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Thoughts about show after our debrief & how to move forward

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Me and my partner had a fairly good weekend and got all our photos and autographs however there were at least 2 photo shoots that overran by at least 30minutes which caused problems for us on the day. We also found shoots in photo area D were the only ones (that we queued for) being called in number batches. We had low numbers for all our shoots as we pre-booked but the queues were often not organized properly so we had to wait ages. I also personally found the building to crowded and I could barely move through the stalls let alone look at anything. I also felt there was chaos at the book signings with so many people not knowing what authors were where. I think more organization would make it more comfortable for everyone but at the same time every event is bound to go wrong somewhere and the important thing is that people got what they came for and it sounds like most people did.

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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 :)

The screening, yes! What happened there?? My only real complaint...

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Wristbands replacing tickets, with people going down the queue to do this before the con opens, makes a lot of sense.

 

Stop pay-on-the-day entry and split entry queues to help get everyone in quickly.

 

Perhaps for the last minute guests do e-tickets for things like photoshoots so you still have the normal ticket system for the things you could buy in advance and people don't need to have lots of printed out bits of paper (as someone whose printer is tempramental at the best of times I am not a fan of etickets and having etickets replacing all the tickets I had for LFCC would be a nightmare). This way for things like Anthony Head you can buy photoshoots online last minute, reducing the queues at the sales desk and helping Showmasters actually schedule how long photoshoots need to be.

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I've just not got the time to go through all the posts to see what's been covered or not,

 

1. People speak of a bigger venue, so given that Earls court may be demolished ( though these things can drag out ) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-23175255 , Where else in London do people know of that could comfortably hold LFCC based on this year's size and number of attendees. I'd reckon Excel is out the question straight away..

 

2. Water : Bring your own, simple as that, Showmasters are NOT there to provide or sell this to you, Can you imagine the cost and resource in doing this ? and where do you think that cost will be passed on to ?

 

3. Health and Safety : This is as much the VENUE's responsibility as it as those hiring the venue, But I feel it takes both parties to be observant in this aspect and raise it accordingly.

 

4. Venue food prices : The eateries in Earl's court will have a deal with Earl's court to provide this service, Nothing SM or anyone can do about this.

 

5. THe new tickets being discussed, They're only being discussed/ mooted as far as I can see, It's not been said they're definetly doing it.

 

6. Crew : They are volunteers just like you or I, I personally wouldn't have the patience to deal with some of the things I witnessed over the weekend, but if you feel so strongly , why don't those referring to the crew offer to crew?

 

7. Smoking : A friend and I reported that there were those smoking other substances at the gate on Earl's court property on the West Brompton side, we mentioned this to a Security officer in the blue vest as we walked up, he merely shrugged his shoulders, so we reported this to the info desk who did say they'd pass this on, whether they did or not is another matter. But I would have thought it should be up to the venue staff to enforce this ?

 

I'll admit I didn't quite enjoy it as much as previous years, and was after a Stan Lee auto, but I went in prepared for the fact that there were several hundred ( thousand ? ) other attendees also after his auto, so knew there was a possibility of not getting one. But did get a photo with him.

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I go for the comics side & have pressed for bigger name guests for quite a while and when this does happen all hell breaks loose. Getting more comic dealers would also be good news.

Maybe it's time for the comics and film sides to be split into 2 separate events?

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Overall I had a fantastic time at my first convention and have no real complaints. got all my photos I wanted and only missed out on 2 autographs from summer glau and lena headey which was my fault as I underestimated how busy they would be at the autograph tables. I want to say I thought the showmasters staff did a good job given the incredible number of people that was there on Saturday when I went

 

as for getting in the venue I got in the venue at around 9:20 am which.

