Thus, it begins…again

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Sorry, we’re still a little out of touch due to personal matters (everything is fine, no worries; we just have many affairs to attend to) so it’s a slow game of catch up. And of course we’re taking an hour or two off today to get in the San Diego Comic-Con hotel internet lottery, which begins at 9 am P.D.T TODAY! Of course with the flagging economy, surely NO ONE is going to want to go to San Diego Comic-Con this year, so there should be plenty of hotel rooms.

PSYCHE! We’ll be back later on with a roundup of the squawks, moans, and wails of abject misery and woe that will soon flood the internet. New this year: tweets about San Diego Hotel Hell!

Colorado Stanley Hotel Thus, it begins...again

Gentlemen, start your engines and…good luck!

phorror4 Thus, it begins...again

Comments

  1. Torsten Adair says:

    suggestions: rent a house or apartment for the week. inquire about availble dorm rooms at area universities. anchor a boat at the marina or offshore and commute by zodiac. triangulate trolley and buses with outlying hotels near airport and la jolla. sleep at beach or campsite. go without sleep or nap during panels. timeshare hotel room so 12 people can share two beds in one room. bribe cleaning staff to let you sleep in dirty laundry cart. sleep in rental car parked at convention center.

  2. We got our Marriot hotel room a few weeks ago. Is it open earlier for exhibitors? (sorry…wife handles that).

  3. Matt H says:

    Actually booked my room last year on Sunday at the Embassy. I’ll be doing the madness again though to try for a better rate, but I’ll keep my reservation just in case that falls through. I loves me some Embassy free breakfast.

  4. Like Matt H, I booked a backup hotel last summer. But there are a few hotels that are enough cheaper, I figure its worth wading into the fray today.

  5. brett weldele says:

    the same thing happened to me this year as last year. i get to the last page, i hit the final button, and it brings up an error page and boots me back to the beginning.

    they tease me so.

  6. Matt H says:

    Holy crap the online booking stinks. I ended up getting through on the phone and got another room, but I don’t know if I’ll keep it. Embassy price isn’t so bad, so I may just stick with that.

    Still in queue on the web page on 2 PCs. They dropped the ball yet again it seems.

  7. Phil Hester says:

    Logged in at Zero Hour +1 second and completed reservation at Zero Hour +31 minutes. Got the hotel of choice, though.

  8. I got through! It tends to kick y’all out a couple times but hopefully it remembers you when you get goofed up with those ‘resend data’ dialogue boxes. Keep the faith. See you there…

  9. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I’m trying to get a hotel room for a friend who will either come or not so there’s no real pressure. I was in the queue in the first 30 seconds and it still hasn’t let me in the actual reservations process. And I never got through on the phone despite an automatic re-dial going.

    I can’t imagine under any scenario I’d go if I had to count on this system, but there’s apparently a number of people who will!

  10. Got through in the first minute, just finished my reservation a few minutes ago. 40 minutes of frustration, but we got our hotel of choice.

  11. Andy Grossberg says:

    We have been bounced out several times now. We got close but a “Data Error” when confirming our credit card (right before the “done” step) dropped us out of our choice hotel. Now all the Fridays and Saturdays are booked up which leads me to the conclusion that Travel Planners is a bunch of idiots.

    Here’s why:

    We want to stay from Tuesday to Tuesday. That’s three days prior to Friday/Saturday and two days after. A total of five nights beyond the weekend. Say the average room rate is $225. That’s $1125.

    Now, imagine 100 people desiring the same dates. That’s $112,500. I bet it’s closer to 1,000 people wanting to stay the whole week. That’s $1,125,000 the hotels are leaving on the table because SDCC won’t switch to a competent booking agency. Sad.

    Hawaii is nice that time of year though. And cheaper. And less stressful…

  12. Spoke to wife.
    We DID get our hotel early because of being Exhibitor.

    Whew….

    Good luck guys.

