Best way to book your trip? Feedback
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Posted by swearbear

So last year, I got to attend my first ever gencon with a buddy. We booked our trip via Expedia, and it was affordable and worked very well.  We will be attending again this year and have a couple questions:

My question is, how do you all book your trip, and what do you think is the most affordable way? Direct with the airline/hotels? Travel sites?  Is the housing lottery worth it/affordable?

Thanks!

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Posted by father bloodlust

Housing lottery is...well, the luck of the draw. The most affordable prices are generally found there, but good luck getting first crack at it. However, if you're willing to keep the housing block open in your browser for possibly several months after it starts and keep checking it throughout every day, you can eventually get something in the block even if you got a bad draw on drop day. It's a lot of effort though, and I understand if people don't want to go through that.

Trying to find prices even close to the housing block's on Trivago (which gathers all the prices from the various travel sites like Expedia) is mostly a waste of time - the hotels deliberately jack their prices up at GenCon time, so you'll easily find rooms for two and possibly three times the housing block prices. If you want to go through Trivago, I'd start looking at next year's prices immediately after the current year's GenCon ends.

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Posted by cosmicpower

I pre booked my hotel just to get a good price, I didn't book a hotel that was assigned for the housing block. I always check a few months before the conventions to see if the prices go down. You can always try to individually buy tickets to make sure you might get a good chance for a good housing lottery chance. I also use hotels.com for my hotel.

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Posted by father bloodlust

Oh, another tip I forgot regarding booking a hotel room a year ahead of the convention: make sure your booking is refundable. That way, you can have the room, but still cancel it if you're blessed with housing block luck.

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Posted by gib_rebeg father bloodlust

father bloodlust wrote:
Oh, another tip I forgot regarding booking a hotel room a year ahead of the convention: make sure your booking is refundable. That way, you can have the room, but still cancel it if you're blessed with housing block luck.
I would also add if real life events pop up and you find your self needing to cancel. Don't want to find your self having to miss the con because a loved one is suddenly in the Hospital the week of Gencon, wanting to be at their side and you booked a non-refundable hotel room.

I will also give this warning too. Those online booking sites sometimes will list a room as available, but the hotel may have already sold it and the booking site is not up-to-date. In general it's always a good idea to double check with the hotel directly before using a booking site. You don't want to show up thinking you have a DT room, only to find they over booked and the only place you can get is an Econolodge on the far south side of Indy.

And with all that said, there are a select few (Not all) DT hotels that do intentionally over book every year. If you are showing up on Thursday, make it a priority to check in as soon as you can. Else if you try checking in later in the day, other guest will have beat you to the check in and secured all the rooms. Leaving you bumped to an out rim hotel of not assured quality.

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Posted by darkranger65

This will be my first trip back to gen con in twenty years.....my brother and I are going and my plan was to see what we can get in the housing lottery and if that is unsuccessful book our flight and hotel through Expedia (we are in Northern California). Is this a good plan or should we book now? Will the hotels raise their prices after the housing lottery goes live? Thanks for any input.

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Posted by roundtop

Here is my planning:

If you need to fly:  

Go to http://flights.google.com and search for the dates you want. 
Add a watch on that search.

You will get e-mailed for any price changes on it. I got a $500 flight for $275 due to having this.   

It will also give you an idea about volatility (if any). If it keeps changing, then it may go lower. If it never changes, it might not drop.

Always book directly through the airline (unless you need expedia points or save on your hotel due to it), as they will help you more as a direct booking.

For hotel: Start at Expedia/Trivago. Make sure you set your search terms for refundable (it will be more expensive) and remember the 17% hotel tax. (I think that's the right rate).  This will give you a ballpark figure. You can book, then cancel later.  Personally, I use this as a guide, then check the hotel site directly, just in case they have any special deals. Unless I save a ton, I'll use Expedia.

Enter into the housing lottery for gencon. housing block is cheaper overall, but harder to get a downtown room.  If you get one downtown (and want it there), great! book it. then cancel your existing hotel booking. If you don't care, then it is easy to get a non-downtown hotel, often cheaper than a direct booking. Again, cancel your direct booking afterwards.

Parking!  If you are driving, make sure you have parking, whether it is at your hotel, or if you are driving in each day (whether local or airport), you pre-book at something like Gate 10 when they open it for pre-bookings.
 

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Posted by armadilloal darkranger65

darkranger65 wrote:
This will be my first trip back to gen con in twenty years.....my brother and I are going and my plan was to see what we can get in the housing lottery and if that is unsuccessful book our flight and hotel through Expedia (we are in Northern California). Is this a good plan or should we book now? Will the hotels raise their prices after the housing lottery goes live? Thanks for any input.

I think for the most part that the damage has already been done in terms of raising prices.  Your bigger concern is that everyone else who loses the lottery who has the same idea as you also taking those rooms and it might be hard to find anything at any price.

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Posted by darkranger65

Ok I booked a hotel for the con (refundable)...I'll see what the housing lottery has for me.

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Posted by helenbb

@darkranger65  We're from NorCal too. If it works for you, this year Southwest has introduced a flight direct from SFO to Indianapolis. We're definitely taking advantage of that!

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Posted by darkranger65

thanks for the info helenbb!

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