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topic icon Author Topic: Single Day Tickets  (Read 4355 times)
BluegrassDustin
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URL icon « on: January 20, 2012, 03:18:21 PM »

Ok, here's the deal. We have gone over this here in the office, and thought we would offer it up to you, our trusted Forumvarians for review.

What haven't we thought of? What issues do you see? Read the following and let us know...

~~~~~~~~~~~~

As with past years, in addition to 8,000 4-day passes (which sold-out this year on 12/25) we have set aside 1,500 single-day tickets per day. Those tickets bring us to the 9500 tickets we sell per day for the festival (the remaining tickets are for crew, volunteers, artists, etc...). Based on the phone calls and emails we've been receiving for the past few weeks, we foresee an unprecedented demand for these remaining tickets.

Unfortunately, we can't predict the true scale of this demand.  So after investigating immediate improvements to our webserver to handle record traffic, we have determined that our online ticketing site needs a fundamental overhaul to sell high-demand tickets like these. We learned our lesson from from our initial on-sale day, and we do not want to risk any festivarians dealing with the frustrations of page-timeouts and other website problems for hours.

Our solution - which we have employed for our most in-demand tickets for the past few years - is an online lottery.  (After all, even with the most robust online ticketing site, you are essentially participating in a real-time lottery when ordering exceptionally high-demand tickets.)

This TBF single-day lottery will be open from Tuesday, Feb 7 at 12:01am MST thru Thurs, Feb 9 at 11:59pm MST at bluegrass.com.

It has been suggested that we give-in to supply and demand and increase the price of these remaining single-day tickets.  We will not be doing that, but instead holding single-day tickets to the same price as last year: $65 per day.

Many Festivarians have been expressing concern about scalpers.  Unfortunately, we have no way of distinguishing scalpers from Festivarians (either in a lottery or when purchasing phone/online), so we are adding several anti-scalper measures to this lottery:

- Limit of 1 entry per credit card number
- Each entry may request no more than 2 tickets per day
- Tickets are non-refundable

Because many of you are telling us that you are just looking for 4-day passes, the lottery form will allow you to request either:
- up to two 4-day passes ($260 each)
- up to two single-day tickets for each/any/all of Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun ($65 each)
 
When we process lottery entries we will fill any tickets on your entry that are still available - e.g. if you requested Fri/Sat/Sun single-day tickets and Fri tix are already sold-out we will sell you Sat/Sun tickets.

If you are only interested in coming all 4 days, you should request 4-day passes; if you would settle for less than all 4 days you should request Thurs/Fri/Sat/Sun single-day tickets (knowing that you may only receive single-day tickets for some of those days).

You may enter anytime on these 3 days with the same chance of being randomly selected.  When we begin processing orders, we will randomly sort all entries and begin filling each entry in that randomly assigned order.

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URL icon « Reply #1 on: January 20, 2012, 03:54:49 PM »

That sounds solid. Medal
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URL icon « Reply #2 on: January 20, 2012, 04:12:08 PM »

Dustin, thank you for putting consideration into the single day tickets and trying to balance various perspectives (as well as for not caving in on bumping up the price).

In case you haven't looked into it, cloud servers might prove to be effective in allowing you to scale up to the necessary resource level without having to pay for those resources all year when it's not needed.

I'm sure you are getting plenty of requests for 4-day passes, but my suspicion is there will still be a demand for single day tickets ... especially from locals who were used to merchant passes and/or those who are stuck working at least half of the festival and who would like to attend at least a day or two.

Perhaps a similar 5% (or more) allotment of about 75 (to 150) single day tickets per day might help to fill this particular demand.   Maybe even require locals to prove residency to get wristbands placed on them at the show such as with Phish.  Maybe this is too much of  headache at this point.

On a related note:  my first thought is that while I see the logic of "equivalency" regarding the either system being a "lottery" of sorts, a bogged down server will probably allow more (different) people to get tickets vs. consolidating them in fewer hands (via "bundling")... even in light of it being a frustrating process.  Maybe the latter is a more manageable situation from PB perspective, but it also maybe cuts against the grain of the single day ticket in so far as it having been historically an opportunity for people who can't commit to the full weekend to at least zero in on their favorite acts (if finances are tight) or simply attend on the day or two when they're off work.

I've seen a similar sort of system implemented for other multi-day events (I believe SCI Winter Carnival last year had a 3-day option) but it's almost always implemented as a "workaround" to actually not having a physical multi-day pass and is offered up on the first go around (not after all passes have been sold).

