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DragonCon
badge pickup 
6th-Sep-2010 06:12 pm
So! Was it good for you, too? :)

(Almost three hours for me. :\
Comments 
8th-Sep-2010 10:37 pm (UTC) - Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
First off, let me put the big bullseye right in the center of my forehead now.
I am the Director of On Site Preregistration for Dragon Con.
Let me first apologize for the waits in the line this year. We were trying a new system and it obviously did not work as intended. We were also limited on how many people we were allowed to have in the building at once by the fire marshal and hotel security. This only served to add to the delay as they would not allow more people to enter until so many lanes of the cue were emptied.
We are developing a bar code system for 2011's show. This of course means you MUST remember your post cards and if they are emailed to you, the print out with this individual bar code. If not, you will be in the main line only to be moved to the solutions line to be looked up and printed out. As it stands the plan is to have printers and scanners at each kiosk and NO MORE ALPHABET LINES. You will be in the main line and when you get to the front, you will move to the next available open kiosk to be scanned and handed your badge. This should greatly speed things up for everyone.
Please remember that the staff of Dragon Con are volunteers. They are fans like you who give their time to the convention. They are cursed at, abused, called names, and have had things thrown at them. While many waited 2 or more hours, remember also that Thursday this year alone, we were there at 9am or earlier and we did not leave until 1:30am on Friday morning and were still back again at 7:30am on Friday to work until 10:30pm on Friday evening.
I hope this clears up any misconceptions about the Preregistration process as well as shows we are working to streamline and change this so it is a faster process.
Troy Bradley
Director
Dragon Con On Site Preregistration
8th-Sep-2010 11:12 pm (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Troy,

I am nothing short of THRILLED that you have taken the time to come here, read our comments, and offer not only a substantive reply but a specific solution that is in line with what I think the community has asked for.

THANK YOU so much for this measure of transparency and at the very least, intention to make things better. A barcode system is, without any doubt, the way to fix what lies at the core of these issues and I personally cannot wait to try it out in 2011. I will preregister again now, I was not going to do so before your comment here.

I do have some very minor qualms with the specifics of your plan (people should be able to validate their identification at the main desk, etc), but the overall idea you propose is absolutely on target and exactly in the right direction. Are there any public meetings or other venues where it would be most appropriate to offer more specific suggestions? I realize you don't want to get bogged down in public minutia, but an open forum at least on an occasion or to can certainly produce some usable ideas.

Again, THANK YOU very much for being here, reading our comments, and offering a substantive reply. This shows guts and dedication.

Best,
Larry
8th-Sep-2010 11:30 pm (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
PS. I think you should post this as a post to the community. A lot of people will never see the comment.
8th-Sep-2010 11:46 pm (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
^ THIS! EPIC WIN!!!
9th-Sep-2010 12:15 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
THANK YOU TROY!!! (Both for the bar codes, and for coming on here to reply to ppl's concerns. I'd been kicking myself for impulsively pre-regging at the 'con this year; I will stop now. :)
9th-Sep-2010 12:31 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
I like the sound of this kiosk idea. I wasn't able to go this year - dog broke his leg in July and pretty much ate up my dragoncon fund with his surgery - but I feel really badly for the volunteers who are treated that way. That's really inexcusable.

I look forward to next year and I really hope this kiosk/bar code system works out well.
9th-Sep-2010 01:09 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
As someone with an apparently common starting letter for her last name, I am excited about the potential increased fairness of the barcode system. We spent the last 45 minutes of our two and a half hour wait on Thursday afternoon coming up with name change options to decrease our wait next year. :)
Thank you for your attention on this one negative at what is otherwise a really fantastic event.
9th-Sep-2010 01:09 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Anyone that abused the volunteers should be ashamed of themselves >:(

I get that the lines were goddamn absurd in their longness, but being a dick won't make that go any faster.
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9th-Sep-2010 01:26 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Thank you so much for the message. I agree the barcode method will work great. However, I'm concerned about people having to bring their post card. It seems to me that this is asking for trouble. I wonder if there isn't a way to look at a person's id and then scan a badge (associating that badge with the person's name in the registration database). Just a thought.


D*C volunteers - Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your good work. We love you all <3 and appreciate your efforts.

9th-Sep-2010 01:26 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
So close to what big Cons were using in 1998.

Sorry for the grim gus, but many big "tech" cons rent machines that print a decal that goes on the outside of the badge they mailed us a month before. They started doing that in 1999, and it took the volunteer and paid folks out of it. They have lines for folks who mess up their badges, but there are steep costs for people who make mistakes like that.