 

think for next time there needs to be bigger signs showing what number the vt queue is at as the signs were too small meaning people had to walk pretty much right up to the sign to see what the number was which caused logjams at times. also think as much as possible have the tickets just pre sale only and hardly have any walk ups

Edited by brooketessmacherfan

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Thank you Jason for taking the time to get back to us and for clarifying the "Stan Lee" situation. In regards to the over crowding, i and others made comments about not being able to exit the building (i specifically wrote that i was refused to use an emergency exit as i had been trying to exit for ten minutes!)

 

Other comments I made have also not yet had a response such as:

 

Queues for buying tickets for photoshoots: These must be policed more vigourously for fiarness to attendees to stop queue jumping and they need to be quicker as attendees missed out on purchasing photo shoots for that night.

 

Trailerfest: Three trailers on a loop is not a "trailerfest" - were there supposed to be more or was it always just the three?

 

smoking righto outside the front of the building in a non-smoking areas, this is illegal.

 

"kettling" of attendees at photo shoots

 

Guest talks: will attendees actually have th e oppertunity to put questions to the guests and not have your compere hogging the mic?

 

I read your suggestion about exclusive autograph & photograph packages for the A-List Guests and whilst in theory this seems an interesting idea, i would like to think that there would be no real extra cost to the attendee as you may aswell just purchase a Gold/Silver Ticket. If that is the case, then why not make more Gold and Silver tickets available.

 

Looking forward to your response:)

 

People have been smoking outside the building ever since I have started attending and that was after the smoking ban. As far as I am aware, in terms of the law, it is not illegal. It happens outside theatres and other similar buildings regularly.

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You can do the scanning in the queue though. As people queue 2 hours before the event starts anyway, its better use of that time. Then straight in when the doors open.

 

That's a good idea. The only problem would be the queue jumpers. Anyone jumping the queue would not get scanned as the crew member with the scanner would have already been to that part of the queue making it easy to enter the event without paying.

 

And what are we to do about the queue jumpers problem ? Everyone hates it, but nobody says a word. People walking past hundreds of attendees that have been queuing for hours to be with their mates. Those already in the line should not encourage mates to find them. We all see it.

 

It's unfair and just NOT ON!

Get to the end of the queue like everyone else.

 

How can this be enforced ?

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You can do the scanning in the queue though. As people queue 2 hours before the event starts anyway, its better use of that time. Then straight in when the doors open.

 

That's a good idea. The only problem would be the queue jumpers. Anyone jumping the queue would not get scanned as the crew member with the scanner would have already been to that part of the queue making it easy to enter the event without paying.

 

And what are we to do about the queue jumpers problem ? Everyone hates it, but nobody says a word. People walking past hundreds of attendees that have been queuing for hours to be with their mates. Those already in the line should not encourage mates to find them. We all see it.

 

It's unfair and just NOT ON!

Get to the end of the queue like everyone else.

 

How can this be enforced ?

 

Well in festivals they have this and it usually works by you get a wristband when your ticket is scanned, then you just have to show your wristband to get in. The only problem with that is that it can be difficult for people to wear a wristband if they have a costume on, and equally some people might abuse it by saying "my wristband is under my costume".

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I don't really want it getting too much more expensive. After travel, hotel, and everything else, it's very costly to come. I don't want to be priced out of a good experience.

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Maybe selling autograph vouchers online up to 400, which seems like a regular number that the guests can get through each day along with their photo shoots and talks etc.

After those 400 are sold, no more will be available until the day where numbers 401 upwards can be given out but people will have to be told that there's a good chance they won't be seen as people have prepaid have to be seen first.

If a guest gets through the first 400, using the same VQ system with the board, then 401-450 can be called and so forth.

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Maybe selling autograph vouchers online up to 400, which seems like a regular number that the guests can get through each day along with their photo shoots and talks etc.

After those 400 are sold, no more will be available until the day where numbers 401 upwards can be given out but people will have to be told that there's a good chance they won't be seen as people have prepaid have to be seen first.

If a guest gets through the first 400, using the same VQ system with the board, then 401-450 can be called and so forth.

And no traders allowed more than 5 online vouchers

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Maybe selling autograph vouchers online up to 400, which seems like a regular number that the guests can get through each day along with their photo shoots and talks etc.