Anyhow, I've got my 4-day pass ... so there's nothing in it for me, but maybe if I didn't have one in hand then I'd be more in favor of bundling single days.  Along these lines, it's possible people who are going to chime in on this are "in it for the weekend" ... or to put it another way, it might not be a fair "vote" if you're tallying remarks from this thread.

Regardless, I think it's excellent to throw this out there for us to toss around!
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URL icon « Reply #3 on: January 20, 2012, 06:57:05 PM »

Thanks Dustin, I know a lot of thought has gone into this, and in the absence of a perfect solution (which I don't have), this seems like an improvement.   Medal

FOM, I suspect that the PB online store won't scale on a cloud.  Sure, you can put it on something like AWS, but there are various considerations:  What dependencies does it have on goofy things that you would need to co-locate, how is it coded, and what is the data store.   My gut feel is it was a fine little bit of coding for a mom & Pop operation that isn't processing a lot of orders, but it seems to have a lot of blocking and locking code in place that leads to the timeouts.  It's not just the server overloading, it's the architecture not being designed to scale to this level.

I could be wrong, but I'm a geek in real life, and that's sure how I would diagnose it.

~Jeff
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URL icon « Reply #4 on: January 20, 2012, 09:26:13 PM »

Nice Price.  Perhaps offering to merchants that missed out would be cool.  Seems like it's going to be quite the sold out event w/ possibility to attract more daytime acts to the local establishments?  Perhaps PB is already working w/ local merchants that have live music venues (outside Bluegrass Pancakes) to create more daytime Music?  Certainly Elks Park would be packed if the tickets have gone to Participants and not scalpers.  Perhaps speakers at the top of the Hill and a simple loop around Main St. Up/ Dn. @ Aspen St. and Fir St. for the week-end, pedestrian mall feel w/ open container/ Fat Tire dispensary/ Bar on Oak St?  Not sure why the tickets are on sale from Mon. @ midnight till Thurs. at noon, figure they'd be gone in a few hours from what we've seen this year?  Always better Safe than Sorry.   Cheers

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URL icon « Reply #5 on: January 20, 2012, 09:34:42 PM »

Nice Price.  Perhaps offering to merchants that missed out would be cool.  Seems like it's going to be quite the sold out event w/ possibility to attract more daytime acts to the local establishments?  Perhaps PB is already working w/ local merchants that have live music venues (outside Bluegrass Pancakes) to create more daytime Music?  Certainly Elks Park would be packed if the tickets have gone to Participants and not scalpers.  Perhaps speakers at the top of the Hill and a simple loop around Main St. Up/ Dn. @ Aspen St. and Fir St. for the week-end, pedestrian mall feel w/ open container/ Fat Tire dispensary/ Bar on Oak St?  Not sure why the tickets are on sale from Mon. @ midnight till Thurs. at noon, figure they'd be gone in a few hours from what we've seen this year?  Always better Safe than Sorry.   Cheers

The tickets will now be sold via a lottery. Does that help?

Auntie Hope
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URL icon « Reply #6 on: January 20, 2012, 09:56:58 PM »

I guess we'll find out, it'll help some, can't please everyone, I've found those truly in service almost always make it in. Thumbs Up

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URL icon « Reply #7 on: January 21, 2012, 06:52:33 AM »

Thanks Dustin, I know a lot of thought has gone into this, and in the absence of a perfect solution (which I don't have), this seems like an improvement.   Medal

FOM, I suspect that the PB online store won't scale on a cloud.  Sure, you can put it on something like AWS, but there are various considerations:  What dependencies does it have on goofy things that you would need to co-locate, how is it coded, and what is the data store.   My gut feel is it was a fine little bit of coding for a mom & Pop operation that isn't processing a lot of orders, but it seems to have a lot of blocking and locking code in place that leads to the timeouts.  It's not just the server overloading, it's the architecture not being designed to scale to this level.

I could be wrong, but I'm a geek in real life, and that's sure how I would diagnose it.

~Jeff


HF:  now you're talkin' my language!   You may very well be correct about the bottleneck being in the software & throwing more hardware at the issue won't do any good.   Sometimes you don't realize code is "inefficient" until it's placed under the gun with a higher load.   A migration to a new hosting environment will invariably uncover many instances of the devil being in the details as you've alluded to.

