Hotelpocalypse 2017 Recap: Hurry Up and Wait

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.

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.

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.

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.

The trend continued, with some later time stamps also getting hotels.

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.

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:

The Good

  • Communication and a technical guide from CCI was greatly improved
  • Fewer overall glitches

The Bad

  • 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.

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