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Thoughts about show after our debrief & how to move forward

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Hi Everyone

After having the time to talk to all heads of crew I feel it is time to talk to you about the weekend and what we feel worked, whats needs to be improved and to clear up some of the issues over the weekend.

To start with, it was the busiest LFCC ever and even though we took on a another hall, the venue was full on Saturday by around 12 noon.

For this years event we did expect bigger crowds so we took on more crew, we went from 250 trained crew to 350 and for the first time ever we also took on volunteers that helped with things like holding doors open and running, etc, so the total was around 380.

As well as crew we took on more space in the venue, the Brompton Hall which was a very large space that we had used many years ago to run a entire EMS show in. This extra hall space would help with capacity and also give us a bigger space to put on a Super stage so more people can get into the talks, free or paid, as some of these over the last few years have run out of seats.

These two aspects we felt would cope with the EXPECTED demand from the fans over the weekend.

We also kept an eye on the pre-sold ticket sales as this is a good guide to what to expect, numbers wise.

Every year the numbers attending LFCC go up, sometimes by 10% and in the past couple of years by 20% to 30%, and we try to predict this and after each event we rearrange how the following year will need to expand to cope with the growth. We all work hard at these events - every one of us from newbie crew to all the heads of each department, and if we do not get our predictions right it's very hard work indeed on us all. So we really try to get the numbers right.

This year LFCC we estimated growth of 40% in one weekend, and thats a lot of people to service and look after and provide what they want and expect out of the weekend.

We are all there to help deliver what they want out of the weekend, but some things are out of our control and things in life do change. At that point we are the ones that have to explain why things have changed, make the right choice for the majority of attendees and get the best out of a changing situation so that we can fix it to the best of our ability. We do this every day at LFCC and we are on top of as much of it as we can.

The crowds outside of the venue were very large this year and also there seemed to be many people that felt it was a good idea to wait outside the main doors for the standard entrance to be let in. Some of these people were there from 9.30am and this did not help when we needed to get people in lines ready for the opening. This did continue to create issues for our crew up to 11am, as some standard ticket holders would not move on down to where the Transformers vehicles were parked even when asked several times. This did not help us keep the entrance clear so it was not easy for people to see what doors to go to or where to line up.

 

After the doors are all open and everyone in the lines are in, it wasn't an issue but in the morning it would have been so much easier if some of these people did do as we asked and moved down the to the truck so we could have made our job a little easier. Next time we will have more crew to move people along and communicate this, we had around 25 out there in total and more will be needed next time.

I do have some points I feel need to be understood and clarified.

The Early pre-paid ticket holders line all gained entrance by 10.45am on Saturday

The Standard pre-paid ticket holders line all gained entrance by 12.15pm on Saturday

All Golds and Silvers had a dedicated Entrance and were let in first as normal.

The entrance to the gates at Earls Court are manned by their staff and in the past we have been kept waiting in our car as the other door is opened first. This is not something we have control over and we have tried in the past to get them to open at the same time, but as we are not the only people in the building they will not agree to this happening.

We stopped selling pre-sold Standard tickets way before the cut off time for the online shop. This was so that we did not over sell the event. We did not go over our limit in advance, and we had spare capacity on the day on Saturday for several thousand tickets, however these were used up by many more Early entry walk ups on the morning than was expected.

On Sunday there was never a time where the health and safety officers and ourselves felt there was an issue with capacity and it seemed to be about right all day so there was no need to stop walk-ins

In the future we feel it has come to a point where we are not going to sell on-the-day Walk-in tickets for the Saturday, as this day is now at a point where its going to be at capacity very early. All tickets structures will be looked at fully for next year's event as we are at a point where we are now getting more and more bigger guests offered to us and we will have this type of demand at this event every year. So the way forward will be to first look at pre-selling Saturday only to start with and to keep an eye on if we need to pre sell Sunday also.

We are also looking at exclusive ticket packages for bigger A-list guests, where this would be a dedicated ticket that would guarantee you get to meet this A-list guest and guarantee getting the photo op and signing all in the same ticket. These would be a stand alone ticket with all this included. General admission people would get to buy pre-sold photo ops and autographs at the show (subject to availability) but the people who bought the exclusive packages would get priority first. we want to have these big A list guest at our events, but we do not want people upset when they just turn up and cannot get everything they want, so we feel this maybe the way forward.

Stan Lee's manager and his crew had the last word over what Stan does and will not do. This is subject to change on the day as we are all human and sometimes things change we get tired or we get ill. These things mean that you can agree a contact and have it all worked out but at the end of the day if you are just not up to it you cannot make yourself or make someone do something they they really should not be doing. So we respect that his team have last call on what activities Stan does or does not do. We all want Stan to be meeting fans for many years to come and we would not do anything endanger that.

