This weekend, Anime Boston 2008 is going on at the Hynes Convention Center. My husband and I were downtown Friday and Saturday and strolled over a few times to check it out. We did not pre-register for this event and fully expected to have to stand in line to register and obtain convention credentials. What I didn't expect was a line that was more than six hours long at 3 pm on the first day.
Clearly, I wasn't going to spend that kind of time in line when the NCAA tournament was going on and there was a perfectly good barstool at Champions with my name practically written on it. However, we were curious as to what exactly was going on with the lines at Anime Boston 2008. A wait of over six hours for people who had not yet registered was ridiculous (especially in a “cash only” operation, as this was). What we found out was even more disturbing. The people who had pre-registered and who had, as a result, already paid for their admissions, had to wait more than three hours to get their credentials and get in the doors. There was a three hour wait for people who had already paid for their admission! We walked to the front of the line to see exactly how long the line actually was (OMG it was long) and to see what was causing the ridiculous wait times. (I don't work anymore, but somehow, you can't quite beat the consultant out of me).
The Anime Boston 2008 promoters only had 6 computers in the registration room and each person in the huge line had to register themselves on one of them.
Are you freaking kidding me? We spoke with the staff person who was standing in front of the registration room and he said that they only had six computers for registration. He acknowledged that the line was long but then added that he thought that the line was moving “a lot faster than last year.” WTF? That's your benchmark? So you sucked last year - and this year you think you suck just a little less - and you declare a small victory? Wow.
We watched some basketball at the bar and then went back at 8 pm and even though registration was supposed to be open until 10, they weren't letting anyone that was unregistered into the Hynes Convention Center. The two men at the door claimed that the convention exceeded fire safety codes and too many people were in the building. When pressed, one admitted that the line for registration was still very long and since registration was closing at 10 (in 2 hours) they weren't letting more people onto the end of the line. In all seriousness, as the one security person told us that stuff about fire safety codes, people were streaming out of the convention center. He (one security guy) was supposed to be scanning the credentials of all of the people who were walking into the convention center, but he missed at least a good 30% of the ones that walked in with us. I somehow doubt that they truly had a handle on how many people were in that building at that moment.
We bumped into the assistant treasurer of the con in the elevator of the hotel on Saturday morning and asked him about the registration situation. He acknowledged that it was far from smooth but that they had a few more computers for Saturday and he'd hoped it would go smoother. We took a peek. Fail.
What I found amazing was that the people in line - many decked out for the occasion in serious Anime attire - seemed to have no problem standing in line for 3-6 hours to get in. The only people who even looked befuddled by the situation were the parents who accompanied minors as chaperones. When I found out that the reason for the lines was that the promoters were completely inept and had a less than mediocre registration process running, I pretty much gave up. Why would I want to hand over $50 for weekend admission to a convention run by jokers? Apparently, there were thousands of people who found this treatment acceptable. It's actually similarly run at a lot of conventions like this one. That's sad.
If I was an exhibitor at Anime Boston 2008, I would definitely be miffed that hundreds and hundreds of potential customers were spending many hours of their day sitting on the floors of the second floor of the Hynes Convention Center instead of inside the convention itself throwing around their currency. That's not even taking into account the many people who showed up with the intention of attending, who left as the line was ridiculous.
Would I have been a little more interested in waiting in a crazy line if I hadn't just been in Tokyo earlier this month? No, not even a little bit.