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Author Topic: Reg feedback (Feedback will not effectively reach staff if you do not use form)  (Read 32192 times)

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Total Legend

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What I would do if I were you guys, I would separate groups of pre-reg people into pickup schedules and email these people to come at a specific time frame to pick up their badges. You would at least know how many people per pickup group will be there and you can better estimate how to handle these loads.

For example, group "A" can have a time slot of: 2pm - 4pm. Group "B" came come in from 3pm - 5pm, slightly over lapping each other. If someone doesn't come in during their time slot, they can wait later (free entry) or come the next day -- the burden of appearance is on them. This could help keep people out of line for several hours and they can come at a time when the line will be shorter by the time they're even allowed in. This helps your staff to keep order for smaller groups of people, and easier to manage with people cutting in line and such which also creates a huge issue -- yes line cutting happens a lot, and adding 20+ people in front can add another 20+ minutes of line time. And that's counting about 20 cuts within my viewable area.

You may also want to consider only allowing people in line that have proof of badge pickup, and do away with "friends" who come in with people just to "hang out". The more bodies in line, the longer it takes for it to move. Simply reducing the amount of people at any one given time will be an improvement. Lines here aren't for social gatherings, it's to get something done. And considering you allow free entry into the con on Thursday, these friends can hang out there.

You should also consider multiple satellite locations for badge pickup, not just in San Jose but throughout the Bay Area. Rent an office space for Thursday and send people out to these locations based on their home location. I see no reason to have it all in one general location.

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Just to add, I don't place blame on this on Fanime or their staff for the large interest in this convention every year -- it is what it is, plus you have to realize many are volunteers. I've been through the 6-hour line of hell last year thanks to that power outage, and from my point of view the problem is mostly the attendees and their lack of consideration for others, for not following rules and bringing more people than necessary to pick up their badges (such as group leaders bringing friends). Again, this is not a social gathering, this is to pick up a badge.
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Dracil

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If it weren't for the social aspect, people would be even more grumpy.  At the very least currently, people can be less bored.
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Total Legend

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If it weren't for the social aspect, people would be even more grumpy.  At the very least currently, people can be less bored.

The social aspect is part of the problem.

100% of the time, people in front and behind me are with someone who isn't even authorized to pick up badges that day, but they only add to an already long line. To help mitigate this issue, there needs to be less people in line overall.
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Dracil

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All that "solution" will do is make people register individually instead of doing a group reg so they can still be in line together.  So now, instead of one staff member picking up the entire groups badge, you're multiplying it by X staff for each person that was in the group.  Great, you just increased the burden on the actual bottleneck of the line, i.e. the understaffed transaction/badge printing/pickup area.

It's like going to the grocery store.  I'd rather stand right behind the one family of 5 than behind 5 individual people with their own baskets.  Same number of people, but each transaction creates a time overhead.
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robertpatrician

