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Firms Chosen To Manage DNC Hotel Reservations

Another major contract for Democratic National Convention work has been awarded to a group of three businesses - two from Atlanta, one from Charlotte. They will be responsible for coordinating hotel accommodations for convention delegates - a task that's not as straightforward as you might think. Making hotel arrangements for the various state party delegations is a lot like assigning seats at a wedding party - there are guests who absolutely can't sit next to each other because of a nasty divorce and those who will leave in a huff if they aren't seated at the same table. Convenience and status are wrapped up in where a state delegation stays. Making those assignments is the job of Kelsey Larus with the Democratic National Convention Committee. The requests she gets from states aren't just "we need 800 beds." "It's 'We need 800 beds, but we have a breakfast every day and we have sponsored events,'" says Larus. "For some states and attendees, price is a big factor. They give us their criteria of what they're looking for and we kind of do the Tetris game and find what fits best." The DNCC has secured blocks of hotel rooms all over town to house at least 6,000 delegates. Each state Democratic Party will submit its hotel preferences by the end of this month and if there's a dispute over who gets what, the states have been assigned priority based on a random lottery. Vermont got the #1 priority pick in the lottery, but the reality is bigger states carry more weight in the hotel assignment process. "There are some states that are so large they're self-selecting," says Larus. "Kind of the big four are California, Texas, New York and Florida." Larus will be assisted by two Atlanta-based firms - EventSphere and Akintayo Management Group - hired to set up an online hotel reservation system and call center for the convention. They were chosen because of similar work they did for the Democratic National Convention in 2008. A Charlotte-based event manager named Karen Lawrence and her team of about eight consultants will provide local expertise. The housing services contract for the convention is worth an estimated $1 million, based on a 10 percent commission per hotel room.