New Dates, New Hotel

First, we want to thank everyone for their patience while we navigated the ongoing situation regarding our hotel facilities, convention dates, and the form DisCon III will be taking. We made the commitment to keep everyone informed either every two weeks or sooner if the situation has changed. If you are unsure about what that is you can catch up here: https://discon3.org/news/update-on-convention-dates-and-hotels/ 

Through the efforts of our staff and the efforts of the Connolly Gallagher law firm, we secured our release from our contract with the Marriott Wardman Park. We plan on hosting the convention at the Omni Shoreham Hotel from December 15-19, 2021. 

What are the new dates?
What is the new venue?
Can the Omni Shoreham hold a Worldcon?
So why did you not go 100% virtual in August like other conventions?
Why did you wait so long to announce the date change?
Won’t moving to December place you too close to the dates of [INSERT CON] here?
What is mid-December weather like in Washington, DC?
What precautions will you be taking for COVID?
When will hotel bookings open?
What is a Virtual Membership?
What if I want a membership refund?
Will the Hugo voting timeline or 2023 Worldcon site selection be affected?

The Covid pandemic has had a lasting impact on fandom. Last year, CoNZealand became the first Worldcon to be virtual. This year, with the release of several viable vaccines, the return of in-person conventions has become possible. We considered our members, staff, and potential members’ preferences. We have monitored the legality of an in-person event. As well as preference, we had contractual obligations which were developed long before the pandemic hit and we had to make the adjustments we could agree with our partners. None of this was simple and to not say anything which would force us into a breach of contract situation, we haven’t been able to say much until now.

When we surveyed membership and interested parties in December 2020, there was a strong preference for an in-person event. Below are the results of the survey we conducted:

[Given the below options for DisCon III, which would you most prefer to attend? 1667 total respondents:

64% In-person: December 15-19, same venue(s) with some virtual aspects (1060 respondents)

31% Virtual: Existing dates of August 25-29, with potential for limited in-person activities (523 respondents)

5% Would not attend either (84 respondents)]

 

[Currently, what is your relation to DisCon III? 1667 total respondents:

62% Member (1031 respondents)

28% Non-member (469 respondents)

10% Staff/Volunteers (167 respondents)]
Preference for in-person in December:

Members: 68.3%

Non-members: 53.9%

Staff/Volunteers: 61.7%
Preference for virtual in August:

Members: 26.1%

Non-members: 40.9%

Staff/Volunteers: 37.1%
Would not attend either:

Members: 5.6%

Non-members: 5.1%

Staff/Volunteers: 1.2%
Nearly two-thirds (63.6 percent) of respondents preferred a shift to December with some virtual elements. Just under a third (31.4 percent) of respondents wanted to move forward with the originally scheduled dates with a mainly virtual convention.  The remainder would not attend. Staff had similar preferences.

This means for the first time, Worldcon will take place in December.

As we have mentioned previously, we plan on incorporating virtual programming into our Worldcon for those who choose not to attend in-person. We will be introducing a Virtual Membership to access our online programming which will start at US$75, and we will be providing sign-up information about the Virtual Membership in the very near-term.

We have also provided an FAQ regarding this situation below, and we hope it answers some of your questions.

Thank you again for your support and as always, if you have any concerns or questions about how we are proceeding, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us across social media @Worldcon2021 or by emailing info@discon3.org.

The FAQ/ Moving checklist

So you’ve just found out DisCon III is moving? Here’s what you need to know: 


What are the new dates?

  • December 15-19, 2021 


What is the new venue?

  • The Omni Shoreham Hotel, Washington, DC


Can the Omni Shoreham hold a Worldcon?

  • The Omni Shoreham has over 100,000 square feet (9290.3 square meters) of meeting space, but let’s be upfront – the Omni Shoreham is smaller than our previous hotel with less sleeping rooms. Given that we know not everyone will be able to attend a December Worldcon, we are expecting a smaller-than-average American Worldcon. We are planning to utilize all the space available as creatively as possible to bring you the best possible Worldcon.


So why did you not go 100% virtual in August like other conventions?

  • In January 2021, our previous hotel, the Marriott Wardman Park hotel went into bankruptcy and was closed permanently by the current ownership. That action froze all contracts and left DisCon III staff with a contractual obligation which it could not simply walk away from without the risk of owing over $500,000 in guarantees to that property. At the same time, the convention also had an obligation to the tune of over $400,000 dollars to the Omni Shoreham if we attempted to break the contract to go completely virtual. This meant the cost of breaking contracts would have been very prohibitive for many members. In order to have a chance at providing a better experience for the fandom, we decided to move to in-person in December with a virtual element. 


Why did you wait so long to announce the date change?

  • When we realized the Marriott Wardman Park was not reopening, we were under the impression they would be releasing all their contracts since they would not be able to fulfill their end. As the weeks went on, the contract remained. We also had a smaller contract with the Omni Shoreham. In either case of going virtual in August or going in-person in December, if we had publicly stated either intention or even that we were thinking about the ideas, we could have been seen attempting to break both contracts.


Won’t moving to December place you too close to the dates of [INSERT CON] here?

  • We know there are conventions that take place in late November, December, and early January. Our intentions were never to step on any toes, or make it difficult for people to decide what conventions they could attend. Moving to December was about making the best out of the situation we found ourselves in.


What is mid-December weather like in Washington, DC?

  • We recommend bringing your cold-weather clothing: a heavy coat or jacket, a warm hat, and gloves. The average mid-December temperature in the DMV – DC, Maryland, (Northern) Virginia – is 45°F (7°C) high and 34°F (1°C) low. There can be the odd warmer day as well – it’s not unheard of for a random mid-December day to peak just above 60°F (15.5°C) for a high, but the nightly low will still be cold. While snow does occur here in December, on average measurable snowfalls occur only one or two days of the year with snowfalls of 1 inch (2.5cm) or more occurring on one day every year or two and snows of 3 inches (7.6 CM) or more falling only about once every five years.


What precautions will you be taking for COVID?

  • We are committed to having a masking and health policy which complies with local legal requirements and CDC recommendations. As the situation is still fluid, we will be updating you with our requirements to be in-person as we get closer to December.


When will hotel bookings open?

  • Now that we’ve signed the hotel contract, it will be very soon. We can’t give an exact date yet but we’ll keep you posted. We’ll be releasing the information on social media and our accommodations page: https://discon3.org/location/accommodations/


What is a Virtual Membership?

  • A Virtual Membership is part of our commitment to providing online content for those who either cannot, or choose not to, attend in-person. We also will maintain our commitment to have three streaming tracks of program items during the convention. A Virtual Membership will start at $75 and will be available to purchase via our memberships page. https://discon3.org/membership/membership-information/


What if I want a membership refund?

  • Members who cannot attend in-person or virtually may opt to receive a refund to the supporting level until August 31st, 2021. From the 1st of May, 2021 Virtual membership will be available and refunds to this level will also be an option. Between the 31st of August and the 1st of December, 2021 members whose plans change can drop to the virtual rate. For people who have already purchased an attending membership, you may convert to a virtual membership and receive a refund of the difference. Members may choose to donate the difference to the Capitalize! Fan fund to help others attend the convention.


Will the Hugo voting timeline or 2023 Worldcon site selection be affected?

  • There are a few WSFS division activities which are being affected. As we have already closed site selection, we will not be reopening and shifting the filing deadline. There will be shifts to the Hugo voting timeline, so please watch for future updates.