (especially in NYC) incredibly pricey during that time of year but airfare is jacked up as well. What the APA has to do is move the conference a week or two later to a more sensible time of year like every other professional conference.

Btw, look in Newark near the Airport or even bed and breakfasts in Brooklyn. Commuting into NY from those two locations is not really that difficult since you can catch a free bus from the hotel to the airport and then a train to New York from there (or even another bus to Newark Penn and then the Path).

Xenophon said...

hotels.com

Checking in 12/26, checking out 12/30. Hotel Alexander, 2.5 miles north of the conference hotel, has a summer vacation sale of $108/night. Otherwise it looks like you're facing at least $180 in Manhattan (Holiday Inn at 57th St, $200 at the 30-30 near Penn Station, etc. $110 for the Sleep Inn in Brooklyn. It looks like there are a lot of options that aren't materially worse than using the conference discount. Plus, you can do one night at one of these places, then move to the conference hotel on the 27th.

Don't get me wrong, I feel your pain. Seems to me that the APA should have the conference in Brooklyn or Newark to begin with, then staying at the conference hotel with discount would be $80 a night. But if you're going to pony up for airfare and a hotel, what's fifty more bucks? Other than lunch for a month, that is.

Anonymous said...

As someone who has been on the other side of the table interviewing people, I can say that we, at least, are willing to accommodate the people we interview, and try to schedule around their travel plans. If you are offered an interview, and you do not want to interview on the 27th, then ask if they can reschedule.

Anonymous said...

Reasons to stay at the conference hotel: You can easily retreat to your hotel room during the day if you want to be alone, or regroup, or take a nap (job candidates can have trouble sleeping well during the night) or fix a wardrobe malfunction (perhaps more of an issue for women with e.g. pantyhose)

Otherwise one is forced to either be at the conference in public all day (which is exhausting) or actually leave the conference, travel through the city, and then come back for the evening receptions each night (the "smokers", which job candidates should attend)

Mr. Zero said...

No one is suggesting that it wouldn't be more convenient to stay in the conference hotel. The problem is, it's deeply, horribly, overridingly economically inconvenient.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Zero, no need to be a dick. 9/18 3:49 was just responding to questions from 9/17 7:19 and 7:37.

Also, given the difference it might make (at least if you have 3+ interviews) to getting a job, isn't it worth $1000? Lots of other careers require much more in the way of job 'search' costs. And this is a prototypical 'high leverage situation' as the baseball statheads would say. You bring in your best pitcher when the game is on the line--even if it isn't a save situation. I'd fork over 5% of my yearly earnings if it improves my chance of getting a job by 10 or even 5%. What the hell. Game on. All that.

Now, there's no way I would stay in the expensive hotel if I had say, zero or one or even two interviews. Not a very hectic several days in that case. Show up for your interviews; show up for the smoker, and don't sweat the rest.

Mr. Zero said...

I didn't mean to be a dick. I apologize.

However, I don't have $1,000. And, in order to stay in the conference hotel, I have to make arrangements way before I know how many interviews I'll get.

Anonymous said...

Zero,

The problem (as Xenophon documented) is that in NY right after Christmas it's going to be very hard to find something substantially cheaper than the convention hotel.
By contrast, it's really easy to find something within easy walking distance of the Palmer House for quite a bit less in February. (Huh, I wonder why that would be...? /irony)

I do think it's a lot better not to give yourself a trek from Newark (Orchard Park?) if you can help it. A couple of blocks is one thing, but there's going to be substantial stress, I think, if you are in effect commuting. Of course, if you don't have the money, you don't have it.

Mr. Zero said...

in NY right after Christmas it's going to be very hard to find something substantially cheaper than the convention hotel.

Obviously, if it's worth it to you to stay in the conference hotel, by all means. Maybe you and I just have different philosophies of what counts as wasting money. But the way I look at it is, if I can find a room for even $20 or $30 less a night, over the course of 3 or four nights, that's not insubstantial. Then I can feel a lot more comfortable about eating food and drinking beer.

Jaded Dissertator said...

Anon. 11:02,

The issue isn't whether or not I would spend $1,000 to get a job; it's if I should have to in the first place.

I mean, I can rationalize all kinds of crazy or stupid or onerous shit if I want to, but that doesn't mean the shit I'm rationalizing is thereby made any less crazy or stupid or onerous.

This is just to say: the Eastern APA is broken. Option 1: accept it and make excuses for it and impose unnecessary burdens on ourselves because after all we're only graduate students or low-rankers Option 2: complain and maybe get it changed.

Option 2 involves complaining. I'll take it.

Anonymous said...

