You have to devise a system where groups coming together and need ONE room do not have a higher chance of getting a downtown room.
I have seen MANY years where 5, 6, 7, or 8 people get into a single room. For relatives and close friends, I have seen as many as 3 thinner people in two queens (6) with two on the floor, as well as just people all over the floors. I have gamed in a hotel room before where 7 people were staying. I don't care about fire codes or whatever, that will never stop this and is a non-talking point.
THE FIRST way to do this, and the best way to do this now is limit badges to 1 per credit card. Lock in names and addresses and billing information into Qrooms with that specific badge and credit card that bought that badge with that account name.
During the last two weeks or so when rooms get transferred to the hotel, if someone wants to call and change information then, go for it, but it's too late then for people to book extra rooms or hold onto rooms or sell rooms or transfer as easily.
There are many ways to stop huge groups all getting 5 or 10 chances when they need literally 1 or 2 rooms.
The earlier quote about "7 people all needing 1 room only consume 1 room" so it's fine, or whatever was implied, is not true. This pushes 6 people around into later or different timeslots that could have gotten in earlier if it weren't for the 6 of the 7 people trying for a downtown room.
For instance, 5 people all buy badges. 1 person gets an early downtown time, the other 4 don't. The other 4 don't even check their housing lottery. Those 4 didn't even need lottery times under this "system," but maybe one of those 4 also got an early time, but because of the staggered release of rooms, that person pushed someone out to a time beyond getting the room they wanted.
1 Hotel per 1 Badge is far from the norm of what's needed. I have never spoken with people downtown who came alone and stay alone. It just creates imbalance in the lottery and the staggered release of rooms. Most people who come alone stay on the outskirts so they can make it affordable and cheap.
I honestly couldn't disagree more with this statement. All of these statements.
If I've paid for a badge, I've paid for a shot at a downtown room.
If I've got friends who've also paid for a badge, they have also purchased their lottery ticket, as it were.
By working together, yes we stand a statistically higher chance of booking a downtown room. That's how collective action works. A team is always more effective than an individual. But, once we get our room, we reduce the load on the rest of the system by not grabbing multiple rooms. We haven't pushed anyone out of a downtown room. Perhaps they got a later time, but as we saw this year, as long as there is a dis-incentive to book multiple rooms, the length of time "Downtown" is available expands.
As for staying solo downtown, you're measuring everyone else's financial situation by your ruler. Some folks book out of block and pay $500 a night for a room. That's not my financial reality, but it works for others. I had a few years when my Gen Con room mates dropped out and I had to go solo. I didn't choose to take a room out by the airport, I just adjusted my budget and stayed where I would have the best experience.