After those 400 are sold, no more will be available until the day where numbers 401 upwards can be given out but people will have to be told that there's a good chance they won't be seen as people have prepaid have to be seen first.

If a guest gets through the first 400, using the same VQ system with the board, then 401-450 can be called and so forth.

 

And no traders allowed more than 5 online vouchers
Maybe one online voucher per person and a maximum of three items to be signed per voucher. If they want more they'll have to get a 401+ ticket. Fairer for everyone and will cut the waiting time.

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I came on sunday with an early bird ticket. I decided not to attempt Stan Lee's autograph as I had twelve other people to try and see. I managed to meet all 12 on my list who were amazing to meet. I have been attending showmasters events since 2005 and I thought that this was the best so far. Thanks for a great day

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Also, to address a really weird one I've seen so far: people with shoot tickets and whatever but no entry? 1) who would even try that?

People on a limited budget who can't afford to buy both at once, and since photoshoots are generally limited to a few hundred, and entry is for tens of thosuands, buy the limited thing first. After all, there are "plenty of entry tickets available on the day".

I agree it's a bit strange, and it wouldn't be my way of doing it either, but I can understand why if you've bought the line that there will be plenty of tickets for entry available on the day and it will be a breeze to get in.

I agree that a more sophisticated ticketing system that doesn't allow tickets for "inside" events to be purchased without there being a record of an entry ticket sold for that person.

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sounds to me that this event could get more expensive which would I would less likely be able to afford to go. I'm not that keen on the whole exclusive ticket package, I for one don't buy photo op tickets so that would leave people like me who one buy one or the other left out and pushed to the back that's if I have read it right (don't shoot me down if I haven't). there was a pre-order autographs one year when Jeri Ryan was there maybe do this more often with bigger guests. I know this is only a thought and they are looking into the idea

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I like etickets as a way forward. But exchange them for lanyard passes on the door. That negates having to get you hand stamped. (I got stamped on exit and the stamp had no ink left. The volunteer just shrugged at me and said it would be ok...which explains why I then argued for 10 minutes trying to get back in). And allow people (who can) to attend earlier in the day to collect lanyards. Have a collection point nearby from Friday morning so people going can exchange etickets for lanyards in preparation. That way, those people are queuing the next day, which makes it easier on those that need to collect them on the day. It works at SDCC.

 

The problem with lanyards is that someone can just take it off when they leave and give it to someone else that maybe hasn't paid to get in, there's no way to check.

 

Maybe sealed wristbands instead then like a gig/festival. Not easy to get off and pass along without it looking like you have. The material ones with a metal clamp are the best, only way to get them off is cutting them off, so no one could pass them along (if attached correctly)

 

 

The sealed wristbands are what were used this year for gold/silver passes. Sheffield are doing something involving pre-e-mailed photos.

 

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Thanks for this response Jason, I think it has cleared up some things but not all. Like others above have said, I'd really like an explanation for what went wrong with the GoT screening as many people are disappointed. I'd also like to know why the fire exits were closed, creating both a big safety issue and not making use of a good exit point - and also why the women's toilets were blocked off on one side. I think I spent longer queueing for the toilets than I did for the guests! Please consider guests with chronic illnesses etc for whom access to toilets, seating and water is even more important.

 

Having redone my fire warden training recently at work I can comment on this. Fire exits are supposed to be kept closed at all times EXCEPT in the event of a fire to allow emergency egress from the building.

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This post should be listed as two separate subjects.

 

1) Review of the show - what was good, what was bad, what we learnt and dealing with unanswered questions

 

2) Ideas and proposals going forward

 

as it is at the moment, people are discussing too many subjects and good and valid points are getting lost and people are getting annoyed that outstanding queries are not being addressed.

 

However i would like to address two points made by someone else;

 

They said

 

2. Water : Bring your own, simple as that, Showmasters are NOT there to provide or sell this to you, Can you imagine the cost and resource in doing this ? and where do you think that cost will be passed on to ?

