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Too early for planning?

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  • Too early for planning?

    Hi all,

    I've started to check in flights (I'll be heading over from Europe) and hotels, and I was wondering if I should wait a bit more or if it's safe to start booking hotels/flights. At the same time I want to save some extra cash by booking early I also don't want to miss on any discounts/promotions that might show up in a few weeks.

    What's your opinion? Schedule away or wait?


  • #2
    I started checking on flights yesterday and was surprised at how expensive they were compared to last year when I went. I'm going to keep an eye on them to see if they drop over the next month or two. I would think that you would be OK booking a hotel now though. At least that is my plan.


    • #3
      Not really, I booked my room for this year on the first payday after I got back, so that would have been Aug. 15th 2015. I did this so I got a room in Bally's, the heat from the walk to and from the Flamingo just about did me in.


      • #4
        I answered my own question when I called Bally's and was told the Defcon rate is already fully booked :) I went ahead and booked flights and hotel! I'll be in Defcon!

        Didn't know I should think that far ahead ... Price wise, and even though I don't have a baseline to compare them with, it was definitely not cheap. Flight+Hotel is around $2600.


        • #5
          As for hotel registration, getting your hotel room reserved in the hotel(s) that host DEF CON by of January 1 has ensured that you would have a room. When the hotel runs out of registrations depends on the economy, size of DEF CON and number of rooms available in the hotel. At DEF CON 5, we did not "own" the hotel, so DC attendees had some rooms at the hotel, but other guests were also there. As we grew larger, and left the strip for $CHOOSE_YOUR_REASON we found the Alexis Park, and did not own all rooms the first year. Other guests registered to stay at the AP while DC was running the first year. As DEF CON grew, we exceeded the capacity of rooms at the AP, plus started to use up all free rooms across the street, and down the block on the corner at its nearby hotels. During the busiest days at the AP, all AP rooms were reserved by some time in Feb. Later, a few blocks of rooms became available closer to DEF CON as blocks reserved for certain reasons were returned back to the hotel to offer to customers. These quickly sold out.

          Now we are at 2 large hotels and 2 convention centers on the strip. IIRC, people were still making room reservations at either Paris or Bally's as late as June, and reporting success on Twitter and other social networks.

          If by the time you are reading this you have observed that all DEF CON Blocks of rooms at The Paris Hotel & Casino and Bally's Hotel and Casino are sold out, and you are still going to DEF CON, try to register with a non-DEF-CON block. If that also fails, then get a room at another nearby hotel within walking distance. If a first timer to Las Vegas/DEF-CON, then realize Las Vegas "city blocks" on Las Vegas Blvd (The Strip) are *very long*. Also, do not assume you can just pick up a taxi on the strip and ride even 1 mile in less than 20 minutes. Traffic on the strip is *slow*. Avoid it if you can. Take the roads on either side of the strip when possible for faster access. Walking can be much faster than a taxi. If walking a long distance, remember to bring water -- you are in a desert. Next, after you at least have a room somewhere, follow on twitter and and watch for updates. *sometimes* (like years ago when we were at the AP and other hotels) extra rooms are reserved , and more are reserved than are needed, and those unused return to the hotel as a pool for new reservations. Usually, when this has happened, an announcement is made through a social network for people to get rooms.

          DANGER: after all rooms are reserved at the DEF CON rate and non-DEF-CON rate for both hotels, be careful with 3rd party resellers that claim availability of rooms during the convention. (Travelocity , expedia, etc.) These kinds of services often have agreements with hotels and ToS to allow a switch of your room to a different hotel. On arrival, you may be informed by the front desk that all rooms are filled, but they have made arrangements at $SOME_OTHER_HOTEL to get you a room, and then suggest you go there. This is terrible, since the room you get may be at a hotel a great distance from the convention. If going with any other seller of rooms other than the hotel providing the convention, BEWARE: check, validate, confirm, do all you can to make sure this or something worse does not happen to you.

