FrightFest ticketing 2015

Taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend, August 27th - 31st 2015
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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by FranksWildYears » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:36 pm

As above, always pay cash - easier, quicker and no faffing about - it wouldn't be a total catastrophe if I was forced to use a card, but I'd rather not if at all possible. If your cash is getting messy, you're not rolling it tightly enough :).

I don't know if the BFI would even entertain the idea mentioned a few posts above, but if there's a chance they would then there's far worse places for the queue - transport links, food places, 24 hour public toilets and so on. I'm not just biased because it's a 5 minute walk from my work digs.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by husky1 » Mon Apr 13, 2015 8:38 am

Whilst it is obviously going to be a problem in Leicester Square, tradition is tradition, some suggestions already mentioned have merit, however there are a couple of points that come up...the sleepy queue is as much a part of the festival experience as the actual event, friends meet up, make new ones, discuss the pros and cons of films there is a camaraderie there. Which brings me to the idea of a virtual queue, As already mentioned it was the online system that was the disaster, and if I remember there was a similar problem on occasion at the Empire.

how can you have a virtual sleepy Queue effectively that removes the fun of being there soaking up the atmosphere, starting the build up to the opening night.
It is all well and good saying that sales should be available to everyone but if people and this has happened, buy festival passes and then only see one film it means that there are less passes for the regular festival goers.

I don't really like the idea of sitting in front of my computer for hours on end and there still be the possibility of not getting a pass. I have done this with another big event in London and sat there all day and then not getting the seats I wanted or not getting any at all even though I had pre registered.

I think this needs serious thought as it could kill the festival, The Vue are not helping by saying we cant cope with the festival/day passes sales, which make up the bulk of the people who attend, every day from opening to closing. I know of some who wont be there this year because of the mess up last year and coupled with the new venue basically scarred then away in one case permanently.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by DJBenz » Mon Apr 13, 2015 9:02 am

husky1 wrote:I think this needs serious thought as it could kill the festival, The Vue are not helping by saying we cant cope with the festival/day passes sales, which make up the bulk of the people who attend, every day from opening to closing.
Have to say, I do agree with this. The crux of last year's problem seemed to be that Vue's online system didn't allow purchases of over £300 so anyone buying more than one pass (which is quite a lot of people, I'd imagine) was scuppered and ended up staying in the online system with their seats effectively blocked out from other people buying them. The whole thing became congested because those who failed on first attempt then tried again, blocking out another set of seats before their original selection timed out and became available for others to purchase.

What is encouraging is that the system didn't simply fall over and present users with a blank screen or a 404 page. Taking the simplistic view, if the £300 limit was raised then people could get their initial seat selection paid for and be done with the process reasonably quickly and painlessly. It seems a bit of a cop-out for Vue to host an event of this size, yet bottle out of doing the ticketing for the second year instead of using last year as a learning experience on how things can be done.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by thatcambridgebird » Mon Apr 13, 2015 3:20 pm

I've already posted my thoughts in the FF Suggestions sub, but as I said there, the idea of pre-registering/password access a day early, either instead of or as well as sleepy queue in-person purchases is appealing in terms of something for the 'fans'. I hesitate to use that word because most huge band tours have free registration on their forums so it's not like a casual attendee couldn't just hop on and get the password too - but it starts the sale process a little earlier and lets those who will really panic about getting the perfect seat get their purchase out of the way.


I'm also still all for some sort of ticketing 'finance' option for festival goers whose cashflow perhaps isn't as good as those people who can shell out all in one go. That'd need a reseller rather than the cinema site, but it's an option which could have a tighter limit put on than, say, music festivals (I think balances generally have to be paid in a month/2 months, maybe longer) - i.e. balances to be paid up no later than one month after deposit or the ticket goes back up for sale. That'd cover off most people who have to wait for payday!

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by TheDukeAbides » Wed Apr 15, 2015 10:18 am

I pay card for the amount of tickets I buy. £500 in the pocket in the sleepy queue would be spent on booze.

With regards the queue - outside Vue that alley struck me as quiet, sadly it comes out right in the busiet place - it still boggles my mind how the opposite of the square is so quiet to enable the original queue to work well.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by morralex » Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:29 pm

I live in London, and I'd still rather there was no sleepy queue. Would rather just buy them online and cut out getting up super early and QUEUEING for hours and hours cos it's not that fun really...

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An update of were we are

Post by iomega » Wed Apr 15, 2015 3:55 pm

I appreciate the feedback that everyone involved in this thread has so freely given. Even after 16 years of being involved, it never fails to amaze me the passion and commitment that FrightFesters show towards the festival. It is truly unique.

Paul, Alan, Greg and myself felt that the move to the VUE, West End came off with a couple of reservations well last year. There were pros and cons about the move, but on balance we felt it was positive. We are delighted to be back there for a second year, and we have great plans to improve and make the event even more unmissable for any self-respecting genre fan.

