Wednesday, May 04, 2005

We had an inventory for The Convention scheduled this Saturday coming up, where reps from the various departments would meet and empty out the storage pods to see what was left over from last year's event, and what needed to be replaced. Three people signed up, including me, and our logistics section head called it off, on the theory that three people wasn't nearly enough to get the job done in a single day. This trip would have been a six-hour drive for me; most of these people live within an hour or two of the storage pods. What the hell, people!

Pre-reg started, finally, late last week. This is the first year we've run with a membership cap - 22,000. They're running a real-time reverse-counter on the site. Since I'm running registration this year, I'm kind of concerned about how many at-doors we're going to see. There's a lot of theory floating around about what the new introduction of scarcity is going to do with the registration patterns. So far, we've got less than 20% of the cap pre-registered, but it's been less than a week, and you have to expect an initial rush as the people waiting for the online registration to open come pouring through.

The fewer slots left for at-door registration, the less we have to worry about cash-handling at registration. There'll still be merchandising and art show cash, so it isn't as if the treasury department can just shut down and go watch videos for the weekend, but still - the less cash, the less worry about the bad behavior that large amounts of cash tends to attract.

In previous years, we separated the at-door and pre-reg booths and lines in different lobbies. This tended to cause confusion in line-handling terms, and meant that the registration department was physically separated, and thus something of a managerial headache. Additionally, when throughput volume dropped after the Friday rush, we had to abandon the separate locations anyways, leaving the cattleshoots and booths cluttering up a central space in the middle of the convention centre for the rest of the weekend. A central space, I should add, which laid square across the flow-pattern leading into the dealers' room foyer for the past few years of operation. Now that they're expanding the dealers/industry area to include a secondary entrance *also* entering and exiting from the *other* stairwell in that lobby, you can see why I wanted my people out of the way. This is why I asked the guy doing the layouts and my section head to help registration move up into the big, half-empty, otherwise unused lobby that takes up half of the new section of the convention centre.

This will hopefully let me utilize the whole of our registration resources to clear the pre-regs in an intensive effort on Thursday night. Previously, we couldn't use the one-third of our booths which were stuck down in the main body of the convention centre, sitting idle until Friday morning. Now everything will be up in one single lobby, easily isolated from the inactive rest of the convention centre for the Thursday preregistration rush.

We're doubling the hired temps as well, so as to minimize the marathon demands on my registration staff. Historically, it's been hard to get people into registration, because it is, after all, something of an unrewarding at-con job. It's repetitive, relentless, stressful, and kind of boring. But somebody has to do it, and as we grew over the years, a whole lot of somebodies had to do it. I figured that peak staffing requirements for the set-up we're using will approach seventy, just counting registration needs. I don't control or staff the line people or the "special event staff" people (or whatever it is they're calling staff security these days), or even the tech ops and treasury staffers. Which reminds me, I have to talk to the new line control person. I can't figure out who it is from our table of organization. I'm clearly not reading it correctly...

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