 

Don't know where you got this fact from but you can make a killing on water sales, the profit on a bottle of water is massive, done right it could be a nice little income earner.

3. Health and Safety : This is as much the VENUE's responsibility as it as those hiring the venue, But I feel it takes both parties to be observant in this aspect and raise it accordingly.

True it is equal responsibility, but it is often the venue hirer who has to provide the insurance for the event and complete documented risk assessments to the venue prior to the event.

Finally the old chestnut - 6. Crew : They are volunteers just like you or I, I personally wouldn't have the patience to deal with some of the things I witnessed over the weekend, but if you feel so strongly , why don't those referring to the crew offer to crew?

.I have personally either run or volunteered at over 300 events, so I do know what people face and the people this last weekend appeared to be under-trained, and lacked knowledge and with all the best will in the world, a nice smile and eagerness to help can not make up for lack of experience in dealing with customers especially when things go wrong.

Edited by Green Cat

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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.

 

Whilst I agree with the idea of a "dedicated ticket that would guarantee you get to meet this A-list guest and guarantee getting the photo op and signing" please don't make it a ridiculously expensive thing that only wealthy people can afford to buy.

 

The important thing is to identify who the really popular guests will be, estimate how many autographs they will get through and send out the appropriate number of Autograph tickets in the post to those who ask for them online months in advance.

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Stick with me here....

 

So now that this event has grown so much and has much bigger guests, perhaps discussing all these small tweaks is a false economy, maybe it's time to re-evaluate all together. I am not a convention goer per se but I do go to a lot of large sports events, business conventions and concerts. This - and I mean to with genuine respect - seemed to be out of its depth - and the lack of organisation and 'professional' tips and tricks weren't obvious (signs, queue management, flow plans, rest spaces etc).

 

I can imagine that once there was quite a distinct type of audience; those who are die hard fans and really treasure collecting autographs and photos with creative artists, mixed in with some first timers and one off fans of particular shows like Star Wars/Star Trek etc. The business model (and although I have no doubt the organisers are all big fans too it IS a business and there's nothing wrong with that) seems misplaced.

 

But with the stature and number of guests now it is attracting a very large and very broad spectrum of attendees; many of who probably have no desire for autographs of the 'third stormtrooper on the left in the second scene'......but it would be a incredible to meet/see stars like Carrie Fisher or John Hurt in person. They are also people who probably don't buy a lot of stuff in advance and bring their children and family along. But in reality what do they have to do when they get to the convention? Too late/too difficult to get VTs for the big stars, exhaust a picture or two with regular stalwarts but icons like Dave Prowse, admire some of the costumes?.....but then what? Nowhere to go, do or stand except get in the way of the stalls or auto/photo lines before leaving 90 mins later having had 'a nice day out'. Because that was me on Sunday.

 

Forget the little tweaks, perhaps it's time to think BIGGER! Get a bigger venue for a start, but put on more shows/screenings/talks, cosplay runways/EVENTS etc. Apart from the standard business of Autos/photos, attract people in who will make money on the door or buy merchandise etc but not necessarily interested in 15 autos and 10 photo shoots, and give them something to do and enjoy AWAY from the more busier 'business' areas - get Carrie up to do a quick Q&A for them on stage and they'll be happy etc.

 

Create some 'rest' spaces here too, as well as food areas. That way you keep the autograph and photo areas CLEARER which allows more opportunity for queue and ticket management; much of which - but not all - should be pre-paid. Less stress all round. You must know roughly how many autos can be signed and photos taken in a time slot so sell them in advance for the bigger guests. Someone said that you offer more VTs than viable as some will not show up, well I bet they will if they paid, and you don't lose income. Keep the not-as-big stars in another area and available for walk ups - much as it was this weekend.

