Remember that earlier post about how badges work? Hotels are kind of similar. There’s the hotel sale (commonly referred to as “hotelpocalypse”) as well as the the early bird sale. The early bird sale requires you to pay for the full balance of your hotel up front, but guarantees you get the hotel you want. However, there are very limited hotels included in the early bird sale, and they’re usually only in Hotel Circle, meaning you’re going to be taking the bus (or MTS train if you want) to the convention every day.
Like the badge sale, general hotel sales also work on the lobby system (for the most part). Instead of selecting the number of days(this comes later), you tell them your top hotel picks. This one also requires a degree of luck, because the earlier you get in, the better your odds are of getting your preferred hotels. Just like the badge sales, you’ll have the opportunity to have multiple people in your party working to get your hotel, but if you’re sharing a room, only one of you needs to get an offer.
When you’re getting ready for the hotel bids, and I cannot stress this enough: please do your homework. The hotel bids will require some research. There are a few different areas you can select your preferred hotel to be in. First you need to figure out your budget. SDCC will give you pricing for the hotel ahead of time so you can figure this out. Once you’ve got a budget set out, go through and find hotels that are within your price range. Look at the benefits, the drawbacks, the locations, the sizes, and transportation options. Driving into downtown isn’t usually an option (there’s a lottery for parking spots, too! Surprise!) so you’ll need to look into all available options. If you’re staying in the Gaslamp Quarter, you can walk to the convention, take a pedicab (I personally do not recommend this), MTS train, or even a Lyft. Staying further out (or on Coronado) may require some other options. Luckily, San Diego has a great mass transit system with light rail and buses. SDCC will also have buses that run from hotels (like those in Hotel Circle) to the convention center, as well as the ferry that always runs between downtown and Coronado.
Once you get into the lobby for the bid, you’ll rank your hotels. You want to do this as fast as possible, so having your list handy is a good thing. At this point, though, I’d suggest having all member of your party submit your hotel bids (remember, only one of you needs to get in, and the more people, the better the odds). You will hear back from SDCC in a few days about what hotel you will be offered. That’s when you’ll need to have your deposit lumped together. Hotel deposits are 50% of the total, you’ll pay the other 50% upon check in. You can only make a hotel deposit in one transaction, so you must decide who is paying and how.
Even if you don’t get a room the first time, don’t despair, some rooms open up after “drop day” when rooms that no one placed a deposit on become available again. When all else fails, you can also turn to the Twitterverse for a hotel room. In the window between hotel sales and the drop day, you can see if any kind souls who intend to drop their reservation (for one reason or another) will gift it to you before drop day. In this scenario, the original reservation holder sends you their email with the reservation and you call or log in to the Travel Planners hotel service to get the original reservation info changed to yours, and then give Travel Planners your deposit.