Possible changes to Salt Lake Comic Con…

…Let’s discuss.

SLCC16 LOGO-indigo

Co-founder Bryan Brandenburg recently announced that Growtix, the company which handles ticketing for this and other events, is adding “the ability to handle reserved seating like other fan conventions. You can pay a premium price and have a guaranteed seat at a guaranteed place for the whole convention.” This option would, in his words, “be a very limited number.”

He posted this to gauge interest and solicit input on the idea. Here’s mine:

Now, in reading this, it only makes sense to me for this to apply to the panels taking place in the main ballroom, which holds approximately 5000 fans. If, as Bryan claims, this ticketing option will be “very limited,” the total number of reserved seating add-ons wouldn’t (or shouldn’t, in my opinion), exceed 10% of the main ballroom size, or 500 people.

Why?

Well, for starters, let’s recap how Salt Lake’s ticket structure stands right now. There are single day passes, a 3-day “GA” multipass, a 3-day “Gold” pass, and the 3-day “VIP” pass. Gold allows for entry to the vender floor ahead of the GA folks at opening, plus some physical swag, while VIP folks get early entry, some physical swag, and dedicated lines at booth photo ops and autograph tables.

[At one point they also offered a “Silver” pass (below Gold but still above GA), but that went the day of the dodo after a couple events.]

This “Reserved Seating” (RS) option would consist of an additional charge, on top of the ticket fans have already purchased. While having a dedicated seat for all the panels in the main ballroom sounds good, it is likely all those who purchase the RS package would actually attend every panel on all three days of the con. This would leave unfilled seats in the ballroom. Not a good look.

A lot of people are concerned about how this ticketing add-on would affect the current “ZipQ” ability, which allows people to reserve one of a set number of seats set aside for a specific panel in the main ballroom they want to attend.

The main ballroom currently supports seating for ZipQ seats, ADA seating, Special Guest seating (on a per-panel basis), and the remaining seats are filled by allowing the queue of VIPs in first, followed by those in the Gold/GA queue.

[Side note: you know who’s not represented in this list? Media. The folks whose pictures you look at, videos you watch, and articles you read. They line up in the GA line, and so may miss covering an event they’ve been given permission to cover (thank you, BTW).]

{EDITOR’S NOTE: apparently, there were seats set aside in the main ballroom for media folks during SLCC17 but that was not communicated adequately. Communication.}{Editor’s note: I was right the first time. No special access/seats.}

The added logistics of taking in “RS” holders and ensuring that they, and only they, fill those seats, and clearing/reseating the ZipQ area (with the BS practice of holding seats for non-ZipQ folks), and controlling the “open” seating, and ADA… has already been pointed out by some folks on Facebook. And they’re correct.

Hence the logic of limiting the number of RS add-ons. Even though Bryan (rightly) reminds fans that “premium badges and features subsidize lower entry level prices. The people buying VIP passes and Photo Ops pay for a big chunk of the costs and celebrities allowing us continue to keep prices down for everybody else.”

One-hundred percent true. I understand that my (and other folks’) VIP purchases (along with the cost of photo-ops) probably help a lot of single-day or multi-pass folks actually afford to come to an event of this caliber. And that’s okay.

So, what do I really think of this…?

I don’t think I like this idea for a few reasons:

1) Until a majority of guests are announced, it’s almost impossible to know if you actually want to sit in the main ballroom all day, every day, or if that is simply a wasted, “status” expense, further stratifying the attendees.

2) When would the add-ons go on sale? When tickets first go on sale? Two weeks prior to the event when most guests will have been announced? Since there will only be X number of them, will they go on sale on Friday at noon, which penalized those who work 9-5 jobs, or will they go on sale Sunday at 5 pm, when the most folks will be able to attempt to purchase one if they want one?

3) Due to the necessarily limited nature of this add-on, the cost will effectively price most fans out of this option. While they could still attend a main ballroom panel through ZipQ (if it remains) or the open seating option, it would create a kind of artificial stratification of attendees in the ballroom. There are currently enough “disputes,” for lack of a better term, between GA and Gold/VIP (or Gold and VIP most years) about photo-ops and whatnot, why add another unnecessary categorization to the attendees. Indeed, I argue again the merits of having Gold at all, as the brief early entry time is the only functional perk to it…

But I digress.

Now, we could go the route of some other conventions and sell specific VIP packages for specific, “high-value” individual/group guests, which normally include VIP entry to the con, a photo and/or autograph with that celeb/celebs, a commemorative lanyard and/or print, and could include a reserved seat in the front of their panel. This would allow fans to tailor their specific con experience to their interests, while not preventing other attendees from tailoring their own con for their enjoyment.

The other option being discussed, of course, is turning some of the ballroom panels into paid events (which we know most people hate, though some folks have no problem with it), or, God forbid, they continue to exercise crowd control through the use of lotteries for specific panels. I know how a great many regular attendees feel about the lotteries, and it isn’t good.

So that’s it. That’s my thoughts on the Reserved Seating being discussed. What do you all think about my objections/suggestions? Let me know.

And don’t forget to Like, Follow, and Share.

See you at the Salt Palace in the….Spring?

{EDITS denoted in {BOLD} as necessary.}

2 thoughts on “Possible changes to Salt Lake Comic Con…

  1. As I posted on my FB page…

    ” This kinda hurts my feelings for poor people who attend.

    When I was a wee lad being raised by a single mother with very little money to spare, and I’d go to WonderCon waaaaaaay back in the day, the chance to get up close and personal with artists whose work I admired, inspired me to keep plugging. Had everything been upcharged I never would have had that chance, and I would have suffered for it.

    Then again, I’m a Pinko commie.”

    Like

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