I have stayed outside of downtown 4 times (out of 5 Gen Con trips). I have never been able to get a downtown hotel through the Gen Con service. The one time I stayed in downtown was because I purchased a room through a thrid party service (which is always hit or miss). I live in California, so the option of bringing my own car is out the window. This means I will have to rent a car, or I will have to rely on other inconvienent forms of travel each day. I have done this. It is a hassle.
It is well worth the mark-up for a downtown hotel room. I think the demand for downtown rooms indicates that everyone seems to agree. Although the outside hotels are very nice, and are a bargain compared to downtown hotels, nevertheless, the inconvienance of getting back and forth from an outside hotel is just too much. I would gladly pay double or triple the price to have the convienance of access to my hotel room during the convention at any time.
The idea of using Uber each day, or driving your own car into downtown each day, is not a reasonable solution.
1. Paying $20 or more per trip for ridesharing (x2 to get back to the hotel $40) is just too expensive. The cost will also likely be higher during the gen con when peak rates are in effect. If you drive your own car, you can expect to pay this cost in parking fees and gas, if you can find parking that is.
2. The idea of using Uber each day or driving your own car ignores one of the best reasons for wanting to stay in downtown: the ability to come and go from your hotel room as you please. Being able to go back to your room when you are tired or want a meal, or simply on a whim is priceless. The Gen Con is exhausting, and you simply don't know when your body will crash and need some downtime.
3. The idea of using Uber or driving your own car ignores another reason for wanting to stay in downtown: the ability for your party to split up. When you have a room in downtown your party can easily split up at any time for some of your party to head back to the room. This does not work when you have to coordinate a vehicle trip to a hotel out of town.
4.The idea of using Uber or driving your own car ignores another reason for wanting to stay in downtown: the ability to go back to your room to drop off stuff, or to pick up stuff, whenever it is convienent (such as gen con merch, or gaming materials). Staying outside of downtown makes this simply not realistic.
5. The idea of using Uber or driving your own car ignores another reason for wanting to stay in downtown: if you have someone in your party with special needs or a disability who will need periodic access to the hotel room, staying outside of downtown is not going to be practical. I think Gen Con does provide a seperate procedure for people with disabilities to be able to get a downtown room, but I am sure that not everyone who needs one due to a disability in the family is able to make use the seperate procedure.
The solution to these comments is to have a reliable and constantly running round the clock shuttle service. This will make outside hotels more convienent, and alleviate the demand for downtown rooms.The shuttle service should be constantly running throughout the con 24 hours a day. I think the wait for a shuttle should never be more than 15 minutes (note that a 15 minute wait for a shuttle is followed by the time it takes to actually travel to and from the hotel and the con, so the total travel time will be much more than 15 minutes). If the shuttle service is not convienent then it will not be an adequate solution.
Also note, having a reliable, fast, shuttle service to outside hotels would also open up the possiblity for Gen Con to expand events into these hotels as well. Gen Con doesn't have to expand to outside hotels, this is just a bonus option that arises if a convienent shuttle service were implimented.