This is a very hard letter to write, but the NSE Board wanted to give you information as soon as we possibly could. Because of the uncertain world we are in, and the equally difficult restrictions that we have in front of us, we had no choice but to take quick and decisive action.
As you know, the NSE convention team works far in advance of the convention to set up tours, excursions, and activities so that our convention has the flavor and interest that we have all come to expect. However, here in 2020, prepping for the 2021 Convention in Reno, NV, the team has had no access to any of the major attractions that we need to arrange for your enjoyment. For example, the Western Pacific Railroad Museum in Portola, CA, a major feature for us, has not been able to advise us as to a time when we would be able to get a commitment from them for our excursion and have repeatedly told the Convention team to “contact them next year” and even that has been extremely vague as to when the NSE team should be in touch. This is equally true with attractions and museums all over Nevada.
At the moment, Domestic US air travel is down 75% from the 2019 level. International air travel is impacted at an equal or greater level. What is not clear is whether that is going to continue is even more complicated because people do not want to fly, the airlines don’t restore capacity or will it recover more quickly than predicted? Will people decide to fly to Reno in June 2021 and will flights be available and affordable?
Currently, Nevada limits gatherings to a maximum 50% of the fire marshal approved capacity (or less). If we were to have a convention today, we would not be able to have our Welcome Reception, our Auction, our Swaparama, or our Banquet. The big question is- Will this be the same in June 2021, as it is now?
All of this uncertainty leads to the core of the issue. You may or may not be aware, but in order to put on a convention in a hotel and gain concessions from the Convention Venue, the presenter has to go “on the hook” for what is known as the room block, and if the room block is not met, the presenter is liable for that cost of those concessions based on that room block. Further, when there is an event with food, the presenter is liable to meet certain minimums for the food and beverage budget. In this case, The N Scale Enthusiast is “on the hook” for over $50,000. Needless to say, if we have a light turnout because people do not turn up or unable to travel, or heaven forbid, there is another round of Covid 19, and the country remains restricted, we would have to pay $50-100 thousand to the hotel.
Normally, to call off an event of the scope of the National N Scale Convention, the organizers (NSE) would have to make the decision at least one year prior to the date of the event. Given that we are now 6 months out, we have been able to make a deal with the hotel to avoid the cancellation fees if we reschedule our convention. This means that we will be going to Reno, just not in 2021.
Our schedule now is that we will be going to Nashville in 2022, and tentatively Reno in 2023.
As I said, this is a very hard letter to write, as we do not want to cancel a second convention in a row, but the NSE Board also does not want to put either the organization at complete financial risk or the personal health and well being of the Convention attendees, betting on the current situation suddenly “getting better”, The NSE Board cannot accurately predict the course of these future events, so we have to be responsible, and do what is safest for both the organization and the individual attendees. We will miss seeing everyone (again), in 2021 and we hope that this all clears up soon. For now and the immediate future, the entire NSE Board feels it is best to be on the side of extreme caution and we want to keep you safe, and hope you understand.
On behalf of the your Convention Team and the rest of the NSE Board of Directors
George Johnsen a.k.a Chairman George
Chairman, NSE Board of Directors.
Director of Conventions Dick Ollendorf
Deputy Director of Conventions Jon Monsein