How to Room Share at a Con like a Pro
Room Sharing is the act of sharing a room with one or more people. At conventions this usually means a hotel room. While it’s not like having to share a dorm room in college, there are still plenty of horror stories. So, how do you and your roommates ensure everyone has a great room experience? Outside of being really really awesome? Conventioning has some tips to help you!
Making the hotel reservation is the first step to having fun at your next convention! But it can also be stressful. When should you make the reservation? What about extras? How do you get the cheapest rate?
Find out from your roommies what dates you’ll need the room for. Even if people are unsure, book the most common dates and double check how long you can cancel room nights without a penalty. It’s always better to have a room a day early and cancel that day, then be scrambling to find an extra night when the hotel is sold out.
Book in the convention block! Not only does this usually get you a discount, it helps the convention! Conventions work with local hotels to get attendees the best room rates, and part of this is by arranging a ‘block’ with those hotels. A convention essentially promises to sell at least that many hotel rooms, at a discounted rate. If a convention does not fill its room block(s), they can be liable for monetary penalties, which of course can hurt the convention. If you use a booking site to book an even cheaper rate outside the block not only are you taking all the risks that come with booking sites (last minute cancellations, missing nights, and overbooking, etc), you’re also not helping the convention meet it’s numbers. The easiest way to book in the convention’s block is to follow the information from the convention’s website, or call the hotel with the reservation code. Staff rates are usually applied after a reservation has been made by the staffer(s) or a convention representative.
Call to confirm your reservation. This is especially important if you added notes or asked for amenities like a trundle bed, microwave, or a mini-fridge. It’s also important if someone in your party requires a handicap room, or has a service animal that will be with them.
I always charge my devices the night before I travel. You can also see my 'labeling' at work here, I use Batman duct tape and stickers on all my electronics to mark them![/caption]
Before the Convention
After the reservation is made, there are still some things to talk about with your future roommates. Taking care of all this pre-con will help you have a better experience, prevent fights and confusion, and ensure everyone is on the same page.
When the reservation is made, figure out total cost, including tax. Make sure everyone in the room knows the total cost, and call the hotel ahead of time to double check tax, trundle beds, refrigerators or other add-on availability. It’s also good to know the wi-fi policy ahead of time, and discuss it with the rest of your roommates.
Arrange payment with your roommates well before the event. Decide how you want to split payment amongst yourselves and the best method of payment (cash, paypal, check, splitting the bill at the end, etc.)
Consider bringing an air mattress. On busy weekends a trundle bed may not be available if you forgot to ask ahead of time. However, always abide by the hotel’s and convention’s rules for room-stuffing. Room-stuffing hurts the convention’s relationship with its hotel(s), so please, always follow the rules. This trick also works best if you have someone driving in, or that is checking a bag that will have extra space in it. And don’t forget to bring sheets, and maybe a small throw blanket!
Talk to your roommates about ground rules. Such as no visitors after 11pm, or lights out by a certain time. Making sure everyone is willing to follow a few rules to help everyone coexist for the weekend will greatly improve your experience.
Arrange shower and bathroom times around everyone’s schedule. Especially if you’re rooming with a group of cosplayers, bathroom time in the morning is always at a premium. This is also a great time to talk to everyone about wake-up times. If no one has plans before 11am, then you may not have a problem. But if you have one person that is an early riser, make sure they know to be quiet and try not to wake anyone else.
Figure out who will be the first person getting to the hotel, and thus checking in. Preferably this is the same person that made the reservation. Hotels all have different rules, like some requiring all parties on the reservation to check in, but usually you don’t have to check in all together. You’ll need state/government issued ID, and credit card to put down on the room. This doesn’t have to be the same card that was put down for the reservation, it just has to have enough on it to cover the room nights scheduled.
Conventioning Pro-Tip: Pack smart! Streamline what you’re packing by laying out everything and creating outfits. If something doesn’t fit with any of your outfits needed for the convention, then it can probably be left at home. Using travel sized items can also help save space, even if you aren’t flying. If you do have some extra space and are rooming with cosplayers or a room with long bathroom rituals, bringing a hairdryer can be a huge help. While most hotel rooms come with one, having an extra can save you time.
Checking into your hotel can relieve a lot of pre-con stress. But there are some things you can do to make your stay even better!
If you arrive before check-in at your hotel, don’t worry! Some hotels will hold your luggage until your room is ready. Go out to lunch and relax. Or finish all that last minute work on your cosplays. You can also just chill in the lobby for a bit, most hotels have free wi-fi in their lobbies, so watch some Youtube.
If you plan to split the bill on everyone’s cards, you can sometimes do that at check-in. Ask the desk if you can put down multiple cards and take care of that ahead of time.
If the hotel will allow it, go ahead and ask to lock out incidentals. That way you won’t have anyone accidentally charging pay-per-view tv or other unexpected things.
Check with the front desk about late check out. Not only will this make your life on checkout day easier, you may be able to skip out on the check out rush! If no late check out is available, see if the hotel has a storage room for after check out. If the hotel does not, the convention itself may have a bag check running the last day of the con.
Get some extra keys. Almost everyone knows not to put a hotel key next to their cell phone, but it happens. Having an extra key or two within your group can help if you key gets de-magged.