Stan was flown in on Thursday morning so he could rest up and relax ready for the Friday night signing and this allowed him to be ready. Something we were told not to say was that he was going to film something on Thursday or Friday and when it came clear it was Thursday, Stan told his people "why not do a signing in the morning" that way he could get to see more people at his last European show, we worked out how this could happen and told you all of this extra possibility of meeting this legend.

The Friday pre show signing worked very well and I know many of you got to see him there. This made our day much longer and my crew worked longer hours to make this happen as well as opening up the venue to the public early. You may not be aware that this did have a big cost, but it was right for the fans attending so some of you could see him before and would take the pressure off the other days.

When talking to Stan's people I was told that the photo shots were a good way for him to interact with more people as it is a little faster than a signing session and also its easier on Stan so we renegotiated with Stan's people to take part in more photo ops.

Stan told me himself that the photo ops we had at LFCC - "AMAZING" thats the most efficient he has ever seen anything like that and it was really well run. At the same time I had the only moment really with him over the day as I was busy running the show but I asked him, "so you created all this in a way what dose that feel Like? His response to me was he never thought it would get this big where so many people would care so much to travel to one place it's just astounding , that for me made my day.

On the note of photo ops, all that took place over the weekend were managed well and efficiently and more were taken than ever before even though there was many clashes as there was so many guests. It seems to have been looked after well with the crew helping people to be in the right queues so they got all of them and did not have to miss any of them which was quite a amazing thing, as i say we are here to help.

We have read about one of two things regarding touching guests. At the end of the day our crew pass on what's been asked from the guests themselves and in this case it was communicated that no touching was requested. This can simply be if a guest shakes the hand of everyone in a photo op then they may not be able to sign for 4 hours afterwards. Just think about that. Also most guests are polite and may not want to say no to someone when a hand is offered out, so simply we ask that no touching of the guest please. I think that everyone can understand this if they think about it.

Signing sessions with Stan on Friday went well with numbers will over what was expected of him, he was also enjoying the experience and was in full form.

Saturday again was all within what we had expected and his numbers again were good and above what we felt he would get through during the day, but by the end of the day he was quite tired and it was catching up with him. He did not feel that he could stand and talk to everyone in the meet and greet but he wanted to do it and not let his fans down that had come to meet him. As he was not coming back again it would be their only chance so we suggested that he sat on the stage and talked to them from there in one go and then many would hear what he had to say not just two of three and he could be sitting down and not have to stand. He liked that idea and was happy with the new plan and he could still give everyone who was there special attention.

Sunday was a different story. the day started off when I was informed very late from Stan's team that he was going to arrive late. Stan had a bad night and was very tired. I told them that we could work around this without any issue and if we needed to change photo ops times around we could do this or whatever we needed to make it easy on Stan. So they just keep me up to date on what is happening and what time they thought he would be in - at that time I was told they thought it would be around a hour later than it should have been. At 10.30 his team told me he was going to be there very soon, and at 11.11 he was in the building. He had a very bad night and he wanted to take it easy, so his team and ourselves agreed to take it a little slower and whenever he wanted to stop for a break we would stop.

This was the plan but then halfway through the day I think the tiredness just hit him and hit him hard and he just did not have the energy to keep going. At that time we called a stop to the signing so he could have a bigger rest, at that point his management and ourselves could see talking to Stan he was very tired, but he did not want to let anyone down and he wanted to know if all the gold and silver pass people had been seen and if there was still the talk that fans came for and the photo ops. So we said we would work out a plan.

We agreed to stop the signings and we needed to tell the fans this ASAP. We also agreed to hold on making a decision on if we could go ahead with the photo ops or not and to just see how he felt near the time. If we took some time out for Stan to rest he would be able to do the talk he felt and he so wanted to do that so we put this new plan into action .

I informed everyone personally who was in line about this change of events and that he would not be signing for the people that had been queueing, I also informed as many gold and silver pass holders we could find that we were trying to arrange a signing for them but it was 50/50 at this time but we would try. He wanted to do this for them and we tried to pass over how disappointed Stan was himself as he so wanted to meet as many of you as he could but his team and ourselves felt that we had to protect him as he just wanted to please as many fans as he could but it was not right to let him push himself that much so we went with this plan.

He rested and got ready to go on stage and just before going on stage he said he was up for signing for the last of the silvers and golds that he had not met yet and he was up for the photo ops and was feeling better. He apologised for letting anyone down which we all know is just not the case, he went on to the stage and was full on and a trooper and also did all the photo ops for everyone there.

