The negative impact of a priveleged loyalty program based on years prior attendance would be significant. (Funny how thats the usual measure, not dollars spent, number of official events played, or contribution to gaming by work in the industry or retailing games..just years you've attended, even if you just don't game at all.)
In fact, I'm not going to call it a loyalty program--because it isn't.
A real loyalty program is a reward: it gives something additional to the customer who is purchasing a product or service, or maybe a discount. Its usually availbe even to a new customer! you want to enocurage loyalty form the start. Maybe i gives you a trinket, or the occasional free product.
In this case, what some are calling a loyalty program is instead determing access to the product. More specifically, its goal is to prohibit new customers from being able to access a product or service of limited quanity equally.
Let's call it what it is..an elitist program, or a discriminatory program. Yes, the ugly D word. Because thats is being called for: a method to discriminate against one group of attendees in favor of another. Attendeees over X years of Gen con attendance versus those of X-1 years attendance.
What would we call it? NeckBeards Plus, or the Grognard illuminati? this A program to help distinguish the 'real gamer' from 'temps" or the 'fake nerds', because Gencon owes something to the "hardcore' gamer. (Don't bother coming unless your first rulebook had rusty staples!)
Yeah, there's a lot of those 'temps' I'd rather have stay than many 'hardcore' gamers.
Theres a belief a buisness or hobby can't afford to lose customers/players. Of course, everyone knows that isn't true. Theres always a market segment you will give up to attract a bigger one. Some customers/players certainly aren't worth keeping.
But the biggest exception to that saying is new customers, and new players. The moment you start turning them away, or signalling they aren't quite welcome, you've proabably just shoveled the first bit of dirt of your own grave. Sure, you say I can play "OldGame" forever, even if its out of print, but as it gets harder to find new players, your group diminishes, and eventually, you have no one to play with, or no on wants to play with you, because they are doing "newGame". For the health of GenCon, and for the entire gaming hobby, Gencon needs to continue welcoming new attendees and familes.
An elitist policy where prior attendees get the preference in housing (and anything else) immediately sends a message to the new attendee. First time attendees may already be skittish; many will be put off, knowing at the that the system inherently discriminates against them.
And its only called for out of pure selfishness. I've never seen someone who just attened Gencon, or never has, voice this as a good idea, or that its good for Gencon and gaming. Nope--its 'what they deserve'.
Anyone looking at the issue in a nuetral way, not really favoring any one interest, would discourage a buisness from putting out a policy that could even be percieved as discriminating against, or discouraging new customers, much less actually discriminating against them. If anything, you want to have a bonus, an incentive for first time attendees!
What does Gencon owe the long time attendee? The same thing it owes the first time attendee.
So don't go selling that loyalty program as something Gencon 'owes' to long time attendees, or a deserved reward. Its a straight out discriminatory program motivated by selfishness. Often not a conscious selfishness, all sorts of terms are used to self-justify it (its what we are owed, or we supported it back when)....you were all new players once too, and you would have been skeptical of being treated as a second class player for the first ten or however many years of attendance.
In the end, you can keep asking for it, but as long as anyone involved with running Gencon has a clue, it will never happen.