Golden Crown Literary Society NaBloPoMo November 2018 Random thoughts

GCLS Annual Conference: Why Pittsburgh?

The Golden Crown Literary Society’s Annual Conference is held in a different city each year – except for that 3 year period when we were in Orlando. (That whole “let’s go to the same city in consecutive years” thing won’t be repeated.) Since I’ve been a member, we’ve been to Orlando, Minneapolis, Dallas, Portland, New Orleans, Washington DC, Chicago, and Las Vegas. Prior to that, the conference was held in Atlanta, Phoenix, and New Orleans (the first year – we returned for our 10th anniversary). 

In 2019, we’ll be travelling to Pittsburgh, PA for our conference!

Now, I’m excited about this location. I’ve never been to Pittsburgh, but I’ve heard so many great things about the city. So, I’m pretty psyched about going. But I know there are people out there saying, “Oof! Pittsburgh? Why?”

Well, as a member of the Board, I have a little insight I can share with you. (I don’t think I’m giving away any big secrets.) Here are a few things we look for: 

  • Affordability: We need to make sure that we aren’t asking our attendees – specifically our membership – to take out a second mortgage just to attend once a year. Happily, we’ve been able to negotiate hotel room rates that haven’t gone up significantly in the last 5 years. The most fluctuation year over year has been $10. 
  • Access: We have international members, so they need to be able to get to the location without having to deal with multiple layovers all over the US just to get there. The city needs to have a major, international airport. Now, that doesn’t guarantee that international members can fly non-stop from their homes to the host city every time. But we try to make it easier. 
  • Facilities: The host hotel has to be able to accommodate us. They need to have enough rooms in their hotel so that all of our attendees can stay. They need meeting rooms and ballrooms large enough to fit all of our attendees comfortably. We’ve grown significantly over the years, and our hotel needs have grown, too. The hotel we were at in Dallas, for example, could never accommodate us now. 
  • Negotiated fees: Is the host hotel willing to negotiate with us when it comes to pricing? One of our goals is to keep the prices for all access tickets down as much as possible. We really don’t want to increase ticket prices, but sometimes we have to – inflation, you know. But we work with the hotel to negotiate as best we can. Can we please pay less than $60 a gallon for coffee if we agree to a minimum spend? If we guarantee that our attendees will book X number of room nights, can we have free WiFi access? If a hotel isn’t willing to work with us, they aren’t high on the list.
  • LGBTQ+: We look for cities that welcome LGBTQ+ groups. Is the community strong and active? Is there an LGBTQ+ Chamber of Commerce? Does the Convention & Visitor Bureau have LGBTQ+ representatives that we can work with? We’re not going to go to a city where we aren’t wanted or where it isn’t safe for our attendees. 

Obviously, there is much, much more that goes into choosing sites for our conferences, but those are the big ones. 

So, again, why Pittsburgh?

Well, simply put, Pittsburgh meets our needs. The Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown can easily accommodate us and they have wonderful facilities. I mean, the ballrooms are amazing! Look at this:

That’s the ballroom where we’ll hold the Goldie Awards. That’s a real stage!! 

And check out the foyer areas where there’s plenty of space and seating:

Now, what about the actual location? Well, get ready to be impressed!!

The Wyndham Grand is located in downtown Pittsburgh where the Ohio, Allegheny, and Monongahela Rivers meet. The hotel is within easy walking distance of Heinz Field, the CONSOLE Energy Center, PNC Park, the Cultural District, and 80+ restaurants, bars, entertainment venues, and shopping.


Holy Majoly!!  That’s so ridiculously awesome, right? I mean, RIGHT?

And look at this!!!

That gold-ish looking building near the center of the photo? THAT is the Wyndham Grand! It’s right off Point State Park. I bet a lot of rooms are going to have great views of that awesome fountain…and those rivers (the Allegheny is at the top, the Monongahela is at the bottom, the Ohio heads off to the left). 

For more great photos of the hotel, visit the Wyndham Grand Pittsburgh Downtown website and click on “Photos” in their main menu. Scroll through and check out the beautiful lobby area and some of the great amenities. 

