At some point in time, you’ll end up staying in a hotel for a convention. Not only that, you’ll also likely be staying with hotel roommates to save on costs.
For those who’ve never stayed at a convention hotel with others, you might be wondering, “What are the (unwritten) rules? What’s considered good etiquette?”
Being a good hotel roommate not only boosts your reputation, your other roommates will be thankful and even appreciative if you are. Think of it as “if you scratch my back, I scratch yours.” Maybe they’ll treat you out to lunch sometime in the future. Maybe they will get you VIP access to a future convention (happened to me a couple of times actually). Or it’s just nice being a decent human being. Whatever the case, you want to be a good hotel roommate. You may not be able to control how your other roommates are, but you certainly control your own.
Here are some things you can do to be a great roommate:
Commit to staying at the hotel as soon as you can: When someone books a hotel room and needs roommates to afford the cost, the biggest fear they have is their roommates bailing out on them and leaving them a large bill to pay. Suddenly, the hotel that was supposed to be split between 4 people now costs 4x as much because all three roommates cancelled. To reassure the person booking the hotel room, try to commit to staying at their hotel as soon as you can. Of course, I understand that it’s hard to know that you’re 100% sure you’re going to a convention, especially if it’s months away. Find out what the cancellation policy is; whether it’s 3 days before the con, or non-refundable at all (P.S. I hate when it’s like that). However, the absolute latest I’d let your hotel organizer know is one month in advance. That way if you need to cancel you give them one month’s advance notice to let them find someone else.
(NOTE: If I’m the one booking the hotel room, my general rule of thumb is that in order to attend the convention and stay in the hotel, I need to have enough money so I can afford to pay the hotel ALL BY MYSELF, in case my hotel roommates all bail out on me. That way, I’m not freaking out if I have to make a hard-breaking decision of cancelling my attendance at a con, or paying a huge hotel bill. A big bill is no laughing matter, but it’s better to be prepared. I highly recommend you guys have the same plan!)
Which brings me to my next point…
Do not cancel LAST MINUTE: This relates to the previous point. The worst thing you can do is verbally “commit” to staying in a hotel room, then cancel last second. What a terrible thing to do! Because not only does last-second cancelling give the hotel organizer no time to find a replacement, you also put greater financial burden on the rest of your mates. It also makes you look bad and unreliable. If the con is less than 1 month away and you still are not sure if you can make it or commit financially to a hotel, then you shouldn’t go.
Respect the hotel space: This especially applies to cosplayers. You should designate areas to avoid any mishaps. For example, maybe you’ll only allow people to drink and eat their food on the desk, and away from the bed. Or you can make an area where everyone’s cosplay stuff goes in the corner and no one is allowed to eat or drink in that area. The last thing you want is someone drunk stepping on your beautiful cosplays. Or spilling beer on your wigs!
Whenever I invite guests over to my hotel room, I either put all our valuable belongings and cosplays in the closet, or they all go in the bedroom. In either case, the closet and bedroom are off-limits and the guests can only be in the living room and washroom when requested. That way, we can all have fun and not worry about our cosplays not getting damaged in the process!
Don’t invite people into the hotel room without permission: Just because you’re paying for a hotel room, doesn’t mean you can invite whoever you want into the room. Maybe your roommates want a quiet room with no other guests (more on this later). Or if your roommates are quiet people, you don’t want to invite your friends who are loud and noisy. Like the shitty roommate I had in my previous post, the worst thing you can do is invite people who are inconsiderate. Like the guest who made so much noise in the morning and hogged the entire bathroom, and made rude remarks to me. That’s like the worst thing you can do. Always ask your roommates first if your other friends can swing by the hotel.
Be considerate at night: If you decide to go to the rave or come back late at night, be sure to come in quiet so you don’t wake up your roommates.
Be supportive, not negative or condescending: We all have shit to deal with. But it’s best to leave your problems at the door and ideally away from the convention. Don’t make your roommates have to take care of you. You’re there to have at the con anyway!
If you’re the one who booked the hotel…
Decide what kind of room you want it to be: A party room or quiet room?
Get there early for check-in: When a convention starts, your roommates will want to utilize the hotel facilities as soon as they can. They want to drop off their stuff, take a shower and get changed into their cosplay as soon as possible on the first day. Arrive as early as you can to check in so they all can do that right away. This is something I definitely struggle with, since I’m pretty busy and don’t always have the luxury of arriving right when the convention is underway. But it’s something everyone should do. Once you check-in and give the key cards to all your roommates, then you’re set and free to run on your own timetable.
Be honest and transparent when you set the price for the hotel: This is a big one! When you decide how much you want to charge all your roommates, you want the price to be fair for everyone. For example, if the hotel costs $400 for the whole stay and you have 4 people in total staying (including yourself), then $100 for each person would be a fair price. That’s what I do; I will divide the entire cost of the hotel, divide that cost by the amount of people staying, and round up to make it simple for everyone. Or I’ll do that and add $20 extra to pay for food/drinks/alcohol/gas for the car.
The problem is either when people are not upfront or transparent about the hotel costs, or you’re overcharging. For example if the hotel is $400 and you have 6 people staying but you’re charging $100 for everyone, your roommates are going to wonder where the extra $200 is going? In your bank account? Unless you’re trying to resell the hotel room (which may or may not be legal), don’t try to profit off your own roommates/friends! It’s a great way to sour your reputation and probably a quick way to lose friends as well.
Another point of contention: when someone gets to pay less money for the hotel than others. Or they don’t have to pay at all! Either because they’re too “poor” or they’re supposedly getting a less desirable spot in the hotel, like the floor or the couch. My rule of thumb (and advice): everyone pays the same equal price. I don’t care if you’re willing to sleep on the bed, the floor, the bathtub, whatever. If you can’t pay the same amount as my other roommates, you don’t get to stay in the room! I don’t do this to be mean; I find this is the best way for everyone to get along and not cause problems. Because when you start cutting deals, it will cause contention.
So in general, be upfront about how much the hotel will cost. And treat all your roommates equally by charging the same amount.
Last but not least…
Be nice to your roommates: Show some love and hospitality. Offer to pitch in for the food/drinks/booze. Bring some video games or Anime for your roommies to play/watch. Take them around the convention if they’re new to the scene. At least in Canada, we’re known for being nice. Do the same for your hotel roommates, who are helping you pitch in for the costs and enjoying the same hobby you are. 🙂
Your hotel room will definitely make an impact on your enjoyment of a convention. Practice these etiquettes to ensure you’ll have a smooth stay during the weekend, as well as make your roommates happy!