Could you not mail us a badge your volunteers printed and stuffed in an envelope, and then have volunteers at the con just scan and give stickers for valid con badges? Why the complexity of waiting on printers that die in the middle of the heat and the rush? Let slow downs in the most critical equipment occur months before the con, when you have time to fix these problems.

Why does the postcard part of this process help? Badge transferral? That's a new name decal put over the old one, then a validation sticker at the con.
Refunds? Mail in the badge, the bar code is invalidated, and the refund is credited.

Is there still the fear of the counterfeit badge?

Sorry, this year, disability services did wonders for my badge-thank you volunteers, regardless of your position. Hopefully, my temporary disability won't require the effort when I am whole, but this was my 10th DragonCon, and a lot of the same problems are just getting bigger on the same modes and standards. These are good ideas, but not great ideas. It sounds incremental, but not quite like the whole process full of assumptions have been discarded and then picked back up when they become valid. There are other gaming cons that do things like this, but why is DragonCon, the biggest Sci-Fi Con in the world doing what smaller cons are doing? You folks get to lead and invent the better process if you want to.
9th-Sep-2010 01:30 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Is there any way you can use computers to instantly look up the attendee and print the badge label out right then and there? I'm pretty sure this is how Otakon (a 25,000+ anime con in Baltimore) does it. I know it'd be somewhat of a hassle to get a bunch of laptops and printers, but if you could, it would be really quick. I don't think Otakon even has more than 10-15 computers set up like this, but it goes really quickly. It sounds similar to your scanner idea, but I have a feeling that requiring people to have their postcards will cause lots of problems, because half the people I know lose their postcards because they're so small and they're sent so far ahead of the con if you pre-reg. Would it be much more difficult just to have a program on all the laptops that could have a database of all the attendees and a search function to search by name, once their ID is checked?

(I am fairly certain that a number of other, much smaller, anime cons I've attended use this method too, and it works wonders)

Thanks for addressing this, though. It really was a serious problem, and I know a lot of attendees who were first-timers and who were extremely put off by how outdated the system was, and it gave them a really bad first impression of the convention. Good luck devising a good plan for next year. Hopefully something will be figured out :)
9th-Sep-2010 01:31 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
I'm not sure if it was you whom I talked to on Thursday after getting my badge, but I know one staffer was appalled at the 3-3:30 hour wait I had as I left. I appreciated you/he paying attention at the time, even if doesn't come across here. It was referenced that it would be similar to on-site, but I had no idea what on-site is like so I wasn't sure. I do know that I would be willing to pay more for my ticket if it helps fund such an action more quickly. Cheap is good, yes, but I want everyone to get enjoy the con at some point with sleep as a common variable for everyone.
9th-Sep-2010 01:48 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Troy, you rock, and if someone hasn't already offered, let me be the first to say that I will bring you the beverage of your choice on registration day. Just let me know before next labor day what you want.

9th-Sep-2010 02:45 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
I was not at D*C this year, but have stood in that long pre-reg line for the previous 5 years. Improvements like this are GREATLY appeciated. The idea of "go to the next available kiosk" will certainly help speed things up. Thank you for addressing a recurring issue and working on a finding a solution to it. I am sure the line will still be long at times, but how fast the line moves will be the deciding factor on if the barcodes work better or not (how long did you spend in line).
9th-Sep-2010 02:53 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Any chance people can get the bar-code emailed to them as well. In case the snail mailed card is lost?
9th-Sep-2010 02:54 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Thank you for all the hard work you and your volunteers have done for us!

I wonder how many people will deliberately "forget" their postcard to get in the Solutions line if it's shorter? ;) As a D*C artist we get our badges via the SD as well, so that should be interesting for next yr... ;)
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9th-Sep-2010 03:00 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
I'll also thank you for taking the time to come and tell us this. The fact that you're making an effort to make changes buys you my thanks and my tolerance in the next year or two while you iron out the details for making this work. (I always expect glitches in new processes.)

I would like to second the request to email the bar codes in addition to snail mailing them. I have a bad history of losing things like that and would love to know that if I needed, I could print out another one and save myself and the reg people some time. Reading comprehension, I has it. Getting it emailed is awesome, thanks.

Edited at 2010-09-09 03:03 am (UTC)
9th-Sep-2010 03:05 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Just a little note to say that I, for one, appreciated the earlier opening time. I waited for 2.5 hours for my badge, as opposed to 4.5 last year. It helped. A lot, actually. I didn't think it was too bad, really, and I totally appreciate the volunteers and all the work that goes into this.

