Professional Registration Problems – Could It Delay Prereg? [UPDATE]

In Badge/Hotel News by Kerry Dixon12 Comments

show floor exhibit space boothThe first badge sale for San Diego Comic-Con 2014 kicked off this morning, with Creative Professionals vying for a badge. Similar to how Preregistration will work, just because a creative professional is registered and ‘eligible’ for a badge, does not mean that he or she would walk away victorious. As with Prereg in past years, this can lead to thousands of anxious attendees overloading servers and wreaking havoc, the exact situation CCI has been so busy trying to find a solution to.

This sale was the first real test of the changes EPIC Registration has been implementing in the system, and while the process differs from the new Preregistration system (no waiting room, no timed entry), it’s still the same vendor, and likely the real test to how much longer we have to wait for Preregistration. If the sale went off without a hitch, we may be looking at a Preregistration sale for next weekend, around February 8. If there were issues, it’s possible CCI and EPIC Registration may decide that the system still needs fine-tuning.

So how did EPIC and professionals fare? And what does it mean for the impending Preregistration sale?

Much like with Preregistration in years past, the experience seemed to vary person to person. While many reported getting in and out quickly, a few received processing and server errors. Several professionals, like AlanahC on Twitter, reported that the new system appeared seamless until trying to check-out, when these messages popped up:

processing error

server error

This is reminiscent of previous years, when similar error messages plagued attendees trying to get through EPIC’s system. However, these problems seemed confined to the first few minutes of the sale, the busiest time – and it didn’t affect everyone.

“I was there right at 10am,” Tyler Miller, who also tried for a badge this morning, told us. “For me, I copied the link and pasted it into my browser.  At 9:59am, it wouldn’t do anything.  Right at 10am, it took [me] right into the registration page. I quickly added my wife’s info and submitted (I didn’t purchase an additional guest badge).  It was really easy. By 10:04am I had received my confirmation email.”

The biggest complaint coming out of today’s sale was that free guest badges – a limited quantity of plus-one badges that pros could snag, so long as the inventory wasn’t sold out – ran out in a record-breaking four or five minutes. Professionals could still grab a paid guest badge, but many reported on Twitter and social media that this year’s sale seemed more cut-throat than in previous years, a trend we’ve been seeing in other badge sales for years.

Miller said that today’s sale was “crazy compared to three or four years ago where it seemed like there was less pressure. Last year after waiting an hour to register and missing out on the comp badge – it impacted my decision this year.”

So what does all of this mean for Preregistration? Even though the Pro sale had no waiting room, it’s important to note that the first step to purchasing badges was to Register or Login. AlanahC on Twitter shared her final checkout screen, and you can see each step: Register/Login, Name/Address & Demographics, Conference Packages, Payment Info, and Final Verification.

final

By having the Login/Register appear only when it’s time to begin the check-out process, rather than when accessing the link, this doesn’t rule out the possibility that attendees will be able to enter the waiting room on both their phone and computer, and see which device offers a better place in the checkout line once the sale is randomized – but it also doesn’t confirm it.

[UPDATE] CCI has confirmed that you’ll be using a unique registration code that can only be used once upon entering the waiting room, so users won’t be able to use multiple devices to try to help their chances.

Today’s sale may also be a sign that EPIC and CCI are not quite ready to handle badge sales next weekend. Although it’s likely that EPIC didn’t utilize as much bandwidth for the sale as they will during regular badge sales, because there are substantially fewer attendees who were eligible for the Professional sale, it’s obvious that some of the same issues of previous years are still a problem.

However, this may just be further proof that the new waiting room process really is the best solution — because the ‘everyone clicks a link once’ method really does seem broken, even in this smaller sale.

Do you think EPIC and CCI are ready for Preregistration? Did you get a Professional badge today? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.