Monday, April 30, 2012

It's a convention centre not a f**king TARDIS.

We're just back from our trip to the Calgary Comic and Entertainment Expo. Here's a photo of the only panel we saw:


That's Brent Spiner, Wil Wheaton and Levar Burton from Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was great. All three of these men are dynamic, personable and funny.

Here's a photo of the great souvenirs we bought:


Do not adjust your screen. This is my way of showing that I am the only nerd on the planet who went to a comic/sci-fi con and bought NOTHING. This is not because I have great restraint. Rather I bought nothing because I said to my sons, "Let's leave the convention centre and get a healthy lunch then come back and buy our souvenirs." Oh, how naive I was to think that having a ticket guaranteed me entry into the building. How naive I was to think that organizers would cap ticket sales and not just keep taking money and selling passes with nary a thought that a finite number of people can fit into a convention centre.

You know who wasn't naive? The fire marshals. Mid-day Saturday they shut the doors, cordoned off sections of the building, and waited until enough people had left that public safety was no longer compromised.

I find this statement from Steven Hodges, Expo employee, a bit boggling:
 “We were projecting crowds of about 45,000 this year and it’s safe to say we shattered that” 
Calgary Herald, April 29, 2012). 

They had no idea how many tickets they'd sold! What the --?! This is not rocket science. You look at the maximum allowable occupancy for the facility and then sell only that many tickets. It appears that the organizers of the Calgary Expo decided to hedge their bets that not everyone would show up at the BMO Centre during the convention and (GASP!) expect to use their tickets to enter the building. Instead they kept selling tickets.


I'd intended to use this outing as fodder for a blog post called "Beginners Guide to Attending a Star Trek, Sci Fi, Comic Expo with Children." Sadly the only advice I am comfortable offering is:
I wouldn't recommend going to next year's Calgary Expo because it might be a repeat of their 2012 clusterfuck. Save your money for a few years and go to ComicCon

I will however be writing a blog post called "How my 'Patrick Stewart Hotel Amenity Algorithm' saved our Calgary Expo experience from being a completely lame, extremely expensive exercise in frustration."

Stay tuned...



12 comments:

  1. I have so many sads for you. In fact, my sads are breeding like tribbles. :(

    I think you could even safetly over-sell tickets by say, 10%. Airlines over-sell each flight by 20-40%.

    But selling the expo site to capacity AND selling tickets at the door with abandon? Not smart, guys. And I'm getting a little twitchy thinking about being in an enclosed space with that many people. *shudder*

    I'm sorry your 1st convention was a disappointment. :( I can't imagine the ride home was a pleasant one.

    I say we meet up at the one in Seattle next time.

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    1. TRIBBLES!

      I assumed the Calgary Expo would have policies similar to those used by folk fests or other conventions: pre-sell multi and single days passes and if those sell-out, turn people away & call it a success. I am also really infuriated that the organizers are passing the blame on to the fire marshall and not admitting that they (I truly believe this) put profit above public safety. The physical layout of the booths and halls was awful, with lots of bottlenecks and badly planned traffic flow.

      This was our first -- and probably last -- convention. Unless someone gives me a boatload of money so I can get the primo level tickets for the London show with all five tv captains. If this imaginary boat of money shows up -- I'll take you w/ me, Eryn!

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  2. It makes me ill this happened. If I had two really excited children with me and had this happen? I would probably threaten violence and then burst an artery in my head. They are fortunate no one was hurt in this melee. Grrr...

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    1. Exactly! I spoke with a couple at our hotel who were in the Expo when it was announced that the fire marshal was shutting down the entry doors. This couple left because they didn't feel safe. My boys took it really well -- but there were lots of crying children in the parking lot. Mind you, I had to bribe the kids with a very costly trip to a toy store.

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  3. I've been enraged on your behalf for two days now. The event organizers are not only blaming the fire marshall, they are also blaming ticket-holders (??) for not showing up butt-ass early and then having the temerity to assume they could leave and come back later with their fully-paid passes.

    Sadly I've been to many events (not conventions and not on this scale, but still) where the organizers just simply flat out DID NOT plan for big numbers, and don't stop to think what will happen if lots of people show up. And then rather than apologizing, they get all defensive and try to spin it. So aggravating.

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    1. Reading the news stories now is making me even more annoyed. I'm pretty sure Public Relations 101 includes the lesson "Don't shame your patrons for your own greed." I feel very badly for people who'd spent a lot of money making costumes and didn't get a chance to enter in the cosplay competition on Saturday. But at least it made for some great people watching out in front of the centre.

      Supposedly there is some kind of refund deal in the works, but I'm guessing that because we validated our passes on Friday, we'll get screwed AGAIN by the Calgary Expo. We did change our travel plans and went back to the Expo on Sunday morning -- along with several thousand OTHER people. We had to leave before we got to the front of the kilometer long line up.

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  4. Ooo I would have been HOT! It would have been bad enough if it had just been you, but with two kids, man, can't even imagine how pissed I would have been. Hell, I'm pissed just thinking about this. Pissed.

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    1. I'd really like to get my $80 refunded since that's how much I spent bribing my sons back from tears.

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  5. I can't believe how stupid the organizers were. I also can't believe they tried to shuffle the "blame" onto the fire marshalls. Hey, they were doing their job. The people greedily selling tickets and then assuming that people would not use them (WTF?) were not doing their job.

    It was really fun to see you, though!!!

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    1. The fire marshals shut us down! We would have let everyone who bought a ticket cram into the inadequate space regardless of the danger is what their defence amounts to.

      Some people who got into the conference are acting as Expo Defenders saying (among other shit) that the ticket sales weren't motivated by greed b/c the CCEE is a non-profit. ARGH. "Non-profit" doesn't mean the outfit is a charity. Nor does it mean they don't want to make money. It just means they reinvest the money they make (aka PROFIT) into next year's convention. And they were greedy about it.

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  6. Do you have an email address we can all send angry scornful emails to? I'm really in the mood to send angry scornful emails this week. Well, any week really, but this is a GOOD CAUSE.

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    1. They've got a facebook page going and people have made complaints there. At this point I'm more inclined to agitate publicly until I get my money back. Let's hear it for SHAME! Plus if anyone -- especially anyone with kids -- asks, I wouldn't recommend going to the Calgary Expo until they have a proven track record of holding successful and safe conventions.

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