I hope that helps you understand what was going on behind the scenes now, and at this point I wish to say sorry for anyone that did not get what they wanted from the event or Stan. This is his last ever time here in the UK and we worked very hard to make this happen, everything that was arranged and planned out for Stan to do over the weekend was approved by Stan and his team every step of the way , at no time would we or his team allow Stan to over work himself, but Stan does want to please people and that was something we needed to look out for and look after. We were all there this weekend to give everyone a rare last chance to meet this legend , we know some of you are not happy and did not get everything you wanted, but we did manage to give many people this last chance.

If you feel that we have not acted correctly then do please contact us via email and we will respond to you personally.

I personally would also like to say thank you to the many people that came up to me and thanked me when I had informed them that the signings had stopped for definite, several of you said thank you for being honest and just telling it as it was. It's something I try to do with everyone and I to respect all that attend our events. There were some hard decisions to take but they needed to be taken and we did what was best for the many and the one (i.e Stan Lee.)

Now to some other aspects of the show

The air con was working on all days 100% although some people have said that we only had it on Sunday when it was the fact that it rained in the morning cooling down the hall and the roof and the air helping to keep it a little cooler for longer.
As soon as we saw that there was going to be an issue with the number of people that has turned up for the pay on the day standard walk up tickets we sent two teams of two crew to go up the line to tell everyone in the line that we have had to stop letting people in on this line and we will be letting some in as people leave the event and that it was not looking likely that many of them would gain access ,we we kept them out there till the line started to move again at around 3pm and then we started to go at full speed again as more people when home by the end of the day everyone that had stayed in line go it but many had left to go home but this only happened on the saturday Sunday all that came got into the show.

At no point was there any issues with anyone reporting getting hurt due to the amount of people attending the event. I did deal with one person who trod on a piece of glass which some thoughtless person had left outside, but which i dealt with.

Apart from Stan being tired he loved being at the event and really enjoyed meeting all the fans and he was pleased to have been able to say goodbye to his European fans in such a big way.
We had more comic guests at the event than anywhere in the UK who signed for FREE.
It was the first book zone which was just quite amazing and made a lot of people happy with over 60 authors, again signing for FREE.
More TV/Film guests than at any European con, over 100 of them with more photo ops than ever before and more talks than ever before with lots also being FREE

 

we killed the EE network in Earls Court from Saturday after 11am till around 4pm and again on sunday as the volume of people phoning each other and sending photos to each other was just to much for it to cope.

 

Also we created gridlocks outside Earls Court with the volume of fans attending

 

One last important point: THE DUSTY BATMOBILE :-)

Could I tell you that this was created to look like it had just come out of Acme Chemicals?

Or I could just tell you we took the clean up and prep crew off this task so we could look after the Stan Lee pre show signing as it was a last minute thing we just did not have the crew to do both tasks. Unfortunately these volunteers do not grow on trees and finding good people at short notice it hard. So it ended up with having a dusty Batmobile at the show. for that I am sorry also.

We at Showmasters do listen and we do not make the same mistakes twice. we will take on board all your points and fix the things that need fixing and improving like we do every year. New things have to start somewhere and be improved till they are running well , just like we did with our photo ops, and VQ systems. In the end we will get it running to the standards you expect from us.
On a personal note we only ever want to run the best events that are safe, fun and something to look back on and be proud of. this weekend I did not get to see much of the event as it was so busy and things needed attention so there was little time to stand back and see what we in the office have been working towards for the last year, but it will all have been worth it if we have made the majority of people happy over the weekend. If not we are truly sorry and we will work hard to get it right for everyone in the future.
Thank you for taking the time to read all this and i hope you see we do care and do want to get it right for you all.
Yours sincerely
Jason
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Hi Jason,

 

Thanks for the post, i had a wonderful time and although it was busy i like the ideas you have suggested. The fact that bigger guests are getting available and is great, i like the idea of special packages as well. Perhaps as well Friday could be made a full day, this could make things more spread out over the weekend perhaps?

 

Thanks for this years event and i am looking forward to future events and seeing how LFCC grows from now.

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Well sorry Jason, but I bought a Pre-Paid Early Bird on Saturday in advance online and didn't get in the building until 10.30.....and that was because I was "bumped" by a Crew Member (Blue Shirt) to try and not miss my David Hewlett Photo Op...and there were HUNDREDS of people with Early Bird tickets behind me, including my husband....perhaps we all had our watches set to British Winter Time and it was really 9.30???? :whistling:

 

 

Sorry to be nit-picky, but I don't like being dismissed as a liar.... :(

 

 

Especially as I've stated this twice on threads that have been "moved" :(

Edited by discodiva
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Hi Jason, I think the no of passes needs to go back to normal for the next show. The queues just can't handle the amount of people with priority at this last show.

