Since this is just a "wish list" of places you would choose should Gen Con choose to relocate, personally, I wouldn't mind seeing Myrtle Beach, SC on the list of prospective places. There is a convention center, airport, and plenty of entertainment and restaurants around. Depending on where the convention center is, there may be plenty of hotels within walking distance of it. I for one don't mind the Indy set up at all. In fact, I never count on getting a downtown hotel room and instead plan on driving/parking while attending.
I haven't gotten a downtown hotel now three years running through the block, stayed near the airport two years ago and out of block downtown last and next, and can say with some confidence that as it stands there will be years I don't go (I have gone for 11 years running). Staying far out took a lot of the fun out of it for me, and out of block prices are getting too steep. However, I don't think they should move. Indy is a wonderful city for the con. It is walkable, has good restaurants, is friendly, and has grown to really embrace the con. To me, visiting Indy with my friends is a big part of the experience. There are other cons if I doesn't work out some years.
I am always curious how many rooms are reserved by Gencon itself for volunteers, guests, vendor's, etc.... I have zero actual information but I have always assumed many of the rooms that become available are from a block of rooms reserved for Gencon itself. Perhaps Gencon could make arrangements to house some people assoicated with the Con at outlying hotels and shuttle them in opening up more downtown rooms for paying customers? I doubt this would be more than a drop in the bucket but I could be wrong.
I have always said lacking any method to reward long term, loyal Gencon "customers" it should be an option to re-book the same room you had for the following year's Gencon. That's a bit of a reward for those of us who has been loyal Gencon attendees since before Big Bang Theory and before it was cool to be a Geek.
Still not sure why they are not expanding the VIG program or some form of limited VIG program. It seems like free money to me. I would certainly pay some amount of money for an early bird crack at housing.
"How can you reward loyal Gencon "customers"? How can you even determine that? You can't go by how many years they have attended, that isn't fair. What if they didn;t have the money to do so till recently in life? Or not old enough till now? What if they used to come but only recently have been able to do so again? What is the cut-off for "loyal" 3 years straight? 5? 10? It is something that can't be done and would only cause problems for EVERYONE."
Just my opinion but you are over-thinking it. It is really easy to reward loyal customers and, sorry to note and as is demonstrated by the current housing lottery, life isn't fair. Just pick a set of parameters, publish them and stick to them. You either meet the criteria or you don't. It's really simple.
I have had the same Gencon account on-line since this became an option. It's easy to see how many years I have attended. Same for anyone else. Not sure why you would think this is difficult. Set a criteria "If you have attended Gencon "X" number of times you get "Y" benefit", period, end of story. Perhaps if you have attended Gencon 10 times you get priority housing, something similar. Why is this a good idea? If I have already attened Gencon 10 times the chance I am coming back for Gencon 11 is really high unless something happens to drive me away and you want to retain your repeat customer. If it's my first time who knows (although I guarentee you this is a stat that is reviewed) if I am coming back.
As for VIG space, I am not necessarly talking about the entire, formal VIG program. Create a sub-VIG program, call it VIH-Very Important Housing. Person can opt in and pay some dollar amount, say $100 or $200 dollars. For that amount they get early bird access to housing. If you get 100 people who opt in for $1000 dollars that's a free $100,000 in revenue. Heck, if Gencon feels generous they could use that money to help fund a shuttle service.
Besides, why does anyone have any incentive to reward the loyal? If you came 10 times with the housing being a mess, you're probably going to come 11 times without a housing benefit.
Different people can reasonably disagree about what is the best measure of GenCon attendee loyalty, but it's absurd to think GenCon can't come up with a loyalty program that suits its interests.
Just about every airline, hotel chain, rental car company, and most sandwich shops, have a loyalty rewards program.
There is usually some simple proxy for loyalty, such as miles flown, night stayed, days of car rental, or sandwiches purchased.
The key thing that a loyalty program does, is incent customer behavior that the vendor wants. It's not trying to measure the Platonic ideal of "loyalty to the vendor" - it's trying to reward customers who do what the vendor wants customers to do. For example, many airlines will grant more loyalty points for buying more expensive fares.