  13. mark coale says:

    simple solution. don’t go. :>

  14. The Beat says:

    Andy — usually you can book the “shoulder” dates separately.

    We have a room but at the second choice hotel and I got bounced out just shy of reserving my favorite hotel. Genetically we’re still winners but I still feel a bit gutted.

    I did get through on the phone but was told “to stay on line.”

  15. Got through about 12:10 and had the dreaded data error after putting my CC info in. After that it was an hour of looping around seeing anything I could afford being booked already. Got through on the phone around 1pm and gave them all my info and top 5 hotels. Waiting to hear back, but am expecting to hear I’m screwed. Thanks SO much for wasting my time with incompetent servers, Travel Planners. Looks like I’m going to have to hit up some of my other pro friends (again) to get the hook up on a reservation. F’n ridiculous.

  16. Matt H says:

    Wow I’m glad now that I phone booked. I left 2 PCs on queue, 1 is my regular working PC which I went to the page with Firefox and the other is a test laptop with Vista that I went to using IE about 10 minutes later than the PC. The laptop finally got through the queue, the PC never did.

    I think booking online was more a failure this year than any previous year. They just need to fire Travel Planners and bring in a competent booking company to handle this.

  17. Tom Spurgeon says:

    I was a total loser on my endeavor — I didn’t get on the site until 10 minutes ago after popping it up in the first minute and only the outlyings were left. There were enough outlyings to make me think that demand is slightly down overall, though, though maybe more intensified and particular.

    I know a bunch of good-value hotels and even a bed and breakfast or two in that region with which I can square my friend and her boyfriend away — from back in the day that meant saving $100 instead of getting a room or not getting one. I’ve stayed as far away as the Lodge at Torrey Pines, and those were great convention weekends, too.

    I would be pretty darn frustrated if I were trying to do this for myself, though, and wanted to be as close to the convention as possible for whatever reason. I would probably feel that I wasn’t being treated fairly because of how immediately I was on the site and the stories of people picking up multiple rooms to cancel their way into the best one.

  18. Andy Grossberg says:

    Hawaii is just sounding better and better… :)

  19. I was in the queue the first few seconds, and into reservations in seven minutes. My first choice wasn’t available for all nights… so I clicked the secondary window showing which hotels DID have rooms those nights, then went back and entered choice 2.

    It threw me back into the queue.

    Got through on the phone while watching the wheel spin, but just to give info and choices. We’ll see.

  20. Crag Warhead says:

    Vegas…by all that’s holy

  21. Very curious – they had at least a year, maybe two years, to figure this out knowing exactly how crazy things can get, and this was the best they could do? I hit the “go” button as the second hand swept across zero-hour and waited in the so-called queue for TWO HOURS, by which time everything useful was booked up. As for the “first-in, first-out” principle, I joined the queue on a second PC about two minutes after 9, and that one connected a full 15 minutes faster than the first one. So how exactly is this new system better than hitting “refresh” until you got lucky?

    My wife worked the phones and got through at about 9:45 PDT. She put us in for our top 5 choices (e.g., we’re screwed) but was told that Travel Planners stopped doing confirmations over the phone after the first ten minutes because “it was getting out of control.” Someone tell me what the hell that means.

    Seems like there’s always going to be disappointment when there are more people than rooms, but this system appears calculated to amplify frustration rather than diminish it. Why not just have a lottery system where people can specify preferences in advance, then be notified what’s available? Or have a day or two ahead of time reserved for 4-day pre-registrants? Or hold a big nationwide talent contest on a reality TV show? At least those cases either a) make sense, or b) acknowledge the basic randomness of the process without attempting to offer the illusion of control.

    Arrgh.

  22. Sean D says:

    Slightly faster than last year when thnks to have three people trying at once we managed to wind up on Coronado. Still a few bugs in the system. (Embassy Suites shows cityview available, actual reservation system says not available on one or more dates) Managed to snag a room and still have safety so I’ll be able to help any friends who didn’t get through.

