Visual Guide To The San Diego Comic-Con 2016 Hotel Sale

Hilton Bayfront HotelIf you thought getting a badge to San Diego Comic-Con was tough, you better buckle in for the bumpy ride that is the General Hotel Sale, or, as we lovingly call it, Hotelpocalypse. On Tuesday, April 5, attendees will try for a hotel, and just like with badge sales, some attendees will walk away disappointed.

Though this year has thrown a very particular wrench into the proceedings with most attendees’ least favorite words: randomized waiting room. Yes, for the first time year, the hotel sale will utilize a randomized waiting room – which means that speed is no longer the only determining factor in getting a hotel.

Though it is still a factor. A representative for onPeak confirmed with us that forms are still being processed in 3-second intervals of the order they are received, which means that it still matters how fast you can fill out this form – at least a little bit  (obviously, if you get to the form 60 minutes after it’s opened, odds are it won’t matter if you take 30 seconds or two minutes to fill it out, hotels are just gone). The form looks and acts very similar to previous years – it’s solely that the way you access the form (waiting room versus direct link) is changing. This matches up with Comic-Con International’s President John Rogers telling us at WonderCon’s TalkBack panel that this year would be the hotel sale would be “same kind of process, with some wrinkles.

So how does all of this work? How can you help make sure that you get the downtown hotel of your dreams (and if you’re wondering why staying downtown is so great, check out our Case for Staying Downtown and In the Gaslamp Quarter)?

So here’s a look at at least how it works, as well as how the brand new randomization process will work.

The Process

You can view the list of hotels and prices by clicking here, with prices ranging from $178/night for one person at the Days Hotel – Hotel Circle by Seaworld, up to $384/night for the Andaz San Diego. Most attendees will be trying for a downtown hotel in the Gaslamp, but the General Hotel Sale also includes hotels at both the airport and in Mission Valley.

onPeak requires that attendees select exactly six hotel choices, in order of preference. Research which hotels you’re interested in before the sale begins, so you’re not wasting valuable time. Before the sale begins, plan on having the following information handy:

  • Your six hotels, in order of preference (write the name exactly as it appears on the Comic-Con hotel list)
  • The amount of people staying in your room
  • The names of any roommates who are staying with you

Within 48 hours before the sale, you’ll be e-mailed a link to onPeak’s SDCC site, though it won’t go live until 6AM PT on April 5. The link will also be live on Comic-Con International’s site. A representative with onPeak has confirmed to us that the system is not tied to Member IDs or badges, so for those of you with press or pro status who haven’t yet registered, fear not.

Here’s where things get interesting. New this year, that link will take you directly to the onPeak Waiting Room. You can enter anytime between 6AM-9AM PT, though there’s no advantage to arriving early. At 9AM PT, you’ll be sorted into a random order.

When it’s your turn, you’ll be taken to the form. Here’s how the form will look:

You might be greeted with this screen:

form 10

You’ll need to select the Click Here to Start Your Request button. You’ll then be taken to the actual hotel request form, which will first give you a rundown of all the hotel options again:

form 1

Once you’ve scrolled past this screen, you’ll begin filling in your information, including your first and last name, address, phone number, and e-mail address.

form 2

You’ll then be able to enter your six hotel choices, from a drop-down menu. Put them in your order of preference. So if the Hard Rock Hotel is your first choice, select that hotel first. You’ll also have the option of selecting a box to indicate that if the con rate at your hotel is unavailable, if you’d like to be upgraded (at an unspecified amount) to a “higher nightly rate” room. If you don’t want to select this option, simply don’t click anything.

Once you’ve entered all six of your hotels, you’ll have to choose the worst case scenario: If none of your six hotel choices are available, what would you like to happen? You have three options:

  • Book me into any available hotel. NOTE: If we can book you into any available hotel, you will still automatically be waitlisted for your original, specified hotel choices.
  • Book me into any hotel that is on the shuttle route. NOTE: If we are able to book you into a hotel on the shuttle route, you will also automatically be waitlisted for your original, specified hotel choices above.

 

Choose the option that makes the most sense to you, but it is worth mentioning that typically, some downtown hotels do open up after cancellations, and are made available to those who selected one of the last two options — though there’s no guarantee that will happen.

The next step is filling out the information about the kind of accommodations you’ll be needing. You’ll select the number of total rooms you’re requesting, and then for each room, the amount of beds/people. You can choose between Single (One person with one bed), Double (Two people, one bed), Twin (Two people, two beds), Triple (Three people, two beds), or Quad (Four people, two beds).

Once you’ve selected this, you’ll be prompted to enter in the first and last name for each occupant. In years past, you’ve even been able to make changes to the names and amount of occupants in a room even after paying a deposit, but there is no guarantee it will be the same this year. You’ll also need to enter your arrival and departure date.

Finally, you’ll need to checkmark all three boxes at the bottom of the screen:

  • I will provide a deposit equal to two night’s room and tax within 72 hours of receiving my hotel reservations confirmation email or my reservations will be automatically canceled.
  • I understand type of room is not guaranteed.
  • I am submitting one form for all of my rooms. (Duplicate submissions will be identified and removed prior to processing. Only the most recent submission will be processed)

form 9

From Friends of Comic-Con, here’s a practice form to see how it’s laid out and test.

All reservation requests will be processed in date/time stamp order, but “all forms received within three seconds of each other are considered to have arrived at the same time and will be processed in a random order within that three-second grouping.” Although nothing on CCI’s site states that this is still in play this year, a representative with onPeak confirmed to us that this is still the case. We believe that they’re going by the actual timestamp you submit – so if you get through the waiting room at 9:20AM, and submit your form at 9:21:03, your timestamp is 9:21:03.

Once the maximum number of requests have been received the form will shut down and callers will no longer be able to submit a request.

Within a few days, you’ll receive a confirmation e-mail with the hotel you received – no later than Friday, April 8, 2016. If you choose to accept that hotel, you’ll need to pay a full two nights’ deposit within 72 hours. If you and a roommate each received a reservation, and your names are on both forms, onPeak will alert you that one of these reservations needs to be canceled, or they will cancel one for you.

 

This year is going to be a whole new experience. How long will it take for hotels to sell out? In the past, it’s been 2-3 minutes – though now, we’ll have no idea how fast or slow they’re letting people through the queue to fill out their form. And we won’t know what was considered a “good” time until attendees start receiving their hotels, days later.

It’s also important to note that each year, after the hotel sale, some hotels do open back up as there are cancellations. Those on the waiting list are placed first – and these usually don’t include many downtown options, but there’s always some hotels in Mission Valley or by the airport, and every year, some report being waitlisted to downtown hotels.

If Comic-Con International or onPeak reveal additional information about Tuesday’s sale, we’ll update. For right now, have all of your information on hand prior to the sale, and maybe start praying to the onPeak hotel gods.

Also be sure to read all of Comic-Con International’s FAQ.

Will you be trying for a hotel? Let us know in the comments.

About Kerry Dixon

Kerry Dixon is Editor-in-Chief of The San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog and the site's resident panel guru.