Add everyone’s name to the room! This will allow all members of your party to get replacement keys, or assistance from the hotel without confusion.
If your wig is not heavily styled, consider packing it in a plastic bag in your suitcase. This prevents it from getting wet, falling on the ground, or being mishandled in transit. If you have to have your wig on a wig head, then consider wrapping it in a trash bag to protect it.[/caption]
Hotel roommates for a con can be like a short experiment in your personal boundaries and sanity. Communication and organization go a long way in better relationships and happy roommates.
Organize your clothes/costumes by day. If you don’t already do this in your packing process, take some time after you get checked-in to go through your suitcase. This is especially helpful if you’re the one early riser in a room. Making your outfit for the day easy to get to and find in low light will eliminate noise, and the time you spend getting ready in the morning.
Find an area of the room, and keep all your things there. Keeping all your stuff together helps keep the room cleaner, and prevents stuff from getting lost or mixed up with your roommates’.
Bring a power strip. There are never enough outlets in a hotel room these days. Bringing a power strip or two ensures you have space to charge all your devices.
Label all your stuff! You can use a sharpie, nail polish, duct tape, or other labeling materials, but whatever you choose, make sure it will stand up to some wear and tear. Labeling things like power cords and bricks, makeup and brushes, and other common items. The smaller and more generic things are, the easier it is for someone to accidentally pick it up and put it with their things.
Respect the hotel’s rules about hair dye and makeup. Many hotels ask that you do not use their bathrooms to dye your hair. Hair dye can stain tile, carpet, sheets, pillowcases, etc. And is frankly, a pain to clean up. Additionally, some hotels have special ‘dyed’ towels to use for makeup removal. Ask the front desk, or the convention, if this is the case. It helps limit the wear and tear on the hotel’s white towels.
Need extra towels or blankets? Don’t be afraid to call the front desk about extra towels or blankets. Usually they are happy to send some up. Having extras is better than realizing you have four people in a room, and not enough towels in the morning.
Conventioning Pro-Tip: Make sure that you always have a few essentials on your person during a convention, your ID, your room key, your badge, and your phone. Carry your ID so if you need to request a new key at the hotel desk, you can prove who you are. Carry your room key so you can go back to your room to pick up a forgotten item, or just take some time to relax. Your badge so that you can come and go from convention spaces without an issue. Some cons even have deals with restaurants in the area for a discount. And your phone so that people can get a hold of you.
Another great tip is to use a travel medication carrier for all your vitamins, headache meds, or even small jewelry! You can pick one up at a $1 store for just a dollar![/caption]
Checking out means that the con is nearly over. But sadly, every convention has to end sometime. However, checking out can be quick and easy if you’re prepared!
Pack the night before. Get everything you won’t need on your last day all packed and ready to go. This will make the morning less stressful and speed up your check out. It will also help prevent leaving or losing any items.
Consider checking out early if you didn’t get late check out. Getting out ahead of the rush is the other option to avoid the check out crunch.
Look over the bill in the morning. Double checking the bill for any extra charges is always a good plan.
Double and triple check the room. Have everyone check corners, under beds, in drawers, between the sheets, and behind the tv. Make sure everyone does a quick walk through before you leave the room.
Leave the room clean and orderly. Some conventions run a contest for cleanest room, where the winning room wins a badge for next year or even a hotel room for the next year’s convention. Even if your con doesn’t offer this (you can always suggest it!), be a good person and don’t leave a mess. It will help the convention continue to have a great relationship with the hotel.
Conventioning Pro-Top: If you’re checking your bags into storage after you’ve checked out of your room, make sure you have everything you need for the day. Check-in and Check Out are the busiest times for a hotel during the convention, so making sure you’re not taking up their time, pulling things out, or repacking your bags will make everyone happier.
If you're a cosplayer, don't forget to bring your repair kit! Or...your sewing machine if you're hardcore. Just try not to sew when your roommates are trying to sleep.[/caption]
Safety is a big conversation in the convention world right now. So we compiled a quick list to help everyone stay a little safer while room sharing. These are general ideas
Always room with people you know.
Do not go to a stranger’s hotel room, or invite strangers to your room.
Do not bring anything illegal into your room. If you carry a concealed weapon, check the hotel policy before you go. If you are concerned about things your roommates may bring, talk with them beforehand.
If you have a serious medical condition that may require someone administering emergency medication or equipment, talk this over with your roommates before your arrival. But as always, call 911 if someone in your party is having a medical or other type of emergency that requires immediate attention.
Do not have alcohol in the room if anyone is under the legal drinking age.
Do not bring any tools to assist in making your cosplay that create smoke, a flame or fumes. If your room has a balcony, take the open flames out there, or just outside the lobby. The last thing you want is to set off the smoke detector. Fumes from burning materials, or some paints and adhesives can also be very harmful to you, your roommates and other hotel residents.
If you are asked to evacuate the hotel for any reason, do so quickly and calmly, using stairwells or other safe methods. Follow the directions of staff, convention reps and emergency response personnel, and direct any questions you have to them. If you have a medical condition that requires medication or equipment in your room, alert someone on staff.
Have any room sharing tips of your own? Tweet me @CayFletcher with the hashtag #conventioning!
Originally published on 3/21/2016 at conventioning.wordpress.com