A Message from the Chair: Ticket System

Well, it looks like Element 11 is going to happen this year. We have now had two of our public ticket sales. We’re getting tons of feedback on how they went, and how people would like to have things different next year (or even this year). Both ticket sales had a soft sellout in less than a minute, and a hard sellout in just under 40 minutes. That is extremely fast. There are still two more chances to get tickets. We have our “Late Sale” scheduled to begin May 13th at 12 pm MT, and our “Last Chance OMG Sale” which does not yet have an official date. This message is intended to help with transparency around our entire ticketing process.

Let’s talk about this for a moment and clear up a lot of confusion and misconceptions about how the system works. The ticket system we have right now is a first come, first served system. “Soft sellout” occurs when all available tickets have been placed in carts and the checkout process has begun. You might have seen the message “Tickets are no longer available”. This soft sellout status. “Hard sellout” occurs when all checkout processes have been completed for all available tickets. The Eventbrite platform gives 15 minutes to complete checkout once you have started the process. If you have not completed the checkout process in that time and still have tickets in your card, they become available for purchase again. What that means in practical terms is there are a few lucky (and patient) individuals who kept refreshing their page at the 15 minute and 30 minute mark to try and get a ticket and they became available.

It’s important to understand there are a lot of technical factors which go into this system. This is NOT like the burning man system which places each person into a queue randomly once ticket sales open. In our case, you must actually load the page for tickets to show as available. This means that loading the page on multiple devices could actually hurt your chances if they are all running on the same internet service point. Fast internet helps a lot, and fast reflexes, and most importantly, if you get tickets in your cart, immediately beginning the checkout process.

But that’s all how the system works now. The point of this post is to talk about the future of Element 11.

For the past 3 years it has become abundantly clear that there is much more demand for Element 11 than we have the ability to offer tickets for. I’ve been intimately involved with the ticketing process since 2019 and have helped introduce new systems and policies to make sure that we can offer tickets to the people who need them. In 2019 we introduced guaranteed volunteer tickets. In 2021 we introduced Directed Group tickets. In 2022 we are offering 4 different sales to give the most possible chance to get tickets (this was because of the feedback we received from selling out in less than 48 hours of all tickets in 2021). In 2023, we are looking to implement a much higher priced “FOMO” ticket, with the intention of using that additional revenue to offer “Low income” tickets. We’re still working on the details of what that could look like.

The question on everyone’s mind is “How can I be guaranteed a ticket?” The answer? Get involved. Any volunteer who volunteers at least 10 hours is guaranteed the opportunity to purchase a ticket (at a discounted rate too!). More volunteer hours will get you a higher discount. You could also get involved in a theme camp. Theme camps have the opportunity to apply for the Directed Group Sale, and while we can’t offer unlimited tickets to each group, expanding your network will increase your chance to get a ticket.

Unfortunately, ticketing is a delicate balancing act, and is a moving target right up until the very last ticket is sold. Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as “just sell more tickets”. There is an incredible amount of work which goes into the event from the owners of Stargazer. Our contract with Stargazer limits the number of people we can have at the event. Additionally, each year we need to apply for multiple permits from the county. Our permitted population for this year is 1800. So, this is where the balancing act comes in. We offer guaranteed tickets for each volunteer of more than 10 hours. We have offered DGS tickets to theme camps, core groups, and artists. It takes a lot of work to put on this event, and each of those people need to be counted into the population. We offer a handful of tickets through various programs (town hall raffles, legacy program). All together summing up to just over 1/3 of our permitted population. That means that we can offer less than 1200 tickets for public sale.

The balancing act comes from offering additional ticket types. We don’t know how many people will want child tickets when purchasing their own tickets, so we need to reserve those. We also always get some volunteer hours not recorded, and other things come up. So, we have a few tickets reserved for those issues as they crop up. And since we are offering multiple dates for sales, we have to split the number of tickets available, so they don’t sell out all at once. What all of this means is that we have only a few hundred tickets available for each sale.

But not all the reserved tickets will sell. Not all volunteers will claim their tickets. We won’t sell all DGS tickets. We won’t sell all the reserved child tickets. It’s because of this that we can offer the Last Chance sale. This will include all the reserved tickets which were not claimed.

Based on the feedback of this year, we might change things next year. It’s an evolving process, and you all get to be a part of it. The important thing to remember is to not lose hope. There are tickets out there, and as of this writing, we have sold 60% of our allowed population.

— Jordan Lenaburg, Element 11 Chair