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Fair ticket selling methods for large conventions

anabbeynormalityanabbeynormality Registered User regular
edited May 2012 in Debate and/or Discourse
The argument about this topic was closed in the PAX forum and the mod said that this was the appropriate place to have this discussion, so I'll bite. Let's discuss.

I am one of the many disappointed people who completely missed the window and are unable to attend. I am frustrated, but I'm hoping this is a constructive conversation about finding the best solution for the future, not a place just to complain and express anger. I know the PA staff were as surprised as everyone else that they sold so fast, and I really hope they consider making improvements for next year.

Since the convention is so popular, there are always going to be people who don't get to go, and it's human nature for those who missed out to feel like it's unfair and for those who got tickets to feel like it's fair. I am trying to approach this from the idea that if I was unable to get a pass regardless, which system would make me feel like I had the most fair and equal opportunity?

Here is a list of ideas assembled from previous discussion:

1. Announce a day/time ahead of time for tickets to go on sale.

2. Choose a time in the evening, Pacific time to allow for west coast professionals to be home from work.

3. Sell tickets in batches so people can have multiple options/opportunities for attempting to get tickets.

4. Use a lottery system.

5. Make badges non-transferable and require photo ID or credit card verification at the convention.

6. Use alternative notification methods in addition to Twitter.

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  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    BTW, just so this doesn't get mired down in the details of PAX itself, this issue has also been a problem for Burning Man and San Diego Comic Con in the last year.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I recommend linking the other thread. Lots of good points already made there. I'd do it, but I'm phone poastin'.

  • FencingsaxFencingsax Registered User regular
    ...Burning Man has tickets?

    It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it
    SmrtnikA Dabble Of TheloniusSkeith
  • ThanatosThanatos Registered User regular
    The main problem is just the physical limitations on number of people.

    I think a mitigating factor for this would be to not sell three-day badges at all, and try to have the same panels and things on multiple days. Sure, it will limit the content a bit more, but it would allow way more people to go to PAX.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I will repeat the idea that any system will ultimately come down to rewarding either sweat, cash, or luck. Or some combination.

    Right now pax rewards mostly sweat or cash. If you put in the effort you got a Three day, or you pay a little more for three singles, or you pay a scalper.

    As any event sells out fast enough, that shifts towards luck and cash. No amount of effort can necessarily overcome a one minute sellout, so you get lucky or you pay a scalper.

    I personally don't dig the lottery idea, because it takes the choice out of my hands. I can pay more, and I'm willing.

    In the end its a zero sum game, and many of the calls for fairness are really about wanting a better chance that you have a seat when the music stops.

    I will say that some means of legitimately transferring passes would be great.

    fugacitySkeleVaderOkazaki
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Thanatos wrote: »
    The main problem is just the physical limitations on number of people.

    I think a mitigating factor for this would be to not sell three-day badges at all, and try to have the same panels and things on multiple days. Sure, it will limit the content a bit more, but it would allow way more people to go to PAX.

    True that, and this really is the only good solution (finding a way to increase supply).

    Otherwise it's just arguing over how we pick the winners.

    Okazaki
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    First, in order to discourage the purchase of a three day pass that will only be used for two days, I would raise the price of a three day pass to fall somewhere between the price of purchasing two and three individual day passes. For example, a single day pass currently costs 35 dollars, whereas a three day pass costs 65. I would raise the cost of a three day pass to somewhere between 85 and 90 dollars, making it more economical to those who want to go all three days, but removes the incentive for those people who want to go only two days from buying a cheaper pass.

    Second, there absolutely needs to be greater notification of when tickets will go on sale. The Penny-Arcade store has my e-mail address, and I regularly get e-mails from them, so it should be relatively simple for the store to send me notifications of when tickets go on sale.

    steam_sig.png
    BloodyMaryJinxedJoker
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Fencingsax wrote: »
    ...Burning Man has tickets?

    Yes, people pay $300 for the privilege of spending a week naked covered in caustic dust in a place with no running water.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
    JinxedJokerDedwrekka
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    First, in order to discourage the purchase of a three day pass that will only be used for two days, I would raise the price of a three day pass to fall somewhere between the price of purchasing two and three individual day passes. For example, a single day pass currently costs 35 dollars, whereas a three day pass costs 65. I would raise the cost of a three day pass to somewhere between 85 and 90 dollars, making it more economical to those who want to go all three days, but removes the incentive for those people who want to go only two days from buying a cheaper pass.

