Gencon process 2016
Posted by marimaccadmin ryric

The people that have the most complaints about this lottery system are usually saying that before, they were able to use their "internet skill" to somehow get the edge and get a hotel room.  The fact that before, you were able to get a hotel room "easily" and did not the past few years, does not mean your special skills allowed you to get a hotel room, and are now being blocked because of the lottery.

The simple fact of the matter is that demand for hotel rooms has something like tripled in the past few years.  The fact that you were able to get a hotel "easily" before the lottery, and now are not, is a simple factor of the incredible demand for downtown hotels.

Years ago, it wasn't so hard to get a downtown room, and the amount of people clicking the button at the same time to get a room was not that bad; so yes, you could get one somewhat easier, and if you were well prepared, you could get one over someone who was not.  But the past few years, even for a couple of years before the lottery, demand has way outstripped supply, so that, even if you thought you were using your skill, you were pretty much in a lottery, because so many people were clicking the button at the exact same time.  I know it's disappointing that it's much harder to get a hotel room now, but that's just a factor of how popular Gen Con is, and even if there weren't an actually lottery, you'd be in a de facto lottery since so many people click at the exact same time.  When thousands of people click at the exactly the same time, someone has to be one and someone has to be 3 thousand.  It's just an official lottery now.

marimacc-forum moderator


Yeah it didn't require fancy multiple computer shenanigans to get a good hotel before the lottery, just a willingness to be on at the exact time and have a plan. Pick a slightly less popular downtown hotel, have all your info already in word so you can copy/paste to fill in forms, and you could be in, out, and done with a good hotel by 12:05. No multiple computers, no special internet connection, just strategy and timing.

Posted by father bloodlust

Oh hey look at the latest news item on the GenCon front page! Not only are they sticking us with the god-awful lottery system, they're jacking up the price of a 4-day badge by another $10 for the trouble.

Posted by parody sybrwookie

sybrwookie wrote:
That's the 2nd time I've seen a reference to people cutting in line for hotel rooms.  How does opening multiple browser windows help someone cut in line?

The new housing lottery system is similar to the event ticket registration setup.  At the designated time, everyone gets put into "line" and waits to be allowed into the housing system.  IIRC, there were two major issues last year.  First, if you waited and bought your badge until after the start of the housing lottery, you could skip the line completely and go straight to getting a hotel room.  Second, the database server had issues that resulted in some folks being locked out of the housing system until well after the initial rush took the downtown rooms.

The biggest thing you can do to improve your chances is have control of multiple accounts and thus multiple spots in line.  One easy way to log into the website multiple times is running multiple browsers.  Our group does this individually; it saved us last year when our first person in (the one who, in previous years, was the one who did our hotel room) was locked out by the database issue.

Posted by mightyllamas marimaccadmin

marimaccadmin wrote:...
I know it's disappointing that it's much harder to get a hotel room now, but that's just a factor of how popular Gen Con is, and even if there weren't an actually lottery, you'd be in a de facto lottery since so many people click at the exact same time.  When thousands of people click at the exactly the same time, someone has to be one and someone has to be 3 thousand.  It's just an official lottery now.

+1 for this.  The lottery is a big improvement over the old "overload the web server and pray" system.   Doing an organized lottery seems like the fairest thing you can do.

Posted by ryric marimaccadmin

marimaccadmin wrote:
The people that have the most complaints about this lottery system are usually saying that before, they were able to use their "internet skill" to somehow get the edge and get a hotel room.  The fact that before, you were able to get a hotel room "easily" and did not the past few years, does not mean your special skills allowed you to get a hotel room, and are now being blocked because of the lottery.
The simple fact of the matter is that demand for hotel rooms has something like tripled in the past few years.  The fact that you were able to get a hotel "easily" before the lottery, and now are not, is a simple factor of the incredible demand for downtown hotels.
Years ago, it wasn't so hard to get a downtown room, and the amount of people clicking the button at the same time to get a room was not that bad; so yes, you could get one somewhat easier, and if you were well prepared, you could get one over someone who was not.  But the past few years, even for a couple of years before the lottery, demand has way outstripped supply, so that, even if you thought you were using your skill, you were pretty much in a lottery, because so many people were clicking the button at the exact same time.  I know it's disappointing that it's much harder to get a hotel room now, but that's just a factor of how popular Gen Con is, and even if there weren't an actually lottery, you'd be in a de facto lottery since so many people click at the exact same time.  When thousands of people click at the exactly the same time, someone has to be one and someone has to be 3 thousand.  It's just an official lottery now.
marimacc-forum moderator
 
Obviously I don't have access to any official hard numbers, so I can only speak to my experiences as a (relatively long-time) user of the system. The "scramble and click" system makes me feel like I'm more in control, while the lottery system makes me feel helpless. Gen Con is my favorite thing to do all year, and I usually enjoy getting notification emails, but the announcement that they decided to reuse the lottery filled me with disappointment and worry. As I said I have some small hope that the system might actually be fair this year so I guess we'll see. I've also decided to try for a VIG badge for the sole purpose of skipping the hotel craziness - I consider it worth the price difference just to not have to deal with the lottery system. I have local friends, who have gone every year since the con moved to Indy, that are seriously considering not going this year because they hate the lottery so much.

