The Housing Portal opened at 12:00 noon yesterday, with every paid for registered member of the convention being randomly assigned a time within some time frame through the lottery method, after which their housing reservation could be made (or at least tried). I was disappointed on Saturday, when the messages with the randomly assigned times for hotel booking were issued, to see that I had a time that was at 6:37pm on Sunday. To be honest, in my experience with GenCon in the past, if you can't book a hotel room in the first hour or so, you aren't likely to get a room a) where you would want one (namely downtown Indianapolis). But I had no way of guessing what would happen.
I had already decided that, with the problems I've got with my feet (likely diabetes caused), I would attempt to try and book a Disability ADA compliant room for the convention this year. Rather than going through the on-line system, this process is done through a phone number that is provided on the GenCon website. When the Housing Portal countdown reached zero and allowed me to access the portal, I called the number in question...only to be greeted by an automated message that GenCon Housing was closed for the day, and that I should leave a mesage.
I'm not proud of what happened next. I stressed out totally and completely lost my cool. I left two messages on the line, spaced out by about twenty minutes, the first one being one that I regretted totally. I pretty much made myself feel ill as all heck, and truth be told, I thought that I'd not be going to GenCon at all this year. After the experience with the hotels for GenCon 2015, I vowed I wasn't going to stay 40 minutes away (even if the Marriott North was a nice hotel), since I couldn't deal with the sheer amount of walking that would be needed, the hassles of parking a car in downtown Indy, not to mention the inability to have a place to decompress and drop off stuff bought and the like. Not to mention the inability to eat diabetic snacks during the day. So I thought things had turned into another complete fiasco.
After I'd recorded the second, polite message (with an apology), it took me a while to regain my mental and physical equilibrium, I got a call from GenCon Housing! They had received both my messages, and the lady at the other end of the phone said that she understood why I'd lost my cool. Suffice it to say that we had a pleasant conversation and I was able to book a Disability ADA compliant room for the convention at the Westin Indianapolis. I couldn't get the room booked for the whole of the desired stay in Indy (arriving on Tuesday, check-out on Monday), as they couldn't give me the tail end day, but the nice lady assured me that it would be added to the reservation later on during the process, once other stuff happened.
So what could have been a terrible fiasco with GenCon Housing had a happy ending after all, though I have to say that the GenCon housing lottery is one of the worst systems I (and plenty of others) have ever experienced. As the convention grows, the problem seems to be getting worse. No, I don't know what a good solution and alternative method for the housing matter is or would be, but something has to be done.
And there you have it - my experience with the GenCon Housing system for GenCon 50 this year. I'm not proud of some moments during this process, and it did give me a strong reminder that I really do have learn to manage stress better and stop freaking out at every (freakin') thing.
So anyone stay at the Westin Indianapolis in the past have some guidelines and hints? :)
And hopefully, I'll see some of you folks at the convention! :)