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Brittney Goes to the Calgary Expo, Apparently: Part 1.5

Or is that the Edmonton Expo logo?

[Neither Brandon nor James attended this year's Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo this year, but that doesn't mean that C!TB wasn't covering it.  We sent our team of unpaid, unrewarded and unappreciated staff to the Expo to soak up the sights, take some pictures and get some interviews.  In the first part of her rundown, Brittney Le Blanc talked about what could have gone better.  Here's her update.]

On Tuesday two things happened: firstly, Shayne Henkleman, the Operations and Logistics Manager for the Calgary Expo sent out the following statement on their Facebook page

An open letter to all Calgary Expo Attendees;

 

Well another episode of the Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo has come and gone. As a whole, I am happy with how this year has come together from an operational standpoint. However, while reviewing social media I have found that there are many people who were not happy with the line situation that occurred on Sunday morning for admissions. I would like to take a moment to address this situation specifically and hopefully clear up any misunderstandings or confusion that the queue process created for you as an attendee.

There are many of you who believe that there were changes made between Saturday morning and Sunday morning admissions, and from an outside perspective that may have looked to be so, but that is actually not the case at all. There were absolutely no changes made for the queue system. What did change was the capacity in those admissions lines of people who had already completed the badge exchange process. Going into Sunday morning, there were less then 4,000 ticket holders that had yet to do badge exchange at the Big Four building, as opposed to roughly 10,000 on Saturday. The other 16,000 attendees had already completed this process and arrived on site as badge holders at the onset of Sunday. Combine that fact with the fact that there were a huge amount of you that chose to arrive early to line up on Sunday, thus increasing the length of the admissions lines dramatically from what they were on either Friday or Saturday.

During consultations with Stampede, Calgary Fire Department, and Calgary Police Services, it was decided to do a controlled and staggered admissions into the show halls to ensure the safety of you as an attendee, and also to ensure we did not run into any capacity issue that could not be easily and quickly addressed and controlled. To do so, we brought limited groups into the halls through two main controlled entrances, followed by a quick assessment of crowd movement before we brought the next group in. We would not then, nor will we in the future, open all of the doors of the BMO to free flow traffic until such a point as the admissions lines have entered into the facility safely.

The fact of the matter is that we were able to admit 20,000 attendees into the BMO halls in 1 hour and 23 minutes. That is a staggering amount of people to flow into the limited space in such a short time, and we were able to accomplish this in what I feel was a safe and effective manner for all parties involved [Ed. Note: PAX does more in less, better]. While I regret that some of you may feel that we did not perform to your satisfaction, in the end we must do what we feel is best for all people attending the event. If we were to allow free flow traffic from the onset of the show, we would risk running into a situation where areas could not support the capacity of entering attendees and be forced to enter into lock down situations that could potentially last far longer then the original controlled admission formula we chose to use.

With that said, we also realize that there are always opportunities to make improvements to all areas of the show, and the admissions process is certainly no exception. I personally have noted many aspects of the process that can be tightened up on that could potentially shorten your wait time to enter the event, and during team debriefs I am sure we will come up with other new and innovative ideas that will help the overall process. Myself as the Expo’s Operations Manager, and the entire Show Team as a whole, are committed to doing whatever we can to ensure that your experience at the Calgary Expo is both rewarding and safe, and you have my word that I shall explore avenues that will ensure that we are able to greatly improve your experience each and every year. We are already underway planning for the 2014 Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo and hope that you will trust that we have your satisfaction and safety firmly in mind as we undertake any and all changes to the show’s operational procedures.

 

Sincerely,

Shayne Henkelman

Operations and Logistics Manager

Calgary Comic & Entertainment Expo

Obviously, a well thought out letter. It’s generated some good discussion, and I’m happy to see the Expo communicating with fans.

As well, I had a chance to talk to the media relations individual I dealt with on Saturday. I have to tell you, I certainly do not envy her job. She called me on Tuesday afternoon to talk about my post and about our experiences. Having heard her side of the story and hearing about the frustrations and limited resources she had to deal with, I can certainly empathize. She acknowledged things their team has gradually been working on, and it sounds like it is a hugely uphill battle.

I would also like to take this opportunity to apologize for something I said in the earlier post. Editorializing, I said: “… but apparently it was the most inconvenient thing I could have possibly done.” She did not, however, say anything of the sort. This was me giving my perspective of our encounter, which upon greater consideration and discussion with her, I now deem to be unfair [Ed. Note: We stand by our decision to post Brittney's article as it originally ran].

As well, I had mentioned a member of the traditional press had gotten swept through in front of me. There was no way for me to know that they had spoken prior and this was already arranged to occur. I can’t change the way I felt in the moment, however will acknowledge that a lack of communication on both of our parts made our dealings more difficult.

That does not excuse the way I, and others, were treated by other staff. Nor do I feel much better regarding a lack of Expo interviews. However, having discussed this and hearing more from the other side, I now have a greater appreciation of what they do, and am looking forward to the changes being made. I hope that we will be more transparent and communicative in the future, which will solve some of our issues.

I also want to make clear, that despite not always agreeing or being happy with how things are handled doesn’t make me any less respect or appreciate the work they do. As I said earlier, they have a very difficult job. They are wrangling stars, dealing with agents, and trying to keep the more zealous press at bay. Managing media for an Expo of this size is no easy feat, but I look forward to working with them again in the future.

One of the things I think we can all appreciate about geek culture, is that we all work together to make the community what we want it to be. The response we’ve seen post-Expo last year and this year has definitely proven that.

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