We fully understand why VUE, after the horrendous experience that they had with online sales have asked us to put other arrangements in place. We have a robust ticketing solution in place that we feel confident will not result in the meltdown that occurred last year. We will be using an online ticketing company who handle much larger events than FrightFest.

In July, when FrightFesters go to get tickets, they will be placed in an online queue. Once in that queue they will receive a number and an estimated time of getting access to the ticketing site. This way, and I know it may take a little bit longer than previously, the website will not fall over, and everyone in turn will get a chance to get tickets.

The issue in 2014 was that the VUE website didn't have this queueing system. Many FrightFesters, and you know who you all are, were sitting with three or four browsers open continually pressing refresh. If you try this trick this year, all that will happen is you will end up back at the end of the queue.

The Sleepy Queue is a real conundrum for us. We fully understand why people make the effort to turn up and from many it is as much part of the festival as the five-day event in August itself. The queue started quite spontaneously back in the final years that the event was at the Prince Charles Cinema. A few people came to the cinema for tickets because the telephone booking system would only allow one person at a time to get through. Things have grown from there. In 2014, the queue was the longest ever.

Excuse the pun, but I'm between a rock and a hard place on what to do about the queue. I have elaborated on my reasons for my concern earlier in this thread. I wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat thinking about it. One day I'm thinking, enough, let's get rid of the bloody thing and move all the ticketing online. The next day I flip the other way. Aware that many people have already put arrangements in place to attend, I think no, the event has become so much part of the festival we can't do this.

With my practical, if I don't organise this no one else will head on, I've sat down and worked through what it will take to put a temporary box office in place. Talking it through with the ticketing company, I can add a few bells and whistles to the system that will allow tickets to be sold to Frightfesters in the queue and even take cash. However, to do so, there will need to be an eye-watering investment in time, hardware, training and money. Because there are no dry runs, we would still be flying by the seat of our pants on the morning of July 4. The last thing that I want is for the whole thing to go tits-up. Just imagine the situation with 400 FrightFesters standing outside the VUE, West End, many of them having been there for many hours, waiting for tickets that can't be sold because of some unforeseen issue. So, you can see why this wakes me up in the middle of the night.

After this long-winded explanation of where we are at the moment, no decisions have been taken as yet. Please keep your feedback coming and one way or the other a decision needs to be taken soon.

Everything for this year is coming together nicely by the way. With over 30 odd films already in place, we are pleasantly surprised by the quality of films that we are being offered. Cannes, where we usually find the cream of the crop is still a month away plus we have lots of new ideas up our sleeve for this year, so expect a bumper event.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by zappa fan » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:04 pm

Thanks for the update.
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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by namesy » Wed Apr 15, 2015 4:24 pm

Is it possible to do two payment systems? The sleepy queue payments seem to go okay. Just need to remove the payment limit. So could the Vue be persuaded to do the Sleepy Queue tickets themselves and the other company handles the online stuff?

Thanks for the suggestion. Two ticketing systems is a recipe for disaster come the the actual event. Vue have made it clear, and I will repeat that I don't blame them because their ticketing system is just not set up to handle in hindsight an event such as ours, they can't do the ticketing for us without a repeat of last years online meltdown.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by Wiltaim » Wed Apr 15, 2015 5:09 pm

Ian , thanks for the update.

Outside issue of physical location of the SQ / Leicester SQ, would it be workable that the SQ passes could be sold ahead of the ticket company taking over.
So the SQ are in effect sold manually , those seats are then removed from the allocation before is passed on for the online /telephone sales.
This may means that the ticketing company can only starts selling 1 day or even week later.

I have run the gaunlet the of online /telephone sale for several years (including picking up a few grey hairs as a result) but I still understand that any cinema ticketing system ( Empire, Vue etc) is not going cope with the the high demand in very period of time. I was lucky last that get help through FF friends who were doing the SQ phew :)

just my 2 cents

A return to an old fashioned manual ticketing system used before computers took over for the SQ. As a solution, the thought a has crossed my mind more than once. Printing out all the tickets before hand and then returning the unsold tickets to the system before the online sales go live. While this is workable, it would be hugely cumbersome and time-consuming. It would be prone to mistakes such as selling the same seat twice just for starters.
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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by soberdave72@hotmail.com » Wed Apr 15, 2015 6:45 pm

Its a tough one, but I do think the sleepy q should be preserved, not that I particularly enjoy queing thru the night, but it remains the fairest way of getting a ticket, because of the online chaos, frightfest always causes, can you imagine the horror of sitting online all-day and not getting a ticket, because your computer has gone down etc etc.

I'm 42, and find the q a bit of ordeal due to the sleepiness, involved, but am willing to put up with, as you are almost guaranteed a pass, and the comaradie is always Good Fun.

