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My major gripe for the weekend- line policy and panel start times

#1 User is offline   randy r 

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 09:17 AM

Greetings.

ACen 2014 is now under the bridge. Overall, I think it went much more smoothly than in the past. However, the main glaring problems I saw and encountered were ones we have bitched about before- line policy and panel start times. Or, should I say the uneven enforcement of the policy.

Many of the panels I went to started on time. Of course, start time was determined in the program time. But, I guess actual start times were determined by whatever member of panel programming/ IRT was around. Start times seemed to be very "flexible". Some of the panels, at least in the ones that I attended, started on time. The panel programming person made sure the room was cleared, and started letting people enter about 5-10 minutes before the actual start time, so that the panelist actually had their full hour for the panel. Others, not so nice. Let explain.

I wanted to go to the Helen McMcarthy panel on Saturday morning. It was scheduled to start at 12:00. However, for some reason, the panel before it, run by Samurai Dan, started late, and they ran over their time. I can understand running over a couple of minutes. However, it would have been considerate if they had cleared out of the room so that the next panel could get ready and attendees could enter. 12:00 rolls around. They are still in the room. No apparent panel programming people are visible. Helen showed up with her handler to start her panel. Still full of people from the previous panel talking. Helen's handler goes to find someone from panel programming to clear the room. He comes back 10 minutes later, with a panel programming person to clear the room. Seems there was a panel programming person there. I never did catch his name, however, he was around 5'6", slight of build, and wearing a cowboy hat. So finally, around 12:15, they allowed us to enter the panel room. Helen's panel started around 12:20, 20 minutes after she was supposed to start. They did let her run over about 10 minutes, but still had her clear the room for the next panel. So her late start time, and run over time, made me late for the next panel I wanted to visit, which started at 1:00. So, I ended up missing the first 15 minutes of that panel.

Compare this to the ABe panel the day before in the same room. Panel programming was very visible. There was a person at the entrance to the hallway going to Room 3. When you got there, there was a panel programming person there at the room directing traffic, keeping the line organized, the hall clear for traffic. When ABe arrived, he was led into the room to set up. However, they had some technical problems with the equipment, so they didn't allow us in. But, the panel programming person did tell us they were having problems. They kept us informed. They got the problem fixed, and we were able to enter the room before the scheduled start time. Thus, ABe was able to start on time. And the panel ran smoothly.

This inconsistency is something that I think need to be addressed. Does a start time mean that is the time the panel will start, or is it the time that you will allow people to start entering the room? I saw both over the weekend.

As for the line policy- the old bugaboo strikes again. Supposedly, the line policy for the con is lines form one half hour before the panel/event. This was even broadcast by Amazon at the Wake Up Girls line, when people were clusterf**cking in the main lobby trying to form their own line. Although, I have seen posted on the website that line policy was lines for events started an hour before and admittance was started 15-30 minutes before the event. Anime Hell was to start at 10:00, and I was told by several people from IRT that the line would start forming at 9:30. So, I come back at 9:15, and low and behold, the line has already formed, and I was being told by IRT that the line was closed. IF I wanted to get into Anime Hell, I would have to wait off to the side until 10:00 to see if there was any room left. Luckily, there was room, and I got in. It was still a pisser to be told one thing, yet see another.

The Wake Up Girls concert was another cluster****. I felt sorry for the staffer that was posted in the lobby for that one. She tried to keep the hall cleared. She should get a medal for her work then, or at least a hearty "Way to go!" She told us that the line would start forming 2:30, and IRT would not be showing up for line control until 2:15. IF we wanted to wait for the line to form, please set along the outside walls so that the hallway was kept clear for people. So, we did that. We were quietly sitting there playing games or reading. Around 1:45, a group showed up and basically tried starting their own line. They parked themselves right in the middle of the lobby, and other people started showing up and adding to the cluster****. The staffer kept telling them that they could not be there, that the line formed at 2:30, and they had to leave. She was totally ignored. Meanwhile, those of us who were following her directions were basically getting pissed at what we were seeing. The poor staffer was getting madder and madder because she couldn't get the majority of the idiots to listen to her. Finally, around 2:15, Amazon and a group of IRT showed up. This was when Amazon introduced herself and asked if the people in the central cluster knew what the policy for lines was. They said yes. She said OK, leave. Go get a breath of fresh air. Go form the line outside along the sidewalk. She also included those of us who were following the instructions we were given. When I mentioned this to one of the other IRT guys, he said he was sorry, but she was the boss. By this time, the line had already started forming outside, so the group I was with basically forced ourselves into the beginning of the line, since we had been following directions. We did get into the concert, but it was still a cluster.

