Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

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Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby asaxon » Mon Jan 09, 2012 4:54 am

Regardless of outcome, I think there are several issues with the lottery system that deserve a closer look. Having watched the ticket sale process (and crashes) for the past years I certainly understand the need for a change, and welcome it. I think, however, they quite possibly overlooked some of the cultural aspects involved.

----------The Story---------
The BM story is a big part of the community and event. If the lottery were only a practical way of solving the ticket buying process I think it would have some merit, but in regards to the story it fails.

Having read many of the posts (rants and answers) about the lottery system it appears the tiers were originally meant to give BM a heads-up on the level of participation and to have money early to pay for producing the event. Certainly legitimate business concerned.

On the other hand there is the social story that has been propagated. No strictly commercial venture would ask it's participants to "pay the highest tier you can afford". It's part of the BM story of inclusiveness (the same story that makes it so much fun to attend). The story from past years implies the tiers are "a way of allowing those who need it (and plan ahead) to enter at a lower cost".

In reality, I don't see any contradiction between the corporate need for early info and money and the offering tickets at lower cost to those who need it. However, the lottery system, in it's current implementation, clearly violated the STORY aspect (regardless of weather the story actually panned out or not).

Until last year (the first sellout) there were many who did not rush to buy tickets because they knew they could always get one later at a higher price, and since they did not need a lower priced ticket they avoided the rush by waiting. In that way the system DID provide a big push towards the lower tickets for those who needed it. The sellout changes that, but it was part of how the story worked in the past. Today, because of the fear of selling out you can't wait and pay the higher tier tickets, nor can you choose a higher tier if you wanted to, so all options to "support those who need it" through the ticket purchasing option (part of the story) are out.

If the LLC's wanted to continue this story there are simple ways to "fix" this - drawing from higher tier first is the simplest, or drawing regardless of tiers selected and charging the highest tier chosen (it's a solvable problem). The current implementation is a BIG statistical disadvantage to the lower priced tiers, which goes directly against the social story propagated for many years by BM.

BM is an expensive event, and not a physical necessity. Being able to "afford it" is a totally subjective analysis and not of much value. The ticket price is only one of many parameters. The real reason for the high level of "flame" is because so much is riding on the event. BM Is a key player in the transformation of those attending and the maturation of the planet, and a big part of that is the social story it propagates.

----------The Fear---------
Another aspect I think was underestimated is the "fear" aspect, which drives a lot of the difficulties in the ticketing process. In years past the same "fear / gambling" was there too, but ONLY for that one day. The cost, though present, was minimal. The lottery system prolongs this time of uncertainty and questioning significantly, requiring attention (the real commodity) to the ticket buying process for a much longer period, amplifying the levels of fear surrounding the event (justified or not is irrelevant...)

Being unsure of getting tickets means also that groups might pool together to make sure they have enough tickets, but it also greatly increases the chances of "over buying". without knowing ahead of time how those tickets can be sold (is there a clearinghouse? What will it look like?),there is another level of fear present.

There are also the technical aspects of delayed, unknown, and possibly failed bank card charges. With no "grace period" offered to handle the transactions it would be easy to "miss out", even with everything properly in place - another aspect requiring more attention and generating fear.

----------Scalping---------
How the new system handles scalping remains to be seen. I suspect it will not do much to change it. I see possible affects in both directions. The delay in ticket mailing is a big step towards solving the problem, but it's totally independent of the lottery system, so I suspect it will be hard to evaluate.

Hope this helps :-)
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:11 am

Welcome to ePlaya! I'm not sure when you started participating in the event (or if you have, your post only mentions that you've watched the process over past years), but it's good to have you finally participating in the community electronically. If/when you get the chance, feel free to pop on over to the Greeter's Station and post a little about yourself.

I think you're putting far too much emphasis and weight on the request to purchase the highest ticket tier you could afford, which was on the ticket page from around 1999 (when I believe tiered pricing started) and 2011. While it was absolutely a good thing to do to help your fellow man, it certainly wasn't what made Burning Man what it was or what it is today, and it wasn't a "make or break" aspect of the event (or some sacred part of the story). Further, in practice is was something that most burners just didn't do.

That said, pulling tiers in reverse order (which has been discussed several times in other threads) wouldn't work. The people who check off the higher tiers on their registration (or in past years, who could afford to pay for higher tiers when they got to the order screen) weren't all wealthy people. In fact, most weren't. Most were simply radically self reliant people who had pinched their pennies and carefully managed their finances for weeks (if not months) in order to be able to have enough available so that they could purchase the ticket at a higher cost if need be. Drawing the tiers in reverse order effectively denies many of those people a chance at a less expensive ticket.

