As most of you know, MA Conference for Women 2018 registration opened and sold out Wednesday, June 6th in record time. The MA Conference for Women has grown into a massive event—and we’re proud of that and of the community that has coalesced around it and contributed to its success.
As demand for tickets has increased, we have added programming to address the increased demand—four years ago we launched Opening Night to bring more people into the experience. (Tickets are still available for this year’s December 5th evening event.)
We’ve also had to address the technical challenges that come with thousands of people trying to register at the same time.
To accommodate increasing ticket demand and avoid crashing the registration system, this year we deployed a “virtual waiting room.” As with anything new, we learned some lessons.
In this system, it does not matter whether you arrive at 7:30am or 8:59am. At 9:00am, all users on the registration waiting page are randomly assigned a place in the registration queue – similar to a lottery. Anyone arriving after 9:00am is placed at the end of the queue. With 4,000 people in the queue, the math doesn’t work in favor of people in the back of the line.
Those who waited in line and were unable to purchase tickets are understandably unhappy. Some felt that waiting in line guaranteed them tickets, which was not the case. We’ve also received feedback from prior attendees that the Conference is becoming more corporate and more and more of the tickets are going to sponsors.
We hear your concerns and we are working to improve the process:
- Waiting Room Communications. We should have done a better job of explaining this new system before we opened. We tried to emphasize that folks needed to be on our site at 9:00 am on registration day, but didn’t explain the waiting room/ lottery system. In the future, we will do a better job of educating attendees in advance. We will also make the “Sold Out” message on the waiting room page more obvious so that people don’t stay in the waiting room needlessly.
- Sponsor Tickets. As most of you can appreciate, there is a delicate balance in managing sponsor contributions and benefits. The bottom line is that sponsor participation subsidizes the price of each ticket. Without their contributions, tickets would cost 50% more. That said, we’ve continued to work hard to ensure that a majority of tickets are available to the general public at the opening of registration.
Please know the MACFW team is committed to providing a fair and equitable registration system for all, and we will continue to review attendee feedback to make sure we’re doing right by the community that sustains us.
—The Massachusetts Conference for Women team