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My Thoughts On This Years LFCC


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I'll preface the following with "I had a fantastic time, and the event was well run, and the staff were brilliant as always. But"...

I know it can't be helped, and is the risk with this type of event...but the number of guest cancellations, and the lateness of many of those cancellations, was quite a dampener on the event this year. And it was made worse by very poor, inconsistent, and in some cases non-existent communication from Showmasters.

I originally bought all of my tickets in 2020. And like many had the disappointment of postponment after postponement of LFCC due to the Covid pandemic. Obviously I don't hold Showmasters responsible for that...it was just a disappointing side-effect (no pun intended) of the pandemic. But, once the November 2021 date was announced and started to look like it was actually going to go ahead, the first of the cancellations started to come in.

It was once guests started to cancel did I discover that Showmasters had changed their policy of automatic refunds for cancellations to one of issuing vouchers (and more recently 'rolling' tickets over to another event). Now, again, I don't blame Showmasters for taking that action. It is inconvenient for us...but I do understand that the pandemic has had a considerable negative impact on business...and Showmasters like many businesses needed to to take action to ensure their viability. But equally...the pandemic has impacted ALL of us...and many of us, myself included, have also suffered signifcant negative impacts on our incomes. I'm not sure Showmasters have fully taken that into consideration.

But...to make the "vouchers instead of refunds" situation worse, there seems to have been a lot of confusion as to the amounts vouchers have been issued for. With no clear indication of what vouchers covered. In my case for example, I received vouchers that actually amounted to more than my original total order, which lead to a few back-and-forth emails with Showmasters to correct them, and to obtain assurance that my non-cancelled guest tickets were still valid.

And...may I just say...the process for redeeming vouchers is really bad. You can ony use vouchers to purchase a SINGLE ticket, and if you don't use the entire value of that voucher for that SINGLE ticket, you'll be issued another voucher supposedly for the remaining balance. So, I can't purchase more than one ticket and use my voucher as payment or part-payment against that order...which is the proper way of doingt things. Showmasters - you really need to get that sorted!

Anyway, once I got the vouchers sorted, and received confirmation that my remaining tickets were still valid I thought things were all good. But of course, more guest cancellations followed...a couple of which were less than a week before the event. And emails to Showmasters were greeted with an automatic reply stating that they were out-of-the-office preparing for LFCC. Hmmm...think about it Showmasters, is this really good customer service?

So, I personally went from six guests in 2020 (two of which were diamond pass guests) down to two guests for this years event. And continued confusion over vouchers/refunds...and no method of communication with Showmasters. And I had originally purchased a Gold pass, which over the years has really diminished in value anyway, but now for me this year was looking to be a complete waste of money (just at a time when money was an important consideration).  But, I had already booked hotel and train tcikets, so I was now committed to go.

Because of the cancellations etc, I decided not to bother going into the event Friday. I was in London...but it seemed kind of pointless. So I went Saturday. And joined a single queue to enter the event. So, given I had purchased a Gold pass, where was the priority entry? And I thought Gold pass people were going through a different door/entrance as priority? But nope, a single queue to enter the event, and then a rather ridiculous Gold Pass lane leading to the hall once you were inside. Not exactly priority entry!

Oh...and once inside, picking up my last remaining diamond pass for...Robbie Coltrane, finding out that he had become ill over-night and cancelled. Now again, I don't hold Showmasters responsible for that at all. And of course I wish Robbie well and a speedy recovery. But equally it was very very disappointing...and now I was down to just the one guest for a 3-day weekend. Yipee.

Once inside the actual hall, it was plain to see the effect the pandemic has had on LFCC this year. It was soooo much smaller, and although I have no idea of the attendance numbers it "felt" like there were considerably less attendees. And one thing I did notice was that the stage area was on the lower ground, and could be overlooked without any kind of cover from the upper areas. So, you could quite happily watch "paid" for talk that you hadn't paid for. Now there weren't exactly many paid for talks this year, but I could imagine people not being happy that they'd paid for a talk when that talk was pretty much open for everyone else to watch anyway. Not to mention the complete lack of security for the poor guests (I mean, there's nothing stopping anyone throwing something...or even themselves...onto the stage/guest). Now the likelyhood of that happening is probably remote...but you only need to watch the daily news to see crazy stuff like that.

Anyway, as I had only one guest to see, and get autograph from, it wasn't exactly going to be a busy day for me. But, I stayed the whole day...and as I stated at the very top of this (rather long) post, I still had a fantastic time. Despite the above. But...I do think Showmasters need to consider the points I, and others, raise in these type of posts. I can only hope they do.

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I agree and raise a glass to your saying '

7 hours ago, steve1parker said:

made worse by very poor, inconsistent, and in some cases non-existent communication from Showmasters.

