Change to Housing Policy
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Posted by wjpennington

Per today's email.

"Housing registration for Gen Con 2018 will open on Sunday, February 11. In partnership with housing provider Q-rooms, we have made some adjustments to the housing registration process. Room assignments are now unique and personal to the Gen Con account holder who purchased the badge and requested the assignment. In 2018, room assignments cannot be transferred, traded, or otherwise re-assigned among Gen Con attendees. "

So, is there a good reason for this, other than to just stick people with fees and make their housing process less flexible and less enjoyable, but easier for GenCon to manage?

 

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Posted by aegoce

As with any housing change, there are some winners and losers here.

Losers:
Groups of loosely acquainted people that aggregated room lottery activities but don't trust each other financially enough to stay registered on the room they aren't in
People who aren't sure they will be attending who can no longer get a room banking on the ability to transfer it later if they decide not to come
People who thought they were really sure they would be attending but then something unavoidable comes up and are unable to transfer
Anybody who was violating policy by getting paid to transfer rooms they booked but didn't need.

Winners:
Individuals / small groups that have sufficient trust in each other to keep the original booker liable for the room
People who really are sure they will be attending
For both of these groups there will be a (likely minimal) improvement in demand for the available rooms, but also they can be slightly more confident that the people ahead of them in line on hotel lottery day are actually using the room they get and not just expecting to hand it off to somebody else

And yes, Gen Con probably gets a better contract with Q-Rooms as this policy should mean less phone calls eating up Q-Room customer service representative time and will get some fees by people in the above loser categories.  I would that doesn't add up to anything noticeable in Gen Con's overall budget though.

It seems like a reasonable change.  For people that learn they can't come between June 11 and July 16 eating a $200-250 fee is pretty unpleasant, but for the other types of people in the losers category it's hard to generate a lot of sympathy.

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Posted by wjpennington

Anyone staying with a room holder who, for some unfortunate reason cant attend gets screwed. They now have to scramble as the room cant be transferred to them. Room holder eats cancellation fee.

Net effect, more money for GenCon, unhappy players.

Gaming the System option 1:
Pay off his badge.  Wait for reservatiosn to be transferred to hotel. When they get to the hotel, they give them a different card to bill to. Hotel wont care its not the original reservation holder.

Net affect: extra cost to roomies, more money to GenCon for a player who really isn't there. 

Hmm, actually, this just changes the period of trading your rooms., you wait till reservations are given over to hotels., You call to hotel. Add a person to the guest list, the person you are transferring your room to. that person calls, has bill put on their card. Hotel wont care.

Still, its a level of inconveinance, and worries as people try to find the best accommodations. Less flexible, less friendly to players.

No one really benefits. Gencon makes more money, by making things worse for players. Nice timing with the badge hike.

 

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Posted by helenbb

Just wondering if someone from GenCon can chime in on the specifics of this change and the reasoning behind it? It would be much appreciated. 

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Posted by father bloodlust wjpennington

wjpennington wrote:
No one really benefits. Gencon makes more money, by making things worse for players. Nice timing with the badge hike.
 

Yep. Just what we attendees need to feel appreciated - massive badge price hikes and BS changes to room policy all at once. Nice PR work, GenCon!

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Posted by burrfoot72 wjpennington

wjpennington wrote:
Anyone staying with a room holder who, for some unfortunate reason cant attend gets screwed. They now have to scramble as the room cant be transferred to them. Room holder eats cancellation fee.
Net effect, more money for GenCon, unhappy players.
Gaming the System option 1:
Pay off his badge.  Wait for reservatiosn to be transferred to hotel. When they get to the hotel, they give them a different card to bill to. Hotel wont care its not the original reservation holder.
Net affect: extra cost to roomies, more money to GenCon for a player who really isn't there. 
Hmm, actually, this just changes the period of trading your rooms., you wait till reservations are given over to hotels., You call to hotel. Add a person to the guest list, the person you are transferring your room to. that person calls, has bill put on their card. Hotel wont care.
Still, its a level of inconveinance, and worries as people try to find the best accommodations. Less flexible, less friendly to players.
No one really benefits. Gencon makes more money, by making things worse for players. Nice timing with the badge hike.
 
it appears you can change the primary on the room.  From housing management:

Account holders who find themselves unable to attend the convention can modify their room assignment to designate a friend or family member as the primary guest for their room assignment. With cardholder consent, they can also put the primary guest’s credit card on file to secure the assignment and pay the hotel deposit after housing registration ends; but the account holder retains the ability to modify or cancel the room assignment at-will and remains liable for the Terms of Service and any declined credit card transactions. If a room assignment is cancelled and the credit card on file is declined for any reason, the account holder remains responsible for settlement as required to keep their account in good standing. Accounts that fall out of good standing will lose their housing eligibility as described under the Terms of Service.


