SDCC 2016: Conventiongeek’s Hotel Lottery experience

By: Conventiongeek

Note from the Editors: This contribution is from ‘conventiongeek’, a member of the FoCC forum. We would like to highlight that he was working as part of a team during the sale.

Some look at Hotelpocalypse as the last big hurtle on a long journey to San Diego Comic Con. Each year we spend days or weeks preparing for this event. Whether it be finger push-ups, browser massages or injecting our router with steroids, we do whatever we can to get an advantage. This year was no different.

My Hotel Sale day started early, although being on the east coast not as early as some. Up at 7:30 AM Eastern Time, a little breakfast and right to the computers. I created some cheat sheets to use as reference so not to duplicate any form submissions. Around 9:30 AM my friend Kevin arrived with 2 more laptops. I was helping him set up his computers when my nephew and my other friend called and asked me to help them as well. So in our group we had several PC’s and laptops, a tablet, and a phone. We were slowly entering the new waiting room randomly on different computers as we set up the others.

The process was new this year, via the waiting room and lottery route. We very much expected this process to be similar to badge sales when we enter the waiting room before 9 AM and then wait for the sale to begin. We were very much expecting that there would be a 5 to 10 minute wait as they placed us into our form sessions or into the line and then we would slowly be placed into the form. Well… that’s not quite what came to pass.

The time turned 12 Noon and nothing happened. It was just then when I realized that there was no spinning blue circle (as with the badge sales) and I began to panic. I could not remember if they told us NOT to hit refresh, or if there was something we needed to do to assure that we got into the line. I’m guessing that about an hour passed (more like 30 seconds) before I started seeing my browsers sessions change to the “you are now in line” page. However, for the life of me I do not remember seeing a single number (as in number in line) for any of the sessions I was in. Then, without a moment’s notice, from one computer to the next we started entering the request from. Easily within a minute, I was in several forms on multiple computers.

During the process, I did notice a few things that made me curious. As browsers were left unattended, some messages would appear either asking if you still intended to enter a form, or if you would like to be placed back in line or a few of them actually stated your session started at “a specific time” and to click to enter the form. I had a couple with different times so I wondered if the requests would in fact be accepted based on that time of being placed in the form or time submitted? After the forms were submitted, I felt as if I had no idea what to expect. There was no confidence that we would get any downtown hotel, although I would not have been surprised if we received all of our requests. We could of ended up with 10 extra rooms or be begging for someone to give us the room that we needed. Then it was a waiting game. We had 48 -72 hours before we knew when or if we have a place to stay for SDCC 2016.

Much to our surprise, on Thursday morning someone here on the FoCC forum posted that reservation emails had started going out. I was very excited, as we were expecting emails to come Friday. We had to wait a couple hours before we received our first email. Lucky for us we received out first choice the Marriott Marquis and Marina. We continued to wait for emails as we submitted several others between the 5 of us and 12 computers. We waited and waited and waited. One of us then received an email, for a room at the Humphrey’s Half Moon and Inn. I am sure that this was the last submission that we made. In the hours that followed we received a total of 3 more emails that were all rejection /waitlist emails saying there were no more hotels. So, out of 6 PC’s, 6 laptops, a tablet and a phone, we received 2 reservations, 3 rejections emails and we are still waiting on ANYTHING for the other 7 requests. It’s been a week now.

To generalize, OnPeak’s new system was a disaster to attendees but a success of numbers. According to OnPeak (via the SDCC Unofficial Blog), this success was based on the number of people receiving rooms and getting their first choice. In my opinion and from what I was reading from others, the failures occurred due to the lack of information provided prior to the sale. OnPeak stated that every attendee could submit a form, however failed to mention that if these attendees lived together or shared an email address that all submissions would be flagged as a duplicate and discarded. We already expected that the same names would be considered a duplicate, but never considered other factors as well. They tell us that duplicate submissions will be flagged and that they will accept the last submission. Well that appears untrue, as we accidentally submitted 3 forms with the same email and have received absolutely nothing at that email address even though all the names are different. I can’t even speak for the 3 others that had different names, emails and addresses.

In the end, it was a crazy process. The sale went much faster than I ever expected, especially with the lottery and waiting room expectations. The aftermath was a disaster to most people without a room, but even the people with a room did not appear to be jumping for joy. I think most people were just counting their lucky stars. After everything was said and done, we ended up getting the room we wanted. We cannot really complain, however we were generally disappointed over the process and the inability to really help out others on this forum. If there was any consolation, I was able to provide our Humphrey’s reservation to a deserving forum member!! Yet again, the Hotelpocalypse really lived up to its name. What will next year bring?

To see what others are saying or join the conversation click here.