Are people who buy first class tickets more loyal in their heart than others? Who can say.
Are they more desired customers by the airline? Yes.
GenCon already has a loyalty program, in fact, a very simple one. It's called VIG. "Loyalty" status is determined by who wants to give GenCon a few hundred dollars.
I can really get behind the idea of GenCon implementing a broader loyalty program, in line with most other service businesses.
Loyalty status could be very easily determined, say spend on badges and event tickets over the last 3 years. Loyalty rewards could again be very simple: priority hotel registration would probably do it. Priority event registration to a limited number of events might be nice as well. Random giveaways like a premium badge holder, pin, etc. might be nice.
I can already hear the shouts of "That's not fair! What if I couldn't go to GenCon last year due to family emergency? What if I don't spend as much as another person, but I am loyal in other ways (like getting a big group to come)!"
At this point we should reconsider the purpose of a loyalty program: To incent desired customer behavior. We don't have to divine who is pure of heart with regard to GenCon loyalty, it's beside the point.
Clearly GenCon wants its customers to spend money on badges and event tickets, as these are two of their sources of revenue.
Perhaps GenCon could incent this behavior, and simultaneously reward customers who have been doing what GenCon wants its customers to do.
In either case, determining "loyalty" for the purposes of a rewards program is trivial for the vendor - they just have to incent the behavior they want.
Do what some professional sports teams do with season ticket seating, and sell a license. If you are a licensed Chicago Bears season ticket holder, you own the right to re-purchase the same seats year after year. If you skip a year you lose your license. Licenses can be traded or resold by the owner.
Replace seats with hotel booking rights. Work out a deal with hotels. Auctioning the initial sale of licenses would let the attendees determine the value to be 'room owner'.
I realize this is not going to happen, but I think it is servicable as a loyalty based plan.
Not a bad idea on housing/seat license approach.
I have tried to get VIG for the last 3 years and have had zero luck in the "lottery", much like the housing lottery. I can understand why they don't want to/supposedly cannot expand the entire VIG. The only real reason I was trying for VIG was for housing. Sure, I would use the other benefits but the housing was a real draw. My fault really. I should have bought a VIG back before being a geek was cool. Who would have thought.....
I still think Gencon ought to implement some sort of housing VIG. Pay a flat fee for early access. I'd pay a couple hundred dollars for that and so would others I bet. As I said, it's free money.
"Besides, why does anyone have any incentive to reward the loyal? If you came 10 times with the housing being a mess, you're probably going to come 11 times without a housing benefit."
This is a key point and I will use my normal 'Gencon Group' as an example. Three of my friends are not coming this year specifically because they could not get downtown rooms. These are people who have been attending Gencon for at least 15 years (pre-Indy). Unless something changes I doubt they will be back again. These are people who would be at Gencon every year till they died =) but no more.
Housing was not always this bad of a mess. Up until the last 3 years I had never failed to get a downtown room. Sure, part of it is incresed demand but a larger part is this terrible (IMHO) lottery system combined with no wait list.
It's probably the no wait list that bothers me more than the room lottery. Still not sure why Gencon continues to say a wait list is not possibly anymore. I am not buying that at all.
Oh well, it is what it is and i don't really see anything changing. Gencon is succeeding despite itself. It's to bad really, the Con itself used to be much better than it is now (and I used to have to walk to Gencon uphill, both ways, in 8 feet of snow =>). I still believe the Big Bang Theory effect will fade away and the demand will tail off over the next several years so the housing deal might fix itself.
Man, this conversation is taking an ugly turn.
1) "The Big Bang Effect"--seriously? SERIOUSLY?! People are tossing up the "fake geek" flag? You think people are subjecting themselves to the crowd because Gen Con is just so cool to the "mainstream"? Get over yourself--it's 4 days of wall-to-wall games (which already means only people who love to game are going to show up), and games are having a Rennaissance. The attendees aren't posers who saw Settlers of Catan on TV and thought it looked nifty--those people aren't going to come anywhere near a gathering like this. The new attendees are the new hardcore gamers who think 4 days of gaming sounds aweomse--just like you did oh so long ago. Congrats, you won the culture war, you're not an outcast anymore--suck it up.
