28 MARCH 2015
Finally, CCI has come out with a statement on the hotel sale. They issued it to the SDCC Unofficial Blog (I'm having trouble linking to anything this weekend, if you couldn't tell) and it's pretty much a non-statement of bland unhelpfulness and misdirection, but at least they finally acknowledged what happened to their attendees.
Well, kind of. It doesn't actually say what happened or how many people it impacted. It's more like a defensive "hey, we did our part." Here, read it yourself:
"We're obviously disappointed the sale didn't run as smoothly as we would have liked. Our attendees are very important to us and we have worked to secure more room blocks and reduced rates at area hotels. We continue to strive to provide the best means of accommodations for the growing number of people looking for lodging during the show. In fact, one of our major sticking points in remaining in San Diego are hotel rates. This incident has cast a shadow on our efforts but we are working with Travel Planners to ensure this situation doesn't happen again."
Let's break that down.
They're disappointed, okay. "Horrified" would be my word but I know CCI is all about the understatement.
They've worked to secure more room blocks and reduced rates - if so, why are so many people homeless? Who's in those additional rooms?
Ah, but we have our answer - "the growing number of people looking for lodging during the show." WHO? Why would there be a growing number? The number of attendees is staying the same. Cap what vendors get and make sure your attendees are taken care of. It's not that difficult.
One of their major sticking points in remaining in San Diego are hotel rates. My first reaction to this was incredulity because we've all followed the story of the convention center expansion and the people blocking it. Then I thought he was referring to the way the hotel tax plan to finance the expansion was shot down.
Then I thought: are the hotels just sick of these reduced rates attendees get? Are they making fewer of those rooms available and more rooms available to the studios and companies who could pay higher rates than we will? That would explain a lot. Including that ominous article from a few weeks back that stated exhibitors had bought up more rooms than ever and predicted attendees were going to choke. Or maybe hotels simply offered up fewer discounted rooms for CCI in general.
It's just a theory. If it's true, it has massive implications for attendees. That could be the "growing number of people" he referred to - more businesses that want in on that sweet, sweet Comic-Con marketing or simply regular people that want to go to the nerd carnival - and it would indeed reduce the number of downtown rooms available. It could be what motivated CCI to go out and add distant hotel like Del Coronado and others that were never included before under the Travel Planners umbrella. And of course CCI would never communicate directly about such an obvious approaching tsunami of a sale because they're never transparent about anything.
Like I said, just a theory. But something happened with this sale. It wasn't just a bad form and poor loading. We still have a ton of people who did not get rooms. I originally thought there must have been a sizeable influx of outsiders, and that still could be possible. But it's just as possible that hotels offered up fewer rooms than usual and CCI can't do much about it.
And if you're wondering why CCI can't just raise the hotel rates for downtown hotels, the difference between our rates and regular rates during SDCC is hundreds of dollars. Call around right now. You'll be stunned.
And on that note... some hotels are still available, both on and off the CCI grid, and they're charging some tough rates. But it's worth calling around if you don't want to wait for 8 April. Again - last year when hotel reservations went live again, the system crashed from the demand. I don't know if that will happen again this year but I will say that most people aren't going to easily access the system and find a good hotel room without any problems - there's just too much competition.
On the other hand, we do know some people will be letting go of their rooms. Travel Planners booked a lot of groups (say 3-5 people) into rooms with 1 king bed. Some will probably bring air mattresses, but others will let their rooms go, which could help the supply and demand situation. Basically, we just don't know how this will all shake out, but smart attendees will be looking for alternatives now. It's clear we can't depend on the system as it is.