Re: [Mtgvenue] I-D Action: draft-ietf-mtgvenue-iaoc-venue-selection-process-14.txt

John C Klensin <> Thu, 10 May 2018 08:01 UTC

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Date: Thu, 10 May 2018 04:00:51 -0400
From: John C Klensin <>
To: Andrew Sullivan <>,, ietf <>
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Subject: Re: [Mtgvenue] I-D Action: draft-ietf-mtgvenue-iaoc-venue-selection-process-14.txt
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I agree with Andrew's reasoning, but there are a few points that
I have not seen in the thread that, to me, seem to reinforce it.

(1) If one assumes that hotels will try to deliberately deceive
site visitors, then the last thing one wants is very specific
instructions in this sort of document about what we are looking
for.  If people think it would be helpful, add language to
Andrew's suggested text that indicates that those who make site
visits are encourage to verify claims, but stop there and leave
the rest of this as informal advice for those doing the site

With the understanding that this is intentional reductio ad
absurdum, if our site visit team shows up and takes out the
hazmat suits before inspecting rooms, I can just about guarantee
that a venue will either conclude that we are likely to be more
trouble than we are worth and offer very special rates or other
conditions or that, if they have one available, the visitors
will be promptly routed to the hotel's version of a Potemkin

(2) No matter how many conditions we enumerate, for a new venue
there are bound to be ones that we won't know enough about to
ask.  Do we need a requirement that the site visit team check a
venue out at the same time of year (and, using their soothsaying
powers, under the same weather and other conditions) for which
the meeting is planned?  As another absurd but plausible
example, I assume that a hotel that is routinely invaded by
venomous reptiles or arachnids during a particular time of the
year or weather condition would not go out of its way to tell us.

(3) Mold is another hazard that interacts badly with our very
long lead times.  Suppose the site visit team shows up, finds
mold at a problematic, but not highly critical level, and points
that out to the hotel (or the hotel notices that they are
noticing).  So the hotel says "we know we have a problem in a
few rooms and have a major mitigation effort scheduled for X
months from now".  Do we believe them?   Do we go to the extra
expense of scheduling follow-up site visits to check, knowing
that, if they are inclined to lie, theater for our benefit would
be fairly easy.   

Some types of mold also don't take a really long time to
develop.  Noting that there are places in the world with
normally very dry climates that have a few weeks of torrential
rains almost every year, do we send a site visit team back a
couple of months before the meeting to verify that the hotel has
not developed a problem in the interim and move the meeting city
if it has?  Or perhaps warn people with special sensitivities
and offer to waive the registration cancellation fee when the
reason for cancellation is such a warning?

(4) I note that very similar issues can occur with other types
of health issues than mold and with safety issues as well.  A
hotel that is inclined to lie about non-smoking enforcement is
likely to have enough sense to route site visitors to clean
rooms even if those visitors don't explicitly call out the issue
they are looking far (one needs to assume some sophistication in
any venue that can otherwise accommodate an IETF meeting -- we
are not talking about a mom and pop B&B here).  Circumstances
change there too -- a venue that has good policies and
smoke-free rooms several years out might have gotten sloppy (or
hosted a smoker's convention and not realized that was what they
were getting into) a short enough time before our meeting to be
unable to completely clean up.  Hotels have also been known to
change management and with it, the seriousness with which
various policies are taken (for better or worse) even if the
announced policies themselves do not change.   Even the safety
environment can change: while there have been "what if"
discussions about particular venues that have, IMO, gotten
fairly silly in the past, radical changes of government and
policy do happen (I note that we are not meeting in San
Francisco in July and that our having sufficient lead time on
that one is more about luck than our good planning) and so do
sudden crime waves.

None of this in intended to minimize the importance of any of
the issues and proposed constraints, mold included.  However, I
think we either need to accept that we cannot completely control
(or predict) our venue environments --and write our documents
accordingly-- or we should just stop this and abandon face to
face meetings.


--On Wednesday, May 9, 2018 22:14 -0400 Andrew Sullivan
<> wrote:

> Dear colleagues,
> Mary's, Ted's, and Ole's discussion of particulars of
> environmental contaminents (in this case, smoking and mo[u]ld)
> makes me again wish to suggest the position I held before the
> specific change was made to
> draft-ietf-mtgvenue-iaoc-venue-selection-process-14.  My
> position at the time was that the Important criterion
>    o  Economic, safety, and health risks associated with this
> Venue are       acceptable.
> was what we needed.  It was pretty unlikely to be traded off
> with any kind of regularity, since "risk" and "acceptable"
> were sufficiently flexible that we'd need to call out things
> that were in stark contrast to what we normally dealt with.
> In any case, I thought, further specification would be a
> problem.  Therefore, I claimed, the above criterion was as
> good as anyone could reasonably expect and it seemed that the
> details needed to be left to meeting planners.  (I didn't
> support it becoming Mandatory because the "are acceptable"
> language means that there's no test, so no way to know whether
> the Venue necessarily fails.)
> We are now in the situation where we have a Mandatory
> criterion about smoking in various parts of the Venue, and at
> least one person who claims that such a Mandatory criterion
> requires site-visiting staff to do some kinds of spot checks.
> It's totally unclear to me what that would mean or what we
> would do if, 2 or more years later when we actually show up,
> the spot checks turn out to have been wrong.