It took more than 8 hours, but I finally got my hotel confirmation for Comic-Con. It wasn’t one of the 12 I’d requested this morning, but it’s in my price range, relatively close, and was actually #14 on the list we put together last night.

All this despite the fact that I put the request in within 5 minutes of the system going online. That part was smooth, and judging by the comments on Twitter and at The Beat, it went smoothly for most people.

Then came the waiting.

On one hand, it was better because I could actually do things — like, y’know, work — instead of sitting there hitting refresh on the browser and redial on the phone for two hours. On the other hand, instead of two hours of active frustration, it was eight hours of wondering whether they had lost my info, or whether I had mistyped my email address, or whether they had actually run out of rooms in the first five minutes and hadn’t gotten around to telling me. A confirmation number for the request itself would have gone a long way toward making me confident that I was in the system.

Later posts on Twitter, and later comments at The Beat, reflected the growing sense of frustration among congoers — and anger as they were assigned hotels that weren’t even on their list.


It seems that not everyone’s requests were handled in the order received. I saw people who had received confirmation hours before I did, but who had submitted their requests a few minutes later. My guess is that Travel Planners was taking two passes through the queue: one pass to handle the requests that they could fill based on people’s actual choices, then one pass to handle the requests where all the preferred hotels were full. Even that doesn’t quite track, though, so I’m not sure what was really going on.

Edit: Katie suggested that they might also be prioritizing based on how many nights you tried to reserve. I was only reserving three nights, so it sort of makes sense that they might give more weight to someone trying to reserve four or five.

Lessons to be Learned

As with the convention’s struggle with crowding, every year they solve one problem only to discover another lurking behind it. A lot of people have compared this year’s process to a lottery, but really, it actually shifted the advantage from luck to typing speed.

Think about it: For the last few years, everyone has had to try to get through, repeatedly, over a period of several hours. Those lucky enough to make a solid connection would then make a reservation and leave. You could start at 9:00 and get through at 9:05 or 11:00, but there really wasn’t any sort of strategy you could apply other than trying multiple avenues at the same time.

Now? Everyone logs in at 9:00, fills out a form immediately, and submits it. Whether you submit your request at 9:05, 9:10 or 9:15 has nothing to do with luck. Instead, it has to do with whether you made up a list beforehand, how long it takes to enter your information, and how much time you spend verifying it before clicking that button.

In that way, it’s actually less of a lottery than it used to be!

Update: I’ve posted some ideas on what to do if you couldn’t get a room.

See Also: Convention Photos & Write-Ups

33 thoughts on “Comic-Con Hotel Experience: 2010

  1. I disagree, I finished mine by 9:03 and got a hotel that’s 7 miles away. I saw that some people had put there’s in by 9:10 and received hotels that were only a block away. The basis was more on who booked your room instead of what time you finished.

  2. I’m angry. Finally got an email and it wasn’t one of the 12 hotels we chose. It’s 8 miles from the convention center and no shuttle. So, now we either have to drive there and pay the insane parking prices or we have to rely on cabs. Not fair that we have to spend so much more money even though we sent our reservation within the first 5 minutes. This sucks.

    • Is it in the Mission Valley/Hotel Circle area? There’s trolley service there, and you can get a 4-day trolley pass for around $15.

  3. It’s definitely not the number of rooms you want. I submitted my request no later than 9:07AM, for five nights, and got a hotel ten miles away that wasn’t even on my list.

    • submitted at 9:08 (because of the stupid chrome/firefox not showing the arrival date field bug) for SIX (6) nights and got a hotel that was not even on my list. It looks like I can book the hotel i had last year (5th on my list) for the same price through expedia though (just wanted to avoid those cab rides this year). I am really hoping that they re-process the requests (properly).

  4. Just checking in since I asked questions in the first place. Submitted at 9:07, 1 room for 4 nights. Got an email at 1:34pm confirming me for a hotel not on my list of twelve – three miles out, on the shuttle route. I don’t know how they did it, but I hated it. I’ll be canceling a room at the Sheraton Hotel and Marina tomorrow if anyone wants it. Who knows how the waiting list for hotels I’ll actually stay at will go.

    • Oh yes please…I want it.

      It was on my list but I never go it.
      Can you email me and I will call them instead.

      Thanks a lot.

      • Oh, dear! I canceled first thing this morning because it was so useless, long before I even checked my email or RSS feeds. Best of luck to you though!

  5. I’m still waiting. I set the alarm and got up early to submit I submitted within the first five minutes! It’s now 4.47pmFriday Eastern Australian time 10.50pm Thurs in San Diego!I’m unsure as to whether they even got my submission. Your right a confirmation email would have gone a long way to relieve some of the stress.

  6. Something is totally wrong here. I submitted mine at 9:02 and I am 5 miles away. I will not travel for South Carolina to San Diego and then have to deal with getting to the convention everyday. This is the worst yet IMO.

