Hospitality suites (was: Re: Usenix versus Uniforum)

Leonard Len H. Tower Jr. tower at
Thu Dec 20 14:24:14 AEST 1990

In article <1990Dec14.084852.2406 at> brad at (Brad Templeton) writes:
|The Marriott (I thought USENIX swore never to return to Marriotts?) alternate
|hotel is "2 blocks" away in the brochure, so I called their Bell Captain
|and asked how far to the Grand K.   He said 15 minutes, then 10 minutes, and
|then when I suggested holding a reception in their hotel he said 1 minute!

The Marriott is 3 blocks and an under five minute walk from the Grand
K.  The walk is along the access road of a parkway and had almost no
sidewalks three years ago.  It also crosses Beltline Road, a very busy
4 or 6 lane main drag.  There is a traffic light.  And the restuarant
was never crowded at breakfast.  No waits!

I found it almost always quicker to walk then take the shuttle bus
USENIX had running.

Dallas drivers were not use to predestrians along this route.  Just
take extra care and you'll be fine.

Here is a summary of a survey on Hospitality suites Wendy Thrash did
in June 1989.  About time for the vendors to be reminded of how to do
a suite right!

I have one comment to add.  Get the largest space you can.  The Sun
hospitality suite the 2nd night of the Anaheim USENIX was the first
that wasn't elbow-to-elbow SRO that I have been to at a USENIX.  Being
able to freely move around and not be bumped randomly was a distinct
pleasure.  A one or two room hotel suite just does not cut it.  Here's
hoping that at least IBM and DEC will follow Sun's lead ...

enjoy -len

>From wendyt at pyrps5 Fri Jun  2 21:39:36 1989
Path: bu-cs!bloom-beacon!apple!oliveb!pyramid!wendyt
From: wendyt at pyrps5 (Wendy Thrash)
Subject: Hospitality suites (summary)
Date: 1 Jun 89 18:58:22 GMT
Date-Received: 1 Jun 89 20:23:51 GMT
Sender: daemon at
Reply-To: wendyt at (Wendy Thrash)
Organization: Pyramid Technology Corp., Mountain View, CA

In addition to the posted responses to my hospitality suite question,
I received a fair amount of mail.  I promised to summarize for the net,
so here goes.  (Thanks to Rich Salz, Joe Buck, Len Tower, Greg Woods,
Peter da Silva, Stavros Macrakis, and especially Dick Dunn.)

A hospitality suite can get your company name recognition, and it can
plant a seed in the minds of potential employees, but only if it's
done well.  Do it well or not at all.

What does it take to do it well?  In order of decreasing emphasis,
	- Technical people to talk to
	= Good food
	= Good drinks
	= Useful freebies
	= Interesting toys on display

People who read don't want to be greeted at the door
by a suit.  They want to talk to technical people, and not just managers.
Don't bother with slick brochures unless you have a large trashcan nearby,
just fly in a couple of extra techies.  Sales and HR people should be
bound, gagged, and stuffed in a closet while the suite is open.  (Of course,
some of us techies might volunteer for that too, but that's a whole 'nother
topic, more appropriate for a different newsgroup. ;-) )

Have lots of food, and make sure it's edible.  Remember both the vegetarians
(who'd appreciate _fresh_ fruit and vegetables and perhaps some hummus)
and the meat and grease eaters (who'll eat just about anything except
fresh fruit, vegetables, and hummus).  Whatever you serve, make it possible
to make a meal of it, and count on some folks doing that.  Yes, you'll be
subsidizing some poor students and some hackers whose companies wouldn't
pay their way to the meeting, but those are precisely the people you have
the best chance of hiring.  It's the perfect way to target your audience.

Serve beer.  Real beer.  If the readers of this group have their way,
Anchor Steam stock should be a good investment.  Consider good small
breweries, too.  Don't bother with Bud.

Serve something nonalcoholic -- _real_ Coke was requested, along with fruit
juices.  Don't run out.

If you want to serve wine, look for something decent, not Gallo Hearty
Burgundy.  If nobody in your organization knows enough to select a low-priced
but good wine, then you probably shouldn't serve it.

If you want to give away something, try to find something useful.
(There was an article in this group with a list of possible useful freebies;
personally, I liked the idea of a small card listing known ways of breaking
Unix security, but I'm a bit perverse.)  Anything useful will be around
long after the shoelaces have tied their last noose.

Finally, if you really want to captivate your audience, have some fast,
spiffy hardware in your suite, and let them play with it.  This approach is
too dangerous for most companies, of course, and some of us have products
that aren't all that portable, but I well recall all those parties at
T*** Hall when the real hackers would ignore the drug-crazed weasel humping
going on down the hall, fighting for a place at the keyboard of the then-new
Sun 3 and Amiga.

Best of luck to all you hospitaliters out there; with luck we may stamp
out cold pizza and cheap beer in our lifetime.


More information about the mailing list