    I think this makes perfect sense and I don't understand why it isn't already that way.
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    Second, there absolutely needs to be greater notification of when tickets will go on sale. The Penny-Arcade store has my e-mail address, and I regularly get e-mails from them, so it should be relatively simple for the store to send me notifications of when tickets go on sale.

    This won't help anything.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    I also like Than's opinion as a possible solution. You also actually help encourage the community aspects of PAX by doing so, because when you have the same content every day, attendees may branch out into other areas on subsequent days, like playing games in the board game area, or playing Dungeons & Dragons, etc.

    steam_sig.png
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I will say this : people may hate scalpers, and I do too, but knowing they're out there makes me feel safer, now that I have money. Sure, it sucks when somebody uses cash to pull the ticket out of your hand, but I dare anybody to say y I'm somehow less of a fan.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    I also like Than's opinion as a possible solution. You also actually help encourage the community aspects of PAX by doing so, because when you have the same content every day, attendees may branch out into other areas on subsequent days, like playing games in the board game area, or playing Dungeons & Dragons, etc.

    Yeah, that's a good idea too.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • DoctorArchDoctorArch Curmudgeon Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Feral wrote: »
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    Second, there absolutely needs to be greater notification of when tickets will go on sale. The Penny-Arcade store has my e-mail address, and I regularly get e-mails from them, so it should be relatively simple for the store to send me notifications of when tickets go on sale.

    This won't help anything.

    Why not? Better to know when tickets at least go on sale so I can at least try instead of having mcdermott post in the forums telling us that the three day passes were all gone, informing all of us that the tickets were on sale and we better get them quick.

    It wasn't just that they went so quickly, but that no one knew when they did. It doesn't fix the overall problem, but it does help to mitigate the "right place at the right time" problem.

    DoctorArch on
    steam_sig.png
  • Disco11Disco11 Registered User regular
    Has Mike or Jerry posted anything about the situation yet?

    steam_sig.png
    gamertag: Canadianllama
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I think buying all the local ballroom space for tabletop and other freeplay would help. Maybe have a separate expo hall pass....so I can buy a three day "general" pass for panels and events, but only bother with a Friday badge for expo. Half the time I'm on the Hall floor I'm just killing time anywayn


    but really I find the general conversation about event ticketing more interesting than PAX specific issues.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    FFor pax specifically, item one has to be finding some way to expand supply without changing the nature of the con... Or changing it as little as possible.

    JinxedJoker
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    Second, there absolutely needs to be greater notification of when tickets will go on sale. The Penny-Arcade store has my e-mail address, and I regularly get e-mails from them, so it should be relatively simple for the store to send me notifications of when tickets go on sale.

    This won't help anything.

    Why not? Better to know when tickets at least go on sale so I can at least try instead of having mcdermott post in the forums telling us that the three day passes were all gone, informing all of us that the tickets were on sale and we better get them quick.

    It wasn't just that they went so quickly, but that no one knew when they did. It doesn't fix the overall problem, but it does help to mitigate the "right place at the right time" problem.

    Because everybody else who wants tickets (scalpers and genuine attendees) will get the same notification.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    A lottery system is certainly the most 'fair.'* Let people opt in for some appropriate amount of time (a week or whatever), then just create a random list. If you don't buy before a certain deadline your ticket goes to the next guy.

    This also seems like the method likely to generate the most rage, though. It seems like selling tickets in batches would probably do the most to alleviate people's issues, although it might cost more for the convention to do it that way.

    *all of this of course depends on what you consider 'fair.' Think whatever you want about scalpers, they are a mechanism which corrects the price of tickets for demand in the market. You could make an equally valid case that scalpers make the ticket market more 'fair,' or that the 'fairest' method would be to simply sell the tickets by public auction.

    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
    SkeleVader
  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    Personally, I just think you should make tickets nontransferable and require picture ID.

    It wouldn't work for Burning Man (because people want to use their cutesy pseudonyms) but fuck Burning Man.

