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Dragon*Con Continues to be Plagued by Pre-Reg Pick Up Problems

3 September 2010 6 Comments by

Dragon*Con 2010 Thursday Line (photo by twitpic user tarrkid)

Last year we waited in line to pick up our pre-registration badges at Dragon*Con for more than three and a half hours on Thursday. Fans were outraged over the mess, to say the very least. After the con was over, they took to the forums, LiveJournal community, and other outlets, to make their complaints known. Many made some excellent suggestions, and there was a feeling that someone at Dragon*Con was listening.

There was a strong glimmer of hope this year, when it was announced that pre-reg pick up would begin at 10 a.m. on Thursday, and that there’d be no Ticketmaster (one less line to manage and snake around). However, we weren’t convinced, and so many people in our group decided to buy at the door.

Boy were we glad we did.

Thursday afternoon, the line for pre-reg pick up was stretched around to the back of the Sheraton, with reports of anywhere from a 2.5 to a 4 hour wait. Day-of purchase times were 20 to 30 minutes.

Why can’t this convention, with all the experience it has, get it together? Conventions like SDCC and PAX have gotten their pre-reg delivery system down to a science, yet Dragon*Con continues to make the pick up experience worse each year.

What gives Dragon*Con? What’s the excuse this year? Maybe it is a conspiracy to have more people do what we did, and spend more at the door to avoid the wait.

(Photo was originally posted to TwitPic, click here to view)



  • Nanci said:

    I don’t understand why they don’t send out the badges beforehand. Star Wars Celebration V did this and it made things so much easier.

  • Admin said:

    They claim they have too many problems with people making bootleg badges. I think that’s crap. SDCC, SWCV, and PAX all manage just fine.

  • Aj said:

    From what I understand about Dragon*Con, it’s run by volunteers, correct? Therefore, they probably don’t have access to the computer systems that SDCC and PAX/SWCV/NYCC (all ReedPop Exhibition events) have.

    I can only speak of my experience picking up badges at SDCC… it has always been very easy, no longer than a 15 minute wait. However, when you enter the SD Convention Center to get your badge, you come to an area with what seems to be between 150 and 200 computer stations set up, each with printer… each badge is generated right there. Also, the people running the registration/pickup areas are paid employees of the convention center (or likely hired from a temp agency), not volunteers with varying ranges of expertise.

    If Dragon*Con wants to say fan-driven and de-centralized over many locations, these epic lines for badge pickup might have to be the trade off.

  • Tara M. Clapper said:

    You’d think a con with so much experience would have this down to a science. They should look at how non-convention venues like the concert center in Holmdel, NJ manage sales. Even Six Flags on a perfect summer weekend is better than than this.

  • Trey said:

    It is unforgivable to make your most loyal prepaid fans stand in line for over three hours, mostly on a busy unsheltered sidewalk, for the sole purpose of exchanging one card for another. Processing same-day payers in a faster line is downright criminal. Any other demographic would have rioted by now, but I guess sci-fi fans are accustomed to this abuse since their playground days. The reason for the delay? Forcing each prepaid customer to page through a poorly-designed index in search of their name, while a hapless staff member searches a similar book for a sticker to fold around the badge. This is a rookie convention mistake that has no place in an established $100+ event. If mailing the badges in advance somehow causes more harm than good (hard to imagine, but let’s assume), then there are still many obvious ways to improve this process. Want a low-tech example? Include a unique number on the mailed card. Staff member confirms that card name and number match a list of registrants and hands over the badge for the customer to sign. Security never looks at those stickers anyway. This easily cuts the wait time in half. A high-tech solution (if we can still call the bar-code scanner high-tech) would save much more time. Worried about counterfeiters? That’s nothing compared to the squandered goodwill and lost merchandising revenue caused by trapping paying customers outside to hope it doesn’t rain.

  • RJ said:

    Oddly, I got my Pre-reg badge in about 10 minutes from DragonCon’s Disability Services….but my brother paid $ 100 cash on site and got his badge in THREE minutes…