  23. It would not be as frustrating if I hadn’t tried booking directly with my favorite hotel (this year AND last year) ahead of time, only to be told all the rooms for those dates were allotted to Travel Planners.

    It’s also a great mind-bender to realize that an exhibitor has to commit to thousands of dollars for space, display, product, and manpower…before finding out there may be no place to stay.

  24. Tom Spurgeon says:

    While I’m sympathetic to the idea of glaring at TP until they are less aggravating, what actual fixes they should employ is sort of beyond me.

    One concrete thing they could probably do is have non-refundable room deposits. I like working the system as much as anyone, but I have no idea why they have that easy a cancellation policy for something that much in demand. Heck, it wasn’t until last year they stopped people from holding onto multiple rooms at the same time. This would stop people from getting rooms through TP and then dumping them when something better comes along.

    I think I’ve suggested in the past that they re-focus the shuttle service away from fat people (my people) getting assistance in walking five blocks to people being able to utilize point-to-point satellite service that gets people within five blocks, but I believe I was told this was insane.

    I would also support some sort of flashcard test by which you had to distinguish 1970s Marvel artists from one another as a way of making sure the comics core was served before the TV panel people.

    I will be staying in my usual convention home in the second to last glass display case in the deli at Ralph’s. Another thing I always suggest people try is that they get a pedicab and just have person circle the block until the con opens the next day.

  25. Dear Lord in Heaven, I have a room.

    And it’s not even in Mission Valley.

    I need an aspirin.

  26. I got to the reservations page at 11:06, and it took 8 minutes to load the page that asked me to check which hotels I wanted (why not just show what’s available, rather than having you pick just one?). It took another 7 minutes to load the page saying which hotels were available, then 9 minutes for the Hyatt page to come up. I tried to book it, and in the 7 minutes it took to process the reservation, the Hyatt had booked up (11:37am). I clicked the link that said “show me what’s left” and it took an hour and 45 minutes.

    Didn’t TP say last year that they learned from 2007 how to make 2008 better, and 2008 was a nightmare? This was worse than last year. Why can’t SDCC hire someone competent to run the booking website?

  27. Heidi M. says:

    Well I’m tempted to say this year the system was incredibly fucked because for the first tim ein 25 years I was shut out, but I think it was just as bad as last year.

    The getting through and booking only to be bounced at confirmation thing is total bollocks however.

    PS: I’ll be back tomorrow refreshed and with my annual analysis of Hoteloween. Bookmark your spot now!

  28. It took two of us and four browsers to finally get through nearly 90min in, and the browser that won was the last I tried–my iPhone! Imagine trying to enter all your info into that tiny screen…well I did it, it’s done, and we have a room.

    Last year I kept checking and was able to get a lot closer due to cancellations…definitely check and recheck the site up to a week or two before the show.

  29. Tom Spurgeon says:

    Another concrete thing they could do is emphasize four days or more reservations over individual day reservations, if they wanted.

  30. Tom said, “There were enough outlyings to make me think that demand is slightly down overall, though, though maybe more intensified and particular.”

    I don’t think we can properly make any assumptions based on stated availability on the Web site for a number of reasons. For one, we have no idea if area hotels allotted more or less hotel rooms this year over 2008 or 2007. If there was higher allotment, then it would make sense that outlying areas would still have some availability. (BTW, last year outlying areas did have some availability by days end).

    Secondly, there were some new hotels in the queue this year, which makes me think there was more room allocation, of course not enough to satisfy the demand. I got two rooms at the new Hilton that just opened up on the far end of the convention center. That’s a massive hotel, so I’m thinking it added some level of capacity today.

    I think the one thing that can be gleaned from the events of today that interest is still very high, otherwise I doubt TP would be having the server issues they did have today.