 

So please take that on board when thinking about these new dedicated tickets for the big guests. You don't want to alienate people who can't afford pricier tickets in their budgets.

 

Roll on LFCCW!

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Thank you for this. It has clarified a lot and your response is much appreciated.

I would just like to add... not to stir up trouble but to just put fact across... as an early bird ticket holder myself, I was not actually in the venue until around 10:35. Not a huge difference in time but I was in the queue with everyone else and that's the I stepped through the doors.

 

Look forward to WLFCC :)

 

Axe.

Edited by AxelV
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I had a blast and managed 41 autographs and 12 photo ops........great guest line up.......great crew......hope people read the explanation above and understand that no one can control how many people turn up on the day.

 

Buy tickets in advance....that helps.....big ticket packages are a great idea.

 

I tried to help people over the weekend as a seasoned con-goer but to be honest a lot of the pay on the day turn up at 1pm sorts were quite rude to me and others...so I have mixed feelings about people who come and spend less than £30 expecting everything and treating the crew or attendees with disrespect.

 

I don't think people realise how well run these events are compared to most out there.

 

roll on LFCC 2015!

Edited by phillycheesesteak
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The event costs just seem to be going up, and up and up.

 

More exclusive tickets, and higher prices is all that I see.

 

Instead of tacking the real issues, its just going to get worse, and more and more people are going to be disappointed. :grump:

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I do like the idea of saturday being pre-sale only. I think the most major issue this year was the amount of both early and standard walk-ups being waaaay more than anyone expected.

 

Which is awesome, as it means these types of shows are getting a widr and wider audience and fanbase. But it also can ruin even the best-laid plans by an organiser. As I've said elsewhere, the event and guests are now a little too big for EC2 to handle with THAT many on-the-day people. So having at least one of the days, if not both, being pre-paid only would be good.

 

Maybe have the first x number of pre-paids be blue tickets and the 2nd half be red and still have the two queues on either side of the entrance, so it isnt just one massive pre-paid queue. And still have early and standard as again that helps to split up the crowds.

 

I will say I enjoyed this LFCC far less than others, but really it was mainly things out of your control (amount of people, the heat ect). I personally felt the air con here and there on saturday, so it WAS on. It's just the sheer amount of heat from everyone in the hall basically made it redunant.

 

I love that you take the time to address things and de-brief. Most organisers dont, so thank you. And thank you for making a pretty mad event run as well as you could with the space and crew you had :)

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I enjoyed the event and thank you for putting it on especially the power rangers, David and Bulk and SKull were simply amazing, they intercated with everyone and were hilarious.

 

Thank you and will see you at Glasgow as crew

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I bought my tickets well in advance but I still didn't feel safe in that event on the Saturday, my asthma played up due to the heat and not being able to move properly through the crowds so the anxiety of that did not help with the asthma, my inhaler was so overused that day it was ridiculous. It also didn't help that no one was allowed to get out through the side exits and as such having to squeeze everyone through that bottleneck by Kenny Baker and a cafe was atrocious and definitely unsafe when you're already feeling distressed.

Tickets need to be limited at the next one of these otherwise someone will be seriously injured and quite frankly I'm amazed no one was this time.

I disagree with you phillycheesesteak about how well run these events are compared to others but as someone else has stated we cannot do that on these boards, but I've already been to 3 events run by 2 other different companies and I felt safe at every single one of them except for this one.

Edited by ericsdonor
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It was one hell of a weekend, But I did 61 photos in the three days... Missed none (blue/Red shirts helped out) Big thank you to some Gold People who even let me in front of them so I could get to the next clashing photo. Would like to see the Friday become a whole day or open a few hours earlier even at Midday.... Would really help to meet the big guests. :smile:

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May I ask what happened at the Game of Thrones screening and who the special guest was meant to be? Cheers Jason!

 

I will be back for sure non the less :)

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Thankyou SM and Jason for your statement. I hope that it calms those who are upset.

 

I love the sound of the exclusive packages. I'm very excited for next years LFCC and wish I could go to the Winter Con.

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The game of thrones "special guest" was a Joffrey piñata 😒

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The game of thrones "special guest" was a Joffrey piñata

 

I had heard though that the guest actually cancelled and they resorted to that?

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Hi Jason

 

Thanks for the post.

I was there for the Friday preview and all day on Saturday.

