Changes to DerbyCon Ticket Purchasing – New Rules, Expectations and Improvements

After yesterdays excitement, we asked the community for feedback on what we could do in the future to improve the ticket purchase process. Before we dive into what these changes are, there is one big thing we can’t change. The demand for tickets and the amount we sell. This is a fixed number and an immovable object. We have specific numbers we max out on based on the venue. This is to ensure that the place isn’t overly crowded and individuals can get into the talk they want to. A few years ago at DerbyCon 4.0 we went a bit overboard in the amount of attendees, and people were not able to get into every talk they wanted. We don’t want a repeat of that ever again. We try to balance the volume of people and schedule to ensure people can get to the talks they truly want to be in. We truly had no idea it would sell out in 3 minutes – each year we sell out quicker, but we went from 4 hours last year to 3 minutes. A drastic shift from prior years and caught all of us off guard.

In stating that, we had some great feedback from the community and we’ve incorporated some exciting changes to the purchasing process for tickets.

Feedback and responses/actions:

1. Not everyone follows blog posts, twitter, and podcasts or follows the traditions we’ve done since DerbyCon 1.0. The reason this has never been a problem in the past is we have never sold out prior to the actual time of opening. This year we opened up 5 minutes early (vast difference from last years 1 hour early). We understand that not everyone knew that ticket sales would open up early and we had a lot of disappointed folks (even though we communicated this) that went there directly at 1PM.

We plan on changing this in the future, we’ll be opening up ticket sales on time for any scheduled times for ticket sales to avoid confusion. If the ticket sales say opening at 1PM in the future, they will open up either at the time, or shortly thereafter (if we’re running into problems, etc.), but never before.

2. There were individuals that had added the tickets to the cart and by the time they entered their credit card information, it was already sold out. This is a PayPal specific process where it is a first come first serve. PayPal waits for the actual credit card transaction to come through to reduce the quantity of the ticket. If you were beaten in entering your credit card information in, it was already sold out at that point.

In order to address this, we spent last night and pretty much all of today redoing our entire payment backend process and slinging together hundreds of lines of Python to address this. In future ticket openings, we will be having a shopping cart on the DerbyCon website. Once added to your shopping cart, will have a period of 5 minutes to complete your checkout. This means that if you successfully add a ticket to your shopping cart, you have 5 minutes to checkout with PayPal or you will need to go through the steps again.

3. The ability to add as many tickets as you want which reduces people’s chances of getting tickets.

We agree with this, and based on the demand – it’s time to change. Starting now and from any further purchases, when you buy a DerbyCon ticket – regardless if its training or a general admission ticket, the maximum quantity you can purchase at a given time is 4. We’ve gone through the numbers and the ticket purchases weren’t substantially excessive although there were a few deviations that we want to control on this and ensure there is a fair shot for con attendees to get tickets and fairly.

In addition to this, we’ve placed captcha’s in the checkout process. Since you have five minutes to checkout, this should be ample time as a human to enter in the captcha responses in order to checkout.

4. I still don’t have a ticket.. How can I get a ticket?

While you may still not have a ticket based on the demand we experienced yesterday, we still have several hundred tickets we are still planning on selling. These tickets will go in increments and at unannounced times. The best way is to get SMS notifications through our official @DerbyCon account. We will be tweeting there when tickets go up on sale and there will be multiple phases. We also still have sponsorships open that have direct tickets available. We also want to emphasize that as the conference gets closer, there will be plenty of people selling tickets. If you truly want to get to DerbyCon, you should have no problem.

While we can’t fix the popularity of DerbyCon (which is amazing, and an awesome thing, thank you all!), we can put things in place to reduce the impact and give everyone a fair shot to get tickets. After this point, barring any major issues from our end – you are on your own for getting tickets, and you won’t be hearing anything from us further as far as other ways to get tickets. We’re excited on the growth of DerbyCon, and recognize that means more people want to come and some may not be able to.

We’ll keep working on that balance and ensuring the con goes smoothly, but we can’t guarantee everyone can get a ticket. It’s up to you to try, and not up to us to fix the demand. We will continue to put on one rocking conference.

Below is the new flow for how to purchase tickets moving forward if interested. We’ve fully tested this out and is working great (not bad for a day turnaround?):

First, when the tickets go up, you’ll see a image and “add to cart” with a description of the item. Note that the $5.00 is just an example, tickets are still $175.00 each 🙂 Once you hit “add to cart” your ticket is safe for 5 minutes, after that you will need to re-add to cart and checkout again.

Next you’ll see your total and the ability to up the quantity if you want. It is now a maximum of 4 tickets per person. Once you are ready, click the PayPal button to checkout.

Once you go through the PayPal steps and confirm your credit card information, you will be brought back to the DerbyCon website and you will need to click “PLACE ORDER” in order to complete the transaction. Note that there is a captcha here to ensure you are a human and not a bot.

After click on the captcha verification, you will see a check mark and are ready to proceed. If you do not place your order, you will not be charged and you will not be confirmed for tickets. Click “PLACE ORDER” to complete the transaction.

After that, you should receive a message from PayPal for your receipt, and shortly after (depending on load) your QR Code which is your ticket to the conference.

If you purchased more than 1 ticket (up to 4), you will receive only 1 email, but contain the quantity of the QRCODES attached to the email.

Overall, this should simplify the process and some of the issues we ran into this year.

Look forward to seeing everyone at this years conference!

-The DerbyCon Staff