Participants who can afford a higher ticket price and get awarded tickets at a lower tier can still help those in need. Find someone who wasn't able to get tickets in the main sale (they could only afford the lowest tier, and didn't get drawn), and help them cover the gap between the lowest tier and the highest tier so they can participate in the open sale in March. It would be an awesome thing to do, if you have the means and interest in helping someone out.

Fear was already a part of the proceedings, regardless of whether there were changes to the ticket process. Because of the event sell-out in 2011, hoarding and professional scalpers became very real risks and concerns. People planned to buy earlier, people planned to buy a few extra to make sure projects, camps, or campmates who didn't plan well were covered. Nothing short of an unlimited ticket supply could have prevented that. The changes to the system make for a serious roadblock to scalpers and a deterrent to hoarders. The registration process makes automated ticket buying software (used by professional scalpers) effectively useless, known scalpers and scammers will be scrubbed from the list before the drawing, and delaying ticket fulfillment until June makes for a longer term financial commitment and shorter resale window. I think they're pretty solid steps. If hoarding is not as big an issue as some fear, there will be plenty of tickets to go around in the main sale, with leftovers being added to the main sale in March. But if hoarding is a big issue, then the main sale acts as a safety and provides a pretty level playing field.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby DeusRegit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 8:47 am

Gee, was I impressed when the "Top News Story" on the Channel 2 Reno local news last night was "Burning Man Ticket Lottery Starts Tomorrow". I feel so honored to be part of the big event. Am I scared I won't make the main sale even if I register at the highest tier? Hell yes. Am I anticipating the excitement of receiving an email (or however LLC does it) that I made the selection and I'm only paying $240.00? Hell yes, I live in Nevada - I love to gamble.
Am I hoping they'll will change the way they do this next year? Uh, sure - Burning Man is about change.
But of all the shit I gotta' get straight just to finally be driving my car along that 2 mph creep up to the main gate while my engine is overheating and my boss is leaving me messages on my cellphone complaining about all the work I didn't get done, if this ticket gamble is the worst thing the LLC Gods can throw at me, then it's gonna' be one hell of a burn!
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby A Jester » Mon Jan 09, 2012 9:45 am

DeusRegit wrote:if this ticket gamble is the worst thing the LLC Gods can throw at me, then it's gonna' be one hell of a burn!

QFT

Also, the ticket price is a pretty small expense compared to everything else, blah blah blah.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby This Woman » Mon Jan 09, 2012 11:50 am

I on the other hand, was done the minute they decided on this fucked up lottery (though I wasted time trying to stave off the impossible). Now I can only hope the LLC will at least remove the "radically self reliant" principal from their lists - truth in advertising and all. Or maybe I was just never radically self reliant enough in the last 16 times I went but never realized it until the lottery. Because it's been about 6 years since I've been able to afford my ticket before early April, yet I still had the temerity to think I was self reliant.

Well times do change, and standards change too. Board rooms across the world are filled with people right now trying to answer the age old question - How can we make this worse? The irony is I know I could get a scalped ticket. I don't understand why they think scalpers won't be interested just because they have to use their fingers instead of a program. There's still plenty of money to be made off the likes of people like me. Frankly, I'd rather give my money to some scalper than to the assholes that took my gift of a theme camp and shit all over it. Because it's the anti-theme camp attitude of the lottery that I really hate. I could afford the $600-800 scalper ticket in June no problem, if I didn't have a theme camp to plan and finance. I can take a vacation in the desert and let all the rubes who are being used by the llc (for free) entertain me. A week of the best party on the planet is a bargain for $800 so long as that's all you have to pay. Honestly at this point, I hope all the theme camps re-think their level of participation. I hope they start to dwindle and continue to dwindle. Because the llc doesn't respect them and they no longer deserve them.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Mon Jan 09, 2012 12:46 pm

@This Woman - if you had no chance of being able to purchase a ticket before April, then the drawing has no impact on you whatsoever. The drawing affects only the tickets sold in January. Anything remaining after the main sale drawing will be added to the pool of tickets put on sale first come, first serve in March. If anything, the new system gives you a better chance than you likely ever would have had under a straight up open sale (even without the potential impact of automated ticket buying software by pro scalpers, the event would likely have sold out before March). As for the anti-theme camp bit, that just seems nonsensical for me. As a theme camp organizer the system doesn't seem oppressive or unfair. Scarcity is a bitch, in any scenario where there aren't unlimited tickets it means that as a camp organizer I need to make sure the campmates I rely upon to help make things work have a ticket. That doesn't change regardless of how tickets are sold.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby asaxon » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:02 pm

Thanks for the welcome :-)

trilobyte wrote:I'm not sure when you started participating in the event

I've been on playa 12 weeks in total.

trilobyte wrote:I think you're putting far too much emphasis and weight on the request to purchase the highest ticket tier...

