August 21st, 2010


Tickets Vs. Memberships

As I approach my 45th birthday (next Friday), I find myself feeling more and more like an old fogey when it comes to convention running, at least in some respects. And one of the ways this manifests itself is in terminology regarding the money that you pay a convention that allows you to attend and participate in that convention. I've always encountered this as a "membership," but it appears to me that more and more such events, run mostly by people younger and younger than me, call them "tickets," and even when the organizers don't do so, the people planning to attend do so. Even at the Worldcon level, I keep seeing people saying that they "have two Worldcon tickets to sell," or "would like to buy a ticket to Worldcon."

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While I was out for a walk today, I had a "Modest Proposal" moment: We continue to sell convention memberships at the current prices, but we sell "Tickets" for two or three times as much money, with fewer privileges. For a Worldcon, for instance, a ticket might cost $500, and not include any publications, voting rights, or other membership rights — it would just be an admission ticket. And if someone complained at the high ticket prices, you could just say, "Oh, you can buy a membership for a lot less and get more."

I reckon this wouldn't really work, because few people would actually get it, and the negative press you'd get over telling $500 "tickets" would overshadow the real membership costs at a significantly lower price, but it's nice to think about.

Mind you, it could be that I'm just one of those old geezers who has to hurry up and die so that Real Fans can run Proper Conventions without all of those weird old-fashioned notions clogging up the works.

Marketing & Dealers Tables

Only tangentially related to my last post is something I've thought about when it comes to the price we charge for Dealer's Tables at Worldcons (and other conventions). I seem to recall that at ConJosé, our prices weren't too high, but we didn't include any memberships in the cost of the table, which meant we had dealers complaining about how unfair it was that, from their point of view, we were charging them an extra $200 for their table.

Suggestion to conventions: increase the cost of your dealer table rent by $100 and include one membership, but say, "$100 discount if you already have a membership." (Insert a different dollar value in the slot depending on how much you charge for memberships.) This gives memberships to the dealers who don't buy memberships in your convention until they decide to actually sell at the con, while not punishing those people who bought memberships earlier. This is particularly important for conventions like Worldcon and Westercon that generally don't set their dealer table prices until less than a year out.

Besides, people seem to like "discounts" and dislike "surcharges" even when the net cost effect is the same either way.

Missed It By That Much

Late this afternoon, I got a call saying that my van was ready to be picked up. I spoke to the dealership's courtesy shuttle driver and gave him directions to my place. I started figuring that I might just barely have enough time to go to SF in SF after all.

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When our train lurched back to the Fremont platform, I bailed out. It was now so late that I would be lucky to make it Montgomery Street by "halftime" of tonight's reading. I told the station agent the situation and he stamped my ticket and let me use the luggage gate so that I wouldn't be charged the "excursion fare" for exiting from the same station from which I'd entered. I hope there's no difficulty using that ticket, as it's what I plan to use on my trip to SFO to catch my flight to Australia on the 30th.