Zero,
Well, your choice, obviously, but saving $20 or $30 per night isn't what's suggested by your remark that staying at the convention hotel is "deeply, horribly, overridingly economically inconvenient." If I could save $30/night by staying a block away, I'd do that. If I could save it by staying in Brooklyn, forget it.

Xenophon, I don't think they could hold the convention in Newark, because there aren't any hotels that could host it. That's a significant problem for the Easterns.
I think someone suggested Dallas a couple of years ago. That's not a bad idea. And after all, the Cowboys are in the NFC East.

BunnyHugger said...

I'd do anything I could to get Eastern to change its meeting to sometime other than right smack in the middle of the holidays. Unfortunately I'm registered as a Central member.

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that the Eastern APA is when it is for two reasons: 1) I'm told it's actually _cheaper_ to book a bunch of rooms at that time than most other times of the year. Individual rooms might not be cheaper, but my understanding is that it's a cheap time for conference booking. 2) No schools have classes at that time, which would not be the case if it was earlier or very much later. A fair number of schools start classes again very soon after new years.

For what it's worth I was recently talking to a sociologist who is married to a philosopher. She's been around the eastern APA many times, as well as her own hiring conference. She said that she thought the APA was much better run and worked much better for everyone involved than the Sociology process seemed to. Others might disagree, of course, and I do think the APA does a worse job than some other disciplines, but those disciplines also charge considerably more money to join and to take part in the hiring process.

Anonymous said...

The APA sucks. Why won't they just give me a good dissertation, pedigree and haircut? It's all so unfair. How will people recognize me for the creative, well educated and attractive person I am, when the APA is so sucky? The only bright light in this whole fiasco is that complaining about the APA allows me to avoid doing philosophy, which is hard - hey, what's up with that? Why doesn't the APA make philosophy easy? The APA sucks.

P.S. I'm not a troll, just someone who finds it hard to express without sarcasm their admiration, affection and camaraderie. Because of something wrong with me. For which I blame the APA.

Mr. Zero said...

anon 7:11,

1. I heard that too. Although I heard there's a big party right around that time in New York, which might serve to counteract that effect. This may count against having the meeting there.

2. Yes. That's why it is when it is.

Anonymous said...

The reason why the APA conferences are always in a small handful of cities is partly because these cities have the hotels big enough for them, but also because these cities are fun. The Eastern could be in Baltimore, or Stamford CT, or the Western in Sacramento or something, and the hotels _might_ be cheaper. But the majority of the people on the programs want to go to fun places, not marginally cheaper ones. (They might not be much cheaper once you figure in higher priced flights, etc.) The process is expensive. It's hard for Grad students. People enjoy complaining. I understand all of that. But it's not as if these things were for no good reason at all, as seems to be suggested by much of the complaining.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for having the APA in fun places. However, I don't think that you maximize fun by having the APA on the 27th in the Northeast. It's expensive. It's a pain in the ass for most people to get there. Last year, I had to leave at 4 a.m. on the 26th to have my one interview with a school that happened to be an hour's drive from where I was spending X-mas vacation. It cost me an f-load of money. At the time, it cost me all of my money and then some room on the credit cards. (Yes, I did get to eat delicious Philly delicacies like that loaf made out of left over pig parts and for that I'm grateful.)

At any rate, if we're going to keep having the Eastern APA in hard to reach and expensive places, fine. I think that what's troubling a lot of people is having the APA that you need to be at to interview for a job at an expensive and hard to reach place. Given that we can do initial interviews by skype or phone, it just doesn't make much sense to put young philosophers who are tight financial straights through this every year. Let's just make the Eastern about the philosophy and give all of us a break. Now that I have a job, I sure as hell don't want to keep heading cross country to interview in person miserable job candidates at significant cost to both of us. (Now that I have a grown up job, I've discovered that we have a very small part of our travel budget covered. Now if we interview at the APA, it is almost certainly coming out of my pocket.)

Mr. Zero said...

the majority of the people on the programs want to go to fun places, not marginally cheaper ones.

The Eastern APA is not a philosophy conference. It's a job fair, with a philosophy conference on the side. The "program" is the parsley, not the steak. The majority of the people who attend the E-APA want someplace cheaper.

Furthermore, although these competing goals are in tension, they are not contradictory. You can shoot for fun cities that are affordable. I thought Baltimore was a pretty good place to have it. New York is a fun city, but it's a terrible, terrible place to hold a job fair.

And even furthermore, the people who present in the program aren't paying their own way. Neither are the people who conduct the interviews. Their departments pay for them. If they were on their own nickel, maybe they wouldn't be stoked about the Times Square Marriott, neither.

it's not as if these things were for no good reason at all...

