Burning Man threw folks a curve ball in 2008 with the announcement that there would be no ticket sales at the Box Office at the event. This decision came about after a great deal of internal discussion about population growth at the event and our desire to responsibly manage that growth. This, coupled with a significant amount participant feedback suggesting the same policy change, clinched it. That was the easy part.
It was scary to consider all of the scenarios that could have made this policy change quite uncomfortable. The Box Office consulted heavily with the Gate & Perimeter team, sharing concerns on both sides and making the necessary contingency plans. In the end though, thanks to getting the message out early and repeatedly throughout the course of the year, and the Burner community’s capacity for dealing with change, the new policy proved to be a success.
Rather than selling tickets, the Box Office focused on its other functions, including Will Call. Though the majority of Burners opt to have their tickets mailed to them as soon as they’re purchased, many choose or are compelled to pick them up at the Box Office (if they live outside the US, for instance). In 2008, the Box Office crew delivered about 10,000 tickets that had already been bought and paid for through our tiny little windows. Most of that activity happens over the course of the first four days. That’s 104.16 tickets per hour.
In a perfect world, each of these transactions would be as simple as a friendly greeting, an ID check, clickety-clack on the keyboard, on screen confirmation, delivery of a ticket and a wave goodbye as another happy Burner flits back to their vehicle and on into the event. Well, sometimes this is not way the things go. Our dusty little home plays havoc with our computers and all their wonderfully precise moving parts. Anything that can go wrong, will ? and has ? and it’s our job to work around these issues to keep things moving smoothly, 24 hours a day, starting from the Wednesday prior to the event opening until 12 noon on Burn day.
The Box Office also manages access for delivery drivers. Many of the huge theme camps out on the playa get help from professional truck drivers making deliveries of all sorts of bizarre stuff tied down to their truck beds.
We work in tandem with the Laminate department in issuing laminates after their office closes. This relationship with the Laminates department was strengthened in 2008 when the Box Office took over this responsibility from the Gate. This was an easy transition, since both departments are already quite cozy partners indeed, working in tandem on the outskirts of the city.
The airport has been set up with one our nifty terminals to allow more for efficient entry through their gate. They used to have to call us on the radio to confirm will call tickets each time someone came through their gate. They are a busy airport and they made a lot of calls. And hearing names clearly over the radio and not just “meh, squawk squawk squawk meh”, is not as easy as one might think. Giving their team a check-in terminal and training on the system was a solution long time coming and when it finally came, it was sheer delight on both sides.
Don’t forget your ticket at home, folks.