My emphasis is on the social story involved, and the relationship between the LLC and "us", which, I feel, has been largely ignored in these discussions. The specific technical aspects, and how to gift, have been well covered. (it's why I started a new topic)

trilobyte wrote:That said, pulling tiers in reverse order wouldn't work...

It's only a different distribution. Not better or worse. It would simply fit the previous story better. The current system is the first time it's heavily weighted in favor of the higher tiers, which is why it's "breaking the story". I'm not even saying that it's wrong to break the story, only that it is breaking.

trilobyte wrote:Fear was already a part of the proceedings...
True. The issue is of degree. Again, I'm not saying BM is responsible for the fear, only that perhaps they have underestimated the levels of fear associated with the new system. Some because it's new. Some intrinsic to the lottery system.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby theCryptofishist » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:20 pm

Alright! We know that there have been conflicting stories given by the llc over the years. Sometimes they come across as a bit disingenuous. Do we never have that in the rest of our world? Are we incapable of shrugging our shoulders and saying, Sometimes reality doesn't work out in my favor? Are we happiest when everything we do becomes a bit of Gestalt therapy?

Ah, I am happily settling into curmudgeon-hood.

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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby This Woman » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:24 pm

@Trilobyte The very first time tickets sold out was 2011, and that was late in June. Given the hysteria of changing the system with little warning after one sell out, I guess I just don't anticipate those runoff tickets being around for more than a few days. I could be wrong, true. But I think they will go very quickly then there will be a lull since tickets won't be mailed, then the hoarders will begin to sell their extras in June. We'll see. But we'll see with damn little time to get the theme camp planning and paperwork done.

I could just lie when I register the theme camp and say I already have a ticket if I don't (and much of the camp might also be lying, but there would be three or four who would have their tickets) I've certainly considered that. I have considered going without doing the theme camp, but the theme camp is probably a more compelling reason for me to go at all than just Burning Man. Burning Man is awesome, but the camp is downright magical.

You say my anti theme camp assertion is nonsensical then lay out a reason why it could be considered anti theme camp: as an organizer you must make sure everyone has a ticket. Well I am an organizer and I do know the need for my team to have a ticket, so I'm a little confused why that doesn't go on the Con side of the lottery ticket debate. You think that I'll have more time than ever after March to buy a ticket, but you really mean I'll have till April 26 for me and my campmates to have purchased their tickets. And I don't know about you, but I think we are pretty average theme-camp-wise that we start planning right about now (or even earlier). Theme camps can keep planning early, but without the guaranty that key members will get a ticket, or they can plan late once everyone has a ticket. Either way, most will have to change their planning structure at least somewhat. And in planning I include purchase of materials, reservation of vehicles, accumulation of materials, and so much more. I hate to ask you to defend a negative, but how is it NOT anti theme camp?
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby International Incident » Wed Jan 11, 2012 3:59 pm

This Woman wrote:@Trilobyte Given the hysteria of changing the system with little warning after one sell out



I call bullshit on this... The lottery idea has now been talked about for MONTHS

And if your peeps are organised they WILL get a ticket.

Stop whinging!
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:02 pm

@This Woman - you're incorrect. Tickets actually sold out on July 24th. But the important info is that HALF the event tickets were sold in 48 hours. And that's with some incredibly painful server problems. In total, around 30K tickets were sold in January 2011. Normal and natural growth of the event is between 10-15%, which would have put this year's demand at around 35K. Now consider that most of the people who either got caught without a ticket or had a close call or who knew someone who had a close call would probably be getting tickets earlier this year, and those who want to hoard tickets for campmates/friends/art projects/etc, and you're possibly looking at a significant increase in initial demand. Even if you could block scalpers completely from a first-come, first-serve system (which you can't), that put the event on track to sell out in a few short weeks.

