With some single day and four-day badges for this year’s Comic-Con selling out months ago, it should come as no surprise that Comic-Con has announced all badges for the 2010 Convention are now sold out. That means 125,000 people have already purchased their badges! Of course, if you waited to buy a badge and are now freaking out…there is always eBay. But for a non-profit convention that takes place at the end of July, the fact that on March 31 it’s already sold out tells you something.
While many don’t want to see the convention move out of San Diego (myself included), it’s clear something needs to happen to let more fans attend geek nirvana. Cities such as Anaheim, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco have made it clear they’d love to land convention and many of those cities can offer what San Diego always struggles with: hotel rooms.
A lot more after the jump:
I’ve attended Comic-Con for almost a decade. In all my years of trying to get a hotel room, this was easily the biggest cluster fuck I’ve ever seen. The new system promised an easy way to get the hotel you wanted with the promise of rewarding those that filled out the application first. When they announced the new system, I actually believed it was going to work and they’d finally figured out a way to deal with thousands of requests every second.
But…based on conversations with many people that tried to get a hotel room on March 18 when they first went on sale, I can say with 100% certainty the system was a disaster.
From what I’ve put together, if you submitted your application between 9:00-9:07, you made the mistake of trying to follow the instructions. Because almost everyone I spoke with got a hotel miles away from the convention and one that wasn’t on your list (I got one 3 miles away). But if you submitted your form from about 9:10-9:30, there was a good chance you got a top three pick and a hotel right next to the convention. Bet you didn’t know that.
While I’m sure there are a few that don’t fit into what I just wrote, I spoke to over 25 people and everyone experienced what I just wrote.
When I spoke to someone from the company that sells the hotel rooms for Comic-Con, they tried to tell me it’s possible thousands of people got their application in before me and that’s why I got a hotel 3 miles away. But they didn’t give me a real answer as to why someone who went at 9:15 got the Hilton next door except to say they know there were problems with the hotel reservation system.
The individual also told me they recorded every complaint and they are very aware of how badly the system failed. They also said they were going to post an update/statement on the Comic-Con website which has still yet to appear.
Look, there is no way to fix this year’s hotel disaster. If you got a room next to the Convention, consider yourself lucky. But I’m already thinking about next year and this hotel room issue is not going away. When you have 60 to 100 thousand people looking for a place to stay and you don’t have enough rooms to accommodate your guests, you have a problem. That’s why there is serious talk for moving away from San Diego to another city that can offer more space.
Also, every year the lines to get into Hall H and Ballroom 20 seem to get longer and longer. And don’t get me started on trying to walk the convention floor. Last year’s usually quiet Preview Night was so crowded you couldn’t move. It was like the worst Saturday I have ever seen.
Again, I love Comic-Con. I love it in San Diego. But it’s clear the Convention is a victim of its own success and things need to be fixed. Either they have to sell less badges to make it a better experience for everyone that attends, or they need to expand the convention into more of the surrounding hotels for panels. Also, perhaps they need to expand into area hotels for more dealers to sell their products. Maybe offer a big discount to move to the Hilton or whatever hotel can accommodate 5,000 people. They could have specific segments of the dealer room move. While this is just a random idea that came to me while writing this article, it’s clear if the Convention wants to stay in San Diego, radical ideas must be put on the table because the system right now is broken.
Finally, I want to know about your hotel room experience and what you got and at what time you submitted. If you don’t mind…leave it in the comments. Also, if you have an idea on how to fix Comic-Con…leave it in the comments as I am sure people are going to read them….