So the argument against Gen Con running a shuttle service is historically centered around scheduling, and how the crazy unpredictable scheduling and usage makes for a very expensive service (if you try to account for all possibilities).
And it's true. Gamers are an unpredictable lot. Up at all hours, bursting demand at a moment's notice, etc.
But you know a group of people who are very predictable in their shuttle-bus needs?
Why not move all of those folks out to the burb hotels with a set of shuttle busses that are catered around the very specific scheduling needs of those groups? This would free up many downtown/connected rooms.
I'm not sure how many it would free up, as I suspect many of those are using space comped by the hotel that is usually not booked (suites).
Every room freed up is another one for an attendee to book into.
You can book suites now, at $1000 a night or so.
I'm sure not every employee, volunteer, or exhibitor is in a comp'ed suite.
It would be interesting to know how many rooms are used by people in those categories. But I still have no idea how much any kind of shuttle system would cost. And it would be hard for Gen Con to justify that additional cost while attendance continues to increase every year.
I can see your point--even though there are people who work the con after "main hours", there is a regular chunk that are there from mid-morning to early evening, and that's something you could build a shuttle schedule around. But since having a downtown room is probably part of the incentive to get people to donate their time to help run the show, I'm not sure removing that "perk" is a good idea. Exhibitors probably aren't going to want to be miles away from their booths either, I'd guess.
The Staff? How many people do you think work here? Also are you really not thinking about why the staff must be as close to the convention as possible at all times?
Which leave the exhibitors...yeah.
Customer Service & Volunteer Manager
Gen Con LLC
GEN CON does care does about ALL of their attendees. Those attendees INCLUDE staff, exhibitors, and volunteers.
And that's assuming they have rooms set aside for volunteers--I always thought you could get reimbursed but I don't know if they have whole blocks set aside or anything.
A few more than that, but not many.
There is no way possible this is a ultimate workable solution. As Mike said, the small staff do have to be onsite for emergencies, which do arise. Remember we are a 24 hour convention. As well, we have volunteers running 24 hours; some of them get hotels, and some of them don't; very few of them have any sort of set "9-5 schedule" and shifts vary radically depending on the job you are assigned. So no, for the few volunteers that get close housing, there's no set schedule you could use to shuttle them.
Exhibitors? That's the closest group that has a somewhat normal schedule, although again, some of them stay in block rooms and some do not; some of them work straight 10-6, and some work later and earlier, and some stay later to conduct business. Still; that's simply not going to work. Exhhbitors will not be inclined to participate in a convention where they are not given close in housing when available.
Oh, I havent laughed that hard in a long time. Sure..Just put people who are vital to keeping the convention functioning or enjoyable far away from the convention.
Staff? Available? Pshaw, who needs them. Conventions run themselves, Right? If an emergency happens and an off site person is needed, having them 15 iles away is no problem. Its really worth the handful of rooms it frees up.*
Pesky exhibitors who form an important part of the convention draw, they should be glad they aren't kept in cages on site. Surely they wouldn't resent being kept far away from the convention? I mean, its not like they are paying a lot for floor space, or have important items on site, events to coordinate and other buisness to do that can vary crazily. Nope, a rock solid bankers hours group if there ever was one.*
Volunteers? Not sure if they get downtown rooms, at least until they are Captains and such. But I'm sure a rule forbididng volunteers from using downtown hotels would be a great recruiting incentive.*
*=Sarcasm Mode Active.
Wow. Just wow.
Tens of thousands of gamers every year who don't stay downtown have a great time. Yeesh. Packing in at best, a few hundred more downtown, at the cost of crippling some of the essential human infrastructure of the convention, resulting in less fun for everyone, isn't worth it.
Some exhibitors already stay in suburban hotels because of the cost.
Almost all of the exhibitors are gamers too. After 8-10 hours (including resetting the booth) of being full on active mode on their feet, they want to have a chance to have some downtime and fun too. They want to have some time to eat, drink, visit, and game with friends too except they only get to do that after 6 PM.
Working a booth is fun, but it is very draining emotionally and physicically.
I think the number of rooms allocated to staff and volunteers is a drop in the bucket against the total number of rooms available in the housing portal. There really aren't as many of us as you think that would qualify for a Gen Con provided room. If you read the Volunteer section of the website in regard to volunteer perks, many volunteers are simply reimbursed a portion of their hotel room. So they are going through the exact same lottery as everyone else and don't get any special preference. Volunteers like Captains/Deputies also share rooms with other volunteers so it's not like we get our own room or anything.
With that said, volunteering a small portion of your time (16 hours or 4 hours/day) at Gen Con IS a nice way of lowering your hotel expenses. :-)
Could we look at what other major conventions are doing? It looks like San Diego Comic Con has a fairly comprehensive shuttle system: http://comic-con.org/sites/default/files/forms/cci2015_shuttleservice.pdf
Is running a shuttle service like this too cost-prohibitive?
I have no idea what that kind of shuttle system would cost. The badge cost for the S.D. Comic Con was $220 last year and will be $245, and attendance is 130K, so I think your guess of cost prohibitive is probably correct.
That being said, the SDCC shuttle system is fantastic, and it runs regularly, 24 hours a day, during the cons. San Diego also has an awesome public trolley service. These two things together make out-of-downtown hotels viable.