INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — People are already booking up hotels eight months before next year’s popular Gen Con event, and a longtime attendee hopes he will have a better experience than he did this year.
Fred Savadge contacted CBS4 Problem Solvers after this year’s event. Savadge said he had tried to reach a settlement or agreement with a local hotel, but hadn’t been able to get any help.
Gen Con, the city’s largest convention — which grows larger every year — draws people from across the world to Indianapolis. Savadge, who lives in Pennsylvania, attends every year and works for a friend who owns a gaming company.
“It’s definitely an experience that is very enjoyable,” Savadge said. “It’s just unfortunate that this type of situation happened, that I would never think could happen.”
It all started a month before the event, when Savadge received a call about his hotel reservation. He was booked into the Best Western on the south side, using loyalty points for four nights of his six-night stay. Savadge learned the hotel had been sold to new owners and would become a Quality Inn and Suites, which is not in the Best Western family, owned instead by Choice Hotels.
“I said, ‘Well, I’m not going to be able to find (another hotel) this late in the game.’ So I said, ‘Well, I’ll just stay there. I’ll pay for the entire week, that’s perfectly fine,” Savadge said.
On top of the change in ownership, Savadge was dealing at the same time with the health of his wife, Karen, who was battling cancer.
“I was going to stay home, but she insisted that I go out to Gen Con,” Savadge said.
Savadge traveled to Indianapolis, checked into the hotel, and didn’t know anything was wrong until the third night.
“It was probably about nine o’clock, (an employee called and) told me that I was supposed to be checked out that day and that they were putting my stuff … in the office,” Savadge said.
Despite efforts by both the employee and Savadge, he was kicked out of his hotel room with four nights still to go.
“I went to a parking garage and I ended up just sleeping in my vehicle because it was the only thing I could do. … There were no rooms available whatsoever,” Savadge said.
After Gen Con, Savadge returned home to care for his wife, who passed away a month later. He told CBS4 Problem Solvers that he talked to the hotel’s manager and Choice Hotels multiple times, in an effort to recoup something for his stay, but could not get anything.
“It just made it a very unhappy experience for me and I couldn’t really be into playing games and showing off to people what I needed to, I just felt like I had to deal with this experience that the manager wasn’t willing to work with me on,” Savadge said.
CBS4 Problem Solvers went to work on Savadge’s case, to see if we could get him some help.
In an initial statement, a Choice Hotels spokesperson blamed the problem on Best Western, so we contacted their corporate office.
Best Western representatives looked into the case and offered Savadge 36,000 loyalty points, enough for a free night’s stay in the future.
Gen Con and Visit Indy stepped in, too, via Senior Vice President of Marketing and Communications, Chris Gahl.
“We’d like to invite him back as the city’s guest, (and) as Gen Con’s guest, with a free registration to Gen Con (next year),” Gahl said.
Gahl said that while the city can’t make every bad experience better, Savadge’s case was unusual and the team wanted to make such an unimaginable year for Savadge a little better.
“We’re sorry you didn’t have a picture-perfect experience and we know that you fought adversity here in the last year and so our heart aches for you and your loss, but we’re also happy to have you back,” Gahl said.
As CBS4 Problem Solvers was preparing to air Savadge’s case on TV, a corporate representative with Choice Hotels also reached out and made amends with Savadge. The company sent this statement:
“While all the hotels in our system are independently owned and operated, guest satisfaction is very important to us. We have contacted the guest and reached a resolution. In addition to compensating their previous reservation, we have awarded the guest enough loyalty points for a future two-night stay at any of our franchised properties.”
All of that added up to solve Savadge’s problem and hopefully make his next time in Indianapolis brighter. He said despite it all, he never thought about changing his plans next August.
“I will definitely be back for Gen Con every year for as long as I can keep going,” Savadge said.
If you have a problem you’d like CBS4 Problem Solvers to consider, contact us at 317-677-1544 or ProblemSolvers@cbs4indy.com.