The whole hotel thing is killing the fun of GenCon, but I don't see a solution to it. Demand is exceeding supply. Simple economics. Nascrag has lost judges who don't want to go through the hassle.
I don't think there's a way to fix it. A large part of me kind of wishes it would just drop the block entirely, and let the market sort it out. Prices would go up [relative to block rates], for sure, but at the same time you wouldn't have the big log in, and race for a room issue.
In all honesty, the block rates are *insane* for how low they are.
But, as we've delved into in other threads, there's not really a viable alternative to Indy without completely changing the convention.
There are big conventions with no housing board to coordinate the process, and the way it works is, as each hotel opens, it is filled up, but some of those reservations are "just in case" and then people have to try over and over to see if a hotel that filled earlier has any rooms now because of cancellations.
If you think it sounds like a fun system, try attending Dragon$Con in two years. Pretty sure you have already missed out on hotel rooms for the next one. Also, do some research as at least one very large host hotel gives priority to legacy customers, which means there is no availability for new people.
If the hotels bumped room rates, within the block, that might increase availability. That would let the market sort it out and not leave us stuck dealing with each hotel as it opens its system. If there were no limits, I doubt it would make many people happy, as "whatever the market will bear" will turn out to be quite a lot, but I doubt that small increases would reduce demand.
Just booked our "backup" room in case we get shut out of downtown. Holiday Inn in Greenwood. Not the closest, but only $110 a night.
Now I don't have to stress out quite as much about housing.
... And the Westin finally showed me a block of days that was cancellable. Got in Tuesday thru Sunday for nothing more than my right arm, leg, and some other embarrasingly private body parts. :-S
But seriously, I have no idea why the Westin - well, Starwood Hotels, actually - was showing non-cancellable rooms for weeks, then today showed some prices that were cancellable. But they did. So my backup's in place now pending the VIG selection and housing lottery. Now comes the choice: If I don't get the Westin in the lottery, do I stick with my backup and pay through the nose? Or do I give up proximity in exchange for significant savings? I'll have to make a decision at some point.
Yeah, that's actually the option I was seeing as the most likely. I ended up getting the Westin this last time because of a canceled reservation.
The whole hotel thing has us considering other conventions. Our hearts belong to GenCon, but commuting to airport hotels just kills the joy.
Joe Maddon, the Manager of the Cubs has an expression he likes to use: "Never let the pressure exceed the pleasure." GenCon is getting near that tipping point.
I am with you on the commute. There is so much to be said for being immersed in the Gencon vibe 24/4. If I don't get that, it greatly diminishes the enjoyment for me.
I also recently made a reservation at the Westin. The price is ridiculous, but at least I can cancel without having to prepay if I win the housing lottery. Sadly, I have been checking downtown hotels websites daily since I left Indianapolis this year, which also seems ridiculous. Looking at the Marriott, not the JW, you can get a room there by prepaying for over $600 per night...that is just out of hand. I love Gen Con and it would be rough not to go, but when hotel rooms are this tough to get and as expensive as a nice resort in Maui I may start looking at other Con's. Truly, I'm not sure if there is anything that can be done. I would gladly pay $500, or whatever the price is for a VIG badge just to get a hotel downtown.
Yeah, and that's the trend, people who can afford to pay big bucks will get the prime spots. Everyone else takes their shot at what I'm sure will be a diminishing pool of rooms in the housing lottery, or accepts the airport hotel compromise.
As far as GenCon, the hotels, and the vendors are concerned, people with deeper pockets are more desirable attendees anyway. Until attendance drops off, no one in power has any motivation to change anything. I can't even blame them. I just keep waiting for the tipping point.
It is too bad GenCon doesn't use its considerable influence to convince Indy to really up its transportation game. Its such an important event to the city, I don't see why they wouldn't do something to keep it around. Not even going to light rail or BRT's from the airport, but just dramatically increasing the IndyGo services for the week. I got stuck out at the airport two years ago and between 35 dollar cab rides back in the evening, and a creative free hotel shuttle to the airport, Rt 8 city bus downtown morning trek, it did take the fun out of the con. Plus lugging 40 lbs of stuff everywhere all day broke me down by the end.
This year I paid an obscene amount to stay downtown, but thats the only way my wife would attend.
Sad thing is, as a fantasy gamer, I know if the govt would get out of the 1950's and into the 21st Century, true high speed rail between Cincy and Chicago puts Indy 45 minutes from Cincinnati. Thats faster then the Indy airport commute downtown. Like I said "fantasy".
Yeah, if the convention had a shuttle service worth a damn, maybe the people not staying downtown wouldn't feel so alienated.
I stayed at one of the distant hotels three cons ago (this past year my twelfth in a row, crazy) and it made the whole experience much worse. Commuting and vacations don't mix, at least for me! I was able to get not insanely priced downtown hotels the past two years outside lottery, but with the embassy cancellations no luck this year. Strange to say, but if I or a friend don't hit the lottery this year (and we haven't the past three) I am not going to go. Gencon is great, I congratulate it on its success, and barring unexpected good luck, wish you all the best. My con is all grown up!
What makes it so frustrating is that Indy is an AWESOME city. Downtown is so lively during GenCon. I got there Monday before and stayed until Monday after. It was wonderful. Scottys and the RAM before they were packed. The Art Museum, the sculpture bridge, canal walk, all enjoyable, pre con crowds. Everything you would want is right there. Even Church is right across the street from the ICC! During GenCon, Georgia Street rocks, everything is so vibrant.
Thats why I love GenCon. The dealer hall you can approximate at Origins as most big manufacturers are there. Playing new games or old favorites is easier at little local cons, like CincyCon and WhosYerCon (and new this year the AcadeCon in Dayton OH put on by RPG Academy - I hope to get a bunch of DCC in!).
But GenCon has always been the vacation. I hope it can continue to be so.
I agree with you Raptorov. Indy does rock! I look forward to not only coming our for Gen Con, but also just to visit Indy, and I know we're not alone. But spending around $3K on a hotel room, if I don't win the hotel lottery is painful. I don't think I would go if I had to stay out by the airport. I've been 10+ miles out a couple of times and it isn't fun. I really don't know what can be done about the hotel situation, I think if there was a solution they would have already put it to work.
Hi, Wanted to let you know I just booked the "blind" listing at Hotwire.com just now for Wed-Sun, 2 people, in a downtown hotel. Hotwire only has 1 hotel available currently, for $222 a night, that they say is a "boutique" hotel, 4 stars. It turned out to be The Alexander. Good luck, downtown hotel hunters!