I guess I just don't see what the good reason is. I don't see why the first step in a philosophy career is to fly to New York and stay in a $150-dollar-a-night hotel in Midtown, so that the job interviews can take place in a fun city with no regard to cost. I guess I don't think that's a very good reason.

I guess I think that the idea of people who make a lot of money and who aren't paying their own way insisting on holding a job fair in a extremely expensive city because it's more fun while disregarding the fact that all of the job candidates are broke is pretty fucking insensitive, totally fucked up, and not cool at all.

Anonymous said...

Mr Z
The Eastern APA is not a philosophy conference. It's a job fair, with a philosophy conference on the side. The "program" is the parsley, not the steak. The majority of the people who attend the E-APA want someplace cheaper.

No, that is absolutely false. The majority of people who go to the APA very strongly prefer it to be in NY than to… anywhere else. Job-seekers form a small(ish) minority of the philosophers attending the conference. You can argue that this small minority should be given special consideration -- I'd agree with that, in fact. But the APA is in fact catering to the majority of its members when it holds the Easterns in NYC.

Anonymous said...

Anon 9:48 and Mr. Zero,

When the convention was in Baltimore, it was cheaper and easier to get to. But in fact the hotel wasn't big enough. Many job interviews were conducted in the overflow hotels. That wasn't good; people complained a lot. So it's unlikely it will be there again soon.

Mr. Zero said...

No, [the view that the conference is the parsley, not the steak] is absolutely false... Job-seekers form a small(ish) minority of the philosophers attending the conference.

I find this picture hard to reconcile with my experience of the various APA conferences I have attended. For example, I went to the Baltimore E-APA in spite of the fact that I got no interviews, because I thought there would be a fun philosophy conference there.* I was wrong. It was hard to find interesting talks to attend, and I spent a lot of time wandering around Baltimore or helping my friends prep for their interviews. Not only was I the only person I knew who wasn't involved in interviewing, I was the only person any of my friends knew who wasn't involved in interviewing. Of course, I'm aware that this doesn't mean that there weren't a lot more like me, but I find it hard to believe that the majority of those in attendance were there for the papers, and not the job market.

I've been to a few Pacifics, and the contrast couldn't be more striking. There, no one is interviewing, and it is hard to determine which of several simultaneous interesting talks to attend. I realize that this is not an ironclad case. If you've got some recent survey data that contradicts my assessment, I'm all ears.

And another thing: we totally allow the job market to dictate the timing of the E-APA. There's no way that the APA is catering to the majority of its (non-job-market) members when it puts the meeting two days after xmas. It is when it is because that's the best time for the job fair. Why not allow the fact that it's a job fair to influence its location, too?

(Just to be clear, I have said before and still believe that it should be on the east coast. My only point is that some effort should be made to make it affordable to the many, many under-employed philosophers who are compelled by the profession to attend.)

You can argue that this small minority should be given special consideration -- I'd agree with that, in fact.

Then we're in agreement.

*I also thought it would be worth witnessing the horror in advance of the stress of interviews. For this reason, I don't regret the trip.

Mr. Zero said...

1:50,

I forgot about that. That's a pretty serious strike against Baltimore. Oh well. It's a fucked-up hellhole anyway.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with you, Mr Zero, about the average quality or interest of the papers. I have found the papers at the Easterns to be good, though there often aren't enough in areas that interest me especially. The Pacifics have far more papers on their program, so I do think it's easier to find something you're interested in.

The Easterns get 2000 philosophers in attendance. There are only a few hundred job-seekers. That's my evidence that the job-seekers form a small minority! Seems like good evidence.

The comment tentatively suggesting that hotels are cheaper in the Christmas-New Year gap was right on, and the guess that New York is the exception is correct. Hotels in other cities would love to get the APA contract. On the other hand, about 18 months ago Marriott approached the Eastern Division and asked if they'd accept a substantial sum to break the contract and go to Philly instead. The APA-ED declined. Marriott Times Square now expects to lose a whole lot of money on us (compared to what they'd have made without us, I mean). Hm, since I'm remaining anonymous many readers may be wondering whether I have any idea what I'm talking about or maybe I'm just making it all up. I do know, I have insider info, but I guess I'll remain anonymous since that's how it goes around here.

If you're looking for a cheaper place, easy to get to, willing to sacrifice fun, I think Atlanta is the place you want. Attendance will fall off by several hundred, but maybe it's worth it. And we know Atlanta has big enough hotels.

Mr. Zero said...

I don't agree with you, Mr Zero, about the average quality or interest of the papers. I have found the papers at the Easterns to be good...

I didn't say the papers weren't good; I said there weren't a lot of them.

though there often aren't enough in areas that interest me especially. The Pacifics have far more papers on their program, so I do think it's easier to find something you're interested in.

Yes. We are in agreement.