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Here are my recommendations for the registration line issue, as I believe it's not right to complain unless you're willing to contribute to the solution.
1. A timed ticket system would dramatically improve the line experience. The actual line 'length' is unimportant, what matters is how long someone is 'waiting' in line. People could come up to a counter and get a ticket for a certain time frame (15 minutes), and should come back at that time to get in the line. People are not allowed in the line until the time on their ticket, people who miss their ticket window are added to the end of the line of the next time group. Thus if the line is three hours long, you can issue tickets for +2.5 hours. That gives plenty of buffer, but that's also two and a half hours the attendee could be doing anything else but standing in line. They can go check out the cosplay, hang out in the common areas, go get some food, etc. A three hour line just became "Two and a half of hours goofing around, and then a half hour line." This would require a printing system, but would extensively benefit the impression of the convention.
2. For handling the line itself, utilize the Japanese queue model. Instead of having one giant snaking line where people inch forward every minute, you have rows of people. When the line has moved enough, an entire row is sent in, and then allowed to refill with new people. People do not change rows. Here is a video of the system in action on Black Friday in Japan: http://youtu.be/HTvycOM9xbc . If available, setting out a few hundred chairs in rows would improve organization and experience. One rover carries a sign marking the end of the line to fill in empty seats once a row goes in, and another stands to mark which row is next. This helps prevent people from trying to slip in to the front of the line. Time spent seated and waiting also counts less against effective perceived wait time than time spent standing.
3. My observation of the registration system identifies the badge printing system as the choke point. All of the cash-taking stations were staffed, yet in the 20 minutes I observed they sat idle a full 60% of the time waiting for the go-ahead to process more people. Either more badge printers are required, or a superior badge printing system needs to be obtained. A simple multiplication reveals the problem: multiply the time it takes for the badging station to produce a single badge, and multiply that by the number of people in line.
4. I also learned that there was an entire badge station at Clockwork Alchemy and negligible line there. If this had been announced, many attendees would have gladly taken the bus to and from the Doubletree in order to cut an hour or more off how long they would be waiting in line, speeding up registration process for everyone. It would have also introduced more people to Clockwork Alchemy.
5. That there is a huge line for pre-registration is baffling. These individuals have already paid, and pre-registration closed before the convention began, thus I would be greatly interested to learn why there is such a line for them. There is a FedEx/Kinkos down the street, certainly if their information is already processed and their badges already paid, then an arrangement can be made to print the pre-registration badges in advance.
6. As a service to those in line, have rovers selling bottled water at-cost. If someone dehydrates and passes out in line, it will cost far more in personnel time than a pair of rovers and pallets of water.
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hikanteki

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If it weren't for the social aspect, people would be even more grumpy.  At the very least currently, people can be less bored.

The social aspect is part of the problem.

100% of the time, people in front and behind me are with someone who isn't even authorized to pick up badges that day, but they only add to an already long line. To help mitigate this issue, there needs to be less people in line overall.

Double-edged sword.  If the line is 6 hours long, or even 4 or 5 hours, then it's almost necessary to be in a group in case you need to have someone hold your place in line when you get food, run to the restroom, etc.

But it may just be a single edge, and the opposite edge at that, as I'm not really sure that extra people in line would add a significant amount to the wait.  The manpower to hand out X # of badges per hour does not change regardless of how many people are waiting.
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Dany

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What I would do if I were you guys, I would separate groups of pre-reg people into pickup schedules and email these people to come at a specific time frame to pick up their badges. You would at least know how many people per pickup group will be there and you can better estimate how to handle these loads.

For example, group "A" can have a time slot of: 2pm - 4pm. Group "B" came come in from 3pm - 5pm, slightly over lapping each other.

The challenge with this is that some people have work and school schedules to consider. Arbitrarily assigning a time is not going to work out because you will have people who want to change times.

Simply put - they need more bodies on laptops. There were five desks processing upwards of 2000 people Thursday, with one person at a laptop per booth. That's too few.
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ewu

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Hi all,

It’s me again. I wanted to note a few issues to guide your feedback.... Please read my wall of text <3

Mailing badges – There are four issues: 1) Minors – We need to have contact information and do some ID verification because of the number of minors we have at con. 2) Lost badges – Lost by the attendee after receiving it 3 weeks before the convention or lost by USPS in transit; not cool to charge lost badge fee if USPS lost it (we also can’t tell if they are lying to get a duplicate badge for their friend). 3) not enough staff before the convention to process the mailing out of a few thousand badges. 4) Counterfeits – counterfeiters are given 20 days to counterfeit instead of the current 3-4 days. We do take your feedback seriously and each year we explore the possibility of mailing out badges, but have in the last few years found the risks too great. This year we will reevaluate it again and work on more ways of mitigating the risks, maybe it'll happen, but gotta evaluate it first. AND passing on the mailing charge and postage is simple and we would be more than willing to, but as shown above it is much more than the cost of a stamp.