Oh, and for the comment that having multiple accounts doesn't affect your chances much, lets talk some math. See, you don't have a 1 in thousands chance of getting a room. My quick estimate from last year was that anyone in the first 1.5 hours out of 4 hours could get a downtown room somewhere. that gives rougly a 1/3 chance per person. So one account has a 2/3 chance of not getting the room they want - but two accounts working together have only a 4/9 chance to not get one, a 5/9 chance to get one. My group of 5 that all share a room have ~87% chance to have at least one person in that early time, which is a pretty big jump from 33% just by using separate accounts.

Posted by jhunholz

People saying that the lottery system is "fair" are either new attendees or don't know what fair really means.  It would be fair if your housing priority was based on the number of years you'd been attending Gencon.  It would also be fair if they gave a priority to their GMs, rather than forcing them to go through the same system (in addition to all the work of organizing events, advertising events, running events, etc.).  I do admit that demand has grown, but the lottery is not a good way to handle the growth.  The fact that someone can log in at 12:00 and get spot 10,000 in line and someone can log in 10 minute later and get spot 500 isn't at all fair.  Your spot should be based on when you log in - not randomized.  And adding in bonuses for seniority and running events would be a huge plus.

Posted by father bloodlust ryric

ryric wrote:
marimaccadmin wrote:
The people that have the most complaints about this lottery system are usually saying that before, they were able to use their "internet skill" to somehow get the edge and get a hotel room.  The fact that before, you were able to get a hotel room "easily" and did not the past few years, does not mean your special skills allowed you to get a hotel room, and are now being blocked because of the lottery.
The simple fact of the matter is that demand for hotel rooms has something like tripled in the past few years.  The fact that you were able to get a hotel "easily" before the lottery, and now are not, is a simple factor of the incredible demand for downtown hotels.
Years ago, it wasn't so hard to get a downtown room, and the amount of people clicking the button at the same time to get a room was not that bad; so yes, you could get one somewhat easier, and if you were well prepared, you could get one over someone who was not.  But the past few years, even for a couple of years before the lottery, demand has way outstripped supply, so that, even if you thought you were using your skill, you were pretty much in a lottery, because so many people were clicking the button at the exact same time.  I know it's disappointing that it's much harder to get a hotel room now, but that's just a factor of how popular Gen Con is, and even if there weren't an actually lottery, you'd be in a de facto lottery since so many people click at the exact same time.  When thousands of people click at the exactly the same time, someone has to be one and someone has to be 3 thousand.  It's just an official lottery now.
marimacc-forum moderator
 
Obviously I don't have access to any official hard numbers, so I can only speak to my experiences as a (relatively long-time) user of the system. The "scramble and click" system makes me feel like I'm more in control, while the lottery system makes me feel helpless.

That's a great way of describing how I feel about it. At least before the lottery, I knew there was something I could DO about the massive rush - be ready at noon on the appointed day, have everything I need in hand, and prepare to spend a decent amount of time waiting for things to load. The lottery makes me feel completely helpless, because I AM completely helpless - it's all dependent on luck (or your willingness to be an ass and break the rules, like some people did last year - and I don't buy for a second that the "technical issues" that allowed that are fixed now).

I've seen quite a few stories of people saying they're willing to skip GenCon entirely because of the lottery (or just if the lottery screws them again), and it makes me wonder just how widespread that dissatisfaction is. I don't think GenCon is going to be brought down entirely by that dissatisfaction even if it is very common, but it still interests me, and it makes me wonder how much of a financial hit GenCon might take if those people follow through with their plans to make their big con trip Origins or some other decent-sized convention instead of GenCon.

