Analyzing the first wave of SDCC hotel rooms

16 APRIL 2019

Just last week this time, we were finding out about the San Diego Comic-Con hotel lottery; now the first crop of hotel assignments are already out. Hotel season has moved fast for some of us - but will be achingly slow for many others.


I had a busy day and couldn't conduct any kind of scientific survey - but my text messages, emails and perusals of Twitter indicated that a small group of downtown hotels dominated the day. The big cats were heavily featured (Marriott Marquis, Hilton Bayfront, Manchester Grand Hyatt, Omni, Hard Rock) as well as Embassy Suites, Hilton Gaslamp, the Sofia, Solamar, Residence Inn Gaslamp and Marriott Gaslamp. Obviously other hotels were assigned, but those seemed to be the most common. The Moxy, the Pendry, the Horton and other downtown hotels were mentioned barely or not at all.

Does that mean more downtown hotels will be assigned next Tuesday? Yes, definitely - we just don't know how many.

Assignment Criteria

To me, it seems that this mostly followed the path we were told: time of entry to the form. Yes, there are exceptions. There are also plenty of exaggerated or mistaken stories online about someone's friend who got in at 9:07 and got the Hilton Bayfront while they got nothing with a timestamp of 9:01. I'd take these reports with a grain of salt. Glitches and mistakes occur, onPeak is hardly flawless, but attendees also get... emotional about these things. At any case, getting out the pitchforks and torches for onPeak doesn't do anything.

And to be fair, neither does a phone call or email sometimes. It's already happening: the "onPeak told me it was all random / just single rooms this week / based on submission time" tales. Maybe customer service people are saying crazy stuff (it's happened to me) and maybe there was a miscommunication and maybe an office sadist is deliberately messing with attendees - but does it matter? You get what you get and there isn't going to be a do-over.

I know a few people who got in as fast as me and didn't get an email. I got my #1 choice.  This situation has been reversed in other years. I know you're curious about the algorithm but I'm not sure there's an answer here that will make anyone feel comforted.

Also, please don't clutch your choices too tightly. People were still agonizing this morning over whether they should have picked Hilton Gaslamp over Hilton Bayfront. If you checked the option for any downtown hotel, you're good. Don't beat yourself up for not doing things differently.

Moving Forward

  • If you got a hotel today, you need to pay your deposit by Friday. I paid mine immediately and I recommend you do the same just in case there's any kind of trouble. 

  • If you got a hotel and are feeling meh about it - go ahead and try to swap if you must, but do it now. Otherwise lock it down. It's a downtown hotel. Be grateful. You have until May to get your deposit back so you can still keep looking. It's always surprising (but also amusing) how many people are unenthusiastic about a hotel others would kill for, like the Hyatt or the Omni. We all want what we want - and my first choice, the Marriott (for proximity and other reasons) is someone else's 5th choice - they want the Hard Rock (for the celebrities and action) where I couldn't stand staying there.

  • If someone has graciously offered you a room, make it as easy as possible for them to do so, wrap up business promptly, and safeguard any information shared. 

  • If you do take someone else's room, you may still get an assignment next week. That's happened to me the last 2 years - got nothing in Wave 1, someone gave me a Hyatt room, then Wave 2 brought me another room. I can't say for sure that will happen this year, though.

  • If you got nothing and are feeling bleak about next week, just wait and see. More and more people will release rooms they don't need. The waitlist will have good rooms. That said, it doesn't hurt to ask around now for roommates and trades.

Next Tuesday will bring the next wave of revelations. Try not to despair. Be practical and work your network and see what turns up. I know we all like definite answers but you'll just have to ride this out. Stay proactive and positive and you'll probably get a room you can live with.

I still remember the moment several years ago when I was sitting in my Sheraton room at ECCC and read the email that said I didn't get a hotel for San Diego Comic-Con. At all. I felt the same numb disbelief then that I felt today when I read my onPeak email and saw I got the Marriott Marquis. Comic-Con is truly a surreal experience.

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