Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

March 19, 2010

Got A Good CCI Hotel Room = Happy; Didn’t Get One = Unhappy Shocker


I don't want to spend a ton of time talking about the act of securing convention-discounted hotel rooms for Comic-Con International. I think it's a story -- I think it's one of the few times of direct interaction between the forces of growth of that convention and others like it and the impulse to go to that convention and others like it that's not the five-day event itself. At the same time, I'm wary about stories that involve the commercial activity of bunches of people, because I think that participation lends to a greater amount of time talking through things in a way that skews the story. I thought this true of the story, too.

Anyway, like most things in comics -- perhaps exemplified by the first NYCC when people with the ability to circumvent the system seemed to groove on the excitement and exclusivity conveyed through a collapsed registration system that was openly screwing people -- the tendency is to high-five when something works on your behalf and to wish apocalyptic damnation on anything that doesn't. I would suggest there are hits and misses. It's my understanding exhibitors were taken care of a while ago, at least in part -- that seems like a good idea to me. As far as remaining exhibitors and attendees, I can't imagine from a process standpoint anyone not preferring yesterday's in-and-out, fraternity bid system to the rage-inducing and lose-a-working-day access issues of years past. I'm also reminded that people were completely shut out under the old system -- I was last year -- so it's not like a similar result is new to 2010.

That said, I'm totally sympathetic to those that felt they were in and out of the new system really quickly and that they were not treated as they expected to be treated given that facility. You can read a metric ton of them here. I've also read and heard distressing stories about not receiving back any word at all (although here's a thought: could that maybe be browser incompatibility? that's been an issue in the past for TP). I would hate reserving rooms into a void with the white-hot fury of 10,000 suns aka "Frank Martin style." A lot of anecdotal evidence suggests weakness if not outright collapse or corruption in the timestamp system, and that should certainly be addressed along with the non-response type failure. Both should be part of the dialogue that press people and attendees have with the CCI team that employs Travel Planners, and the ability to process what's promised fairly should be a consideration in the long-term future of the show.

On the other hand, I think the idea of fairness only extends so far. It seems to me a lot of what people experience is too many folks wanting too few rooms -- especially those highly-desirable rooms either super close to the show itself or those six to eight blocks away that don't cost an arm and a leg (perhaps an arm and half a leg). Those rooms are indeed awesome. I love those rooms! The lack of such rooms and room generally sucks on the cosmic scale of things, and is another item of discussion about the long-term future of CCI's viability in San Diego. Still, it's hard to see this strictly as an issue of fairness as long as people see their experiences 1) in narrow terms, 2) something they're entitled to. Some people are shut out of rooms they thought they had a chance of getting, and some people just didn't get a cool hotel room; we can't treat those two complaints as the same thing.

I've stayed in Mission Valley; I've stayed 25 minutes by car past Mission Valley. I had a blast those years, too. The way people describe having a hotel out there, it's like they envision coming to the convention center in an all-terrain vehicle shared by Jan-Michael Vincent and George Peppard, dodging giant scorpions along the way. The year I stayed 35 minutes up the highway I made a choice to be there for my job, and doing my job didn't require me to have an awesome room 200 feet from the convention center. (I don't take anyone seriously that claims it does, and I know dozens of out-of-work journalists that would cover the show really, really well from the Holiday Inn in San Juan Capistrano.) Would it make things easier? Sure. But so would the con buying me a better class of notebook and comping my room.

As a longtime con-goer and someone who can get an awful lot of business done there, I wish CCI were as easy to attend as HeroesCon. But you know, I wish New York Comic-Con were a lot cheaper to attend, too, especially as someone getting too old to gracefully crash on a couch somewhere. Ditto Angouleme. Ditto Fumetto. (Okay, maybe especially Fumetto.) People in comics sometimes have a really hard time imagining an industry that exists without them, but such an industry is a truer reality now than it ever was before. Maybe you don't get to own all the comics you want, maybe you don't get to write Uncanny X-Men, and maybe you don't always get to stay at the Hilton and take a 45 second walk to Comic-Con. In the end, even the biggest funnybook show in North America is a funnybook show: you decide if it's worth it to go, and you make adjustments accordingly. The rest really is a lottery.
posted 10:30 am PST | Permalink

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