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A Brief Interview with Comic-Con International’s David Glanzer About Housing and Registration
posted July 2, 2006
I've received enough e-mail on the new, partially on-line aspects to pro registration at San Diego's Comic-Con International to ask the show's public spokesman David Glanzer, Direct of Publicity, if he'd answer a few questions and provide a beat-down or high-five to a few areas of common speculation. We also touch on the always-hot topic of hotel availability. I am very appreciative of Mr. Glanzer's time so close to the show. -- TS
TOM SPURGEON: Can you describe just how pro registration has changed? I'm inferring that you've gone to a bar code system and are pushing on-line registration as well.
Until a couple of years ago all registration was handled in house. But the increase in attendance has made it necessary for us to see if we could find a way to better process the people through our doors. And it looks like online registration may be the quickest and most efficient way.
SPURGEON: There are multiple rumors of a crack down on abuses of the registration system, like having exhibitors be able to register people that don't exist for extra badges. Can you confirm or deny?
I don't think there is an effort to crack down on exhibitor registration. Each exhibitor gets a certain amount of badges per booth, with the option of purchasing a limited number of additional badges. This policy has been in place for a long time and hasn't changed.
We do want to be sure that exhibitors use exhibitor badges only for those who will be working their booth or helping to set up and breakdown. The reason, of course, is because exhibitor badges allow for early access to the exhibit hall. And we want to be sure that only those people who have business on the floor are in the exhibit hall before the general public. Simply for security reasons, we don't want unescorted individuals roaming the floor unattended.
SPURGEON: I personally think the con has probably lost tens of thousands of dollars over the year though registrations abuse. Is this a concern that has fueled the changes?
Honestly, no. The reason for online registration is an attempt to provide quicker registration for all of our attendees. Again, this is relatively new for us, but the idea is to have people register in advance which allows us both an opportunity to see the potential flow of attendees during the run of the show, and will also allow attendees to enter all their registration information early, have a bar code printed and then simply scan that barcode at the show. We're hoping this will dramatically reduce the amount of time people have to wait in registration lines.
SPURGEON: Most pros I've talked to support the con being tighter with its passes, but they're disappointed that process has taken so long that they're in the money-paying phase. I know I submitted mine the day they came in the mail, and I only got a letter two days ago. What do you tell those pros that feel like they're paying for delays on your end, not theirs?
Well, no one should have to pay for a delay on our end. There is a deadline for pro badges to be submitted, and if the information is submitted before that deadline, and approved, then it shouldn't matter when they get the notification. We would already have it recorded in our database that the information was received prior to the deadline.
If someone submits a pro form and they are not approved, then they would have to purchase a regular attendee badge regardless of when they submitted their application.
SPURGEON: I've been obsessively checking the Travel Planners site in (vain) hope of getting into the hotel where I do my points, and it seems like there have been at least some rooms available just about any day someone would check. Has your ability to add rooms improved this year?
Yes, a bit. And this year we got the Marriott back also. San Diego has had a shortage of hotel rooms in the general vicinity of the Convention Center, it's improving, this is for sure, but when a show the size of Comic-Con comes into town, it can be a challenge.
That said, I would also point out that not every attendee stays at downtown hotels. And while hotels closest to the center seem to sell out early, many times it's because people have booked multiple rooms at more than one hotel. However, as we get closer to the show, those multiple rooms then become available.
The best plan if you find that hotels are sold out is to put your name on the wait list. Then, do as you have done, and check back often to see if availability has changed. Many people are surprised that even some hotels that were sold out early, have rooms available closer to the show dates.
SPURGEON: Any thoughts based on pre-regs if the con is going to be any bigger this year?
Since online registration is still relatively new for us, it's a little difficult to tell if the show will be bigger this year. People who had registered onsite may now be registering online, but we're keeping a close eye on registration and hopefully what we learn this year will help us in future years.
SPURGEON: David, what area of preparation do you spend the most time on in the month leading up to the show, and how is that going this year?
Customer service is where all departments spend a majority of their time these days. There are a variety of issues involved in putting on a show of this size, and at this time of year we are all trying to make sure that things go as smoothly as possible.
Please note: Comic-Con International is a CR advertiser. This means that if I were clever, I might be tempted to treat CCI differently than, say, Bob's Comic Convention. Always read your advertising-supported news with one raised eyebrow, even mine.