I don't quite get your comment about lying about having a ticket. When I suggested that camp organizers needed to ask campmates if they had tickets before relying on them for critical aspects of your camp, I meant YOU asking your campmates. Doesn't make a difference how they get 'em (either in the main sale or the open sale), they just need to get 'em. What is your comment about April 26th in reference to? I'm not sure what that date means. As for planning, you and your campmates collectively have from now until the start of the event to get your shit together and get your tickets and your camp worked out. Those who enter the drawing between now and the 22nd will know the outcome by the 1st of February. Those who didn't get tickets can thank the hoarders, then set their calendars for March 28 when the Open Sale happens. It's unclear whether there will be a ton of demand then, because it's uncharted territory. No idea yet on whether there will be a ton of people waiting to go right then. Historically, there's just been that giant blast of demand that happens in January, and then things trickle along over the course of the next several months. It's entirely possible they'll sell quickly, and it's entirely possible that they could take weeks to sell through. After that, anybody who still hasn't gotten their ticket will need to look at the after-market, and get their tickets from other burners who either can't go, or who bought more than they needed in the first place. The ticket resale system will help facilitate people selling tickets at or below face value, plus there will be person-to-person sales, Craig's List, eBay, and the like. My hope is that the system that will be rolled out will make it easy for people to do the right thing.

There's nothing to defend against. You make the assertion that the new system is anti-theme camp, but you haven't made any kind of coherent argument. Unless you're asserting that as a theme camp, you should somehow be entitled to make whatever plans you want and not have to do anything (like get tickets or make equipment reservations) in advance, but that seems a little far-fetched and silly.

As for 'hysteria of changing the system with little warning' - I completely disagree. Sure, you might be hysterical, but the masses are not. In fact, things are less crazy than they were last summer after the sell-out happened, and there seems to be far less public outcry than expected. There was quite a panic when the coming change was first teased back on November 11 (yeah, two months ago), but once the ticket info and FAQ were first posted on the 18th of November things have quieted down considerably.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby This Woman » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:13 pm

Trilobyte said: I don't quite get your comment about lying about having a ticket.


I was referring to the ticket requirement for theme camps - that they have tickets prior to registering. And April 26th is the deadline for registering.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby International Incident » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:15 pm

This Woman wrote:
Trilobyte said: I don't quite get your comment about lying about having a ticket.


I was referring to the ticket requirement for theme camps - that they have tickets prior to registering. And April 26th is the deadline for registering.



And the Open Sale happens from March 28... so what is your problem?
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby This Woman » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:26 pm

I was answering specific questions Trilobyte asked. Right now my problem is that someone who has asked me to stop whinging is now asking me to answer questions that I have already answered, thus assuring that if I do answer I'll be whinging...or whining.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby International Incident » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:29 pm

This Woman wrote:I was answering specific questions Trilobyte asked. Right now my problem is that someone who has asked me to stop whinging is now asking me to answer questions that I have already answered, thus assuring that if I do answer I'll be whinging...or whining.


I think you will find that I was asking a rhetorical question...

If you put up whinging posts about the "unfairness of the world" then you should expect to be ridiculed
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:34 pm

Ah, sorry, I didn't get the reference. I've been busy tending to things on the site and working on some other projects, and haven't yet had the time to look at requirements (honestly, I didn't think forms for theme camp registration opened up until sometime in February).
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby This Woman » Wed Jan 11, 2012 5:43 pm

They probably don't Trilobyte, I was going from memory of last year's. I know that at least the principal participants are required, but not sure on all participants. I tried to confirm, but couldn't find this year's form.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby Sham » Wed Jan 11, 2012 6:02 pm

It's easy to panic ahead of time, but let's just wait and see how things pan out. Last year there were enough tickets to carry through until the end of July.
Another interesting by-product, is the people who buy tickets early, and find out they can't go. The boards, forums, ebay and Craigslist are filled with tickets being sold. Most people have been honorable and sold them at cost.
There is no question that the changes this year pose some challenges, but they all seem easy to conquer.
I also have empathy for the people who are killing themselves to make the tickets process work this year. Let's give them a chance, shall we?
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby socks » Wed Jan 11, 2012 9:02 pm

With this new system of buying tickets it ensures BM to sell out again by March.Thats the goal of this lottery.They want that money now.But you have to give it up to BM with all the roar on the new lottery they managed to pass on one hell of a price increase this year for tickets.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby Dr. Pyro » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:36 am

This Woman wrote:
I was referring to the ticket requirement for theme camps - that they have tickets prior to registering. And April 26th is the deadline for registering.


For our camp my attitude is I don't give a damn whether you have a ticket or not. Just as long as your dues check clears.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby Dustdevil » Thu Jan 12, 2012 8:45 am

This Woman wrote:
Trilobyte said: I don't quite get your comment about lying about having a ticket.


I was referring to the ticket requirement for theme camps - that they have tickets prior to registering. And April 26th is the deadline for registering.


