To the poster who said she stayed at the hotel all day because she was mobility impaired. My father requires a wheel chair. So I wholeheartedly agree with you that he is definitely not able to get around 'just fine'.
However, he still travels. He still goes to the grocery store. He definitely 'gets around' just not in the 'fine' category. He attends a war veteran convention and he does not 'require' a connected room. Heck, I think over half of them would, if mobility were just the issue. It is not that I am unsympathetic to your cause, but just because you require a scooter to navigate the convention(he does too, we rent one for him) does NOT mean you require a downtown room.
What it DOES require is a vehicle with the means to carry the scooter and a partner to assist and be willing to leave games and such when you are ready to retreat to your room, which it sounds like you do not have, given your comments that you stayed in the room the entire time one year and stayed home completely another.
The other poster was correct in saying NO ONE REQUIRES a downtown room. They were pretty spot on though in saying we all WANT one. Let's face it. Is there a single soul whose life wouldn't be made easier, and the convention more enjoyable, if they had the Westin or Embassy as opposed to Baymont 11 miles away? The only reasons I can see someone giving would be money, or else someone perhaps from out of town who wants to stay with friends who live in Indy. Or possibly someone like NDGeekboy who used to say he preferred getting away from the crowds in the evening.
The point I was trying to make, evidently very poorly, was that the downtown room is the best option for our situation. Without it, we'd likely make the decision not to attend. What we do to mitigate the possibility of NOT obtaining a room convenient to the ICC is to begin the yearly room hunt ASAP right after the con ends. We are proactive and don't wait for the housing block.
Obviously, I travel as well, as we live approx. 5 hours from Indy. I work full time and have managed the mobility difficulties as best as I can for the daily rigors of life. The SIZE of GenCon and the physicality it demands, however, are extraordinarily overwhelming and exhausting to a fully-abled person. Imagine what it looks like to someone with this type of disability, someone with anxiety or someone with other chronic medical conditions that require extra assistance or attention. You have some experience with this and the challenges it presents, as your father is wheelchair bound.
Our vehicle does not support moving the scooter. The times I stayed at the hotel or at home (my choices) were prior to us finding out that scooter rental was even possible. The only way I see around the ability to move the scooter with a vehicle over distance to an outlying room is to arrange to leave the scooter at a sister hotel and pick it up/drop it off daily there before/after the con.
The additional problem is that my husband runs on a different schedule and enjoys different games than I do. The scooter, combined with the downtown room, is the best way for us to both get what we want/need out of the con, as well as preserving my independence to enjoy the things I want to enjoy at the con.
This is our annual family vacation. It's supposed to be enjoyable! In order for us to have the type of experience we want to have (a seamless, hassle-free, enjoyable experience that doesn't physically exhaust me overmuch and turn me into an exhausted crankypants wombat from the outer rim of Hades), a downtown room is necessary. Those are our standards; they don't really need endorsement, understanding or approval by anyone else, except those with the power to hear, understand and accommodate those standards. We have to look at risk versus reward, and we get to decide for us, being adults and all. :)
Austicke or another VIG would have to correct me if I'm wrong (I've never been a VIG), but I believe the VIG companion does not get another hotel room "slot". Only the VIG gets the early hotel access.
Perhaps the better solution is what BoardGameGeek is doing for their Con. VIGs for it started at $1,000 and dropped by $50 each day ($300 minimum). They sold out of their 150 VIGs at $350 (and sold 2/3s at that price). The only VIG benefits for BGG.CON are guaranteed hotel rooms and 1 game...so basically the same (if not worse) that GenCon.
GenCon really should start their VIGs at like $1,500 reducing it $100 each day to the $600 minimum. That'll help its supply and demand and by my rough estimate (500 badges at an average of $1,000 each) would result in $200,000 of incremental revenue.
In fact, I'll go so far and offer my services as a VIG host including being in charge of organizing and running the VIG registration process for free plus 25% of the incremental revenue generated. ;)
I renewed my badge and the companion badge outright and had two reservations. I can't speak on if you bought your badge as a VIG or renewed plus a VIG Companion Upgrade of a normal badge (Didn't look to see if it was there as an option) if you'd get two room reservations. Companions can't initiate VIG companion badge purchasing since it's linked to a VIG it's off their account after they buy a badge.
Would an Companion upgrade purchased for someone who bought a 4 Day Badge themselves let them attempt to reserve a room through the housing block when it opens as well? I'm unsure since this wasn't an option we went through. VIG registration for purchase at least is automated, new VIG badge proposal purchases I believe is already handled by someone from Gen Con... I don't think they get a 25% cut of anything. No VIG prepurchase options for events has happened at Gen Con yet to my knowledge.
Yeah, VIGs who buy a companion badge get two rooms.
More information about the VIG program can be found here:
Customer Service & Volunteer Manager
Gen Con LLC
I know this conversation sort of organically died down, but I think it is worth contemplating whether setting an "absurdly high" price for VIGs would actually go the way you think it would, Knuteski. Any of you who remember that delightfully absurd argument from a few years back on the old Forums, where a guy who literally said things like "there are no five-star restaurants in Indianapolis" and "board gaming is a lot more popular and relevant to the wealthy crowd than you 'gamers' think," can probably guess where I am going with this--I bet you every VIG badge would sell out on day one even at $1,500.
Now, would it sell out at, like, $50,000? O.K., at some point, clearly, you have indeed set the bar so high that nobody would buy one and you could wait to see where people started grabbing them. But the room benefit alone is sufficient reason for people to be willing to pay thousands for the badge, particularly if they have already agreed that their room-sharing group will split the final cost. I have no problem envisioning my own group agreeing to pool their resources and go up to $1,000/person for VIG; this is basically the only specific event I look forward to every year, and I would have no problem throwing out amounts of money here that I would otherwise never consider spending on anything.
I guess this is a long-winded way to say that... I am sympathetic to all of #s 1, 2, and 3 in the original post :) Even as a fairly long-time attendee myself, though, I do not favor lowering the price for old-timers. It would be interesting if they maybe added a VIG-like tier to the housing block, having the top-tier rooms available for ridiculous sums (maybe they already are, I freely admit to having never actually booked a room using the housing system, but I do not remember anyone ever talking about getting, say, the Embassy Suites' top-floor special enormo-suites through the housing block).