1-Oct-2018 (Mon)
Wherein our tickets go all night long.

A few weeks ago I happened to be reading the server logs at shortly after door-time for one of our dance parties, and that night, dozens of people were trying to buy online tickets after doors had opened. They were unable to because tickets were already off-sale. Tickets had gone off sale half an hour before doors, because that's when we printed out our will-call and guest list on paper and walked it to the front door, so that the names could then be checked off with a pen.

Those were dozens of people who said to us, "Hello, please take my money," and we said to them, "No, we would rather not take your money." Now that's just rude. When someone tries to give you money, you say, "Yes, thank you."

So, I wrote a bunch of software to throw at the problem.

Phase one is that we're now using iPads and/or Android tablets at the front door instead of a clipboard and a stack of paper. Clicking a checkbox on the tablet synchronizes that checkbox with the server and with every other tablet (since we often have more than one person working the list at the same time). When a new ticket is sold, or when someone is added to the guest list, those new names automatically show up on the tablets. (I'm using WebSockets for the inter-client communication, so all of this happens pretty close to real-time, assuming the wifi network is working properly.)

Phase two, and the ultimate goal of this exercise, is that now tickets don't go off-sale until the event is almost over. They go off sale an hour before the scheduled end of the event, or 3AM, whichever is earlier.

Now obviously we'd prefer for you to buy your tickets weeks in advance. We like it when you commit, because then you tell your friends that you have committed, and maybe they commit too. Also it gives us a much better idea of how many people we can expect, which helps us staff appropriately.

But, if you can't get your shit together until ten minutes before the headliner goes on, and you want to buy a ticket online -- we're gonna let you!

If it hasn't sold out, you can always pay cash at the door with no service fee, but if it's busy, the pre-sale line is always shorter and faster, so that's your trade-off.

6 Responses:

  1. HS says:

    Neat. Where is the server for this? Running in the club?

    • RedGrittyBrick says:

      JWZ doesn't seem to be the sort of person who puts their business-critical near real-time computing functions into the hands of Microsoft, Amazon, Google or other cloudy manifestations of monopolistic big business -- at least not if there's another way. I don't think he runs business services at his home and if he had a supervillain underground computer farm, I imagine he'd have published photos and floorplans of it by now.

    • Chris Sorenson says:

      I use Pair Networks as the authoritative nameserver for my domain (coincidentally JWZ uses Pair as his domain registrar), and I have a static IP from Comcast for $114.00 a month, so my domain is served using the proverbial "webserver in my basement." Essentially, I'm co-loed for a fraction of what most co-los charge. I suspect JWZ is doing something similar.

  2. J. Peterson says:

    Very impressive. Can you imagine Ticketmaster doing this?