Did you get your preferred room in the SDCC OnPeak hotel sale? Did you get at least your back up room? Did you completely strike out?
Comic-Con International used OnPeak to organize their hotel sale for their world famous San Diego event for the 2016 convention year. The annual mad dash for a room is often called “Hotel Day,” or, in more pessimistic terms “Hotel Hell” or the “Hotelapocalypse.” Thousands of con attendees apply for a room all at once and a few days later we get our results. It’s stressful for all, but this year added an extra layer of turmoil as we were dealing with a brand new company and several new changes, including randomization in both the waiting room and when the submissions were being processed.
For the past several years getting the room of your choice relied heavily on how fast you submitted your form. I can see how many would feel that’s unfair to those who might not be tech savvy, but still want to attend the biggest geek event in the United States. I type over 100 words per minute and for the past two years I’ve gotten my top hotel choice easily. This year I only managed to get my fourth choice thanks to randomization. I didn’t get into the room until two minutes after the sale opened when usually I am able to get my form submitted in under 60 seconds. It was incredibly stressful.
Luckily someone else in my group got my top choice so we’re set, but I’ve had two groups of friends with numerous people trying to get rooms who were completely shut out. Those of us who have been brushing up on our form filling skills the past few years had absolutely no advantage. The argument can be made that this levels the playing field. This was one of the bigger points in favor of the badge queue being randomized a few years ago and, while it’s still a frustrating situation, frequent con goers have found ways to work with what we have. They’ve formed buying groups or applied for professional badges or opted to volunteer for the convention to improve our chances. For the new hotel process, many of us were blind sided and left without a room to land in this summer.
The biggest part of the frustration this year comes with the misinformation and confusion going on. We were warned about the randomized waiting room beforehand, but once we were done filling out the form we were told it’d be randomized during the selection process too. Then they tweeted to clarify the issue:
We collectively breathed a sigh of relief at that point assuming that this meant we can at least gauge our odd dependent on when we gained access to the form, but once the hotel assignments started going out it seemed they weren’t in that order at all. People who submitted in the first two minutes have gotten their last choice or been wait-listed. People who submitted at the six minute mark got their top choice. Many haven’t heard anything at all. Lots of long time con goers have taken to social media to beg for a room.
The new system is having some severe growing pains. From a technical aspect, things went pretty smoothly. The site didn’t crash, there were very few reported frozen screens, and everyone I know at least got a confirmation their submission had been received. Once you get to the actual assignment of rooms, though, things became quite upsetting for many of us. I can only hope that if they keep the randomization, they at least honor the time you were granted access to the form in some way in the allocation process. There’s just too much left in the air otherwise and it makes Hotel Hell even more hellish than it’s ever been before.
Author: Angel Wilson
Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.
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