Oni-Con is over…for 2005…
Oni-Con has come and gone for 2005, but I believe that the biggest “con” I saw all weekend was the hotel. As in, con game. The Houston Grand Plaza Hotel (formerly the Park Plaza Reliant, formerly the Sheraton Astrodome):
- doesn’t know how to run a convention
- doesn’t care about their paying guests
- doesn’t know what a legal contract entails
- wants to make sure they go out of business
- wants to be shut down by the Fire Marshal and/or the County Health Inspector
- wants to hide their ownership even though the information is public record
- wants to be the worst-recorded hotel in the history of Houston
- is in violation of state law regarding motor vehicle towing
- will possibly be the target of at least one, any possibly more, lawsuits
Based on some preliminary research, the new owners of the hotel seem to be a holding/investment company called Yazdcorp (I’m not kidding). Know how I found this? A quick Google search to find the new website, and The WHOIS record for houstongrandplaza.com, which was created on October 3rd of 2005. About three weeks ago. About the time that Oni-Con was informed of the change of ownership.
I will clarify: the address in the WHOIS record appears to be a residential address; the phone number is registered to:
Town & Country
10405 Town And Country Way
Houston, TX 77024
which is near the location of a now-defunct mall in West Houston that this company (Yazdcorp, that is) purchased in 2003 to redevelop, then sold in 2004 to another company which is going to raze it.
Oh, one more note before I move on to my actual take on Oni-Con: I called the hotel on Saturday, not identifying myself in any way. I stated that I had heard that the hotel had changed ownership recently and I would like the name of the new owner. The person who answered the phone transferred me to the manager on duty, who then stated that he could not tell me the individual’s name. When I specified that I was simply looking for a company name, and not any individual, I was again denied the information. Well, Mr. Bob Yazdani, I hope you’re happy….you have managed to make some serious problems for your company….
Now that the important information is out of the way….on to the Con!
Well, from my standpoint, there’s really not that much to report. I was working Con-Ops from 2130 to 0200 Friday/Saturday, then 2000 to 0200 Satuday/Sunday. Which means that the dealer’s room was closed, most of the panels were over (I couldn’t leave Con-Ops anyway), and the only thing left to do was watch the cosplayers come and go from the concert and cosplay contest. I finally got to browse the dealer’s room for an hour or so on Sunday, but the lighting was so bad and the space so cramped that I really didn’t want to stay long to dig through the DVD and manga selections. I did see one or two “This Hotel Sux Sale” signs on dealer booths, and some interesting t-shirts, but I didn’t end up buying anything.
I walked through the Artist’s Alley (for those that were left, anyway) on my way up stairs to at least look at the programming rooms, but mainly looking at the exceedingly long line waiting for autographs from Phantasmagoria. The gamers’ room had already mostly cleared out, and the video rooms were shut down–another hotel mistake made that happen–so I prowled a bit longer, made sure the car wasn’t towed, and chatted with some people in Con-Ops a little longer before taking off for a family get-together.
I have to say this for the Con admins, especially Alyssa, Drew and Keely: I am extremely impressed. These people were dealing with the hotel staff from Hades. (Actually, I think Hades would be nicer…at least there you expect rude and inconsiderate staff…kinda like Dick’s Last Resort.) I hope that next year I can be more involved in the planning of the event, and hopefully get to see more than just a few hours of people walking by…although that can certainly be fun too!
PS: for all those legal types out there…I do not represent Oni-Con, nor any individual or company involved in sponsoring, working or otherwise paying money to be involved in the conference. My thoughts here are my own, and any information I have posted is publicly available via the internet–mostly using Google and ReversePhoneDirectory, with a quick stop at the Harris County Appraisal District.]]>