My Hotel Day advice

5 APRIL 2014

Hotel Day is 9 am PST Tuesday morning. By this point, you’ve probably picked your six hotels, faked a doctor’s appointment to get out of work, and are fighting a knot of fear that is your stomach. Here’s my advice/novella on navigating the bloodbath.


How does it work?

It’s actually a simple process. You’ll hit the link and pick your six top hotels, in order of preference. (As to whether you get in, that’s a different story.) Or you’ll call the Travel Planners phone line at 1.877.552.6642 or 1.212.532.1660. That’s it. You don’t have to pay right then. You’ll get an email within 48 hours confirming your picks, then another email days later telling you the hotel you landed in, which may or may not be one of your picks. Then you’ll log into the system and pay a two-night deposit.

Is my deposit refundable?

For a while. Eventually, one night will become non-refundable, then both nights will be non-refundable. I don’t know when that will happen. Last year Hotel Day was in late February and you had until April 30 to get your deposit back, but this year everything is delayed.

Who is Travel Planners?

CCI’s partner in this madness. Be wary; suck up to them as much as you can at any given opportunity, of course, but be wary. Most Comic-Con veterans have a Travel Planners fuck-up story. I have several, including having my room downgraded last year after a nice lady said she would upgrade it.

What's faster, the link or the phone line?

No idea. Most of us will be using the link, but plenty of people will bank on that idea because who makes phone calls anymore, and call the line. Don’t ever underestimate the cynicism people feel toward CCI/Travel Planner server issues. I will say that in 2011 I got my hotel (Marriott Marquis, no less) by phone, a process in which the operator wrote my information down by hand - because her system had crashed too.

What if I hate my hotel?

You may be assigned a hotel so awful, so decrepit, so far away, that it defies credulity. Be calm if this happens. Remember you have a while to get your deposit back, so go ahead and book it and regard it as your safety room while you scout for something better. Plenty of people will be releasing their rooms over the coming months. They may be letting go of rooms they booked long ago on their own, they may dislike their Travel Planners room, they may have buyer’s remorse after landing in a very expensive Hard Rock suite.

What if I don’t want a hotel room?

Then you should start looking 2 months ago for a condo, hostel, couchsurfing arrangement, campground, boarding situation. Throw yourself on the mercy of Craigslist and the various apps out there.

What are the best hotels? 

I already covered this in part here. The closest hotels ( Marriott Marquis, Manchester Grand Hyatt, Hard Rock, Hiltons Bayfront and Gaslamp, and the Omni) are the most popular, expensive and hard to get. Gaslamp hotels like Embassy Suites, Westin Gaslamp, Residence Inn Gaslamp, Horton Grand and Marriott Gaslamp are fairly close and put you in the thick of the action. If saving money is your top priority, Mission Valley hotels are the way to go.

On crossing the street: The main intersection in front of the center is a crowded ugly snarl of humanity. As someone who frequently goes back to her room to drop off bags or charge devices, I loathe crossing the street – so if you feel the same, know that the Marriott Marquis, the Hilton Bayfront and Manchester Hyatt are all on the same side as the center. The Hilton Gaslamp is on the other side of the street, but you can cross at a less crowded intersection.

Remember to add daily parking charges (usually around $30/day) to the downtown hotel rates if you're bringing a car.
Places I've always been treated like gold: Omni, Hilton Gaslamp, Marriott Marquis.

What tricks and strategies can I use?

Again, don’t pick the 6 obvious hotels everyone else is picking. Do that and you set yourself up to get assigned on some sadistic Travel Planners worker’s whim to a Sea World hotel.  Hedge your bets with a mix of top-tier hotels and less-desirable-but-still-ok hotels.

I hate to encourage more people to pour into the system, but if you’re traveling in a group, all of you should participate in the sale to increase your chances of landing a good room/suite.

Study the list so you know where your choices are. Time is of the essence in this race.

Problems and delays

You may or may not get into the system. Keep trying if you can’t get in – but if too much time passes, be aware you’re probably going to end up on the waiting list.

Emails will arrive in staggered fashion, as they always do. Nothing is worse than seeing all the gleeful updates and tweets from people getting their confirmation emails when you haven’t gotten yours, because you naturally assume emails are processed in order of assignment. This is not true; I was one of the last people to get my email one year, I called Travel Planners and was told that meant I probably hadn’t gotten a hotel – and then I got my first choice.

Always possible: overloaded servers, complete meltdowns, hearing about people who got a better hotel than you did despite joining the system later, not getting a room at all. (But that last should only be temporary.)

No matter what, remember you'll be at Comic-Con. A bed is a bed. I know it's easy to completely lose your religion over these frustrating online sales, but in this case you will end up somewhere and you will be walking through the doors of the convention center in July. That's all that matters.
Talk to you Tuesday.


  1. Hi! First time Hotel day participant here. In your "How does it work?" section you stated that you will get an email stating I may get a hotel that I may or may not have picked. In regards to that , Is it possible I can get into a hotel that wasn't even on my 6 choices??

    1. Yes. It's entirely possible you'll be assigned to, say, the Sheraton when the Sheraton wasn't one of your picks.

  2. Thanks for the heads up. I've never been to preview night. Can you start an advice section in regards to preview night? What time should I be there for preview night? What to expect? Where to go for Hasbro exclusive vouchers for preview night? Thanks.

    1. I'll give out more specific advice on Preview Night and other days as we get closer. In general, I'd suggest arriving around 2 for Preview Night, even though they'll tell you 3. However, there will be a line for the Exhibit Hall by that time, so you may want to arrive even earlier. It used to be that some people lined up inside for the Exhibit Hall and others for the TV pilots in Ballroom 20, and everyone else just flooded in through the doors at 6. However, last year that changed - some of us were herded into different lines and made to walk through and around the convention center before they let us in. It was seriously annoying to those of us who wanted exclusives.

      As for Hasbro, I'm not in a position to say how they'll handle that so just pay attention to the announcements as we get closer. Right now you won't hear much; starting in June, there'll be an avalanche of information about exclusives, panels, etc.

  3. Wound up being a horrible experience, per usual. I submitted in under 2 minutes and never got a confirmation email. After sending a support ticket to Travel Planners, on the Friday of housing week, I got a reply on Monday apologizing for what appears to have been a network hiccup that "lost" my submission. I had to wait until Round II, which was even worse. The TP website was serving up 500 Internal errors to people left and right. I'd get to a hotel. click to Book, then it would error. I'd get to another hotel, book, enter my card info, 500 error. Later, rise, repeat. I finally got a hotel after 1 hour, and it was one of probably three remaining choices. I will NEVER again skip over Early Bird hotels. The Marriott (adjacent) is not even worth trying.

    1. I used to stay at the Marriott every year. This is the 2nd year in a row I haven't landed it.

      I expect everyone is going to stampede though Early Bird the day it goes live next year. Which means that Pre-reg people will have the advantage, if the sale happens before Open Reg.