2) Loyalty programs: You know what you get for being a faithful attendee for x number of years? YOU GET TO HAVE GONE TO GEN CON FOR X NUMBER OF YEARS. All the people who are new or recent arrivals will /never/ have the experiences you had when the con was younger and smaller. Stop being a hipster and complaining about how "you liked Gen Con before it was cool" and asking for a cookie--it's undignified and makes you look entitled.
Also, loyalty programs are designed to keep people loyal to a particular vendor (airline, bookstore, whatever)--for all intents and purposes, Gen Con has no competition, and so a loyalty program is pointless. I'm sorry you're upset that new people have just as much chance to enjoy the con as you do--except no, I'm not. New people are how a hobby and a business stays fresh and strong. Pandering to an established audience at the expense of new members leads to stagnation and a slow death as their static customer base dies off or wanders away.
If Gen Con has gotten too big for your enjoyment, by all means, don't show up--crowds are stressful, and fighting for rooms/Events/food with this many people isn't everyone's thing (several of my friends are opting out as well). Enjoy your memories, think about hitting up local cons or Origin, and move on. But Gen Con is a microcosm of your hobby--it's thriving because your hobby is thriving. Stop looking at that as a bad thing, and enjoy the unprecedented bounty of games you can enjoy as a result, even if you can't enjoy them at Gen Con itself (although my sympathy goes down a bit if it's only because you didn't get a downtown room).
Have to agree. emutuskey hit it spot on.
Your post has lots of valid points but Gen Con offers a TON of events that has nothing to do with playing games. And it never used to offer those things. There's haunted tours, an Orc Stomp for runners, dancing, martial arts, knitting, painting a My Little Pony figurine, improv comedy shows, musical acts, seminars that run from 8am until the evening on all kinds of amazing topics, and a bunch more I'm not even thinking about. Gen Con even has something called the Spouse Track. And I'm not even touching the kids and family stuff. We have a friend who comes every year that hits the movie rooms hard because he doesn't really like to game but he loves the con. It might be a smallish number, but people coming to this Con that aren't there to play games absolutely do exist.
(And just for the record I do love games and I play them weekly at home. I am a card-carrying geek and have been my entire life, way before it was "cool" to be one.)
While I would likely benefit from any sort of loyalty reward - I have a relatively low badge number (~2000) and this year will be my 22nd consecutive Gen Con - the posters above are right about the downsides of implementing such a beast. I too threw my name in the VIG ring this year just to try and avoid the housing lottery, which I despise. As long as the housing lottery persists I will keep trying for VIG just to get out of it. But for Gen Con to implement a loyalty program, they'd have to get more out of it than it costs to implement. Are they losing money due to a lack of a universal loyalty program, so much money that the cost of creating and maintaining such a program is worthwhile? Likely no.
If they added a "hosuing-only VIG" that would pretty much be the only way to get a downtown room. At that point they might as well just drop the entire housing system and allow a free-for-all at standard rate - the end cost to the attendee would likely be similar and it would remove a lot of overhead from Gen Con.
Naw, not getting "ugly" or anything at least from my perspective. We are all gamers and gamers always think they are right about everything. It's just part of the whole deal =)
Maybe I am turning into the "get off my lawn" guy. I strongly dislike the way housing is handled and I believe there are legit ways to alter the appraoch and some of you don't mind the situation. We'll agree to disagree. Also, if you don't think we are in the midst of a "Geek Bubble" I believe you are wrong but no one knows the ultimate impact on Gencon in the long run. I am just hoping the Gencon people are looking farther than the end of their nose when planning out future events (10+ years). Only time will tell.
For the record, I love the way Indy embraces Gencon. It took them a couple years to figure it out but they do a wonderful job now. I would not want to see Gencon move if it can be helped.
I think it was last year, the suggestion was brought up to have tiered badges. You could have the regular 4-day bage with no housing, a 4-day badge with downtown housing (includes all hotels within walking distace) and a 4-day badge that includes housing at all the other hotels. personally I don't think it's a good idea to do it that way, because you will still end up with people who are not happy.