by Transmute Jun
After badges, the greatest stress most attendees face as they prepare for San Diego Comic-Con (SDCC) is the hotel lottery. While there are always enough hotel rooms for everyone, the vast majority of attendees strongly prefer a room downtown, within walking distance of the convention center. Such rooms are in high demand, not just by attendees, but also by exhibitors and studios/presenters, enough that out-of-block hotel rates are sky high (and can surpass $1,000 per night). All of this leads to incredible demand for a limited number of downtown hotel rooms in the SDCC block.
For the past few years, SDCC has contracted with onPeak to run a lottery for in-block hotel rooms, an event commonly known as Hotelpocalypse. Unfortunately, while onPeak provides instructions on how to enter the lottery, the process of how submissions are received and how rooms are allocated remains shrouded in mystery.
In 2022, the hotel lottery was held on Thursday, April 28, with lottery results released in 2 waves, on May 3 (Wave 1) and May 10 (Wave 2). All participants were (supposed to be) notified of something by May 17, when everyone who did not receive a room allocation in one of the first 2 waves was put onto the waitlist. Over the weeks that these results were released, FoCC asked its members to fill out a survey regarding their lottery submissions and results. None of the numbers used in the analysis below are official ones from Comic-Con International (CCI) or onPeak, and we were not provided with data, special access, or any information from either organization. Our data consists of information from a survey of our members. This data was provided voluntarily and, since it does not represent a random sample taken from all participants, it is possible that our summaries may differ from the general experience.
Lottery Submission Process
Attendees accessed a waiting room between 8:00 am and 9:00 am Pacific time. At 9:00 am, attendees were placed into a randomized queue, and sent to a hotel request form once it was their turn. According to onPeak, it is this access time that is used to determine the order of fulfillment for hotel requests. Therefore, the earlier an attendee reached the request form, the more likely it should be that they received one of their requested hotels. Attendees were able to request between 1 and 12 hotels.
Hotel Request Form Access Times (Pacific time)
Overall, nearly 35% of respondents were given access to the request form in less than one minute (most of those being between the 30-second and 1-minute marks). Another 17.1% were given access in the second minute, and another 16.3% during the third minute. Only 16.2% of respondents had access times later than 9:05 am.
Room Types/Numbers Requested
79% of respondents requested only 1 room, while 21% requested 2 or more rooms. 62% of respondents requested a room with 2 beds, and 38% requested a room with one bed.
Respondents Assigned (one of) Requested Hotel(s)
Of the respondents who were assigned hotel rooms, 58.1% were assigned to a hotel they requested, while 41.9% were assigned to other (non-requested) hotels.
90.7% of respondents were assigned a hotel room through the lottery process (results shown below). 9.3% of respondents did not receive a hotel allocation (including those put on the waitlist).
Of all respondents, 58.1% were allocated one of their requested hotel choices, with the vast majority of these being downtown hotels. For those who were not assigned one of their requested hotels, 73.5% (19.4% of total respondents) were assigned to a different downtown hotel, 31.5% (13.2% of total respondents) were assigned to an out-of-downtown hotel, and the remainder did not receive a hotel allocation.
Note: for the purposes of this survey, ‘downtown’ was defined as a hotel within walking distance of the convention center for an able-bodied person.
Access Times vs. Hotel Allocations
Of course, what we really want to know is, how long does it take for all downtown rooms to be allocated? Those data are tabulated here, with percentages calculated across each form access time.
Note: the results colored red are outliers, with respondents who stated that they accessed the form in the first 30 seconds and were not allocated a downtown room. While this is possible, it is highly unlikely, and these data may be the result of input error.
Unfortunately, FoCC was unable to collect enough data to determine overall results, as some form access time groups had few responses, creating bigger swings with individual responses. Even so, we can see that every time group had respondents who were allocated downtown hotels, many of these being requested downtown hotels. While there were respondents who were allocated undesired non-downtown rooms, or not allocated a room at all, in every category (except after 9:09 am) more than half of respondents were assigned to downtown hotels.
The other important result from this table is that the vast majority of respondents who accessed the form before 9:02 am were allocated a downtown hotel. After 9:02 am, more significant numbers of respondents were allocated non-downtown rooms.
Hotel results are sent out in 2 waves. While this is nerve-wracking for attendees (particularly those who do not receive a hotel allocation in Wave 1), it allows onPeak to re-allocate hotel rooms that are rejected by Wave 1 recipients to attendees in Wave 2. So does being in Wave 2 mean that you won’t get a downtown hotel?
45.7% of respondents received an email notification of a room allocation in Wave 1 (May 3), while 42.6% received a hotel allocation in Wave 2 (May 10). 11.6% of respondents did not receive a hotel allocation (including those put on the waitlist). Those responses are compiled here, with percentages calculated across each form access time.
Note: the results colored red are outliers, with respondents who stated that they accessed the form in the first 30 seconds and were not notified in Wave 1 nor allocated a downtown room. While this is possible, it is highly unlikely, and these data may be the result of input error.
As expected, the earlier a respondent’s form access time, the more likely they were to receive a response in Wave 1. However, the majority of people in Wave 2 still received downtown rooms (even if they weren’t their first choice of rooms). So for next year, even if you don’t receive a hotel allocation in Wave 1, there is still hope for downtown!
While the results of this poll are not scientific, some general trends can be seen:
- Unsurprisingly, the earlier a respondent accessed the form, the more likely they were to get a downtown hotel room, at one of their requested hotels.
- Even respondents who accessed the form at later times had a high chance of being allocated a downtown hotel room.
- Respondents who did not receive a hotel allocation until Wave 2 still had a high likelihood of being assigned a downtown hotel room.
- The tipping point seems to have been 9:02 am, with the vast majority of respondents before this time being allocated a downtown hotel.
So what lessons have we learned for next year? Nothing is likely to change the nervousness and butterflies we all have on Hotelpocalpyse as we wait to access the request form. However, we can all hopefully lower our stress levels a little bit, knowing that even if we have a later access time, the chances of scoring a downtown hotel room are still good. Ultimately, we’re going to San Diego Comic-Con, and that’s the most important thing of all.
What did you think of the hotel lottery process? Join the conversation on the FoCC forums!