The negative impact of a priveleged loyalty program based on years prior attendance would be significant. (Funny how thats the usual measure, not dollars spent, number of official events played, or contribution to gaming by work in the industry or retailing games..just years you've attended, even if you just don't game at all.)
In fact, I'm not going to call it a loyalty program--because it isn't.
A real loyalty program is a reward: it gives something additional to the customer who is purchasing a product or service, or maybe a discount. Its usually availbe even to a new customer! you want to enocurage loyalty form the start. Maybe i gives you a trinket, or the occasional free product.
In this case, what some are calling a loyalty program is instead determing access to the product. More specifically, its goal is to prohibit new customers from being able to access a product or service of limited quanity equally.
Let's call it what it is..an elitist program, or a discriminatory program. Yes, the ugly D word. Because thats is being called for: a method to discriminate against one group of attendees in favor of another. Attendeees over X years of Gen con attendance versus those of X-1 years attendance.
What would we call it? NeckBeards Plus, or the Grognard illuminati? this A program to help distinguish the 'real gamer' from 'temps" or the 'fake nerds', because Gencon owes something to the "hardcore' gamer. (Don't bother coming unless your first rulebook had rusty staples!)
Yeah, there's a lot of those 'temps' I'd rather have stay than many 'hardcore' gamers.
Theres a belief a buisness or hobby can't afford to lose customers/players. Of course, everyone knows that isn't true. Theres always a market segment you will give up to attract a bigger one. Some customers/players certainly aren't worth keeping.
But the biggest exception to that saying is new customers, and new players. The moment you start turning them away, or signalling they aren't quite welcome, you've proabably just shoveled the first bit of dirt of your own grave. Sure, you say I can play "OldGame" forever, even if its out of print, but as it gets harder to find new players, your group diminishes, and eventually, you have no one to play with, or no on wants to play with you, because they are doing "newGame". For the health of GenCon, and for the entire gaming hobby, Gencon needs to continue welcoming new attendees and familes.
An elitist policy where prior attendees get the preference in housing (and anything else) immediately sends a message to the new attendee. First time attendees may already be skittish; many will be put off, knowing at the that the system inherently discriminates against them.
And its only called for out of pure selfishness. I've never seen someone who just attened Gencon, or never has, voice this as a good idea, or that its good for Gencon and gaming. Nope--its 'what they deserve'.
Anyone looking at the issue in a nuetral way, not really favoring any one interest, would discourage a buisness from putting out a policy that could even be percieved as discriminating against, or discouraging new customers, much less actually discriminating against them. If anything, you want to have a bonus, an incentive for first time attendees!
What does Gencon owe the long time attendee? The same thing it owes the first time attendee.
So don't go selling that loyalty program as something Gencon 'owes' to long time attendees, or a deserved reward. Its a straight out discriminatory program motivated by selfishness. Often not a conscious selfishness, all sorts of terms are used to self-justify it (its what we are owed, or we supported it back when)....you were all new players once too, and you would have been skeptical of being treated as a second class player for the first ten or however many years of attendance.
In the end, you can keep asking for it, but as long as anyone involved with running Gencon has a clue, it will never happen.
Can't people view the newer attendees less like invaders and more like protoges or something?
Most do. its just the initial anger of losing a housing lottery or not getting into a certain event that prompts these reactions and calls for special treatment for prior attendees. Many mellow out by august once they get over the disappointment.
As a reasonably long time attendee (1995-present), I'd just like to say that I love having all the new people here. I love how big Gen Con has gotten, I love that so many people can get together and have fun. The growing pains we see are good things to have. My gamer identity is not threatened by new people. The more people that like the same things I like means more stuff made for people that like those things.
Sure I'm sometimes nostalgic for the old MECCA building and areas like the Deep Labyrinth. Then I think about the terrible restaurant and hotel situation of Milwaukee and am thankful it's now instead of then.
I hope we're nowhere near putting a cap on attendees...if I lose the housing quest I can still stay outside of town and drive in, but at least I can go. Telling me I can't go at all because I lost a random drawing would really upset me.
Man, I have ZERO nostalga for the MECCA building =) What a dump.
What some also don't realize is Gencon is very cheap, strictly from a convention cost, compared to most professional conferences. It is still less than $100 + maybe $20 a day in games (unless you do booster drafts or something). Heck, I would expect that to go up pretty quickly based on demand. That's one of the reasons I am so surprised they have not expanded some version of the VIG program. It's free money for Gencon.
Long winded strawman, elitest accusations aside, I'd rather see the Gencon housing involvement go away entirely than continue with the lottery, but that's just me. We get what we get and we don't throw a fit.
GenCon badges are priced comparably with SDCC and PAX badges.
Clearly you don't like the idea, but you've succinctly described every loyalty program in travel and hospitality. One of they key benefits of any airline, hotel, or rental car loyalty program, any sports venue season ticket, is access to restricted inventory unavailable to the general public.
The sheer prevalence of such programs suggest that some people like them. Heck, they made a movie about it: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1193138/
So to expand on the point WJ made, that kind of rewards program would reward the attendee who buys multiple TD runs over the one who attends free seminars.
Speaking selfishly, a +5 to +10 minute per year attended on the lottery time die roll would be kinda nice, but you'll still get people complaining. You'll still get complaints from those long time attendees with bad luck and get complaints from newbies about all of the rooms being taken by the old fossils.
A straight up By ID number would be worse: even more exclusive and unpopular except for those who have really low ID numbers.
Can't make everyone happy, and there is no city where everyone can be satisfied.
I don't think anyone's advocating housing or anything else based on ID number, so can we please drop this as the red herring that it is?
Aside: We all got new ID numbers in 2009, the year they started using this login system. Your ID number is (more than likely) based on how many people created accounts before you, so the lowest ID numbers likely went to folks who submitted events early for Gen Con Indy 2009.
I'm only a hundred past you. :) Just wanted to accent that ID numbers are a fluid artifact of an electronic system and not a good measure of anything.
Which is why I say it's relative in the short term and increasingly effective long-term as the chances of someone from pre-2009 showing up with a "new/super-high" number decreases year over year.
Seconded, I have attended since 1981 when it was at the University of Wisconsin, remember getting up at 3 am to wait in line to get events off of pegboards, and it would tick me off greatly if I couldn't go because of a random lottery to get badges.
I have stayed in downtown hotel rooms and hotels 10-15 miles away I don't like the inconvience of staying a few miles but I am adult enough to realize the laws of suppy and demand. There are hotel rooms and probably will be right up till the time of the convention just not convenient ones.
I agree a loyalty program based on years of attendance probably doesn't make sense. A loyalty program based on money spent on badges and event tickets, and hours volunteered over the last 2-3 years I think could make a lot of sense.
Realistically as long as the con is growing there probably isn't much need.
If nothing else, having everyone who attended last year get room lottery entries before anyone who didn't would likely keep people coming (or at least buying badges) every year so they didn't lose their spot in the earlybird lottery.