I completely agree. Due to this I ended up carrying items expecting them to be signed and they weren't as the guests were a no-show. It would be better if someone pulls out from the show for there to be an announcement at least a day before their due to appear. So as to prevent overt disappointment and also save carrying items unnecessarily.  

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I totally agree with a lot of what you say, and I do wonder just how many people work for Showmasters. The lack of communication and response time would suggest it’s just a couple of people trying to run a really big (albeit smaller this year) event.

I would, however, like to correct you on one point regarding the refund vouchers. I too received several this year, which I was able to use on other guests I wanted to see. The last voucher I got, I wanted to use it towards 2 guests. As you correctly point out, I was not able to place one order for both guests using the voucher - how ridiculous is that?! However, after placing my first order, I went straight back in and re-entered the same voucher code for the second guest. To my surprise and delight, it worked and came up with the remaining balance left after my first order and I was then successfully able to complete the 2nd order. So no waiting for a 2nd voucher to be issued after my first order.

Personally, I really enjoyed the show, and found that the lack of crowds made for a far more relaxing experience. On the whole, the photoshoots were well run and there wasn’t the mass brawl that usually happens with the more popular guests.

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The line for Brian Blessed for Sunday was a s*** show in the future this needs to worked out the amount of people buying Diamond pass never ended. It would be better to have two lines one with normal pay fans and the other with diamond pass so one each goes at a time. As the whole line was Dimond pass and never really moved for most of the morning. It works for other conventions so why not LFCC and future events in a way I think showmasters should just move away from diamond pass and just do prepaid autographs only like other shows do as it runs more smoothly.

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1 hour ago, danvader123@hotmail.co.uk said:

The line for Brian Blessed for Sunday was a s*** show in the future this needs to worked out the amount of people buying Diamond pass never ended. It would be better to have two lines one with normal pay fans and the other with diamond pass so one each goes at a time. As the whole line was Dimond pass and never really moved for most of the morning. It works for other conventions so why not LFCC and future events in a way I think showmasters should just move away from diamond pass and just do prepaid autographs only like other shows do as it runs more smoothly.

If a guest has a diamond pass the only way to be sure you will get their autograph is to get the diamond pass, otherwise it is a gamble.  Thats always been known to be the case.   It is always a gamble if a guest is a fast/slow signer or maybe needs a few more breaks so cant always guarantee they will get to VQ tickets or how many if they do.    I was lucky and got a low VQ for Brian but i still had to wait in a queue for a LONG time sunday pm to get it.  Luckily he was last guest i needed auto for so i could wait and i just managed to get it at 4pm and make it round to my last photoshoot.  I honestly thought i was gonna have to leave Brians queue to get to photoshoot without his auto, but i was lucky, could have gone other way... but as i said i rolled the dice with vq.

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3 hours ago, danvader123@hotmail.co.uk said:

The line for Brian Blessed for Sunday was a s*** show in the future this needs to worked out the amount of people buying Diamond pass never ended. It would be better to have two lines one with normal pay fans and the other with diamond pass so one each goes at a time. As the whole line was Dimond pass and never really moved for most of the morning. It works for other conventions so why not LFCC and future events in a way I think showmasters should just move away from diamond pass and just do prepaid autographs only like other shows do as it runs more smoothly.

As someone who always buys Diamond Passes for guests I really want to meet, I would be pretty peeved if they alternated the queue between DP people and non DP people. This is why we pay a premium for the DP.

And there’s no way I’d want them to do away with them. If you had just prepaid autographs, I could see total chaos happening with the very popular guests, as people who have already paid for an autograph are then told that there isn’t enough time for them to get their autograph! They could limit the number of prepaid autographs they sell, but what would happen if the guest is a fast signer? Do you then just open it up for people who haven’t already paid? Surely, in that case, it’s exactly the same as happens now with Diamond Passes and normal pay fans?

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16 hours ago, danvader123@hotmail.co.uk said:

The line for Brian Blessed for Sunday was a s*** show in the future this needs to worked out the amount of people buying Diamond pass never ended. It would be better to have two lines one with normal pay fans and the other with diamond pass so one each goes at a time. As the whole line was Dimond pass and never really moved for most of the morning. It works for other conventions so why not LFCC and future events in a way I think showmasters should just move away from diamond pass and just do prepaid autographs only like other shows do as it runs more smoothly.

Also pre pay isn't an instant wonder solution.  At least 2 other organisers use pre pay and they did not work well either.  Every system has it's flaws unfortunately.

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16 hours ago, melliott1963 said:

As someone who always buys Diamond Passes for guests I really want to meet, I would be pretty peeved if they alternated the queue between DP people and non DP people. This is why we pay a premium for the DP.

And there’s no way I’d want them to do away with them. If you had just prepaid autographs, I could see total chaos happening with the very popular guests, as people who have already paid for an autograph are then told that there isn’t enough time for them to get their autograph! They could limit the number of prepaid autographs they sell, but what would happen if the guest is a fast signer? Do you then just open it up for people who haven’t already paid? Surely, in that case, it’s exactly the same as happens now with Diamond Passes and normal pay fans?