The organisation was very good, as ever, but moving around the hall on Saturday from about 10.30am - 3pm was very difficult due to the sheer volume of attendees. Trying to get from the main talk stage to a photo op was nigh impossible - I'd suggest a couple of 'express' lanes through the hall so those not shopping can get through, and these might help the wheelchair users and those on crutches get by without getting battered and bruised!

 

Thanks to all the crew for coping in very trying conditions.

 

Firko

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The event costs just seem to be going up, and up and up.

 

More exclusive tickets, and higher prices is all that I see.

 

Instead of tacking the real issues, its just going to get worse, and more and more people are going to be disappointed. :grump:

 

That's the issue though. If you keep everything open to everyone and cheap, this weekend happens all over again. People just wander up at a random time and fill up the hall or the queues outside. And then those are the vocal people who will complain and call the event rubbish because they were too cramped or didnt get in.

 

And it's not liek we can easily just go somewhere else. There's only really the Excel (which is expensive to hire lots of) or (and it'll sound crazy) the O2 arena. I dont think there is anywhere else in London big enough for how big this event has become. So if SM cant afford those 2 places without making tickets crazy expensive for us, then they have to stay at EC2 and work out ways to cut down the attendees slightly. So pre-paid only is a great way to do that.

 

EVERY walk of life has increased prices these days. I'm sure all the stuff Jason and co have to pay for to run these events has gone up recently, so they have to make that back some how.

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The online only tickets sounds like a fantastic idea! As I've said before, plenty of people see the adverts etc and learn from word of mouth so it would almost definitely work.

 

Also good idea with the exclusive package deals on bigger guests. I would definitely buy one for guests i wanted :) x

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I personally think you guys did an awesome job considering how busy it was! You can honestly not please everyone, no matter how hard you tried!

 

If possible, could Extra Help Passes be made available before events? We had no issue picking ours up but it was manic at the organisers' booth and I feel like this would help reduce the workload there and make it easier for disabled customers when arriving at the shows.

Edited by MrsEllacott
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- 'Package deal' tickets for A list guests=good idea (assuming the price is within reason)

- Pre sold tickets only for Saturday=good idea

 

Hope both can be implemented in future.

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Thanks for the update, Jason.

 

Stopping walk-ins on a Saturday sounds sounds great as, provided the online store tickets are capped at a sensible level, that should keep the hall from becoming too overcrowded as it was that day (I'm prepared for wading through lots of people, but that really was a bit scary at times). However, I hope some thought is being put into the policy re online sales cut-off, though, as it means that people who would come for last-minute guests wouldn't be able to do so (assuming that ticket sales were still at an acceptable level for this to happen). E-tickets would be a solution here - less hassle on the office, less chance of the wrong ticket being sent out, more flexibility for the fans, more sales for SM (and smaller queues at the sales desks!). I know it's a big investment, but I hope it's still an option being considered.

 

Hot and squishy conditions aside, I had a brilliant (if exhausting!) time and am looking forward to the next one.

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Issues aside, thank you for organising the event and giving me the opportunity to meet Stan Lee. Much respect to him for doing what he did to please his fans (a real inspiration) and the hard work you and your crew endured during the weekend to make it all happen.

 

I do like the idea of a ticket that gets you an auto and photo op with a particular guest; and would definitely be something I'd consider buying if it guaranteed me the chance to meet the guest I'm travelling across the country for.

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The exclusive packages are great ideas, but maybe only for the 2/3 biggest guests? Usually that's the amount of guests that are the BIG draws (Stan, Carrie, even Summer this time) so if they had something like you described, that would be cool. And again, make is rather limited and online-only. So say, 50/100 per guest.

 

That way, a decent amount of people buy it and get through early and quickly, but you still have time to get through another 300+ normal attendees with ease.

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LFCC is your flagship event but is only 2 and 1/4 days!...that's part of the problem, similar events of this size (attendance numbers) in US/Can moved to 4 days. I think LFCC deserves to expand to at least a full 3rd day :)

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I have to ask, would as many people have turned up on the day if the likes of Stan Lee and Carrie Fisher hadn't been there? I mean, for the Saturday, take those two guests out and your headliners are Summer Glau, John Hurt and the Game of Thrones guests?

Last year I attended and met Dave Prowse, Kenny Baker, Peter Mayhew and none of them had queues all day long. This year Dave, Kenny and Jeremy Bulloch had big queues each time I waked past, which to me seems a knock on effect of Carrie being there.

It's obvious that Stan won't be at the next event, and highly unlikely that Carrie will either, so will the crowd be as big? Unless you have another huge name and other actors associated for a knock on effect.

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