According to the Travel Advocacy Group, the Wyndam Grand Pittsburgh Downtown is a TAG Approved® LGBTQ friendly accommodation. They are the host hotel for Pittsburgh Pride and the Delta Foundation. Their website indicates that, in order to be TAG Approved®, a hotel must meet the following criteria: 

  • Enforce non-discriminatory policies including sexual orientation and gender identity.
  • Treat heterosexual and same-sex couples equally in personnel policies.
  • Provides LGBTQ diversity and sensitivity training for employees.
  • Empower customers and employees to be “watchdogs” of its LGBTQ business practices.
  • Gives back to their community.
  • Employs staff who reflect the diversity of their community.

Now, as for the city itself? I think it’s gotten a bad rep. It’s really grown over the years. And it’s been super prettified. There’s a lot to do and see in Pittsburgh! It’s been rated pretty high by some credible organizations. 

  • RewardExpert named Pittsburgh a top 10 kid-friendly city to visit in 2017. (So bring the family!)
  • Travel + Leisure says Pittsburgh is one of the best cities for architecture. (Bring your camera!)
  • Pittsburgh International Airport was named Airport of the Year by Air Transport World Magazine. (Book your tickets!)
  • On a list of different countries, states and cities, Pittsburgh was named America’s Most Underrated City, and was ranked number 4 out of the 17 best places to travel in 2017 by Harper’s Bazaar. (See?)
  • Luxe Adventure Traveler included Pittsburgh on their list of 17 places to travel in 2017, Pittsburgh being 7th. (I’m just sayin’…)
  • According to SmartAsset, Pittsburgh is ranked 4th out of the top 10 best cities for foodies. (Bring your appetite!)
  • The Advocate named Pittsburgh one of The Gayest Cities in America in 2014. (Get your gay on!)

So, why don’t you join us in Pittsburgh, PA from July 10 to July 14, 2019 for our Annual Conference? It’s sure to be a GREAT time! 

For more information about the conference, to register, and make hotel reservations, visit the GCLS website. Keep coming back! We’ll be updating the site as we have more information to share with everyone. But, don’t delay! We have Early Bird pricing happening through January and members can take advantage of our payment plans!

7 comments on “GCLS Annual Conference: Why Pittsburgh?

  1. Anne Hagan

    I was born and raised 40 miles north of Pittsburgh. It’s a city I love. I’m thrilled that GCLS chose it and, it’s an easy drive – less than 3 hours – from where I live in Ohio. True, Las Vegas and Orlando are easier for international travelers because they’re geared toward tourism. Pittsburgh is different. It’s a quintessential Midwestern city geared toward the support and entertainment of the people who live there. Do they like tourists? Absolutely, but it’s not just about that.

    We may be a smaller group this year because the west coast folks won’t come and it’s a bit more difficult than a Chicago, a DC or a New Orleans to get a direct international flight, but it’s still going to be a great con and we’re going to have a wonderful time.


  2. Margo Polo

    I’ve heard several UK and European authors say they can’t attend because it’s in Pittsburgh so the point about International flights seems to be false. I know that it’s hard to host it in a place that fits all the criteria but this is the first year I’ve heard so many authors and previous attendees say they won’t attend solely based on location. And New Mexico doesn’t seem to be working for people either. Ironically, I have heard lost of people saying they will wait for Orlando because that’s easiest for them.


    • Understandable. We understand that we can’t meet everyone’s needs every year. But we try. It’s why the conference moves. We know that we won’t have as many from the West Coast of the US in Pittsburgh, but the East Coasters will be there. In Albuquerque, it will reverse. We just do what we can. While there may not be many direct international flights into these locations, we do try to make sure that they are easily accessible from other major cities that have international flights.

      It’s never perfect. But we try.


      • I’m flying in from Germany, and it’s a direct flight for me.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Ya’ll do an awesome job, Carleen! It’s impossible to make everyone happy. I’m on the West Coast in CA and I’ll be there! I’ll be a zombie from the 3-hour time difference but who needs to sleep! Looking forward to Pittsburgh.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Loreen Janos

    Yayyyy, Pittsburgh. I was there one time so many years ago I can’t even remember anything about it. Went to see a baseball game.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Carleen Spry’s excellent blog on why GCLS is going to Pittsburgh this year.

    Liked by 1 person

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