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
    TL DR
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I said it in a million times in the other thread, but they've made it known that twitter is the way they notify. That's how I heard they went on sale, and that three days sold out.. You can have it forwarded to a text number, and from there (via Google voice) to an email as well. But twitter works. Well.

    A lot of people chose not to use it, or didn't know. Now hopefully they do.

  • Mojo_JojoMojo_Jojo When life gives you lemons... ...eat your delicious lemonsRegistered User regular
    Feral wrote: »
    Personally, I just think you should make tickets nontransferable and require picture ID.

    It wouldn't work for Burning Man (because people want to use their cutesy pseudonyms) but fuck Burning Man.

    Isn't that now Glastonbury has worked for the last few years?

    Homogeneous distribution of your varieties of amuse-gueule
  • Eat it You Nasty Pig.Eat it You Nasty Pig. tell homeland security 'we are the bomb'Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    I don't really get the mania for making the passes nontransferable. It enables scalpers, but it also enables multiple people to use one pass.

    Last time I went to a PAX was a couple years ago; my brother bought a pass but could only go one day, so he gave me the pass for the other two. In other circumstances we'd have both had to buy one, meaning one less for somebody else.

    ed: it also potentially makes entry lines an even bigger clusterfuck than they already can be

    Eat it You Nasty Pig. on
    gkcmatch_zps97480250.jpg
    if the rapture don't come cousin, then pass the guns
    I'll burn'em for the return of my investment funds
    JinxedJoker
  • BobCescaBobCesca Registered User regular
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Personally, I just think you should make tickets nontransferable and require picture ID.

    It wouldn't work for Burning Man (because people want to use their cutesy pseudonyms) but fuck Burning Man.

    Isn't that now Glastonbury has worked for the last few years?

    Yep. Glasto has had non-transferable named, photo id tickets for a while now in a vague attempt to beat the scalpers. And also for security reasons, allegedly.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    I don't really get the mania for making the passes nontransferable. It enables scalpers, but it also enables multiple people to use one pass.

    Last time I went to a PAX was a couple years ago; my brother bought a pass but could only go one day, so he gave me the pass for the other two. In other circumstances we'd have both had to buy one, meaning one less for somebody else.

    ed: it also potentially makes entry lines an even bigger clusterfuck than they already can be

    I mentioned this specifically on the last page of the other thread. ;)

    ant "fix" has it's own problems, which is why I'm curious just how bad the scalping issue is here anyway.

  • FeralFeral Who needs a medical license when you've got style? Registered User regular
    I don't really get the mania for making the passes nontransferable. It enables scalpers, but it also enables multiple people to use one pass.

    Last time I went to a PAX was a couple years ago; my brother bought a pass but could only go one day, so he gave me the pass for the other two. In other circumstances we'd have both had to buy one, meaning one less for somebody else.

    ed: it also potentially makes entry lines an even bigger clusterfuck than they already can be

    Buy one-day passes? :rotate:

    every person who doesn't like an acquired taste always seems to think everyone who likes it is faking it. it should be an official fallacy.
    the "no true scotch, man" fallacy.
  • anabbeynormalityanabbeynormality Registered User regular
    mcdermott wrote: »
    In the end its a zero sum game, and many of the calls for fairness are really about wanting a better chance that you have a seat when the music stops.

    I will say that some means of legitimately transferring passes would be great.

    Doesn't the method matter though? In a win/lose game, I think it greatly matters to the loser if the game was fair. If I miss out on a lottery system, then I know that everyone got an equal chance, but if I miss out because the time was unannounced and I happen to be working, then that feels very unfair.

    It sounds like you would want to keep the system of scalpers because you're willing to pay more to attend the conference. On one hand, it makes sense to say that those who really want to attend are willing to pay more and therefore that's fair, but on the other hand, should how much someone "wants" to go be defined by how much they are able to pay, and is it ethical that scalpers make hundreds of dollar off exploiting the system?

    How about this proposition? What if they found away to eliminate scalpers (no ticket transfers - require photo ID), but they reserved a certain number of tickets to be auctioned off with the proceed going to Child's Play? That way, those who are willing to spend more to guarantee their tickets would at least be putting that money towards a good cause? Additionally, those who buy the tickets would know with 100% certainty that they are legitimate.

