Last Friday, I set out to reserve my room for the 2010 San Diego Comic-Con a year in advance just to make sure I have a room for when I go and report for The Comic Book Bin. Although I had booked a room last year, I cancelled the trip a few months ago because of lack of time. I have to work on my master’s thesis. In 2007 and 2008, I booked my room for the following year, the moment I checked out. The last two years, I went to one of the many youth hostels in the city. They offer a great bargain and good service. But for 2010, I will have to upgrade my room, so I can work easily in it without having to stand on my bed or keep a laptop on my lap all the time. I also want a quieter place for video editing when I’m not in the press room on the grounds of the San Diego Convention Center. Their wireless Internet configuration has a tendency to crash my computer after about five minutes of usage.
So a real room in a real hotel is what I was aiming for in 2010. Knowing from experience that the San Diego Comic-Con is always sold out and a crazy affair, booking a room a year in advance is a smart thing to do. The one thing that surprised me was the price of the rooms. The average price for rooms during the convention is $300 and up. Because I’m flying in a few days in advance, the price of rooms before the convention tends to be under $200. At $300 to $400 per night, a hotel room becomes quite an expense for both convention attendees and exhibitors. The argument the San Diego hotel industry uses is that people share rooms and therefore can afford to split the costs. That argument, while valid for a subsection of the demographics that attends the convention is not true for all attendees and exhibitors. In fact, most of them probably rent several rooms. At this point it becomes a chicken and a an egg game where attendees need to fill up rooms with several people to afford the unreasonable price of rooms during the San Diego Comic-con.
Hotel rooms are not the only thing that are priced out of range during the Comic-Con. The price of foods and basic goods seems to increase dramatically. Understanding that the Comic-con is a good economic boost for the San Diego tourism industry, putting more pressure on convention attendees and exhibitors financially is not a long term strategy, especially if San Diego would like to keep this annual event. Milking attendees and exhibitors for all their worth may encourage many of us to request a more affordable city to host the convention. The convention’s organizers are seriously considering moving city if the facilities are not upgraded soon. Well, upgrades to the convention center are useless, if room capacity is further incapacitated with high prices and more visitors than there are actually now. Of all the cities bidding for the San Diego Comic-con, Las Vegas seems the most appropriate to me. First, most North American cities have direct and cheap flights to Las Vegas. Las Vegas is already a convention city. Although new flights to San Diego to Calgary (my home town) were just announced a few weeks ago, for most North American cities, San Diego is still not a direct flight and therefore an inconvenience.