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Hotel Live Inventory Sale Recap: Somehow Worse Than Ever?

Despite what Comic-Con International claimed in last year’s Talk Back (and I should know, because I’m the one who asked), I’m convinced that the amount of hotel rooms available for attendees has been lowered in the last two years. Prior to 2023, while the downtown hotels always went fast, the Mission Valley hotels tended to linger, with plenty of inventory available all the way up until the con.

These days, it’s a different story.

The General Hotel Reservation Sale lottery that typically occurs in April (not to be confused with today, also apparently the General Hotel Reservation Sale! But we’re not going to call it that; we’ll call today the Live Inventory Sale) was previously two rounds of hotel placements, but starting in 2023, that changed to just one round. That meant that previously, if hotel rooms weren’t accepted in round one, they would then go to an attendee in round two automatically. Now, that inventory all goes into a live inventory sale to be snapped up. Was that change enough to mean that hotels are now a scarce commodity? The number of attendees hasn’t changed, so that doesn’t seem like a real concern. Are more people holding onto rooms “in case” something better opens up, before the May 8 refund deadline? Maybe, but last year even after the hotel refund deadline, inventory was still very scarce.

After the General Hotel Sale lottery, our very un-scientific poll said that roughly 46.9% of attendees received no hotel placement and were still in need of a room. That’s an awful lot of attendees.

So that meant a lot of attendees were vying for leftover inventory in today’s live inventory sale. And just how did that go?

Wait Right Here

At roughly 8:06am PT on Thursday, May 2, the hotel link (which had been changed to a login screen about a day before) changed into a QueueIt waiting room.

We’ve heard reports that some attendees who were refreshing the hotel page shortly the waiting room went into effect were able to avoid the waiting room entirely — and could view the inventory (which wasn’t live yet). That would be a recurring problem throughout the day, but more on that later. For those who lucked out (and it’s our understanding that it was truly luck, not a hack)… congratulations, because that’s not you skirting the system, that’s a glitch that worked in your favor.

For everyone else, there wasn’t much to do except wait.

A few folks did experience a 404 error, which was solved by pasting the base URL into a new tab.

One of the weirdest parts of this whole process, though, is Comic-Con International’s lack of communication on the topic. While they had indicated on their website that they would be adding the link to their website the day of the sale, this wasn’t widely communicated, and the link wound up being the same as the Early Bird sale, so it was already publicly available. If a waiting room was going to be in place anyway, why not give the link earlier?

Walk Faster, Little Man

The sale kicked off just before 9am PT, with the little green walking men sprinting or soon, or doing a very sloooooow crawl to the finish line for others. For the lucky ones with fast walking men, the big downtown hotels were all available, though they went quickly.

Others were not as lucky, with many commenting on the walking man being slower than usual. It’s very possible though that onPeak was letting people through slower than usual — after all, you can surely let more people through to fill out a form than you can to a page with live inventory.

And the truly unfortunate were plagued by several different errors, with many reporting 500 Internal Server Errors, getting booted back to the beginning of the waiting room (which also happened in the lottery), and other errors.

 

For some, for one reason or another, they seemed to be able to bypass the waiting room and get in early, to score good hotels. For those with reservations already, they were able to login early and view the inventory, bypassing the waiting room.

As the sale went on, Comic-Con International decided to email out the link to the sale. Our best guess is that they hit send at 9am PT — but because email blasts tend to take some time to go out, some were still just receiving the email a full hour later and well into the sale. Because the sale was randomized with a waiting room, it just doesn’t make sense to us why CCI decided to wait to send the link, and we really hope they rethink that strategy next year.

Luckily, 40-50 minutes into the sale, inventory was still available, particularly for Mission Valley hotels.

And finally, by 10:24 or so, all hotels were now showing as unavailable, with only a few scattered single days available.

 

So Now What?

A large number of attendees – 22% according to our other very unscientific poll — are still without a room after today’s sale.

That’s still a very large number of attendees, and for many, getting the right hotel is a make-or-break situation for attending the con at all.

But for those who can still wait, there are still options. As always, you can book outside the system.

The other option is to just keep checking. Rooms will continue to be added to inventory, all the way up to the convention because they are every year. When a hotel room is returned, it goes back on sale — and last year there were also times when lots of hotels would pop up, which possibly indicated that CCI could have added additional rooms to the room block. The best resource for checking hotels is @SDCCHotelTrackr on Twitter, who posts which hotels are available and the dates available.

You may also be able to Frankenstein together a reservation between multiple hotels.

How Do You Solve a Problem Like (Whatever This Sale Is Called)?

Look, we get it. Everyone wants to stay downtown and there are just not enough downtown hotels available. But we just don’t totally buy CCI’s response that hotel inventory hasn’t really changed.

Previously, the Early Bird Sale, which lets attendees book non-refundable non-downtown hotels, never sold out to the best of our recollection, but this year the inventory was depleted. So attendees are definitely still staying in Mission Valley, and that also should have freed up rooms elsewhere, but there aren’t many (or any) to be had at the moment.

So how did so much change in just the two years, when on the surface, the only major change was moving from two placement rounds in the General Hotel Sale to just one?

It’s a frustrating problem, especially without clear guidance. When hotels outside the system can often cost anywhere from $500 to $1200 per night, that’s a costly situation to find yourself in.

We don’t have the answer either (except that if they did lower inventory, we wish they’d up it again to meet the clear demands). But there has to be something better than this.

Right? Right?

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