  31. The Slow Boat to China says:

    Skipping it again this year, and damn happy to do so. The convention organizers should get their priorities straight by introducing tiered hotel reservations. First, set up a reservation date for professionals and exhibitors and give them a cut off date a week before you open the next tier (yes, this means professionals and exhibitors can get shut out of booking a hotel room, but if you’re in, then go and if you aren’t sure you want to go, then drop out and let somebody else in). Next, set a reservation date for 4-day pass holders ONLY which opens a week after pro/exhibitor reservations close and give them a cut off date a week before you open the final tier (yes, this means 4-day pass holders can get shut out of booking a hotel room, but if you have a ticket, then go, and if you aren’t sure you want to go, then don’t book a room and hold onto your ticket until the last minute and get it refunded if you need to). Finally, open the last tier which is a free-for-all. Pros who were locked out, 4-day pass holders, and single day and multiple day pass holders all vying for the final few openings. Priorities: take care of your talent/star attractions, then take care of your top customers, then let the rest fight it out. Seems simple enough.

    Maybe one day in the future I’ll be able to trick myself into going back, but I didn’t feel like I missed out on anything last year and I am definitely not bothered by the thought of missing it this year either.

    Best of luck to you all, and I do hope you’re able to have a good time.

  32. Eep. What a godsdamned frakkin’ ritual to undergo. Hopefully the efforts and labor will be rewarded come July.

    My sympathies to all you outside the 619/760/858 area codes…

  33. Just an addendum… we received an email from TP a little while ago confirming us in our second-choice hotel, which is nothing short of a miracle. It did not seem possible that the crazy process they were using through the call center could have worked (how would people on a wait list get priority over people checking in by computer in real-time?), but it seems that it did, at least in our case. There’s also a big deposit due on the room in a couple of weeks. If that’s the policy for all the hotels, there will probably be a bunch of availability opening up around March 29 as people let their reservations lapse or discard their duplicates.

  34. Sean D. says:

    Re: Slow Boat’s comments…Actually, I believe they do have a brief early window for exhibitors. But it’s awful close to the drop dead date on getting final payments in, so some exhibitors might not get to take advantage. They also have exhibitors and attendees seperated on the first page of the reservation site. Not sure how much difference there is on speed and priority on R-Day though. Giving a seperate “Pro reservation” day would not work unless they adjusted to where pro registration was done well before the TP site went live. As it is there are still people waiting for their pro mailer/postcard to arrive and some may be waiting to have their pro status confirmed. A tier system sounds good, but San Diego may be too big now for it to work.

    Since I was able to get a room on the mainland this year, I’m not as hostile to TP as I was for 2008, but the TP system still sucks. I notice CCI didn’t talk up their “reservation blog” like they did last year. (And having seen the number of complaints posted, I guess I shouldn’t be stunned about that.) I didn’t run into any obvious server meltdowns like we saw last year. Maybe the “waiting room” helped on that front, but hearing about 90 minute – 2 hour waits and reports of the final page timing out after putting in CC info (which happened to me last year at one point), blame once again goes to TP not being ready. Honestly, I’d bet that the TP staffers dread this day as much as we do. Any other con, you have people getting rooms from the live date all the way up to the day of the show. Either Tom or Heidi gave a stat last year where attendance at San Diego is double the maximum capacity of Disneyland. We complain about Travel Planners, but can we really say there is another company that would do a better job with that kind of one day volume?

  35. The San Diego paper has a story today (Friday) about the hotel situation. The reporter contacted me from my comments here.

Trackbacks

  1. […] Well, I jumped into the fray of the Comic-Con International hotel reservation system and made it across to the other side, getting through by phone after 1 hour and 20 minutes. I never did make it past the “waiting room” page online. […]

  2. […] So, how’d you do with the getting a room thing? If the comments over at The Beat are any indication, not much better than me. Share and Enjoy: […]

  3. […] I jumped into the fray of the Comic-Con International hotel reservation system and made it across to the other side, […]

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