The Easterns get 2000 philosophers in attendance. There are only a few hundred job-seekers. That's my evidence that the job-seekers form a small minority! Seems like good evidence.

Hold the phone. I was careful not to say that the majority of E-APA attendees were job seekers, though re-reading my comments, I can see that I wasn't clear enough about this point. When I say that the point of the E-APA is the job fair, I mean that most of the people there are either seeking jobs or seeking job-seekers. A quick back-of-the-envelope calculation using numbers I pulled out of my ass confirms this suspicion. Suppose there are 300 applicants for 200 jobs, and that an average interviewing department sends 5 people. That's a solid majority who aren't there for the papers.

And in any case, the numbers are somewhat irrelevant. The E-APA is the job fair. The job seekers deserve to be treated humanely by the profession.

Anonymous said...

I find the idea that it's hard to get to NY very hard to believe- it has 3 major airports, train, buses from all over the NY for nominal sums, etc. It's quite a bit easier to get to than almost any other city in the East. It's usually cheaper to get to, too, for those same reasons. I spend a lot of time looking at flights in and out of various airports in the NE, and NY is almost always cheaper. So, I'm pretty sure that the claim that it's easier to get to Baltimore is false. (It might have been on your particular occasion, but usually this will be wrong.) The difference in flight costs will often make up the difference in hotel costs. Even though many people go to NY for New Years, most don't go and stay in the big conference hotels until after the APA would be over, so that's not driving up prices. Given this, I think most of the complaining here is misguided.

Anonymous said...

Just goes to show that philosophers eat their own kind. We are somehow unable to organize and play well together. If we could, we'd have boycotted the APA-ED years ago. Don't just complain; DO something about it!

Anonymous said...

Even though many people go to NY for New Years, most don't go and stay in the big conference hotels until after the APA would be over, so that's not driving up prices.

It's just an observable fact that hotel prices in NYC don't drop in that period, whereas they do in other cities. Maybe what happens is that enough of the New Year (it's tempting to abbreviate both "New York" and "New Year" as "NY", just to be maximally confusing) revelers come early to offset what would otherwise be a lull in the hotel room market.

Asstro said...

Not much to add here, but it's also true that there are a lot of graduate programs in the NYC area -- arguably more than anywhere else in the country. For these people, the costs of a NYC event are probably not prohibitive at all.

Xenophon said...

Anon 2:40, aka, Anon-with-inside-info: the conference hotels in Atlanta are in an area where they razed all the houses for what looks like square miles. It's actually a good place for a conference if you don't want to leave the hotel, but there's no place to eat in the area other than hotel restaurants. Delta's being in Atlanta is a mixed blessing: higher prices for a hub, but good service.

I liked Bawmur. I can't but think that the space problem could have been fixed. Even got a good lunch in Little Italy. But other than the Inner Harbor, it is a hell hole. So the same problem as Atlanta: you go there just to stay in the hotels.

Anon 5:57: getting flights to NYC city is easy, but air congestion there is terrible, so flights tend to be delayed more than other places. Not good when trying to get to an interview and get out. BWI is better, and you've also got the option of Reagan National.

I also liked Philly and Washington. Both now have Southwest, so fares should be good. Any complaints about DC as a location?

Also, Amtrak is a great way to get between DC/Philly/NYC. That's an argument for one of those cities, since a hell of a lot of colleges are along that general corridor. If you're in California, you're screwed, but only part of that is the APA. And given the problems with NYC, this implies that Philly, Baltimore, or DC are probably the best options (this re: Asstro's comment favoring NYC).

I wonder if there's a good conference hotel in Wilmington. As hell holes go, that could be an option.

Anonymous said...

Xenophon,
Okay, good point about Atlanta. (I didn't know that -- I've stayed in a part of Atlanta that was pretty cool, but it was in a small hotel.) But I did say "if you're willing to sacrifice fun", so Atlanta still makes sense on that condition.

I liked Baltimore a lot, myself, but I wasn't interviewing. Note that the secretary of the Eastern Division is a prof. at Johns Hopkins, so he is also apt to be favorably inclined toward Baltimore. But there really aren't hotels with the needed capacity.

DC and Phila. are great choices, as far as I'm concerned. Boston also has SW Air, in Manchester and Providence but I believe now even in Logan. I think DC has been my favorite, actually, even though I find it kind of a pain to get there from BWI (which saves me so much money my conscience requires it, even though my employers pay my way).

Ben said...

Last time I went to an APA Eastern Meeting in New York, a friend and I saved a lot of money by sharing a room at a hotel called the Larchmont in Greenwich Village. Neither of us got a job though.

Anonymous said...

Do not bag on scrapple, motherfucker! Philly rules, and so does scrapple with Karo syrup!