Posted by nialith jhunholz

jhunholz wrote:
People saying that the lottery system is "fair" are either new attendees or don't know what fair really means.  It would be fair if your housing priority was based on the number of years you'd been attending Gencon.  It would also be fair if they gave a priority to their GMs, rather than forcing them to go through the same system (in addition to all the work of organizing events, advertising events, running events, etc.).  I do admit that demand has grown, but the lottery is not a good way to handle the growth.  The fact that someone can log in at 12:00 and get spot 10,000 in line and someone can log in 10 minute later and get spot 500 isn't at all fair.  Your spot should be based on when you log in - not randomized.  And adding in bonuses for seniority and running events would be a huge plus.

Do you have any evidence to support the claim that someone logged in 10 minutes after the housing rush started and got a spot at #500? That doesn't even seem possible as the system would have started assigning spots immediately at noon and would have flown past #500 in a heart beat. Unless the system knew exactly how many spots to assign out, it's not just assigning random numbers to people. It's likely starting with #1, assigning it to someone, picking someone for the #2 spot, then moving down the list till it runs out of people to assign. Who knows though. 

Also, a lottery is the epitome of "fair". Everyone one has an equal chance at grabbing an early spot. What I don't understand is the need for everyone to show up at noon to log in. Why not have an option when you buy your badge to opt-in for a housing lottery slot? Have a cutoff time for purchasing a "badge with housing" option, then as someone else pointed out, send an email out with your spot in line. If you buy your badge after that, you have to move to the end of the line after everyone that purchased early. Then maybe have people log in at noon or at least ahead of your spot in line to verify you will indeed be using that spot. If you don't log in, system skips to the next person in line. Maybe have it so you could fill out your 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices ahead of time along with any payment info so it has it all there to save time. 

I'm sure the Gencon folks are looking at ideas to make this a more pleasant experience. I volunteer each year and trust me, they really do want everyone to have the best time possible. It's not a cash grab here. They genuinly care about how this show goes. The show is pretty much a victim of its own success. 

Posted by ematuskey

You want to see an end to growth, you start prioritizing returning guests over new attendees.  :p  "Seniority" has no place in determining who gets a downtown room, IMO--it's bad enough they do something like that with the VIG program (again, IMO).

This isn't a new issue--there were complaints about how fast the housing block sold out the downtown rooms in the pre-lottery days as well, and yet the con keeps getting bigger, despite the hue and cry.  It's tempting to assume the grumbling on the forums is the majority view, but I think it's just a vocal minority, at least based on the continued success of the show--in other words, I don't think the lottery is going to put a damper on anything.

Now, there may come a point where growth slows or reverses because the event is just too crowded to be fun, which is probably one reason why GC is expanding into the stadium.  I'm already pretty sure I'm going to skip the 50th anniversary con just because I expect it to be super-crazy, regardless of how much space they get.  :p 

Posted by parody nialith

nialith wrote:
jhunholz wrote:
I do admit that demand has grown, but the lottery is not a good way to handle the growth.  The fact that someone can log in at 12:00 and get spot 10,000 in line and someone can log in 10 minute later and get spot 500 isn't at all fair.

Do you have any evidence to support the claim that someone logged in 10 minutes after the housing rush started and got a spot at #500? That doesn't even seem possible as the system would have started assigning spots immediately at noon and would have flown past #500 in a heart beat.

You can read about the (then new) system here:

2015 Housing Changes

When the time came, the system assigned a random spot in line to every badge purchased to that point and slowly (on a timer is my guess) allowed each badge purchaser into the housing system.  If you logged in later and your number had already come up, you went straight in.  If not, you were told your place in line. 

Overall I think the lottery works OK. It wasn't without issues; there was a major oversight where folks who bought badges after the line started were let straight into the system and a database issue that locked some people out for which Gen Con gave some system credit as compensation.  Hopefully those have been fixed for this year.

I would have linked appropriate discussions from last year, but it appears those forums have already been hidden or deleted. :-(

Posted by jhs

As someone who always signed in at noon, and lost out both the year before the lottery and the first year of, I am a fan of the lottery.  I would rather be told the second I log in where in line I am then clicking for 45 minutes until the downtown rooms are gone.  To stop going because of the lottery seems nuts.  Not going if you can't stay downtown seems perfectly reasonable.  A vacation that involves a commute is a poor vacation.  Get on the wait list if you lose out, and check Outside of block for things you can afford.  And good luck!

Posted by marimaccadmin

We didn't have a wait list last year, but I can say that many people got rooms through other people dropping them, including here on the forum.  If you don't just give up when you can't get a room on day one, you can usually find something downtown, eventually.  Diligence and patience usually pays off.

Posted by ematuskey

What marimaccadmin said--one issue with having to make your reservations in January is a lot of people can't make it by the time July/August rolls around (I gave up a sweet Downtown Marriott room to someone on the forum a couple years ago (sob)).  Not getting a downtown room in January doesn't mean you won't have one come spring or summer! 