True but they could of limited the Diamond passes for him so ordinary paying guests get a chance as well as in the terms and conditions do not say anything about the line just being Dimond Pass. Or maybe give a certain time for dimond passes to come for an autograph instead of the line continuing with them and never stopping. Sorry to say as well pre-paid does work as it worked that weekend with another con where they did that exact system one pre=paid than an ordinary pay guest. and eveyone got what they wanted.

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Yes it’s been discussed before that overselling DP passes has diminished their purpose to a certain extent and I’m in agreement with this.

Even though you pay a premium, you end up in a line as long as a regular VQ line in any event and the VQ ticketed visitors will barely get a look in.

A lot of people can’t afford the DP’s and even those who can might want to devote those funds to an A lister who’s more likely to be a sell out. No offence but surprised to hear Brian Blessed qualifies in that respect.

 

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22 hours ago, Raylenth said:

Also pre pay isn't an instant wonder solution.  At least 2 other organisers use pre pay and they did not work well either.  Every system has it's flaws unfortunately.

Pre pay usually means also booking a time slot for the person in question, and then it's up to the organisers to make sure they stick to the time frames. The first time I encountered this was when the new organisers took over Star Wars Celebration in the US a few years back, and for the most part, they were successful in getting the people through the lines on schedule.

As for DP for Brian, I imagine because he was only there one day, from a few people I spoke to he's been on their list to meet for quite a while and get stuff signed, so I'm not surprised he was popular and many DP got sold.

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19 hours ago, danvader123@hotmail.co.uk said:

True but they could of limited the Diamond passes for him so ordinary paying guests get a chance as well as in the terms and conditions do not say anything about the line just being Dimond Pass. Or maybe give a certain time for dimond passes to come for an autograph instead of the line continuing with them and never stopping. Sorry to say as well pre-paid does work as it worked that weekend with another con where they did that exact system one pre=paid than an ordinary pay guest. and eveyone got what they wanted.

From many comments I saw, pre pay unfortunately did not work at all well over the weekend elsewhere, they weren't given any priority for getting them and many pre pays were turned away from the queue and are now having to try and get refunds.

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12 hours ago, Diabolik said:

Yes it’s been discussed before that overselling DP passes has diminished their purpose to a certain extent and I’m in agreement with this.

Even though you pay a premium, you end up in a line as long as a regular VQ line in any event and the VQ ticketed visitors will barely get a look in.

A lot of people can’t afford the DP’s and even those who can might want to devote those funds to an A lister who’s more likely to be a sell out. No offence but surprised to hear Brian Blessed qualifies in that respect.

 

they have definitely started using them for more and more guests who really don't need to be on them for sure.  The other problem this leads to as well is that it seriously devalues the Gold pass as the more guests on DP's the less that pass works for as well.

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1 hour ago, Mayhem said:

Pre pay usually means also booking a time slot for the person in question, and then it's up to the organisers to make sure they stick to the time frames. The first time I encountered this was when the new organisers took over Star Wars Celebration in the US a few years back, and for the most part, they were successful in getting the people through the lines on schedule.

As for DP for Brian, I imagine because he was only there one day, from a few people I spoke to he's been on their list to meet for quite a while and get stuff signed, so I'm not surprised he was popular and many DP got sold.

One organiser had a system where pre pay get priority before say, 12, and then after that the queue is open to everyone, but it depends on the efficiency in other area's, which by reports, wasn't brilliant this time so it was a bit of a mess.

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The Diamond Pass process is the convention equivalent of the penalty shootout.  Not ideal, people will always moan about it - but no one has come up with a better solution.

For Brian Blessed, see Meatloaf, Peter Capaldi etc.  Every Con there's at least one DP guest who sees very little VQ action - that's why you if you can't face leaving the con without meeting a certain person, you should buy the DP.   

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I wasn’t at the event due to personal circumstances, and personally not feeling comfortable with large gatherings at this time, so I don’t have all the facts.

I recall one past LFCC where I eventually met one non-Diamond guest at a past LFCC in the afternoon because the Gold Pass holders were getting priority and the VQ number range remained the same throughout most of the day.

Some of the posts/suggestions here reminded me of a much smaller event I went to that only had a few guests where the VIP ticket holders could meet the guests during a time slot in the morning, after which normal ticket holders could meet them if time allowed, or wait until they’re available in the afternoon. Although I don’t think it would work well for a large-scale event.

 

On a side note, I have met Brian Blessed a couple of times in 2004, including a Collectormania that year.

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Brian Blessed being a popular guest, who usually takes him time with people, so would be a slow signer, it was inevitable he was going to a diamond guest.  I would have gone diamond had i been there

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