          People experienced with DEF CON, interested in talks usually get rooms at the hotel(s) that contain the convention centers, as those rooms have the best chances of getting "DEF CON TV" (video/audio feed of speaker tracks) included as channels on the hotel room TVs. For talks you want to see, but have no questions to ask the speaker, watching from your room means no waiting in line to hope you get to see a speaker speak, and if you do not like a talk? Change the channel. If "talks" are your priority, then get a hotel room in the hotel that has the convention space dedicated to the talks you want to see.

          If your primary interest in DEF CON is parties, contests, events, villages, etc. then consider a hotel room in the hotel side that mostly has these.

          A risk from last year: hotel rooms on the contests/event side in Bally' convention center were split between the "ground" level and one of the top floors. Access to these two floors was made through 2 express elevators, and a few other elevators that were not express, and some were out of order. People with rooms that used the same banks of elevators that took them to the top half of rooms had a bad time because of all the traffic trying to move to/from the top floors for events, and got to/from their hotel rooms. (NOTE: I've read promises from people that work with the hotel that several issues with the elevators will be resolved before DC 24: 1-- Elevators will be fixed, 2-- Algorithm for faster service will be enabled on elevators to speed the movement of people in the top half of the Bally's tower.)

          As for flights:
          Check frequently, preferably daily as we closer to the 90-100 days pre-con. Some travel sites suggest the day of the week (Monday, Tuesday, etc.) can change prices. Overall, from my own experience, start looking at prices for plane tickets 6 months before DEF CON. At between the 90-day to 100-day mark, more airlines seems to publish more flights for purchase, and the greater availability of flights for travel has often included lower priced flights. As that 90 days before con closes to 60 days before con, prices have often started to increase as the good priced seats are taken, and airlines respond to the market and rates of consumption of seats, costs of fuel, etc. At the 30-60 days before con, odds are against you finding a better price than was available at the 100-90 days before con. 1 Week before con? Hah! You will probably pay 3-4 x more than people that bought tickets at the best prices available in the ~90-100 days before con mark.

          International travellers:
          You should work out your passport and VISA issues now, or a few months back. That can take months, and in some cases, you are not supposed to make reservations until you have government papers completed, while in others, you are expected to have all your reservations made before you file your government papers.

          Hope this helps.

          Last edited by TheCotMan; February 2, 2016, 12:26.


          • #6
            Also keep in mind Ballys is on the monorail track, so getting multiday pass for the monorail and staying at one of the hotels on the monorail line is an excellent option.


            • #7
              As usual, massive kudos to TheCotMan for lots of good info. Kindof a repeat of what's already been said but I booked my room a week or so after I got back from DC23 to make sure I was able to get the DEF CON rate on the room. We stayed at the Paris last year and took advantage of DEF CON TV for a few talks but went to as many 'live' as I could to take advantage of the Line Con. As far as the flight, I'm hoping to have enough credit card points to get a free flight but my plan is, if I haven't gotten a flight 120 days out to start watching ticket prices closely. If they drop significantly, just buy immediately and use whatever points I do have and pull the trigger 90 days out at the latest. I've been watching them since they've been published (the tickets aren't available the full 1 year out, it was a few weeks / months before I was able to start seeing pricing) and they really haven't moved much at all yet.
              .: This post contains 100% recycled electrons :.


              • #8
                I've followed DEF CON for years online and watched pretty much all the talks, but I've never been able to afford to go, however this year my business has confirmed they'll cover the flights so DEF CON 24 is a go. We'll be flying from Europe so lots to plan. We'll probably try and book plane tickets now, thanks for all the advice so far.

                I have a question regarding tickets on the door and the lack of booking. I have a concern that DEF CON is growing fast and you cannot reserve spaces. We plan to turn up the day before and queue for entry as early as possible to ensure we're in early. But we're travelling from the UK which is expensive, I'm worried about things just being done on the day and if something goes wrong. Or if there's a large number of people how that would be handled? Can the venue fill up and people be turned away? That's my main concern.

                Is there an advised time to be there to queue on the first day so we're in as early as possible?


