The Arisia Eboard announced November 16 they are moving Arisia 2019 from the Westin Boston Waterfront hotel to the Boston Park Plaza Hotel, as a result of strikes affecting the hotels they were planning to use. The dates of the convention remain January 18-21, 2019.
The Eboard explained on the Arisia Inc. Facebook page:
An ongoing labor dispute between the Marriott Corporation and the UniteHere labor organization has resulted in strikes at Marriott properties across the country. The strike includes both the Westin Boston Waterfront and the Aloft Boston Seaport, the hotels where Arisia 2019 was to be held. The consistent message that we’ve heard from our members – attendees, staff, and corporate – is one that aligns with Arisia’s values: that we must take seriously the very real concerns that have driven these workers to strike. As a result, we cannot cross a picket line and support a corporation that is in serious dispute with its workers.
A Park Plaza Move FAQ page has been added to the convention website with additional background:
Moving a convention of Arisia’s size in just two months is a major undertaking. We gave the Marriott management as much time as we felt we could. We hoped for a quick settlement to the labor dispute, but we also have to be realistic about the time, travel, and money commitments made by our community. We could not wait any longer. When polled on the question of whether to cancel the convention or move, Arisia Corporation members indicated by nearly a 4:1 majority that they preferred the convention move. Our Hotel Search Committee was able to find another host hotel that enables us to have an Arisia with most of the amenities and programming our attendees have come to expect in the last decade, on our target weekend dates, without requiring a drastic cut in attendance.
What is the effect on Arisia convention activities?
We do not know the full impact yet. The Park Plaza offers us sufficient space that most of the usual types of programming (panels, games, LARPs, dances, etc.) can occur, though some things will be downsized. Some event organizers and panelists had already indicated they could not attend this year, and we are likely to reconfigure some things to fit into the different spaces of the Park Plaza.
The Arisia Innkeeper team will cancel all Westin and Aloft reservations made through their booking links. They will announce when reservations open for the Park Plaza, and have assured fans, “We have a room block large enough that we do not expect to sell out.”
Arisia 2019 will have a lower membership cap in the new facility. What that number will be is not yet known.
The Eboard’s general announcement noted that the hotel situation is just one of the critical issues on their plate:
We also understand that the strike is not the only or overriding concern for our community. We acknowledge concerns around the safety of attendees, and around our ability to handle incident response in ways that meet our standards and goals. On Sunday, November 11th, the corporation elected new members of the Eboard with the implicit directive to correct the mistakes made by the previous board and move forward with initiatives to improve our culture, our responses, and our processes. The Eboard will have much more to say on all these subjects in the days to come.