Opening at 7pm on Thursday – We normally have 18 hours to set up reg and get it ready to run. This year, at 5pm another event was still in the regency ballroom. In two and a half hours, nearly 100 people (from Fanime, the Fairmont, and the previous event’s staff) worked together to get a large stage and two 30’ projections screens out of the room and get in all the reg booths, caution tape lines, and laptops in. This task would have normally taken 3 hours to load out and 4 hours to load in to do it correctly. The changeover was a herculean feat, but should have not happened and WILL NOT HAPPEN NEXT YEAR. In years past we would open at 5, close the line at 8 and reg until 12 midnight to clear the line. This year, we opened at 8 closed the line at 10 and regged until 3:30AM.

People sitting at computers doing nothing – We found out very quickly that the bottleneck was printing. We had to stop people at the booths from registering so that the printing area was not mobbed with people, making printing even slower and causing a fire hazard. Last year, the bottleneck was payment, but many did not notice when we stopped people from entering their personal information. Payment was fixed....maybe a little too well! (hey look, an improvement from 2012....)

Raising prices – Over the next few years we will likely do this to cover costs of a spiffy system and that stupid thing called inflation, but an eventual consequence is that high school students who save all year long will be shut out of the convention. Someone on staff told me that he wanted to improve reg with the sole purpose of giving 4 days of happiness for high schoolers that do not fit in well anywhere but a few places like fanime and that pinch pennies for the 360 other days of the year.

Future plans – We are looking at a number of solutions including throwing money at fancy technology and hiring people to supplement the reg staff. We are also looking at ways to optimize the reg system and taking in account the different types of people we have flowing in each day and the systematic and the aforementioned psychological impact of lines. In the end, however, we do need to balance the amount that is expended on reg because with a 5 min wait, we may not have enough money left over for programming! :) I am excited to see what is to come, yet a bit nervous because the power could always go out on us :P

To close, PLEASE STAFF! – I do not tell people to staff because I want them to prove they can do better, but because we genuinely need staff. Some of the reg staff put in somewhere around 48 hours....of a 96 hour con.....It made me sad that we had to feed the reg staffers because reg staffers would not leave reg to eat. Some would even need to be persuaded to leave their post to go pee because they had been sitting there for 6 hours. With adequate staff, it will resolve one critical limiting factor and help us make reg successful again.

Thanks for listening, please proceed to rip my explanation to pieces :)
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Eric Wu
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Sunara Ishi

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I know many pre-reg people were upset this year do to lines, no-badge day 0, etc. That previous positives of pre-reg were nullified. Would it be possible to bring back the extra goodies for pre-reg people?

Way back in 2003 all people that reg'd got a Viz totebag (while the supply lasted). It seemed to me that there were other goodies as well.

I know that fixing reg will take time so is there ways to make fans feel like the extra time spent in line was worth it?

Slightly off topic: Also, I already filled out a feedback form. Can I send another when I think of more things? Or is it only one per person? Because I forgot to say some things on the first one... like thanks for all the hard work. -.-;
I know all of us have been complaining a lot but seeing as fanime didn't erupt into flames, staff was doing something right even if it wasn't obvious. XP
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ewu

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So goodies actually depend on sponsors. We continue to look for new sponsors to give us cool stuff, but sometimes it does not get finalized in time for con. Hopefully more next year!

As for resubmitting the form, feel free to do it if you have more suggestions!

And for realz, we don't sit back and laugh at people waiting in line....I know for a fact that nearly every person in charge had some kind of mental breakdown or another over this weekend. We want you to pick up your badge in 20 min or less....but we also want the thousands of other attendees to too. *sigh* We will keep on working hard. *sad face eric*.....

I know many pre-reg people were upset this year do to lines, no-badge day 0, etc. That previous positives of pre-reg were nullified. Would it be possible to bring back the extra goodies for pre-reg people?

