San Diego Comic-Con 2014 Preregistration Tips [UPDATE 2 – How To Make The Most Of The New Process]

[Editor’s Note] We’d like to welcome our guest contributor, Lisa McDowell, with her first article!

Be prepared to fight your way to victory when it comes to grabbing a Comic-Con badge.

Since Comic-Con International has stated 2014 SDCC preregistration will take place soon (sometime in early 2014), the possible window of time for badge sales is starting to close in. Whether last year was your first time attending or you’ve been there from the start, we know how grueling it can be waiting for the official sale to be announced — and that once badges go on sale, it’s best to have a strategy in place for making sure you do score a golden ticket.

That’s why we’re offering up some tips to take the edge off the wait, and to help you gear up and be prepared once an official announcement has been made.

[UPDATE 1] With the change in Preregistration process to a randomized waiting room system this year, we’ve updated some of our tips to reflect the changes, and to help give you every advantage possible.

[UPDATE 2] Now that we know more about how the waiting room will function, we’ve revised our tips to help you. Here are some key tips:

  • E-mail Vigilance is Key – Comic-Con International’s preferred method of contact is e-mail, and you can probably expect an e-mail will be sent to your inbox to alert you to the details of when and how the sale will be taking place. Plus, new this year is that CCI will be using each attendee a unique registration code at least 24 hours prior to the sale, which you will need to input to enter the waiting room, so it’s important that you keep all e-mails. If you lose the e-mail, you can still get the code out of your Member ID page, but that’s an extra step.
  • Stay Informed – Make sure you’re following both The SDCC Blog (on Twitter and Facebook) and Comic-Con (on Twitter and Facebook), and that you have push notifications turned on for both. We will post any info as soon as we have it.
  • Ditch The Mobile Phone: EPIC’s new waiting room system is not formatted for mobile devices, so don’t even try it. Get to a computer and hunker down, because it’s going to be a long day.
  • Don’t share that link or code – CCI will distribute a private link to access badge sales, only available to those who attended in 2013. Sharing that e-mail link could cost you your chance at a badge, as each unique registration code can only be used once. If someone else uses your code to enter the waiting room, you’re shut out.
  • Preparation – Make sure you’re set up and ready to go before 9AM PT on the day of the sale. Have your link, your code, your credit card, and anything else you need set up before that time. There’s no need to rush into the room when it opens at 7AM, as all attendees who are in the waiting room at 9 will be randomly sorted into a check-out line regardless of when they entered the room — but if you miss that 9AM cutoff time, you’ll be placed behind everyone else. Make sure you’ve read all of the information about how the sale will work beforehand so there are no surprises.
  • Teamwork – To increase your chances of getting a badge, work in groups. In light of the new randomized waiting room, being the first to click or having a faster internet connection no longer matters: Your place in line will be determined by a random mathematical formula. Since CCI is allowing each person to buy two additional badges for other preregistration-eligible-attendees, have each other attendee enter the waiting room and see who gets to the checkout process first, when the badge stock is more readily available. If you don’t already have friends in the same boat, we recommend Friends of Comic-Con’s Pre-Reg Buying Groups forum to find a badge-buying buddy. There is strength in numbers, and working with people you trust will make it that much easier.
  • Make Sure Your Funds are In Place – While working in groups is the best way to increase your odds at getting a badge other than doing a raindance in your bedroom, there’s one drawback: you’ll only be able to use one credit card during check-out. That means that if a group of three people are each trying to buy badges and working in a group, whoever gets to the front of the line first will have to pay for all three badges on a single credit card. Because there’s no way to know who will get in first beforehand, each person has to have all of the funds ready to go.
  • Communication – This is why if you’re working in a team, it’s very important to develop a system for how to communicate where you are in line, and to coordinate the purchasing process. If you get to the front of the line first, and your friend wants a four-day badge, but Saturday is sold out, then what? We recommend using AIM, Skype, or a group chat, as e-mail and Twitter can be slow, and you might not want to share your personal information over social media.
  • Have a Backup Plan – When it comes to SDCC Prereg, there are no guarantees. Bookmark, copy and paste the e-mail link, and have that e-mail open and ready to go! One year, the links e-mailed out didn’t work, but copying and pasting the link did. Just assume that when dealing with badge sales to one of the largest, most-coveted events all year long, glitches can and will happen. If we hear about any of the errors, we’ll be live-tweeting the sale, so make sure you’re following us.
  • Don’t Forget To Screenshot if Necessary – Remember that glitches can happen, so if a problem arises, screenshot it. You may need them. Last year when EPIC’s waiting room froze for some users, CCI encouraged people to send in a screenshot of their issue. They held a special, select badge sale just for those users who were shut out due to problems.
  • Remember: Badge Inventory Is Safe: Remember this. When it is your turn to check-out, you will have 15 minutes. Whatever the badge inventory says when you get to the check-out center is what it will be until you’ve used up that full time as EPIC and CCI are effectively holding all options for you, so there’s no need to hastily enter your credit card. You’ve got time to talk to your badge-buying buddies to confirm things, and you’ve got time to check your bank balance. Entering everything in 30 seconds or five minutes isn’t going to be the difference between you getting a four-day badge and you losing one.
  • Don’t Refresh Or Hit The Back Button: CCI has made it explicitly clear that either refreshing or hitting the back button on your browser after the 9AM kickoff time can send you to the back of the line, or cause the waiting room to behave “unexpectedly”. Neither of those are particularly good options. However, if you do receive an error message, like the ones in the Professional Registration sale, we recommend taking a screenshot of your error message, and then weighing your options. For some in the Professional Registration sale, hitting the back button did actually result in finalized sales — but it’s a risk you’re going to have to decide if you’re willing to take or not.
  • Breathe – Above all else, take a deep breath. The hours leading up to and during the badge sales can be incredibly stressful. Our hearts are beating faster… our hands shake with nervous anticipation and our brains race with profound speed, and we sometimes don‘t really know what we‘re doing. But in this badge sale, there’s no reason to hurry at all. Getting to the waiting room faster isn’t going to help you, entering your payment method faster isn’t going to help you, and having a full-on panic attack definitely isn’t going to help you. It’s important to stay focused and calm, and remember… even if you don’t score a badge in pre-sale, there will still be a general sale later in the year.

Do you have any SDCC Prereg tips? Share them with us in the comments below!

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