The ticket team’s world changed yet again in 2004. For the first time, we decided to handle the majority of ticket sales online instead of through mail order. This tough decision came at a cost, as the ticket team LOVES getting decorated envelopes full of stories, gifts, and love from the community. However, the massive quantity of mail (more than 10,000 pieces in 2 days) was growing difficult to manage in a timely, efficient fashion. By making more tickets available online, we alleviated this logistical pressure, so we could focus on participant service, time-consuming processes for allotting low-income and scholarship tickets, and helping participants with problems and questions.
The transition to such heavy reliance on online sales was not completed as smoothly as we would have liked. Believe us when we say we did NOT want you to spend 3 hours attempting to get your ticket. We are implementing changes to make ticket-buying a better experience. But the first day of sales for 2004 brought server load issues, and unfortunately overly sensitive order validation checks created problems when more than one person attempted to order tickets from the same computer. We took MANY notes and learned MANY lessons about the online ticket process in 2004. We have worked with our ticket vendor, InHouse Tickets, to address these concerns for 2005 and to further streamline the process.
For the first time in 2004, we introduced sales of low-income tickets. We understand how much participants spend to attend the event, and we want to make sure that as many people get the chance to go as possible. Our lowest-priced tickets (low-income and scholarship tickets) go to those who truly need the help. Based on information gathered from participants throughout 2004, these processes for allotting reduced-price tickets seem to have worked very well, and we are looking forward to the continuation of both programs.
Our two outlet liaisons provided invaluable support to the ticket process again this year. The same two people have maintained organized, professional relations with our Bay Area walk-in outlets for 2 years now. The close relationships with our outlets help to assure Bay Area participants that tickets will be available during the hours posted, and copies of the Newsletter and Survival Guide will be stocked when these publications come out in the summer. The liaisons play particularly key roles in the weeks right before the event, when walk-in outlets see the most traffic.
A brand new addition to the ticket process in 2004 was the creation of an online Box Office information system. For the first time ever, Box Office data was in synch with the rest of the ticketing system. Box Office staff could easily look up information and locate will-call tickets in one place instead of hunting through a bunch of binders. New sales were recorded directly into the system, eliminating the mountainous data-entry chore that awaited the ticket team after each year’s event.
Our office volunteers continued to amazingly rock in 2004. We remain eternally grateful to a core group of people who provide dependable help for large mailings and office projects throughout the year. They all deserve a HUGE thanks for their continued contributions.
Frog Gilmore & Bex Workman