Way back in 2003 all people that reg'd got a Viz totebag (while the supply lasted). It seemed to me that there were other goodies as well.

I know that fixing reg will take time so is there ways to make fans feel like the extra time spent in line was worth it?

Slightly off topic: Also, I already filled out a feedback form. Can I send another when I think of more things? Or is it only one per person? Because I forgot to say some things on the first one... like thanks for all the hard work. -.-;
I know all of us have been complaining a lot but seeing as fanime didn't erupt into flames, staff was doing something right even if it wasn't obvious. XP
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Eric Wu
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ewu, thank you so much for actually posting explanations for why certain things happened the way they did. While there are still obviously a LOT of issues to sort out, my main issue this year (as I have posted on the forums, in the official feedback form, and now on tumblr) is the lack of transparency and how the staff has been handling all of these issues. I'm really glad to have at least -some- type of explanation. It doesn't excuse how poorly run the con felt this year, but at least it is a step towards openness on both sides. I really appreciate it. :]
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ewu

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Eric = Director of Fanime Fan Services.... I serve the fans....or rather provide Fan Service?....wait, no :)
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Eric Wu
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SquallLHeart

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hey... where was my fan service Eric!? :o
wait.. i'm staff.. i got my own services.. right? oh.. hmm.. lol.. nvm.  :P

btw.. loved your wall of text. so many people don't realize why reg. does what they do.. and coming from you. it helps people understand a lot better.

blah blah.. mail out badges.. blah blah.. I know why Fanime doesn't.. and I also know that Fanime USED TO (and I know that some people don't know that part..)
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Trung D. Nguyen
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renalcul

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Mailing badges – There are four issues: 1) Minors – We need to have contact information and do some ID verification because of the number of minors we have at con.
Are the badges that minors purchase different from the badges that adults purchase?
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SquallLHeart

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Mailing badges – There are four issues: 1) Minors – We need to have contact information and do some ID verification because of the number of minors we have at con.
Are the badges that minors purchase different from the badges that adults purchase?
yup. lol... well at least the child ones anyway..
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Trung D. Nguyen
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Anime Expo: AxCon '07-'2009
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staff/vol. for misc. conventions all around the nation... ranging from 30.. to 130K+ attendees...

renalcul

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Mailing badges – There are four issues: 1) Minors – We need to have contact information and do some ID verification because of the number of minors we have at con.
Are the badges that minors purchase different from the badges that adults purchase?
yup. lol... well at least the child ones anyway..
what's the age range on child badges anyway?
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eralston

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Mailing badges – There are four issues: 1) Minors – We need to have contact information and do some ID verification because of the number of minors we have at con.
Are the badges that minors purchase different from the badges that adults purchase?
yup. lol... well at least the child ones anyway..
what's the age range on child badges anyway?

Child badges are for children 10 and under and are free with a paying adult (they must be accompanied by the adult while at the convention). I believe other minors need a copy of there parents id to pick up there badge.
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Evan Ralston

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Could the issue with mailing out badges to minors be averted by only mailing out badges to people of age, and making minors pick theirs up in person? Even if only half of the people who were of age opted to have theirs mailed, that would still be a lot of people removed from the line.
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renalcul

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Could the issue with mailing out badges to minors be averted by only mailing out badges to people of age, and making minors pick theirs up in person? Even if only half of the people who were of age opted to have theirs mailed, that would still be a lot of people removed from the line.
I think that their concerns are both with emergency contacts and minors getting ahold of badges without parental consent.

I just wonder why PAX can mail out badges without names to people of all ages and even have similar child badges as Fanime (although theirs only go up to 6 years old) and how they don't have any issues with it.
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svatoid

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Thanks, Eric, for providing an explanation for some of the things observed at registration ( late star, line not moving for long periods etc). It does help mitigate the frustration over the long wait.
Hopefully next year registration will start at 4 or 5 PM and the issue of long waits can be addressed.
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