I call BS on this!

There is no ticket requirement prior to submitting an application for a theme camp. Where do people come up with this stuff? I have been the lead on my theme camp since its' begining, eight years ago. I have never had a ticket at the time I submitted my application and I have never been denied theme camp registration. The app asks if you have purchased a ticket, that is all.

I don't always get the size and placement I want, but that is another thread.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Thu Jan 12, 2012 10:02 am

@socks - it's not really that big an increase. $30 more on the lowest tier ($210 to $240), $40 more in the middle ($280 bumped to $320) and $30 on the top end of $360 last year. The reduction in the number of tiers might make it seem like much steeper prices, since the gap between each tier is now bigger.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby BBadger » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:48 am

This Woman wrote:You think that I'll have more time than ever after March to buy a ticket, but you really mean I'll have till April 26 for me and my campmates to have purchased their tickets. And in planning I include purchase of materials, reservation of vehicles, accumulation of materials, and so much more. I hate to ask you to defend a negative, but how is it NOT anti theme camp?


Thank you for clarifying what you meant by the April due date. I was confused about that.

Still, the logic is wrong on a few points:

1) Having any date by which the tickets will sell out prior to the theme camps application would exclude some subset of people from having a theme camp who can't afford tickets by that date.

2) Nor should the deadline for the camp appear before the ticket sale. Tickets should be sold/sold out prior to the theme camp application so that the operators will know how many people will be in the theme camp, or if there is a theme camp at all. The art grant deadline, on the other hand might be good prior to the ticket sales for the free tickets that are given to the people who build the art.

3) Tickets can definitely be purchased by the camp application time in the open sale. Your problem is that you (or camp mates) don't have enough cash to pony up for tickets by the application deadline. Though that is a problem, it is not a general-case problem.

socks wrote:With this new system of buying tickets it ensures BM to sell out again by March.


While it's projected that BM will sell out by March, it has only only ever (and only once) sold out by late-July.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby trilobyte » Thu Jan 12, 2012 11:56 am

It's really a bit of a gamble as to whether tickets will sell out in March. Aside from the initial shock of demand that happens in January, sales generally eke along in the months after. Maybe there will be a bunch of people waiting to pounce on March 28 and they sell in hours, but maybe not and they might take days or even weeks to sell through.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby BBadger » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:11 pm

trilobyte wrote:@socks - it's not really that big an increase. $30 more on the lowest tier ($210 to $240), $40 more in the middle ($280 bumped to $320) and $30 on the top end of $360 last year. The reduction in the number of tiers might make it seem like much steeper prices, since the gap between each tier is now bigger.


The top-end price is not a fair comparison. The 2011 open-sale ticket price for the bulk of tickets, up until the last week, was $320, not $360. So it's about a $70 price hike on open sale tickets.

Also, while I'm not claiming that the price increase is outrageous, it is still a substantial increase.

The average price of tickets last year (excluding low-income/scholarship/presale) was:

(($210 * 9000T + $240 * 9000T + $280 * 9000T) + ($320 * 23000)) / 50000 = $278.60 a ticket

This year it is:

(($240 * 10000T + $320 * 15000T) + ($390 * 25000T)) / 50000 = $339.00 a ticket

So we're looking at a 22% (+$60) increase in average price per ticket. It's not horrible, but still a pretty big jump. There are more low-income/scholarship tickets (supposedly), but also a $110 increase in the price of pre-sale tickets (+50%), with many more being sold.
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Re: Summary - Lottery, BM social story and fear

Postby funkyjigsaw » Thu Jan 12, 2012 12:45 pm

@ This Woman

The world has changed from last year. Because of the uproar around the tickets selling out in July.
I assume in previous years, that all burners just assumed that whenever they wanted a ticket it would magically be available. Hence why you always left it to after April to buy a ticket ... because you could.
BMORG has made the assumption that because of the 2011 sell-out, there will be a massive rush to buy tickets as soon as possible in 2012. i.e. if the old system was still in place, then tickets would sell-out very quickly. In which case, if you don't have the cash until April, you may not have got a ticket at all!
So with the new system you actually may have a BETTER chance of getting a ticket.

To your theme camp issue : You are complaining about the wrong thing! The issue is that ticket demand has outstripped supply, which means that under almost ANY ticketing system, there is a chance you and you camp mates may not get a ticket. This is nobody's fault. It's just a new fact of life, that we all have to live with.

I really hope you can feel comfortable enough to go ahead and plan and commit to your theme camp. I'm positive you will get a ticket.
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