2010 was an incredibly busy and productive season for the Ticketing Department. Things got off to a smooth start with our pre-sale: for the second year in a row we offered a limited number of pre-sale tickets available for $280 (the third price tier.) Once again these were very popular with folks wanting to give tickets as gifts or simply eager to avoid the crush of launch day in January.
Making those tickets an even more enviable gift to receive was the beautiful ticket artwork illustrating the Metropolis theme, done by long time Burning Man designer Arin Fishkin. On the heels of the pre-sale we had the main event – our full ticket launch in mid-January. After our standard QA and load testing, we determined everything was ready. The systems all performed exactly as hoped and we had a beautiful ticket launch with more people buying tickets with shorter wait times than ever. All in all, a complete success!
Our Low Income and Scholarship ticket programs were also a big success in 2010. We saw higher demand for these two programs than ever before, and subsequently both programs closed before their cutoff date. Now having several years’ experience processing the higher volumes for these discounted ticket programs, the Ticket Office really hit its stride, and with the help of a couple dedicated folks, ran like a well-oiled machine. We’ve never processed tickets more efficiently! One of the main reasons we were able to get into this groove was because in addition to our indispensable volunteer help we were also able to bring on a part-time Ticketing Assistant to help with glamorous tasks like data entry, mail sorting (which is a big deal to us with the thousands of pieces of mail we get!), and ticket fulfillment.
All of our walk-in Ticket Outlets returned again for the 2010 season, and all did better than ever. They, too, benefited from years of experience selling our tickets and by far had the smoothest season we’ve ever seen, even with demand being significantly increased.
While it was advantageous for many areas of Ticketing to continue building on past success, other areas were due for some change. The two main things that got revamped in 2010 were how we process Locals’ admissions and where we handle our staff credentialing. Previously Locals were taken care of at the front gate, next to the Box Office, where we also took care of all our staff credentialing needs. This meant that Locals had to make their way all the way to the playa even if they weren’t immediately planning on entering the event. This also trapped our Laminate Office all the way at the front gate, which was incredibly inconvenient for staff who needed to visit it. In an effort to resolve this double inconvenience, we relocated the Local registration to Gerlach, and were able to move the Laminate Office into the city proper where staff could easily access it. Both changes proved to be a great success and left us wondering why we hadn’t thought of that sooner!
This was the second year of many processes that were introduced in 2009 for the Box Office. As with any new process we took the opportunity to further refine things, and from an operational standpoint everything went really smoothly. Unfortunately, all of the efficient processes and years of experience couldn’t have mitigated the impact of larger crowds than ever. Truly, the number of people trying to access the Box Office the first three days of the event was completely unprecedented. As a result there was a constant queue during those days, and folks who were already frazzled from their travels weren’t exactly bringing their warm fuzzy peace, love and playa Burner selves.
In fact, we witnessed some of the least Burnerly behavior we have ever seen, including a mob threatening the safety of one of our longtime managers who was actually trying to help expedite the line. While we understand that nobody wants to drive for hours only to stand in line for their ticket, sometimes that’s just unavoidable, and nothing justifies this kind of awful behavior. We hope that people remember that they’re waiting in line to be helped by fellow Burners who are working hard to get them through the process. The Burning Man ethos doesn’t only apply after you’ve gone through the Greeters station.
Utilizing lessons learned in 2010, we’re looking at 2011 with fresh eyes to see where there are even more areas that could use some constructive rejiggering so we can continue to make things better, and find ways to more easily accommodate the larger crowds.