What was a bit annoying (ok, pretty rage-inducing, though I did not act on it) was that I waited forever and was one row away from the front when they apparently called my letter and I did not hear it. When I passed the line for my letter naturally (in row two), there were four (yes, four) people in my line. I was all excited because I was almost there and my wait would be short once I got there. However, when I reached the front naturally (after moving one row), there were about fifty people there all thronged about in no semblance of a line because they had called for M's because the M line was short. So, in essence, fifty people cut in front of me. Now, granted, that's just because I didn't hear my lett, but that is lame, lame, lame. That pissed me off. Calling for letters is just not a good idea ever. Even if the line is short. Just my two cents, as someone who got screwed over by it.

It made me realize that what we need is something like you are describing. All kiosks can handle all names. You get funneled up to the front, then go to the next available kiosk, no matter your name. That eliminates all of this nonsense. Just my two cents.

Hopefully it works and things improve. Thanks for keeping us posted and understanding that there is a problem and working to fix it.
9th-Sep-2010 03:08 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
First of all, thanks for the time that you have taken to address the issues. I was certain that nobody really gave a damn and that you have proven me wrong. I must now make a Public apology for the things that I have said in public.
There are holes in your proposed means of handling next year's Con. A simple ID and confirmation of address will do instead of the
the use of CODE Numbers. Please forgive me if this seems out of place and rude. It appears to me that you are adding more difficulty to your system than you are solving. Mailing security codes to Fans will only get them lost and this will add to your head ache and cure nothing.
The idea of not having a 24 hour staff at an event such as DragonCon is almost mind blowing. Your situation with Volunteers is a monster of your own making, No Pun is meant hear. Allowing free admission to DragonCon for volunteers will cure many ills and not really cost the Con anything.
9th-Sep-2010 03:15 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Troy,

Thank you so much for explaining this. Having worked Registration at other cons I know the frustration and have never blamed the volunteers at the desks. They're only doing what they've been told to, after all.

The fact that the lines will be first come first serve is exactly what I was hoping to hear. It means my boyfriend and I don't have to get married (so we can change our names for free) and take the last name Zod to get into a faster pre-reg line. ;-)

Many thanks to you and your staff for coming up with a new plan that will hopefully make things go more smoothly.
9th-Sep-2010 03:53 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
Well Im glad ur working on this now. The biggest cause for my 3 hr and 45 min wait was that the 10 am start time for Thursday wasnt announced until right before the con. If Id known well in advance I would have taken an earlier flight to take advantage of the lighter early lines.

I like the kiosk idea but why put them all in the same place? If u scatter them around instead of one line of 1500 people ud have 15 lines of 100 people. Whatever u do please let people know well in advance so they can plan accordingly. TIA
9th-Sep-2010 04:12 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
This having been my 14th Dragon*Con in a row, I have seen over the various years the registration lines and yes this year was the worst idea. Even last year I walked in got my badge in less than 10 minutes. The problem is this, space and the lack thereof. I'm not wholly trusting of technology, because one malfunction and the whole system is down and not just one computer and if printers go down there is another problem. The last time I had to wait in a long registration line was 10 years ago when I paid on-site and that was a Saturday. I have infinite patience and don't mind being in line for an hour or so, but because line waits were so long it bodes ill on the Fire Marshall, because the heat could have seriously made many ill. Registration needs to go back to being able to accommodate larger crowds, because being pre-registered shouldn't be punished for paying early. Just weigh the options before making a final decision.
I've always thought highly of the volunteers and yes it appears douche bags have infiltrated the Con.
9th-Sep-2010 04:15 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
THIS! On behalf of all those of us who needed to go shower and change after pre-reg due to being in a room with other hot and sweating people (I did what I could to keep people cool around me, till the fan motor burned out!) for 2 or more hours, thank you oh so much! I will miss being everybody's favorite fangirl, but not that much!
9th-Sep-2010 04:44 am (UTC) - Re: Dragon Con Preregistration solutions
I'm very happy to hear this, and I applaud you guys for taking quick action to get the ball rolling on next year and make it better.

Might I suggest though that you also do your best to limit paper consumption in every way? Don't send postcards at all unless attendees ask for them when they register! Email everything, and then each attendee can print their barcode at home. It would cost you less, use less man hours, and since attendees could print their barcode onto a sheet of paper that might have something else on the back it wouldn't be as big of a waste of paper.

Personally, I wouldn't mind a system like the airport check ins where you would scan the barcode on the back of my driver's license, but I realize that might not be a popular idea (or maybe it would be, who knows?) But still, please don't send postcards unless people ask for them! With the printed lists at this year's con, plus the postcards and everything else, it's a big ecological impact that we don't need to be making.

We're already saving lives through the blood drive, let's make an effort to be eco-friendly as well!
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