 

Then look at the functional tweaks - restrictions on multiple 'dealer' signings (or organise specialist after hours sessions), eTickets, larger visible signage, tannoy/electronic signage updates hand out guides/floor plans on entry, more info points etc. Many great ideas in posts above.

 

Finally, one clearly cannot please everyone, there needs to be some expectation management for guests, visitors and organisers alike, but that shouldn't mean the vast majority will get what they individually want out of it whether that's a nice profit, a fully signed ROTJ poster and photo with Carrie (and the 3rd stormtrooper on the left...of course ;) ), or a great day out with the family.

 

Just my tuppence.

Edited by dannyboy321

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They do know they made mistakes, but mistakes in a 'we couldnt plan for this many walk-ups' way. And like I said, that is REALLY hard to plan for.

They've said that pre-sales were up by 40%. They stopped selling standard admissions early because they had sold so many; they knew that this was going to be big. The last European appearance by such an icon as Stan Lee? Throw in Carrie Fisher as well. With all those advance sales it was surely clear that there was going to be a big walk-up on the day. OK, so they couldn't have guessed quite how big, but surely it was obvious it was going to be a huge challenge? So why encourage it by continuing to advertise that there would be plenty of tickets available on the day?
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Maybe selling autograph vouchers online up to 400, which seems like a regular number that the guests can get through each day along with their photo shoots and talks etc.

After those 400 are sold, no more will be available until the day where numbers 401 upwards can be given out but people will have to be told that there's a good chance they won't be seen as people have prepaid have to be seen first.

If a guest gets through the first 400, using the same VQ system with the board, then 401-450 can be called and so forth.

And no traders allowed more than 5 online vouchers
Maybe one online voucher per person and a maximum of three items to be signed per voucher. If they want more they'll have to get a 401+ ticket. Fairer for everyone and will cut the waiting time.

 

To be honest with the actual processing line putting 5 items down probably doesn't take much longer than 3

Traders, preorders etc should get a private session before or after the show, they don't need all the formality of queuing, vouchers etc. We aren't talking small change here.

 

I've done three official shows where you could prebuy the autographs, and I bought the 'bigger' ones, just getting the 'smaller' ones in person.

 

First of all its easier to spread the costs, so you can spend more overall.

 

Second it's a much more relaxing experience. No queuing at a silly hour on the chance of getting a decent VT.

 

I don't see why its' one system for photos, and a different one for autos.

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I think the individual guest packages is a good idea. So long as once they sell out, that's it. They need to be limited otherwise you cannot guarantee it. I happened to see a US show doing this just before I read Jason's post and thought it would be a good way forward.

 

I can also understand why people buy the photoshoots before entry as you may not be able to pay it all at once, so you have to go for the one which is more likely to sell out.

 

The VIP guest packages may cost slightly more than paying for an autograph on the day but you are paying for the guarantee of seeing that guest. As many people have pointed out, you don't have to choose this option. People pick their packages based on what they want and what they can or cannot afford. Some years we have had to limit our spending meaning we have missed out on certain guests, and other years we have been lucky enough to have extra funds and get everything we wanted. But we have to choose what else we may miss out on during the year to do this.

 

On a slightly separate note, can someone please tell me how to send a private message?

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Thanks for this response Jason, I think it has cleared up some things but not all. Like others above have said, I'd really like an explanation for what went wrong with the GoT screening as many people are disappointed. I'd also like to know why the fire exits were closed, creating both a big safety issue and not making use of a good exit point - and also why the women's toilets were blocked off on one side. I think I spent longer queueing for the toilets than I did for the guests! Please consider guests with chronic illnesses etc for whom access to toilets, seating and water is even more important.

 

Having redone my fire warden training recently at work I can comment on this. Fire exits are supposed to be kept closed at all times EXCEPT in the event of a fire to allow emergency egress from the building.

 

Sorry, I don't think I was very clear, I was referring to people saying the fire exits were chained up or blocked off. Not just closed. There were exits at the side opened to let people out at night, not sure if they were fire exits or not but it seemed silly to not use them throughout the day.

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