On booking hotel rooms now

17 FEBRUARY 2014

Remember when February was the month you got your hotel room? Some of you might not, but I bet you're thinking about hotel rooms anyhow - especially if you scored a badge last week. I've received a few emails asking for my secrets on booking hotel rooms now, before the official stampede. Which is understandable since Hotel Day can be as agonizing as every other Con-related online sale. And my advice to all of you is: do nothing.

In years past, I did advise people to book safety rooms; places like the Horton Grand and Holiday Inn could always be counted on to have some fully refundable rooms available. These days, almost every hotel in SoCal has been booked for months, and the few rooms remaining have sky-high rates and nonrefundable deposit policies.

So here's my official advice to you: if you can't find a decent room right now at a hotel that will give you your deposit back, just relax. Yes, Hotel Day has landed many people out in Mission Valley  - but you might as well at least try for something better instead of committing yourself to a sub-par hotel now.

Also - and this is an important point - last year there were still hotel rooms available through CCI weeks after Hotel Day. Did they suck? Yes, if you were hoping to end up at the Hilton Bayfront. But they were still cheaper than the non-refundable rates you'll be asked to pay right now. 

If you want to scout around for a condo rental, or couchsurf in someone's house, then yes, I'd advise looking into that now. But if your panic is driving you to plunk down $400 a night on some dirtbag hotel at the other end of San Diego, then no, don't do it. Wait for Hotel Day. Trust me, you aren't going to end up on the street. 

And on a final note, last year CCI held an Early Bird hotel sale where people could book non-refundable rooms before Open Registration. It was useful for people who scored a badge in Pre-reg, but a risk for anyone else. If you still don't have a badge, I would advise against participating in this (assuming they bring it back .)

When it comes to Comic-Con, locking down whatever you can as fast as you can is usually a smart strategy. But at this point, for hotel rooms, it's better to wait unless you find an incredible deal.

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