If you were at WonderCon this past weekend, you might have heard some interesting and somewhat disturbing news about SDCC hotels.
I wasn't there - but veteran attendee and Con expert Transmute Jun was and she attended the Talkback panel that dropped the bombshell that WonderCon would be moving to LA. (Yes, WonderCon, the most peripatetic Con ever, is moving once again, though only temporarily.)
But the really interesting information came from David Glanzer, who mentioned the hotels as the biggest problem with staying in San Diego. That's right, not the size of the convention center (although I think many would-be attendees would say it's a significant issue.) Glanzer specifically said that if SDCC leaves San Diego, "you can thank the hotels." Yikes.
During the hotel aftermath, I speculated that some of the hotels might be offering fewer rooms at discounted attendee rates. Unfortunately, that seems to be happening. Apparently some hotels are still being quite generous with event space and room blocks, but others are "starting to push back." CCI's fear is that one or more hotels will opt out altogether and charge sky-high market rates - and of course they'll still get booked up, whereupon the neighboring hotels will think, "Why are we stuck with these low Travel Planners rates?" and then they'll opt out and the next hotel opts out and suddenly we're living a nightmare.
This is highly useful information. Whenever the oft-trod subject of SDCC moving to Anaheim, LA or Vegas comes up, the hotel room issue is one of the theoretical stumbling blocks cited. (Yes, it could be an issue even in Vegas - they might not have a clear incentive to discount rooms, given that attendees spend most money internally at the Con and probably wouldn't hit up casinos in significant numbers.) But if San Diego hotel rooms start ranking around 800 a night or more, the whole conversation gets reframed.
There's been a lot of talk today about WonderCon going to LA. The enterprising minds at Friends of Comic Con have a theory that WonderCon's move could be a way of testing the LA waters. I like that theory and it's more than plausible. Remember - CCI did trademark "Los Angeles Comic-Con" a few years back.
At any rate, we have a bit of insight into our hotel struggles. I'm so pleased CCI and David Glanzer in particular communicated openly about the challenges they're facing; let's hope they continue the dialogue. Glanzer has also cast a new light on attendee feelings about a potential move. The sentimental attachment to San Diego is fierce, and the exhortions to pick up and move often comes from people who've been shut out of a badge sale.
This year, however, we had badged attendees experiencing firsthand the mounting drawbacks of San Diego's hotel limitations. A future full of the same (or much worse) could be the final straw that convinces even die-hard San Diego lovers that it's time to pack up and go.