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Posted by gharris father bloodlust

father bloodlust wrote:
wjpennington wrote:
No one really benefits. Gencon makes more money, by making things worse for players. Nice timing with the badge hike.

Yep. Just what we attendees need to feel appreciated - massive badge price hikes and BS changes to room policy all at once. Nice PR work, GenCon!

Plus Gen Con is still ignoring the glaring problem in their "fair" current system- ever since Gen Con made the mistake of going to the "every badge gets a spot in line for the housing lottery!" system it has both encouraged and rewarded people for exploiting the system by buying multiple one day badges, then returning the ones that were "duds" on housing day. The result- bigger mess for the housing system, more bonus return fees for Gen Con. Why aren't they fixing this???

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Posted by ematuskey

Gen Con is making it tougher for the "maybes" and "just in case" bookers, in favor of the people who are definitely going to go.  While this penalizes the people who discover they can't go at the last minute, that is most likely an extremely tiny percentage, and accommodating them would open the system back up to people who book who aren't 100% committed to going. 

As always, if it blows up in their faces (ie, attendance drops drastically, they aren't able to fill their room blocks, etc), I'm sure they'll revisit, but I see this as an attempt to help with the overwhelming demand for in-close housing, by making sure the people who take part are /very sure/ they want the room they're booking. 

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Posted by mhayward1978 wjpennington

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Posted by mhayward1978 aegoce

aegoce wrote:
As with any housing change, there are some winners and losers here.

Losers:
Groups of loosely acquainted people that aggregated room lottery activities but don't trust each other financially enough to stay registered on the room they aren't in
People who aren't sure they will be attending who can no longer get a room banking on the ability to transfer it later if they decide not to come
People who thought they were really sure they would be attending but then something unavoidable comes up and are unable to transfer
Anybody who was violating policy by getting paid to transfer rooms they booked but didn't need.

Winners:
Individuals / small groups that have sufficient trust in each other to keep the original booker liable for the room
People who really are sure they will be attending

For both of these groups there will be a (likely minimal) improvement in demand for the available rooms, but also they can be slightly more confident that the people ahead of them in line on hotel lottery day are actually using the room they get and not just expecting to hand it off to somebody else

And yes, Gen Con probably gets a better contract with Q-Rooms as this policy should mean less phone calls eating up Q-Room customer service representative time and will get some fees by people in the above loser categories.  I would that doesn't add up to anything noticeable in Gen Con's overall budget though.

It seems like a reasonable change.  For people that learn they can't come between June 11 and July 16 eating a $200-250 fee is pretty unpleasant, but for the other types of people in the losers category it's hard to generate a lot of sympathy.


This is one of the smartest things I've ever read on these forums.

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Posted by mhayward1978 ematuskey

ematuskey wrote:
Gen Con is making it tougher for the "maybes" and "just in case" bookers, in favor of the people who are definitely going to go.  While this penalizes the people who discover they can't go at the last minute, that is most likely an extremely tiny percentage, and accommodating them would open the system back up to people who book who aren't 100% committed to going. 
As always, if it blows up in their faces (ie, attendance drops drastically, they aren't able to fill their room blocks, etc), I'm sure they'll revisit, but I see this as an attempt to help with the overwhelming demand for in-close housing, by making sure the people who take part are /very sure/ they want the room they're booking. 

I think that's right.  I also thing this undercuts what was probably an existing secondary market in rooms.

Things had reached a point where the housing benefit of a downtown room could probably be flipped for around $800 without too much trouble.  That's going to lead to people getting rooms for the purpose of flipping it.

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Posted by wjpennington

Lots of talk about this mythical secondary market. No real proof of it exists. Not even heard one anecdotal confession that this is how a room was acquired.  What is real: more fees for GenCon. Less work, since they don't have to accommodate, for any reason, any transfers.

But, for some reason, people who don't know each other very well, have emergencies come up, or were a bit fuzzy on attendance are just losers who deserve to be screwed.

Not like any of the desired rooms went unused, and weren't snapped up by simply posting on one of many different places that you had a room to offer.

Its not a reasonable change. If GenCon wants to maintain at least a facade of customer service, they could eliminate the cancellation fee, since what the fee was trying to prevent will be taken care of by this change.

Meanwhile, nothing stops the other ways to game the system. Of course, most of those ways still involves money to Gencon due to the very high admin cost charged for refunds.

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Posted by del_grande wjpennington

wjpennington wrote:Its not a reasonable change. If GenCon wants to maintain at least a facade of customer service, they could eliminate the cancellation fee, since what the fee was trying to prevent will be taken care of by this change.

How?  I thought the reason for the fee was to make it less convenient for somebody to buy 10 badges to get 10 shots at the housing lottery, then refund 9 of them.  I thought "the change" just involved not being able to sell your housing allocation once you already have it.  Am I missing something?