  • anabbeynormalityanabbeynormality Registered User regular
    DoctorArch wrote: »
    First, in order to discourage the purchase of a three day pass that will only be used for two days, I would raise the price of a three day pass to fall somewhere between the price of purchasing two and three individual day passes. For example, a single day pass currently costs 35 dollars, whereas a three day pass costs 65. I would raise the cost of a three day pass to somewhere between 85 and 90 dollars, making it more economical to those who want to go all three days, but removes the incentive for those people who want to go only two days from buying a cheaper pass.

    Second, there absolutely needs to be greater notification of when tickets will go on sale. The Penny-Arcade store has my e-mail address, and I regularly get e-mails from them, so it should be relatively simple for the store to send me notifications of when tickets go on sale.

    I don't know how many people buy a 3-day pass with the intention of only attending for two days, but I think it makes sense that a 3-day pass should no be cheaper than 2 individual passes. Paying an additional $20-30 dollars shouldn't have a huge financial effect on attendees and think of all the amazing things they could do with the additional revenue.

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Ha, I was about to suggest auctioning off the last thousand or two passes for child's play, and we lost data coverage in the mountains.

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    The best solution is to go to a lottery system. So, you go to the website, enter your billing info and what is the minimum and maximum number of tickets you want to buy. Everyone who wants a ticket can do this over a day. Then, the next day the system randomly assigns all the tickets and bills everyone the price of the number of tickets they got. No refunds, no exchanges, and no one credit card or account can be used to apply for more than say 0.01% of the total tickets.

    So, I'd go on and say "I'm Steve James, I'll be paying with VISA #3324 and I want to buy 2-4 tickets"

    Then, If I'm lucky the next day I'll get a message saying "Congratulations, you've been assigned 3 tickets. Your card has been billed $300. See you there"

    Then it comes down to luck.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Mix it up. Sell 40% normally, unannounced. Then hold a lottery for 40%. Then auction off 20%, with excess over face going to charity.

    Adjust ratios as desired.

  • anabbeynormalityanabbeynormality Registered User regular
    A lottery system is certainly the most 'fair.'* Let people opt in for some appropriate amount of time (a week or whatever), then just create a random list. If you don't buy before a certain deadline your ticket goes to the next guy.

    This also seems like the method likely to generate the most rage, though. It seems like selling tickets in batches would probably do the most to alleviate people's issues, although it might cost more for the convention to do it that way.

    *all of this of course depends on what you consider 'fair.' Think whatever you want about scalpers, they are a mechanism which corrects the price of tickets for demand in the market. You could make an equally valid case that scalpers make the ticket market more 'fair,' or that the 'fairest' method would be to simply sell the tickets by public auction.

    The lottery system would certainly make people feel like they have less control and that may make some people angrier. At least with pre-announced times and selling in batches, people feel like they can do something to increase their chances, even though it might come down to luck with the servers being overloaded anyway.

    That's a good point about scalpers, but at the same time, the opportunity to make hundreds of dollars for virtually no effort is going to create a much larger rush for ticket sales. In addition, without any means to confirm legitimacy of the passes prior to the conference, it also creates the opportunity for scammers. Lastly, given the very cheap prices of PAX passes which makes it affordable for many people, I think it really goes against the spirit of the conference that people are being exploited for hundreds of dollars. Maybe instead, they should set aside 10-20% of tickets to be auctioned off so those who are willing to pay that much to assure their spot can and that money can go to Child's Play.

  • anabbeynormalityanabbeynormality Registered User regular
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Personally, I just think you should make tickets nontransferable and require picture ID.

    It wouldn't work for Burning Man (because people want to use their cutesy pseudonyms) but fuck Burning Man.

    Isn't that now Glastonbury has worked for the last few years?

    Yep. Glasto has had non-transferable named, photo id tickets for a while now in a vague attempt to beat the scalpers. And also for security reasons, allegedly.

    Has anyone been to Glastonbury. Does this seems to work well logistically?

  • tbloxhamtbloxham Registered User regular
    BobCesca wrote: »
    Mojo_Jojo wrote: »
    Feral wrote: »
    Personally, I just think you should make tickets nontransferable and require picture ID.

    It wouldn't work for Burning Man (because people want to use their cutesy pseudonyms) but fuck Burning Man.

    Isn't that now Glastonbury has worked for the last few years?

