Jan 26, 2015

Another GenCon Housing Fiasco

Another year, and another fiasco trying to get a GenCon hotel room.

This year, they claimed to have a new solution (read, untested) that was supposed to alleviate the issues of last years mess. Sad to say, all it did was create a whole new set of issues for people.

I'm sure you can read all the gory details elsewhere, but here's my story:

I got my 4-day badge on Saturday, with no issues, not that I've ever heard of any issues getting badges. According to the website, I was to come back to the housing page around noon (I was on the page 15 minutes early) and at noon, I would be assigned a time to be able to get in to housing.

I was assigned a 15 minute wait time, and figured I was pretty lucky. It would be the last time I would think that...

The page had a nice countdown clock and as soon as the time passed, the Reservation button was active. As soon as I clicked on that button, I got an error message.

STATUS : ERROR StatusID : 3 GUID : 14b0354fcdf:-70ee48 ERROR : BRIDGE_142 : Invalid BridgeID ?!?

Now I started freaking out. I clicked the reservation button again and got the same error. I reloaded the page and as back in a queue, waiting another 3 minutes. When that time passed, and I was able to get a Reservation button, I again got the message above.

I tried other browsers; tried logging out and back in. At this point I was really upset, as this was the second year in a row that the housing app screwed up my ability to get a downtown room.

I called customer service and they weren't even answering calls.

After an hour of trying to get in to the system, I just had to give up, or loose my sanity. So it seems like once again, I'll have to work other options to get a downtown room for the convention.

So, rather than just let this post devolve into a personal rant, what Lessons Learned can GenCon hopefully take from this:

1) Customer service isn't just for every other day of the year. You know that the first day of housing registration is crazy, even under normal circumstances (not that I've ever experienced a normal housing registration day). You need to have your customer service number on and fully staffed, or over staffed as in this case.
     And as soon as you have an issue, you need to update your agents with details and actions they can take to alleviate customer concern.
 2) You need a better housing system. One where people register for their badges weeks in advance. Then based on the day (not hour or minute) they register, they get access to a hotel form, where they enter their top three (or 5) choices, then the forms are processed at a more leisurely pace so as not to overload the system.

3) Offer some kind of credit for not registering a hotel through the system. It's certainly more expensive to book hotels outside of the convention, but if I choose to do it, and you give me a rebate, then I might be a bit more likely to do it, thereby reducing the amount of impact on the housing system.

Hopefully one or more of these ideas will resonate with the GenCon team, and next year we'll have an easier experience.