This is an opinion-based post inspired by a conversation I both took part in and observed on Facebook after a bit of a messy hotel reservation situation happened relating to a convention called Zenkaikon. In short, a few people were kicked out during the reservation process and rooms sold out within minutes. People who did not get rooms were understandably frustrated. This convention is mid-sized and I found this to be a little bit odd. Although I was able to get a room, I was lucky. But the conversation coming out of this debacle made me want to write a post about it
I have had to reserve hotel rooms for conventions sometimes as far as a year in advance to ensure my spot–and this was for the hotel closest to the convention center. I don’t have an issue with booking in advance but in more recent years, getting hotels has been a bit of a race/competition, sometimes to a point where it is a little on the stressful side. I remember last year, being anxious in the middle of a lecture when I was let out twenty minutes after a hotel room block for AnimeNext 2018 started. This particular convention isn’t huge but it is growing. I was pretty bummed out to see that rooms were sold out and refreshed the page a few times. I was fortunate to grab a room after someone cancelled ( a single room but a room at least it was something), but sometimes, people aren’t so lucky.
Now, back to Zenkaikon. Many conventions, including Zenkaikon, nowadays open up room blocks on a set day and time for the sake of organization and fairness. But this isn’t always the case. I don’t think the process is consistently fair, whether it be in part due to servers being overloaded with the amount of people on the site, glitches booting people out during the reservation process, or even more so because of limited space for x amount of attendees–at least the latter occurred as people tried to make Zenkaikon 2019. Hotels that’re close and convenient to the convention center are of course, going to be the highest in demand.
This is where the conversation starts: should priority go to certain people? Knowing that rooms are already set aside for staff that run the con, should there be two room blocks: one that is considered priority and another for other attendees? The priority block would open one day for people with disabilities, as well as those who are press, dealers room, and the other attendee block would open up the next day.
So should priority booking be established at conventions? I wanted to start a conversation about this and look forward to hearing your thoughts!