Posted by father bloodlust

Yeah, but c'mon - is it anybody's idea of fun to constantly check the housing site, hour after hour, day after day, never knowing when it's going to end?

Posted by joelf847

Not only isn't it my idea of fun to constantly check the housing site, but if I don't get a downtown hotel, I'll make other vacation plans, and then not be able to attend Gen Con even if something opened up.  Those plans might be Origins, or they might not be gaming related at all, like Europe, Hawaii, or somewhere else fun. 

Posted by ematuskey

It's certainly not fun, but with attendance climbing every year, it's the reality--literally any other solution would give preferential treatment to somebody, or shift the burden to another part of the process (ie, order of housing portal = order of badge registration). 

If you're unlucky but want it badly enough, you have options (book outside block, scour the forums and housing portal in the spring and summer, go onto the waitlist, etc)--if you're unlucky and don't want it as badly as 60k other people, you're going to lose out and spend your money elsewhere--which is totally fine also!  But there are no "easy" answers that are going to satisfy everyone when the demand for downtown rooms /far/ exceeds supply.

The PAX forums are the exact same way when tickets go on sale (well, with more talk about scalpers I guess--something the GC housing portal doesn't have to deal with at least!). 

Posted by marimaccadmin

I mean yes, I know it sucks that you might not get the hotel room you wanted.  And that's certainly something you have to factor into your cost benefit analysis of attending.  I doubt we'll ever go back to being able to easily book a downtown hotel room for a cheap rate.  It's just how it is.  And I'd point out that it's really even harder to get close hotel rooms at other large conventions such as SDCC and DragonCon.  DragonCon hotel reg is nuts.  They open one hotel at a time, on passkey, and of course, everyone's trying for that same hotel, and then they open the next one a week or so later.  It's kind of maddening.  I know it's not fun to see that you're number 2789 in the queue, but it's actually a pretty fair way to handle it.  If it's too much for you, I agree you should consider not going.  And I'm not trying to be smart; it's your vacation, and if the cost benefit analysis isn't working for you, you shouldn't go.  If you're going to be miserable if you get a hotel room downtown for $300 a night, or stay 15 minutes off site, then really, do think about taking a year off and try something else.  Gen Con SHOULD be fun and enjoyable, and if the crowds are making it less enjoyable for you, I do recommend taking some time off from it.  It's just not for everyone.

marimacc
Forum Coordinator

Posted by bith jhunholz

jhunholz wrote:
People saying that the lottery system is "fair" are either new attendees or don't know what fair really means.  It would be fair if your housing priority was based on the number of years you'd been attending Gencon.  It would also be fair if they gave a priority to their GMs, rather than forcing them to go through the same system (in addition to all the work of organizing events, advertising events, running events, etc.).

In other words: Fair is the system that disadvantages me the least.  No.  Fair, is the system that provides the most equal opportunity to the largest number of atendees.  What you are saying is "fair" is in reality the opposite.  Preferential treatment is the opposite of fair.

Posted by gib_rebeg

Before I dive into the whole "Fair" - "Unfair" BS.

Does anyone know when Gencon will update the hotel list for this year with participating Hotels and their prices? Should be a few more added and I'm sure their prices will have changed again from last year.

Far as the "Fair". It's all realitive. Those stomping their feet and throwing a tantrum because they don't like the lottery system for the best hotels. If you don't want to show because of it. Then don't show. Gencon has been seeing record attendance year after year. So 50,... 100,... 500 don't want to show because of it. They really wont notice. Considering attendance was up nearly 5,000 over last year. They'll find plenty of people to replace you. And keep growing.

Personlly, conduct a poll. See how many like - Dislike - Don't Care about the lottery. And live with the results.

Or maybe we could go back to the way it use to be in Milwaukee. Get a hotel list in the mail. Check off the top 5 in order you would prefer, mail it back. Wait a month to get another letter telling you what hotel you got stuck with that you didn't want and have to live with that choice.

Personally, I'm fine with the lottery system. All is good.

Posted by noone gib_rebeg


Or maybe we could go back to the way it use to be in Milwaukee. Get a hotel list in the mail. Check off the top 5 in order you would prefer, mail it back. Wait a month to get another letter telling you what hotel you got stuck with that you didn't want and have to live with that choice.
Personally, I'm fine with the lottery system. All is good.

You're wrong you were told the dorms.  Which I never minded at around $20 a night ment more money for buying things.  But I do wish that GenCon would work with the University in town and see if they could come up with something simualer.  Put them in touch with the Univeristy of Wisconson to help set it up

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