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Posted by wjpennington

You've never been allowed to sell it. But now, if your plans change, or if you find a better room,  you can't trade your room off to someone else in your group, or someone else entirely you eat a 50 dollar fee. And, for those whose plans just change, and the person holding the room has to drop out,  he cant trade that reservation to his roomies. They just are out of luck as well. So now, one persons bad luck becomes 4 or more peoples bad luck.

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Posted by braewe

You couldn't officially sell it. But there was no real way for that to be enforced. Some one even posted a website where one could go to do said selling that wasn't under Gen con auspices.

I also strongly suspect though I do not know for sure, that the ready way to avoid a cancellation fee for getting a suburban hotel one later did not want was simply to reserve it under a card that couldn't be charged later. Now there well be consequences to that since it will theoretically be tracked by account.

Probably ways to get around that too of course.

I imagine the next step will be to consolidate accounts. 

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Posted by gharris braewe

braewe wrote:
You couldn't officially sell it. But there was no real way for that to be enforced. Some one even posted a website where one could go to do said selling that wasn't under Gen con auspices.
I also strongly suspect though I do not know for sure, that the ready way to avoid a cancellation fee for getting a suburban hotel one later did not want was simply to reserve it under a card that couldn't be charged later. Now there well be consequences to that since it will theoretically be tracked by account.
Probably ways to get around that too of course.
I imagine the next step will be to consolidate accounts. 

You could probably reserve the room under a refillable Visa giftcard, then if you decide to keep the room load the card up with money, if not spend the money on the card just before you cancel the room. Be sure to get a new free email address to replace the one tied to the account that may or may not be now tracked. No consequences whatsoever. The current housing system is just begging to be exploited. With the current "every badge gets a housing lottery number!" there is just no way to prevent cheating. 

As much as people would whine about the old free for all system it did do a very good job of keeping people honest. Sure, a few people may have been able to cheat but it was nowhere close to being as blatantly easy as it is now.

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Posted by garhkal aegoce

aegoce wrote:
As with any housing change, there are some winners and losers here.
Losers:
Groups of loosely acquainted people that aggregated room lottery activities but don't trust each other financially enough to stay registered on the room they aren't in
People who aren't sure they will be attending who can no longer get a room banking on the ability to transfer it later if they decide not to come
People who thought they were really sure they would be attending but then something unavoidable comes up and are unable to transfer
Anybody who was violating policy by getting paid to transfer rooms they booked but didn't need.

Did we have enough people DOING 1, 2 or 4 over the past year who have done any of that, to justify such a change??

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Posted by braewe

I'm assuming they can tell by the number of 1) transfers and 2) the number of cancellations that are not actually paid.

I'm also imagining part of the contract with q-rooms was how much in cancellation fees they were going to get. And that people simply were either transferring a room(remember not everyone uses the forums. There are other ways) or simply not paying the fee(temp card keeping balance too high for fee to go through).

So this might actually be driven by q-rooms.

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Posted by andrewj.rager

This disappoints me greatly. Last year we bought 3 badges, so we had 3 chances in the lottery. We all bought individually for this reason and paid the extra shipping costs, yes we could have done will call. However, we all got bad numbers last year and did not get a room in block. I was on the forums every day for months and found a person who was willing to transfer me their room, because they could no longer go. We wanted to stay downtown because we had a 2 month old with us. I couldn't imagine not having the downtown room last year with my son.

In this same situation this year, we would not be able to bring him, as rooms cannot be transferred. This just added more stress, not less.. I guess we will have to see how it works in practice, but in theory, it doesn't sound good. I want to give Gen Con the benefit of the doubt... 

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Posted by phoenixgward wjpennington

wjpennington wrote:
You've never been allowed to sell it. But now, if your plans change, or if you find a better room,  you can't trade your room off to someone else in your group, or someone else entirely you eat a 50 dollar fee. And, for those whose plans just change, and the person holding the room has to drop out,  he cant trade that reservation to his roomies. They just are out of luck as well. So now, one persons bad luck becomes 4 or more peoples bad luck.

The modification policy makes it sound like if you find a better room, you can change hotels w/o cancelling and eating the fee.

"You can modify your room assignment as needed and free of charge, provided the assignment is not cancelled in its entirety. Free modifications include change of hotel, room type, stay dates, roommates, guest contact information, special requests such as ADA Accessible room, and credit card information."

Not being able to trade to your friends does suck. Their suggestion is you have one person in the group buy all the badges (you just send them the money) that way if the person who books the room can't go, you just change the guest reservation name/card#/etc and the reservation stays active, because there is still at least 1 active badge on the account tied to the room. Not optimal, as you only get 1 room per 2 badges, so less chances in the lottery, but if you usually go with friends you trust, it's a way to avoid getting screwed by one person having to cancel.

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