San Diego Comic-Con 2023 Waitlist Recap: It Could Have Been Worse!

Today, the Waitlist for San Diego Comic-Con 2023 opened (and yes, we know OnPeak keeps calling it the General Housing Sale, but they are wrong). This is the sale for returned hotels from the actual General Sale (also known as Hotelpocalypse), which involved filling out a form on Wednesday, April 12, and receiving hotel placements on Monday, April 17. Unlike the General Hotel Sale, this is live inventory up for grabs, with deposit paid on the spot. Basically: It works a lot just like any other travel or hotel website on the internet.

Traditionally, there have been two rounds of hotel placement in the General Sale, but new this year, there was only one. That meant that a significantly larger portion of attendees were without a hotel, as traditionally, any hotels that were canceled in Round 1 (ie, if two roommates each scored a hotel but only needed one overall room, they simply wouldn’t pay the deposit on the second hotel), were then assigned to attendees in Round 2.

Because that didn’t happen, instead, a much larger percentage of folks were without a hotel heading into the Waitlist. Here is our very informal poll for 2022 vs 2023 — with in 2022, 25.7% of people reporting that they were still waiting for hotel placement. In 2023, that number jumped up to 51.3%, with roughly the same number of people participating in both.

All of which takes us to today, Tuesday, April 25, and the Waitlist.

Comic-Con International and OnPeak had announced that at an unspecified time, a link would go live to the waitlist, and that this link would both be available on CCI’s Hotels page, as well as emailed out to everyone who requested to be contacted about the sale while filling out the General Hotel sale form.

At roughly 9am PT, emails for the Waitlist started going out. Users were first greeted with the little running man we’ve all come to know very well — aka Queue-It’s waiting room.

After the running man did his thing, they were then taken to a list of live inventory. This list could be sorted by Alphabetical Order, Distance, Price (low to high), or Price (high to low). Some additional filters were also available, including Check-In and Check-Out dates, however, bed type (1 Bed, 2 Beds, etc.) were not available to be filtered.

From here, you could select the hotel you wanted, which would show you a recap of your check-in/check-out dates (or if you hadn’t previously selected them, you could do so here).

You would also select the type of room you wanted:

If dates were not available for the hotel you selected, it would appear like this — with missing dates. Only those in blue are available to book — so in this case you could do single nights on either Tuesday, July 18 or Saturday, July 22 — but could not book Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Sunday, or any other date. And, many hotels also have a minimum of nights per stay, so you may not be able to book a single night on its own:

If you liked what you’d grabbed, you could then checkout, with a recap of your selection, and the price you would need to pay immediately (the “Outstanding Amount”, which is the Deposit plus the Service & Technology Fee). Shortly after, you would receive an email confirmation that your deposit had been charged.

On the next screen when entering your name and email, it sometimes gave a pop showing your name and an already-existing OnPeak ID. While not intuitive, it was important to basically click that this wasn’t you. If you clicked yes, that OnPeak ID is essentially your reservation number — so since that number was tied to a reservation, it would clear out your cart and send you back to view your existing reservation. If you clicked that it wasn’t you, you could proceed as normal.

All of that is the “best case scenario” though. So how did the sale actually go?

Ah, Let’s Make Hotelpocalypse Twice as Stressful!

Some users reported getting the email with the link almost immediately, and were able to start booking great downtown hotels.

Others were less fortunate on the email front — with many receiving it much later, when the downtown hotels were long gone.

Even for those who did make it in in a timely manner, seeing a downtown hotel was no guarantee that it would be available by the time you finished checking out. Inventory is not held in cart for this sale, so it can sell out on you while you’re in the process of trying to check out.

Several users also reported having to log in to OnPeak, and when they did so, it would reset their cart.

Others couldn’t even get past the waiting room:

By 9:09am PT, all but six hotels had sold out entirely — but of the six that remained, none had all four of the main nights (Wednesday – Sunday) of the con available to book. At time of press, only one hotel is still available.

So that’s not amazing, and it’s certainly the closest we’ve ever seen the Waitlist to selling out (and it may still! At least temporarily, but more on that in a minute).

In the end though, most users reported being able to snag at least something.

So, what’s the verdict?

It’s interesting, because at least in our eyes, this sale has always been something of an afterthought. It’s normally a relatively small percentage of attendees who truly still need a hotel by the time the Waitlist happens, and it’s always a mad frenzy for hotels like the handful of Omni’s and Bayfront’s that pop up, sure, but the Mission Valley hotels tend to linger for weeks if not months.

Because so many more people needed a hotel this time, it definitely felt like it ratcheted up everyone’s panic. We still think that when the dust settles here in a week or three, that there will be plenty of hotels on the waitlist. After all, lots of folks who did score a hotel today had a back-up hotel they plan on canceling, that will then be returned to the Waitlist:

The full refund deadline is May 1 (minus the Service & Technology Fee, which is 3% of your deposit), so expect to see more hotels popping up around then. And hotels will continually be added all the way up to the con, yes, even some great downtown hotels.

Comic-Con attendees are not known for our patience though, so it felt like everyone was scrambling to just grab anything they could at a certain point today. We’ve also never seen this much interest in the Waitlist before (hence why this is our first Visual Guide on it! You will be seeing these screenshots again next year!), but again, it’s simply because with only one round of placements, more folks suddenly were using the Waitlist who hadn’t before.

Overall, it felt like it made an already stressful situation even more stressful.

Whether or not the General Sale was fair before is perhaps another matter — after all, if someone in Round 1 returns an Omni hotel and someone in Round 2 gets assigned it, but they had a worse time stamp than someone else in Round 1 who didn’t get the Omni, is that really fair? That’s for you to decide, but is it any more unfair than being locked out of the Waitlist and grabbing a hotel simply because your email provider delivered the email to you 20 minutes late?

If this is the new normal, what we really wish is that OnPeak wouldn’t email out the link at all — or if they do, then email it out to everyone ahead of time, with a set time that it will go live. Their argument is likely that we’d crash their servers (and look, we thought that might happen today and are pleasantly surprised it didn’t!), but it certainly feels more “fair” if that’s the end goal here.

Or maybe it’s not about fairness at all, and it’s possibly just about budget cuts, and one round of hotel placements costs less than two.

Unfortunately, a good chunk of attendees still do seem to be waiting for hotels:

But just give it some time, and things will look better. Deep breaths.


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