Tuesday, February 6, 2007

No Room at the Holiday Inn

Well, rooms for the 38th Annual San Diego Comic Con officially went on sale at 9 AM Pacific Time this morning and it took less than a half hour for every hotel room in Southern California to be completely filled. I tried constantly phoning and rephoning the housing number for reservations even as I went to the website to try for rooms that way, but I never got anything other than a busy signal on the phone and every time it looked like I'd managed to book something through the website, it would kick me off when I hit confirm, and by the time I got back in again, whatever room I thought I had was long gone. It was, frankly, one of the most frustrating and infuriating mornings of my life. By the third or fourth time I was kicked out of the system, I found myself screaming and pounding on my desk in a blind rage.

At the end of the hour, when I realized the closest rooms I would be able to find at the con rates would be at my own house a good two hour drive from San Diego, I decided to change tactics and I started going to the hotels' own websites to look for reservations instead. I managed to find what I was later told was the last remaining room at one of the major hotels for a rate that was slightly more than DOUBLE what I would have paid through the con. After the reservation was confirmed, I called the hotel and spoke to a very helpful clerk who managed to knock a hundred bucks off the room rates for each of my first two nights. The remaining two nights remain the same. Since I've got five months between now and the con, I intend to call the hotel periodically to see if I can keep whittling away at the thousand dollar difference between the cheaper rate and what I'm paying now. I'll let you know if I wind up being able to afford anything to eat at the con, or if you'll all need to bring me sandwiches.

Every year the con gets bigger and the available room space gets smaller. To paraphrase a Dolly Parton quote I've used on this blog before, it's like trying to stuff every potato in the state of Idaho into a ten pound bag. Some serious rethinking needs to be done on the part of the Con Committee and it needs to be done soon. Otherwise, I envision the San Diego Convention Center eventually starting to look like Hong Kong harbor, with thousands of people living on the water nearby in makeshift boats.

Still, there was one positive aspect of this morning's madness. At least now we know why Joseph and Mary ended up sleeping in that stable on that fateful night. Apparently, there was a Comic Con going on in Bethlehem that weekend.

7 comments:

Howie said...

Len, remind me to have my wife tell you about the time the ACM Conference was using the same hotel as the NY Marathon.

For me, I remember the weekend we were going to humor our daughter and drive from Seattle into Wyoming.

We did not make reservations ahead of time.

Spokane (our evening stop) was completely booked for some business conference.

Idaho was hosting its "All-School, Every Year back to the stone age" H.S. Reunion. The whole panhandle was booked.

We got into Montana at midnight, in a driving downpour. It was Rodeo Week. No posada in the state.

We ended up just turning around and driving home, with no sleep. Have you ever tried to negotiate mountain roads, in dark forests, when you've been awake for 20 hours already?

Steve M said...

You're not alone, Len. I had pretty much the same experience this morning, as did some other friends I talked to. This was the first time in over 10 years that I wasn't able to book a room either near the convention center, or for all four nights.

I got a room a couple blocks away for Wed and Thurs, and a room for Wed-Sun out by the airport. It's been getting worse every year for the last 3-4 years. I don't know what happened; sure, the Con is more popular than ever, but they've also built a lot more hotels.

I keep hearing rumors about a move to Anaheim or Las Vegas, neither of which appeals to me...

Kathleen Pearlman said...

That's nothin' Wanna try to get into the Javits Center in two weeks ? The Comic Con East and the NYT travel show are both there again this year. They say the space is going to be bigger for the Con, but I'll believe it when I see it. Last year was, well, crowded, mobbed and other words of that ilk don't begin to describe it...

Tom Galloway said...

Shall we up the stakes in the Trivia Match to sandwiches? If you're buying in San Diego, I'll take a WASP special of turkey, tomato, lettuce, and mayo, but if you're willing to bring something down from the good LA delis, pastrami on rye with mustard.

Seriously, same problems and as a professional in that field I'll say that the hotel web site is horribly designed and implemented. Heck, when I finally got through on the phone (and had the last available rooms at the 6 and 8 mile out hotels taken out from under me), the rep on the phone was telling me that it was poorly designed and they'd made numerous comments to upper management about same to no avail.

I managed to get a room at the Hyatt, for not that much over con rate, via a particular backdoor that would be overwhelmed if shared. But at this point, for 2008 I think the Con will have to allow people to spread out sleeping bags in the under the sails area for accomodation.

Anonymous said...

I'm looking forward to ComiCon. I don't get down there every year but I figure it makes sense to go this time, with the Painkiller Jane TV series coming out in the spring. I have to agree, the room-booking process is really difficult. I thought I was done with the sleeping-on-the-sidewalk-for-tickets stage of my life! I was fortunate to get a room within 5 blocks of the convention center, even if it's not in my favorite hotel. I'll see you there!

Anonymous said...

"Apparently, there was a Comic Con going on in Bethlehem that weekend."

If I remember right, it was a Roman Census...
Anyway. Personally, i drive down to the Con from L.A., and I drive back every night. I don't go on weekends anymore - it's too crazy...
-Koblish

gillian said...

Hm, how did I wind up anonymized? Silly blogger.