                • #9
                  Frosty , you're definitely in for a ride. I followed DEFCON for years myself and last year was the first year that I was able to go. Regarding your concerns about the venue filling up, anything's possible, but the place is HUGE (it spans 2 massive hotels), so I can't imagine it filling up. I've heard horror stories about the registration and that was my biggest fear last year. We got there Wednesday night and considered waiting in the hallway before registration (there were folks there at about 11:00pm when we looked) but opted to get some sleep and take our chances Thursday morning. We got downstairs around 8:30am and were through the registration line in 2 hours or less. There were still people registering on Friday, but there were some 'human' badges rather than the records (the recordings from the records were quickly posted online so, if you wanted to tinker with what was on the record you could). This year is an 'electronic badge' year and it's my understanding that that's going to make it more crowded / chaotic.

                  Kudos for planning ahead! There's tons of good info here and lots of folks that will help with questions, etc. Definitely great group of folks. I tried to post some details from my first DEFCON experience here that may be helpful. In addition to being my first trip to DEFCON, it was my first trip to Las Vegas.
                  .: This post contains 100% recycled electrons :.


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Frosty View Post
                    I have a concern that DEF CON is growing fast and you cannot reserve spaces. We plan to turn up the day before and queue for entry as early as possible to ensure we're in early. But we're travelling from the UK which is expensive, I'm worried about things just being done on the day and if something goes wrong. Or if there's a large number of people how that would be handled? Can the venue fill up and people be turned away? That's my main concern.
                    If you show up, you won't be turned away. You may not get an electronic badge if you're on the later side, but you'll still get in and be able to experience defcon.

                    Is there an advised time to be there to queue on the first day so we're in as early as possible?
                    Since 101's start time is being moved back till the afternoon, you shouldn't have too many issue if you line up on Thursday morning. You will have to wait in line, but you will get in... Earlier is better in as far as what time to line up goes.

                    And I heard a voice in the midst of the four beasts, And I looked and behold: a pale horse. And his name, that sat on him, was Death. And Hell followed with him.


                    • #11
                      Get in early if you can even if you stay at a cheap motel. I get there Tuesday and stay until Monday. No need to rush things. You WILL meet lots of interesting people that you want to spend time with. You can get shirts at the vendor area so you can pack very little. Bring half the stuff you think you need and twice the cash.

                      Last year was tough because it was the first year in a new venue. Lessons are learned and life is better the second year onward.


                      • #12
                        Thanks for the replies everyone, some helpful information that has lessened my worries somewhat. Well we'll definitely be there the day before and able to skew our sleep so that we can arrive in the queue early, i'm not thinking too extreme but probably 3-4am or something might be a good time to start. I'd rather wait hours before the opening with some other cool people and get in first thing rather than queue for hours anyway and then get in late.

                        We'll probably book a place on the strip that's not too expensive, Luxor most likely they have pretty reasonable room prices, we'll be traveling light so I can just buy some nice gear there anyway, I'll probably load up on some decent tshirts from the DEFCON shop. Seriously looking forward to going, better brush up on my skills for some of the competitions.


                        • #13
                          Hi all,

                          Since I've started this thread I've been even more convinced this is where I want to go. Thank you to everyone who has pitched in and shared information. Frosty, I had the same question about getting into the conference as you, so thanks for posting that ;)

                          I'm coming from Europe as well, and after booking the hotel (Bally's) and flight (company did it via ATP), it was just a matter of getting my ESTA authorization. Don't know if you did that already, however, a friend of mine pointed to their website and this is something that (at least for me) was mandatory.

                          You can do it via the DHS website and the process is very easy and works very well. In 10 minutes I had my authorization approved and sent to me. Website:

                          Hope this is another bit of information that can help others!

                          I'm hyped! :D


                          • #14
                            Hi all,Is there anyone feel free to teach me hacking? im totally new to hacking


                            • #15
                              Lesson one, At the risk of getting flamed here, a couple of things. First thing, the topic of this post is "Too early for planning [for DEFCON]?", this is WAAAY off topic. Second thing, find a problem and solve it, find something that does xyz and make it do zyx (if it's not yours, make sure that you have the permission from the legitimate owner before you do). Third thing, once you've found your problem to solve or your thing that does xyz and you've started along your way and gotten stuck, come back here and ask for help and I suspect you'll find a windfall of folks wanting to help then. </rant>
                              .: This post contains 100% recycled electrons :.