I just called Hilton to confirm my hotel reservation last night (make sure that they got it from Experient, add my HHonors account which wasn’t an issue), and I found that the rate that Hilton was going to charge me was higher than what Experient quoted!
I somewhat paniced (since I’m staying 8 nights, it wasn’t an insubstantial error at $20/night), and called Experient. Apparently, volunteers get $20/night off the “regular” FIRST rate for whatever hotel. This is the price quoted on the Experient website if you go in as a volunteer. The regular rate is $20 higher.
To put in concrete terms, I was quoted a rate of $133 for the Hilton at the Ballpark, and Hilton had it as $153. Make sure you don’t pay more than you need to!
(and it’s a nice gesture to give the volunteers a cut rate :D)
Experient is really trying to make profit rather than helping FIRST and its participants. I understand they need to make money, but it must be from hotel. When hotel is charging $x for a room, experient must charge same and take their commission from hotel. I may be wrong, but just bummed by this.
I was using Hotwire this year most of my hotel reservations (I used Hotels.com to get a specific Bed and Breakfast in Troy, New York that I particularly enjoyed when I went to Tech Valley and Hotwire is not good for targeting specific hotels) and I had a particularly awful experience at the Orlando regional that they have proven to be absolutely useless at resolving. Checking online I learned Hotwire has a horrifying reputation with Customer Service and to make a long story short I will no longer be doing business with them any longer. I am currently booking through FIRST alum Kelli Van Antwerp’s agency that she works for. I suspect she will be more attentive to my needs being that she is a friend instead of a sheep to be fleeced that the other agencies view me as.
I just tried to call the Ramada Plaza Downtown to confirm mine and they’re apparently doing renovations at the front desk through Sunday night. If anyone else is interested in calling to confirm their reservations, I recommend waiting until Sunday evening to do so. Otherwise you have to go through a moderately cryptic phone menu(5 options, and none seem related to the front desk… and no ‘0’ for operator) and end up leaving your name and number for them to call you back.