Today I did something I haven't done in several years: I booked a fully refundable downtown safety
room for San Diego Comic-Con 2016. It was a bit of a rush, to be honest - something I thought was lost forever. Years ago I would book the Horton Grand or some other not-first-choice hotel as a backup and then let go of it when I scored on Hotel Day. (And I always scored, until this year.) Then everything started getting non-refundable and I just released the whole concept of backups.
Thanks to "Ace," the best attendee in the world and my very own Winston Wolf - he also got me my room at the Hard Rock and my Conan tickets - that just changed. I have a backup, a good one. Since you're probably curious, it's Hotel Z at 6th and Island - a new hotel, close to the convention center. They're now reserving rooms for next July. With only 96 rooms and reasonable rates, it's selling out fast. (Be aware that I'm working other hotel room angles so I'll probably let go of this room at some point; check back with me in the spring if you fail to get a room on Hotel Day.)
If you're still licking your wounds from last Hotel Day, you might be considering your own safety room action. A few things to consider:
- Start now and be tenacious. I visited my top 2 hotels in person at the Con to see if I could charm or cajole anyone into an advanced booking. Was I successful? Not at all. But a nice man did give me a date to start checking and a specific person to contact, rather than just letting me go through general reservations. Lesson here: even though it's still too early for most hotels to book SDCC 2016 rooms, you should find out all you can. Sometimes you'll get the right person on the phone, play to someone's sympathetic side or discover a side door. On that note...
- Do call on the phone instead of going through the site reservation app. Possibly you hate making phone calls; I do too but a human will sometimes do for you what an algorithm can't. Get names, make any personal connection you can, and see if you can find out who to call back a few months from now. Run through all your special discounts and memberships and see if the hotel makes an exception for any of them.
- Don't just contact hotels on the Travel Planners grid. There are quite a few other hotels in the area, even downtown. Commenter Ferd swears by the Comfort Inn Gaslamp, an easy walk to the convention center; do your research and you'll come up with a list of options.
- There was a whole bizarre mix up last year involving lost Omni reservations through Hotwire. It all worked out fine in the end, but it does bear a lesson: if something seems to be too easy or perfect, it probably is. Do your due diligence on any opportunity you find. And check back on any reservations you make.
- Before you panic and invest 2-3K in a non-refundable, distant room, remember Early Bird. I realize these rooms are a shuttle's ride away but they are a sure thing (again, I recommend the Sheraton just 3 miles from the Con) and reasonably priced. And you don't have to make a decision until 2016, after you'll actually know whether or not you have a badge.
- If you've never been to SDCC but are gunning for next summer with fire in your eyes, you're probably determined to get your room now and worry about a badge later. To which I would say... slow down, maybe. Odds are not in your favor of getting a badge. It would be a shame for you to spend thousands on a hotel room and airfare and then realize you can't even get into the convention center. Yes, there's a lot to do around the Con but it's crowded and insane and just one ginormous outdoor madhouse, if you want to know the truth. Slow your roll and go through the normal channels of the badge and hotel sales.
Good luck. And remember, it's never too early to start thinking about your next Comic-Con.