Oh, Hotelpocalypse. Thank the Comic-Con Gods you only happen once a year.
Thanks in large part to Comic-Con International’s decision to actually inform attendees this year about more of the process behind the hotel sale (thanks, CCI!) — the actual day of the 2017 General Hotel Sale went pretty smoothly. Sure, there’s the take-ten-years-off-your-life stress of worrying about what hotel you’re going to wind up at, but in general, actually knowing how the sale operates causes a lot less panic.
Attendees entered the waiting room at 8AM PT, where they waited until 9AM. There was a very brief period while we were all randomly sorted — and then the race was on! Most reported the process being quick, efficient, and easy to understand, and most enjoyed QueueIt’s little walking man.
— Fronkensteen (@Fronkensteen) April 26, 2017
— stephanie (@thisisstephwoj) April 26, 2017
#Hotelpocalypse went really smooth this year! At least 2 of us got in immediately so I'm really hopeful we get good hotel assignments.
— Paola (@castrophony) April 26, 2017
— 🏳️🌈Angel🌹 (@angel_ponders) April 26, 2017
Of course, it’s not a San Diego Comic-Con General Hotel Sale without some kind of error, glitch, or general malfunction. A few minutes into the sale, we began seeing reports of some strange things happening — including users being kicked out of the form and sent back to the waiting room, or after hitting “Submit”, being taken back to a blank form rather than the normal confirmation screen.
@SD_Comic_Con I submitted my form, then was kicked back to the lobby and had to do it again. This happened for another in out group as well
— Kylo Vance (@nickadvanced) April 26, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con Got in 9:02, filled in form, hit submit, it then reset and said 'time entered 9:13' I then had to do form again. Normal?
— Dean Horton (@WolfDude10) April 26, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con submitted but then backto start entrr info again?
— oldschoolinyou (@oldschoolinyou) April 26, 2017
— Lost in oblivion (@CelticOutlaw78) April 26, 2017
We reached out to onPeak, and Director of Product Development Kristina Simkins suggested that the issue in some cases may have been that “each user’s session was valid for ten minutes. If a user did not submit the form within that time, their session expired and they returned to the queue.”
While this would have been good information to know ahead of time (maybe next year’s hotel guide, CCI!) and likely accounted for some issues, it didn’t fully explain all of the issues people were having. Many reported still having problems, despite it being under that ten minute time.
@SD_Comic_Con Yes. I'd be surprised if I even hit FIVE minutes. And it actually kicked me out before I even hit submit- I was typing in a name.
— Shannon Fox (@shannonfox) April 26, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con No one time it took three minutes
— Lost in oblivion (@CelticOutlaw78) April 26, 2017
But all in all, compared to the last two years, this was a relatively minor setback. Attendees were left to sit around and wait, and then wait some more. New this year, onPeak is sending out confirmation and rejection e-mails in batches, with the first confirmations happening on May 1, another round happening on May 8, and those who couldn’t be placed at all receiving word “no later” than May 15.
As for what would cause one person to find out their hotel on May 1 rather than May 8? Well, that’s something only onPeak and CCI know – though there are a few trends we can see after May 1 e-mail confirmations started to go out today.
For the most part, those with the earliest timestamps began to hear first.
@SD_Comic_Con Got Omni, which was my first choice. Form loaded instantly for me.
— Naumaan Ansari (@naumaan_ansari) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con I got in at 9:01 am. Omni was my first choice.
— Tim Hall (@tdhall03) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con 9:00:21 for #1 choice (Westin Gaslamp)
— Stephen Gibson (@perlsteve) May 1, 2017
— Damian (@notatallshaw) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con 9:00. Got my first choice. Hardrock hotel.
— Sailor Davey (@SailorXdavey) May 1, 2017
The trend continued, with some later time stamps also getting hotels.
— Comic Con Tips (@ComicConTips) May 1, 2017
— Kendall Whitehouse (@kwhitehouse) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con – Got the Marriott Gaslamp. Got in @ 9:03 for the form.
— Shelly Bates Achong (@arial70) May 1, 2017
However, several attendees reported being confused at seeing those with a later timestamp than when they entered the form receiving hotel confirmations, while they got no e-mail today.
@SD_Comic_Con Still nothing, I was in by 9:01. My boyfriend who got in at 9:07 got a hotel.
Apparently we will have to settle for our last choice. :/
— Luthien (@Paulobac) May 1, 2017
— 🌟Proud🗽American⭐ (@mymidnight11) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con Honestly scratching my head got in at 9:01:47 and no email (not in spam either). Wonder how they are splitting this out??
— David (@DavidTSteele) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con Thanks! Some of my friends who got in in the first minute are without emails so we're confused about securing a room now or waiting
— Chris SDCC (@ChrisSDCC) May 1, 2017
@SD_Comic_Con someone who got through 2 minutes after my sis got the hotel sis wanted, while sis got some random hotel. Is this typical?
— Random Penguin (@RandomPenguin) May 1, 2017
Were people just confused on their timestamps? Is the difference in timestamps and hotel placement what you chose, room type, and days? There does seem to be some pattern, even if there are plenty of exceptions to it.
It’s impossible to say how this all really will shake out until May 8 (or possibly May 15). As always with these sales, it’s a lot of, “Did they just throw darts at a dartboard or…?”. But so far at least, let’s recap:
- Communication and a technical guide from CCI was greatly improved
- Fewer overall glitches
- Still some glitches/errors
- Still some communication issues – would have been helpful to know about the ten minute timeout ahead of time
- Reason for placement in May 1 group vs May 8 group not clear
The longer we do Hotelpocalypse, ultimately, the less sense it makes sense to continue doing things this way. If we’re all just being randomized anyway, why do we need to jump through hoops and waiting rooms at this point? We wish onPeak and CCI would consider opening the form up for something like 12 or 24 hours, stating up front that the time you fill out your information doesn’t matter, and then they randomize all the entries on their end after the window closes.
Sure, it might feel like losing some “control” because you’ll have absolutely no idea where in the randomization you wound up, but really, you have no control now. The best that you can do is compare to others and stress about why your experience was different. There’s little need to put attendees through this year after year at this point. Unlike badge sales, where there’s live inventory on the other end of the waiting room, it’s just added stress for no reason.
And Hotelpocalypse is stressful enough.