One tactic being used by Front Gate Ticketing which I've noticed over the past year (which I believe is used to mitigate issues related to software bottlenecks AND perhaps a way to not have to invest in more hardware) is to throttle customers' access to the actual "shopping area" - where you select tickets, place them in a cart, and then checkout - by allowing in only the number of visitors the system can handle at any given time while simultaneously placing the rest of the line into an ordered que or "waiting room".  So, if for instance 5000 people are looking to buy tickets and the system can only accommodate 2000 visitors within the "shopping area", then the first 2000 will be allowed in immediately and the remaining 3000 people get assigned a number to "wait in line" to gain entry into the shopping area.   Subsequently, for every person who "checks out" another person is let in to the shopping area from the que.

The above solution might be all well and good, but it also might cost $50k to implement.  On the other hand, it could very easily be more like a "module" which can work with most any existing system with just minor configuration.  I have no idea what's actually involved, but it might be something to shoot for in subsequent years.  Maybe even anticipating a slight increase in the cost of tickets to fund such an improvement ... especially if after it's all said and done this year that it's deemed there were unintended consequences with respect to policy changes involving the bundling of single day tickets.
« Last Edit: January 21, 2012, 07:00:58 AM by FaceOnMars » IP address Logged



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URL icon « Reply #8 on: January 21, 2012, 11:22:25 PM »

A lottery for the upcoming single day ticket sales sounds reasonable to me.
I like the option of being able to go for 4-day passes. Flower
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URL icon « Reply #9 on: January 22, 2012, 08:32:29 AM »

Looks good. Thanks for the info and for all your hard work at trying to limit scalpers from acquiring tickets. Wave

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URL icon « Reply #10 on: January 22, 2012, 10:31:40 AM »


The above solution might be all well and good, but it also might cost $50k to implement.  On the other hand, it could very easily be more like a "module" which can work with most any existing system with just minor configuration.  I have no idea what's actually involved, but it might be something to shoot for in subsequent years.  Maybe even anticipating a slight increase in the cost of tickets to fund such an improvement ... especially if after it's all said and done this year that it's deemed there were unintended consequences with respect to policy changes involving the bundling of single day tickets.


Paying a project manager, a couple of developers, a business analyst, and a tester or two for a few months of work would probably cost at least $100k... And that's if they're not contractors.  Even if there's a prepackaged solution out there, it'll probably cost a substantial amount for licensing, and maybe a support contract.

Either way, the lottery is certainly a much cheaper solution.
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URL icon « Reply #11 on: January 22, 2012, 12:28:16 PM »

 Flower Fan of the path of least resistance, so long as no one is really hurt.  I also, really love how the lottery shall dispense tickets in a bit of random, uncertain way; still those who will make the scene better will be in the scene. Thumbs Up

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URL icon « Reply #12 on: January 23, 2012, 09:03:18 AM »

Is there any chance those who applied as volunteers will know by 2/7 whether or not they were accepted?

Thanks,
Jackalope  Thumbs Up

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URL icon « Reply #13 on: January 23, 2012, 10:39:38 AM »

I think the lottery is a fair solution.  I'm just excited that we'll get to see the rest of the lineup in the next 2 weeks.  Thumbs Up
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Lets get down to brass tax.. how much for the ape?
BluegrassDustin
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URL icon « Reply #14 on: January 23, 2012, 11:05:07 AM »

Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

The limitations of the web and shopping cart are a bit out of my area of expertise, but I believe you are generally spot on Huckin. We could look into cloud options, but ultimately it's a bigger issue with the overall design of our modest little shopping cart. Even if we could get more server space to handle the volume, we are just not currently set up to sell lots of tickets fast. Someone would get a raw deal...likely lots of people.


Face and Iriecycle, tell everyone you know this information. We'll have something up on the website probably later today, or send them here. Telluride locals should assume that these are the last of the tickets and put into the lottery just like everyone else. As it stands these are the last tickets available for the festival.

Jackalope:  I don't know the answer to that question, but Jasmine certainly will know the possibility of that happening. I'll get with her and we'll let you know. It's a great question, I'm just not sure if it's humanly possible for her to accept them all that fast. Stand by for an answer.


Have a great week everyone! Wave
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"Be who you are and say what you feel, because those
who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind."- Dr. Seuss

"An intellectual snob is someone who can listen to the William Tell Overture and not think of The Lone Ranger."   -Dan Rather
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