Vanishing Point for Hotels

Conrunners ought to find the New York Times article “More Hotels Facing an Uncertain Future” sobering, perhaps even frightening. There’s been a spike in foreclosures and bankruptcies among these properties:

Jim Butler, a hotel industry lawyer, said those who manage distressed hotel loans have told him that their workloads have jumped tenfold in recent months.

“Things seem to be accelerating,” Mr. Butler said, and predicted that before the recession is over, the number of hotels in bankruptcy or foreclosure could rise above the 2,000 or so reached in the industry’s last big downturn in the 1990s.

“Of course, hotels have disappeared out from under sf cons even during good economic times,” reminds David Klaus, thinking of Archon, St. Louis Mayor Schoemehl, and the Miss Universe pageant. “At least with modern communications the word about emergency-changed locations or outright con cancellations can be gotten directly to most fans a lot more quickly than in past days — nothing like the ancient Larry Niven/Ozarkon incident could happen again. Right?”

Never again, assuming Niven keeps his cell phone charged. David recalls that in 1971 Niven had been invited as guest of honor at Ozarkon VI. He was already on the road to St. Louis when the event was cancelled. He couldn’t be reached, although the organizers say they called his home and gave the information to his wife. Now it’s not unknown for a GoH to no-show for a convention (example, Philip K. Dick for the 1974 Westercon), whereas Niven’s experience with Ozarkon is the only instance I’ve ever heard of the guest of honor showing up but not the convention.