Having online a week later, would hopefully mean the system could cope.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by mightysnail » Wed Apr 15, 2015 7:50 pm

Thanks for the update. Personally, I think that though the sleepy queue is something of an endurance gig it does feel like part of the weekend itself - a kick-off of sorts, a little taster before the main weekend. The queue crowd are brilliant - the slightly loony hard core I guess - and I can't overstate how happy I am each year to not be gambling online for something that pretty much forms the highlight of my year. I really value the ability to choose my own seat rather than leave it to chance, and the puzzled pissheads, philosophising anarchists and tipsy-yet-still-remarkably-unicycle-riding musicians mean it feels like we earned that little extra choice. I'd rather the long queue than your usual phone duel. It's a difficult decision either way - but I would say if it can be done, go for it!

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by Phil Newton » Wed Apr 15, 2015 9:52 pm

This is a really thorny issue; fellow FrightFesters are passionate about the the sleepy queue, but the logistics to continue this tradition make this very difficult. It is not a decision that I would like to have to make, and I applaud Ian for being so upfront and open with everyone about the issues faced.

As a FrightFest regular who has been there from Day 1, and who also works in ticketing for a living, I have already privately contacted Ian to give some advice and suggestions, however I would like to share a few ideas with you all here on the forum.

Personally speaking, I feel that FrightFest has perhaps become a victim of its own success, and the sleepy queue is no longer practical taking into account the volume of people who turn up and the restrictions on where and when the queue can form. There's also the fact that the sleepy queue penalises those who are unable to take the time off to queue in London on that date due to work, location etc. It's also worth remembering that the VUE do not want to sell weekend passes this year, regardless of whether there is a queue or not. I strongly feel that attempting to bring in some kind of a 'pop up' box office to service a sleepy queue is a very risky manoeuvre - as Ian says above, there would be no dry run, so what happens if things go wrong? And believe me, in my ticketing experience, I would be amazed if something like this worked first time without a hitch. And then there's all the expense of doing so - money that would perhaps be better invested in securing guests etc. for the festival itself.

I agree with others that a pre-registration system with a 24 hr priority booking period could work, and I am also encouraged by Ian's comments that their chosen ticketing supplier will be able to offer a queueing system - I have seen and used these for other venues and by and large it works well, even if it means you have a longer wait to make your purchase.

Now, here's my other idea to try an appease those who like the social get together of the sleepy queue - instead of having a sleepy queue for the on sale day, why not instead hold a FrightFest launch event? So perhaps on the Friday night or the Saturday there would be a live launch event held at say the PCC, where the FF team would announce the line up to the press and fans, talk about the films/guests, be available for questions, and then afterwards there could be a free film. Tickets could then go on sale online a day or two later.

That's just my two cents.

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by TheDukeAbides » Thu Apr 16, 2015 12:05 am

Firstly I don't know why I can only post about 6 lines on here, either way, thanks for the update Ian.

Secondly, my other point was to ask whether we could not queue outside Phoenix Club, its close and fairly secluded, though I appreciate that a club wouldn't necessarily want a load of vagrants turning up outside for 24+ hours.

Thirdly - as its too close this year (I think anyway), I'd just let it ride, Sleepy Queue wise - those tickets go on sale earlier at the Vue Box Office as per 2014, then the new improved ticketing system goes online a few hours later. Save the big decisions for FF2016, which of course by that time the usual queuing place should be available again and we can have this same discussion in 365 days time.

Unfortunately, this has to be addressed this year. We will have to set up a pop-up box office because we will be unable to use the BO terminals at the cinema, which is one of the reasons I'm so exercised about this.

We have no experience in selling tickets. In the 16 years that FrightFest has been in existence, our host cinemas have always looked after ticket sales for us..

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Re: FrightFest 2015 dates for you diary

Post by MalJutley » Thu Apr 16, 2015 1:20 am

Thanks for the update and appreciate the thought and efforts gone into this.

For me the sleepy queue marks the start of the countdown to frightfest. Yes there are still a couple of months left but the festival pass bought you start to plan and research and build up to frightfest. For me without it, the festival will lose a large part of what makes it unique and still a frightfest family. Last year the queue at the vue was run perfectly and even with the new veue and multiple screens it was great. I don't mind buying online but it takes away from what has become a tradition really and i just don't trust online sales (i've used ticketmaster numerous times to but concert tickets and you're in an online queue and its times out or the seat you wanted isn't available and then you have to go back, before your session runs out blah blah)

Preserve what makes Frightfest better than other festivals, let us queue through the night or early hours, let the rest of the public wonder why we do it and when 5 days of horror brings itself round again in August it will all be worth it.

Thanks!

Trust me, and I know it's a much-over used phrase, but trust me on this, this is what I'm trying to do. I fully understand what the sleepy queue is. However, we all have to be realistic here. My personal aim is if I can make this happen I will. Let me repeat that if I can make this happen I will, but I have to be 100% certain that it will work. As I said in my update yesterday, the last thing that I want come the 4th July is 400 Frightfesters outside the Vue getting angry when we are unable to sell the tickets due to some unforeseen problem. If I can't be 100% sure, I will move festival and day pass sales online as much as it will piss a lot of people off.

There will be no repeat of last years online meltdown, so if I have to say, sorry we can't make this work, everyone will still get a ticket if they want one. OK, it may not be the exact seat that you want, but you will get one.

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