Baltimore, MD (August 8, 2014) – On Thursday, August 7, 2014, pre-registration pickup opened for the 21st annual Otakon Convention, allowing members who had pre-registered for the convention to pick up their access badges and convention materials.
A number of technical failures and procedural limitations prevented our staff from checking in all of our members as expected. While we were able to check in approximately 10,000 members Thursday, we recognize that an estimated 7,000 to 8,000 members were unable to do so. For this, we sincerely apologize.
Overnight, we have worked to identify a number of processes and restraints that hampered our ability to accommodate all our members. As we go forward, we will continue to analyze the situation, identify all of the failings, and implement processes that preclude them from occurring in the future.
We encountered a number of internet related limitations that hindered us from processing registrations at the speed we had initially forecast and planned for. Although we typically process between 16,000 and 17,000 members on the first day of pre-registration pickup, we were only able to process 10,000 Thursday.
The Baltimore Convention Center building closed at midnight to our members as well as our staff. We had anticipated and planned for a “hard out” at 11:30 PM, however, we soon realized that we had a backlog of members in the building.
Our staff worked to ensure as many members were brought inside and processed as quickly as possible. For members that were unable to obtain registration material today, line passes were provided to provide them expedited registration on Friday. The majority of these passes were given to those inside of the building, but some passes were distributed outside due to extenuating circumstances.
We recognize that we had a failure in communication with our members. Otakon engages our members on a number of channels including our website and social media platforms. Due to the instability of the internet connections, and an unexplained failure of our website, updates were stuck in a queue and not disseminated in a timely fashion. By the time this was realized, it was nearing closing time, and we worked to utilize our social media channels to communicate updates.
We have identified a point of confusion regarding the registration timing. A scheduled message was posted to the website indicating that pre-registration would close at midnight. While this was in reference to the ability to sign up and register on the website, many interpreted the statement as the hours for the physical registration pickup.
There was a miscommunication within our staff regarding capping the end of the line. Having forecast our average transaction speed based on previous years’ times, we had capped the line at what was believed to be an appropriate point. As registration and transaction timing slowed significantly, however, the cap was not adjusted and thus left more members in queue than we had the ability to process.
Our entire staff would like to extend our sincere apologies to our members who endured long lines and disappointment today. It is not the standard to which we hold ourselves, and we sincerely appreciate the patience, humor, and accommodation they showed us despite their understandable frustration.
We would like to thank the staff at the Baltimore Hilton who graciously opened their doors to our staff and our members after midnight as we worked to set up an impromptu mobile registration center to process the remainder of those who were in the convention center, but had to vacate with our staff at midnight.
We will continue to identify the root cause of the issues we faced and work to implement solutions.
Otakon 2014 will be held August 8-10 at the Baltimore Convention Center in Baltimore, MD.
ABOUT OTAKON AND OTAKORP, INC.: Now entering its twenty first year, Otakon is an annual celebration of Japanese and East Asian popular culture, and also one of the largest gatherings of fans in the United States. Otakon celebrates popular culture as a gateway to deeper understanding of Asian culture, and has grown along with the enthusiasm for anime, manga, video games, and music from the Far East. Since 1999, Otakon has been held in Baltimore, Maryland; currently, Otakon is one of Baltimore’s few large, city-wide events, drawing over 34,000 people for three days each year (for a paid attendance of over 100,000 turnstile attendees). Otakon is a membership based convention sponsored by Otakorp, Inc., a Pennsylvania-based, 501(c)3 educational non-profit whose mission is to promote the appreciation of Asian culture, primarily through its media and entertainment. Otakorp, Inc. is directed by an all-volunteer, unpaid staff – we are run by fans, for fans.