  7. I too am a lil ticked. I wanted the hard rock or one of the hiltons, my requests was SENT at 9:02 for 2 nights, yet, I ended up with my hotel choice #8. (5 miles away from the hotel) It’s decent, we have our car to drive but it sure isn’t the hardrock or a hilton.

  8. I needed two rooms, 21-25 and got screwed. Some how I got one not on my list, which is BS. After you submit your 12, it says if none of your rooms are available they will contact you with alternatives. How is telling me I am staying at Town and Country “alternatives”? I am pissed. What was the point of signing in early and picking 12 hotels? I think exhibitors might have been first served. Any one know any disappointed exhibitors to disprove this?

    • I’m an exhibitor. And I got completely screwed by their system as well. I am getting really fed up with this Con. 🙁

  9. Never again.

    ComicCon’s hotel booking system is a joke. It certainly wasn’t first come, first served! And it doesn’t matter who you are! (I work in the dealers room at Comic Con!)
    I had that form sent three minutes after it had opened up. I checked my e-mail to see which of my picks I ended up getting…
    NOT A ONE!

    They sent me to some hotel 8 friggin miles away! Yet people who waited 15 even 30 minutes after it had opened up got great hotels! ?? How the hell did that happen??

    So I started calling hotels on my own. And guess what? I ended up getting the Marriott right across the street for only $350 a night (that is with taxes and fees and 4 people!). Kind of makes me wish I hadn’t wasted time and frustration on their stupid site. From now on, I’ll just make my own reservations.

    • I booked through the Marriott website earlier. Also I resubmitted a hotel request through Comic-Con (at least the horrible travel company they use) I still haven’t received an e-mail, but they were still open. I am curious to see what is in my mail box later. I will post if I do get a better room.

  10. I finished my booking at 9:20 and still haven’t recieved anything, I’m freaking out about it!

    • Travel Planers Inc. is horrible. I hope you hear something soon. I felt the same way as the original article stated, “A confirmation number for the request itself would have gone a long way toward making me confident that I was in the system.”

      • I’m actually really annoyed, this will be my first trip to America alone, I’ll be 20 by that time. I don’ want to end up staying somewhere completely out of my way without a shuttle and it’s impossible getting in touch with these people from England!!!! Grrr! It said when I filled out the form that I will have a response by the end of the day, well that was just a lie, wasn’t it?

      • I’ve just booked in at the Mariott Gas Lamp quarter, outside of travel planners booking system… the only problem is it’s costing me near to $2,000 for a 5 night stay, hopefully travelfinders find me something more appealing.

        • Are you staying by yourself? The reason that most hotels hike up their prices is because most Con-goers shove 5+ people into the rooms. So the prices are much more reasonable split 4 or 5 ways.
          If you can this year (and definitely next year) start looking around for a few people you can crash with. There are a lot of people who would welcome a friendly stranger to be able to share in the cost of the room. I’d offer it to you myself but we already have 5 people in ours.
          You could also try finding people to stay in your room to split the cost. After what happened yesterday, I’m sure you’ll have no problem finding some people that would want to stay 2 blocks from the Con. 😉

  11. Yeah. It was not first come, first serve by any stretch of the imagination. I entered my submission before 9:05a and I didn’t get anything. Not even a hotel outside of my listed 12. So I was diligent, was on top of things and ended up with no reservation. Other people I know submitted as late as 9:30a and got a hotel high on their list.

    Comic Con needs to move to Vegas. Yeah, it will be brutal there in July but at least they know how to handle huge conventions.

  12. Jack Gregson

    I might know a gal who would split the cost with you if you happen to be interested in something like that

  13. ComicCon just posted this on their Twitter:

    “To those who logged in yesterday for hotel opening, we apologize. The new system implemented by Travel Planners worked for some but for a significant amount it did not. We really do know how frustrating it is. We’re working to address this. We hope you’ll bear with us”


  14. I hope they ditch Travel Planners next year. I don’t see how they are going to fix this. All the near by rooms are booked up. If they redo the whole process the people who lucked into their rooms are going to be pissed. I personally went through the Marriott and am LOCKED into paying about $100 more a night each room. Only real fix I see is to go further out and foot the bill for shuttles (ones that run late enough for after hours events).
    Oh I never mentioned… My original confirmation, they screwed up and addressed to a person staying in the room. I e-mail them about this and not a word, I call all I get is a machine and no return call. A bunch of hacks at Travel Planners.
    As far as trying to book again all I received was a “We’re trying” e-mail

  15. Jack, contact me. I’m going alone and I got a room on the shuttle route (non-smoking) for July 21-26. Maybe I can help.
    zoni_tonya AT yahoo DOT com

  16. Hey Jack,
    I have a reservation at the Westin 9 blocks away but im looking for something closer maybe we can work something out?

  17. I finshed my reservation list at 9:03 and I still have yet to get my e-mail from Travel PLanners, and it’s monday night. This is absolutely f’ing ridiculous. I e-mailed TP over the weekend but haven’t heard back yet. Surprise surprise.

    • I called and e-mail just about them booking it under the wrong name. A SIMPLE fix. Not a damn word.

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