    Yep. Glasto has had non-transferable named, photo id tickets for a while now in a vague attempt to beat the scalpers. And also for security reasons, allegedly.

    Has anyone been to Glastonbury. Does this seems to work well logistically?

    The problem with that is that ticket access still massively favors those who can simply sit at their computers at 6AM or whatever on release day with a robot to buy the tickets for them or something. It helps to prevent agencies buying up all the tickets, but still doesn't let people at work (or in different time zones) have convenient access. Lottery system + Photos is even better.

    Your puny weapons are useless against me
  • YarYar Registered User regular
    edited May 2012
    Is it not an option to get a larger space?

    I mean, there are conventions that successfully host 100s of 1000s.

    EDIT: sorry if that's naive or ignorant

    Yar on
  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    Is it not an option to get a larger space?

    I mean, there are conventions that successfully host 100s of 1000s.

    EDIT: sorry if that's naive or ignorant

    Not without leaving seattle. And likely not without changing the character of the con.

    SkeleVader
  • YarYar Registered User regular
  • DeebaserDeebaser Alpha Teemo Registered User regular
    tbloxham wrote: »
    The best solution is to go to a lottery system. So, you go to the website, enter your billing info and what is the minimum and maximum number of tickets you want to buy. Everyone who wants a ticket can do this over a day. Then, the next day the system randomly assigns all the tickets and bills everyone the price of the number of tickets they got. No refunds, no exchanges, and no one credit card or account can be used to apply for more than say 0.01% of the total tickets.

    So, I'd go on and say "I'm Steve James, I'll be paying with VISA #3324 and I want to buy 2-4 tickets"

    Then, If I'm lucky the next day I'll get a message saying "Congratulations, you've been assigned 3 tickets. Your card has been billed $300. See you there"

    Then it comes down to luck.

    What about the case where you want go with one other person?
    Personally in this case I'd put in for 5 just for the extra chances and "scalp" any extras I get at face + service + ~10% "convenience".

  • mcdermottmcdermott Registered User regular
    Yar wrote: »
    Sounds elitist.

    It has nothing to do with elitism. A huge arena concert will always be a fundamentally different experience than a small club show. You make it big enough, it turns into a different experience. I've already made it clear we should look for ways to allow as many more people as possible to enjoy it, without changing it more than necessary. That's, like, the opposite of elitism.

  • CptHamiltonCptHamilton Registered User regular
    Deebaser wrote: »
    tbloxham wrote: »
    The best solution is to go to a lottery system. So, you go to the website, enter your billing info and what is the minimum and maximum number of tickets you want to buy. Everyone who wants a ticket can do this over a day. Then, the next day the system randomly assigns all the tickets and bills everyone the price of the number of tickets they got. No refunds, no exchanges, and no one credit card or account can be used to apply for more than say 0.01% of the total tickets.

    So, I'd go on and say "I'm Steve James, I'll be paying with VISA #3324 and I want to buy 2-4 tickets"

    Then, If I'm lucky the next day I'll get a message saying "Congratulations, you've been assigned 3 tickets. Your card has been billed $300. See you there"

    Then it comes down to luck.

    What about the case where you want go with one other person?
    Personally in this case I'd put in for 5 just for the extra chances and "scalp" any extras I get at face + service + ~10% "convenience".

    Yeah, I wouldn't use a system wherein I may end up either buying tickets that I have no legal use for or end up with one ticket and unable to take my wife along. Either way I've wasted money.

    Regarding changing the nature of the con: I don't really see how increasing the floor space changes the nature of the event. It's already big. Leaving Seattle might change the con, but PAX East seems to be doing well enough.

    OptimusZed wrote: »
    Jesus, people. This thread is like a running gunbattle with stupid bullets.
    A Dabble Of Thelonius
  • TheBlackWindTheBlackWind Registered User regular
    Lottery really does make more sense. Or batches released at scheduled times (alternate times to account for work and such) being the alternate, even though it still technically favors non-workers.

    Pricing change and non-transferable would be nice too.

    I dunno, I was considering going since I didn't get a delegate slot for the dnc, but totally missed the window while working. I'm not particularly crushed, but for someone who might have really wanted to, that would be awful.

    Pokemon Black FC: 0518-7386-3511
    Pokemon Black 2: 0519-5108-3139
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