I did enjoy the con, but something really needs to be done about the uneven application of line policy and start time. If this can finally get fixed, then I think that the con will be much more enjoyable for all. When you can know that the lines will start when stated, and panels will start at their listed start time, and not when the crowd is finally seated, then you will be able to plan and enjoy the con more.
randy


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#2 User is offline   Rori 

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:02 PM

I also noticed the inconsistencies in the panel start times. Panel room 3 was tucked way back out of the way from the others, but I'm not sure if that contributed to the lack of staff in that area or not. Despite the problems with start times, I was pleased overall with the new venue and I hope these are just growing pains as the con moves forward.



And lines, man. It just seems to be any line going to the Hyatt Grand Ballroom or the Rosemont Ballroom is always nuts. The lobbies for those areas were simply not meant to handle lines like that; they were meant for weddings and things where people knew they had a seat and didn't have to trample others to ensure that.

I honestly don't know what the answer to that is though... a while back, a sort of ticketing system was used one year for some of the large events and it seemed to work pretty well, but I guess there were complaints with that. I remember there were tickets with "A" seating (come back at such and such time) and then "B" seating (come back at such and such time, which was after "A"); those two accounted for some percentage of the seats, the rest were unticketed and open for anyone. It is my observation at least for the angela concert and Wake Up Girls movie/performance that the people really pushing to be at the front of the "mob" were the "superfans" who wanted to be in the first few rows. Maybe an IRT or even Reg staffer could be at the line-up area 1-2 hours prior to hand out such tickets...? Or better yet, hand out these kinds of tickets at a booth in the reg hall or anywhere else really in the convention center, which is a place much more able to handle massive lines. Because then people would know they are assured of having first entry instead of starting an unofficial line way before necessary. They could even be some kind of sticker or stamp that goes on your badge as your "ticket." But again, I know the ticketing thing never went very far to begin with.
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#3 User is offline   Niroz51 

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:15 PM

I feel for ya, few years back I ran into the same thing with LM.C.
However they seemed to handle your situation much better. We followed the rules only to find people were lined up since 3 hours beforehand. So those of us who arrived at the appropriate time formed another line upon being told from an IRT that the 3hr line "Didn't count". WE were the ones that got the snide remarks from IRT "What are you guys doing? Just hanging out I bet?". Then when it was time to go in they whispered to the line that was then 4 1/2 hours old that they were going to move it outside, my friend happened to overhear/see. They basically rewarded those who disregarded the rules. When our line got wind of what was going on, it was as you said, a cluster ****. If you tripped you could have easily been trampled. That wasn't the only time such a thing has happened.

So as easy as it is to demonize the people who don't follow line up rules, they could be older con goers like I who know that if they follow the rules too closely they're probably gonna be shafted. It depends on whose in charge of the lines and how they feel like handling the situation. If it's a popular event I am really looking forward too I just keep an eye on the area. If all is kay I line up according to the rules but if I see things aren't being enforced then, sorry, I'm following what works. So it really is a viscous cycle that's been ongoing for sometime that's proving to be difficult to fix due to the inconsistency that you have mention.

At the same time the IRT can only do so much when it comes to people who blatantly ignore them like the people you mentioned. The only time such a major problem occurs is when you have those fangals and boys. I know the ticketing thing was shot down because I guess people weren't going? So those who really wanted to go were told they couldn't even when in the end there was space.

This post has been edited by Niroz51: 19 May 2014 - 07:23 PM


#4 User is offline   Rori 

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Posted 19 May 2014 - 07:46 PM

View PostNiroz51, on 19 May 2014 - 07:15 PM, said:

I know the ticketing thing was shot down because I guess people weren't going? So those who really wanted to go were told they couldn't even when in the end there was space.

I think we are talking about different ticketing attempts. (I don't mean ticketing like Kalafina was last year, this was something they did one of the first times I went to ACen, around 2006 or 2007). If a "ticketed" person wasn't where they needed to be at the time it said on their "ticket", then it was just opened up to whoever happened to walk by and want to be in line, ticket or not. The ticket was less of a seat assignment and more of a tool to tell people when to show up in line.

So for the sake of example, if the "A" group had to be there between 1:00-1:10 to be seated, "B" would be seated 1:15-1:25, if you were in "A" and you missed your time you got rolled into "B". If you missed either of those you just got let in with anyone else who happened to show up. It was really smooth that year, but I think one of the main complaints was that it wasn't posted where to get said "tickets" so people who wanted to be in the front missed their opportunity to do so.
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