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"So, why did Fall In registration take so long?" Topic

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John the OFM17 Nov 2013 12:28 p.m. PST

I got there Saturday morning, around 9:00 AM. I got in the line for non-pre-registered attendees. I was there in for about 45 minutes. When I got out, the line was further back than where I started. So, I suppose those poor souls waited even longer.
What happened when I got to the desk? Well, they asked me for my last name, and I was told there were 6 other dudes with the same last name. That's nice, but hardly vital.
Then, the computer had to spin and dissect this information.
Four people had to consult on how to input a check, paying for by…
Then, it lost my name, and it had to go in again.
total time in front of the computer? probably 10 minutes, but it seemed a lot longer,

To top things off, when I got home, I had an email telling me that my HMGS membership had been renewed. Funny, I did not pay for that.

In this program's defense, at least it FINALLY worked, and I was not buying health insurance.

Some questions.
Why could it not have just printed my name on a sticker and sent me off? That should have taken 1 minute max, and dozens (hundreds?) of gamers would not have had to spend valuable SHOPPING (if vendors matter…) and gaming time humoring a deadly slow program.
Did HMGS-E pay a lot of money for this program? If they did, they were ripped off.

BTW, the bathrooms were clean. grin

epturner Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 12:34 p.m. PST

And there was not the usual "Gamer Funk" either, despite the attendees usual lack of respect by leaving trash, clutter and empty cans and bottles strewn throughout the rooms…

It took me about 15 minutes on Friday morning. I suspect there might have been another problem, as when I asked, the desk staff said there was an issue with InterWebNetBookFace connectivity.

There are times I think this electronic business is more of a hassle than a benefit.


John the OFM17 Nov 2013 12:49 p.m. PST

I would have been happy to dunk my thumb in purple ink.

Robert V17 Nov 2013 12:54 p.m. PST

I got there about the same time on Saturday but I was still in the system from last year so it didn't take me as long as all that, but the guy at the counter did say the internet connection was very slow.
And yes, the bathrooms were clean.
And the dejon chicken sandwich I got was pretty good too.

Tankrider17 Nov 2013 1:23 p.m. PST

Give 'em your money get a nametag move along. NEXT!

Pizzagrenadier17 Nov 2013 1:26 p.m. PST

Isn't it HMGS tradition to reinvent the wheel every convention and personnel changeover?

VonTed17 Nov 2013 1:43 p.m. PST

I showed up early Friday morning, probably 15th or 20th in line. One hour wait.

From my other rant…..

Someone needs to explain to me why I need to provide my name, address, email and phone number for a one day pay to shop.

Bleeped text?

I did not join HMGS, I do not want to join HGMS. I do not want email, mail or phone calls from them. I only wanted to spend money in the dealer hall ($20 less due to entry fee).

Why did I need to wait a hour in line to get a pass to enter the dealer hall? This is simply ridiculous…..

….I was were told they were a "professional organization" and "we need to know who is in the building". I had to hand over I'D just to be able to pay 20.

Pretty much over the desire to deal with the foolishness…. doubt me or my wallet will be going back to any of the shows.

Gloria Smud17 Nov 2013 2:22 p.m. PST

Whatever happened to simply just taking people's money at the door?


CptKremmen17 Nov 2013 2:38 p.m. PST

This sounds completely bizarre to us Brits.

Warfare in the UK was this weekend. Walk up to the desk, give them £5.00 GBP and they give you a little metal pin/badge you attach to your shirt.

Then you are free to come and go all day. Averga time to let someone in, 20 seconds? less if they have the £5.00 GBP ready and aren't trying to pay by some ridiculous credit card!!

We get about 2,000 over 2 days, guess your shows are bigger.

In the event of a fire we would have asked everyone to leave very quickly :) We don't need name address, email etc just to allow someone in, that is just complete rubbish surely?

Trade Organiser
A UK Wargames Show

John the OFM17 Nov 2013 2:44 p.m. PST

.I was were told they were a "professional organization" and "we need to know who is in the building".

That is total nonsense. It is nothing but control-freakery.
Simply because you CAN get the data does not mean that you NEED to.

And before somebody asks me if I "could do a better job", yes, I could. I would hand print their name on a "Hi! My name is…" name tag.

USAFpilot17 Nov 2013 3:26 p.m. PST

This was the worst registration process I have experienced since going to these conventions for over a decade. It took way too long. All I wanted to do was pay my 20 bucks and do some shopping in the dealer hall. By the time I got my badge I was in such a bad mood that I ended up not buying a thing.

There was no excuse for this; I don't care that they had a slow computer speed. There should have been a line for people who don't give a crap about being on HMGS's mailing list and just wanted to get in the show.

Shame on you HMGS.

McKinstry Fezian17 Nov 2013 3:45 p.m. PST

I always pre-register and that went well but my wife (a member) had to register on Friday morning around 7:30 and that took 15 minutes while my son (a non-member) took 10 minutes longer as a non-member with all that name/address/number stuff which was silly as he does not need or want to be on a mail list.

Rotundo17 Nov 2013 3:50 p.m. PST

I watched that for two hours and kept thinking I would just have refused to pay or just went to the hall without a badge. I would not have put up with that. I was there thurs night and hit regt. desk fri first thing in the morning. Vendors, you have no idea how much money you lost while people were in line instead of potentially shopping. In fact, the flea market vendors should also be mad. I was asked for all my info and told them no. My name and my cash should suffice. I understand if you pay with any type of credit, otherwise cash=tag and off you go.

John the OFM17 Nov 2013 4:15 p.m. PST

.I was were told they were a "professional organization" and "we need to know who is in the building".

Line up for some dead horse flogging…
What if I am in a different hotel?
What if I am in the Dealer area, and NOT in the Host Proper?
What if I am driving home early because I was so annoyed?

Oh, sure. I could/should have anticipated this screw up, and got up and left an hour earlier…

It was a HORRIBLE customer experience, enough to Bleeped text me off from attending Cold Wars. I had better hear that this inexcusable glitch has been fixed before CW rolls around.

And several of my friends were late for their Friday tournament games, by up to an hour.

But at least there was no construction on I-81. grin

John the OFM17 Nov 2013 4:19 p.m. PST

This sounds completely bizarre to us Brits.

We Yanks are not too thrilled, either. grin

BTW, dies anyone think that HMGS is paying any attention to this? Probably not.
Naaaah. They probably figure that this is just malcontents grousing, and the vast majority took it in good stride.
After all, we are used to computer issues, right?

45thdiv Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 5:09 p.m. PST

They need to allow single day prepayment on line. But really, they don't need anything but your money.

vagamer63 Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 5:12 p.m. PST

The person who designed the "Great Program" is an "IT" person in the government, and is paid a rather outlandish amount of money every year to maintain and update said program! I bet I can guess what other programs he has helped write!!!

An off the shelve program would have been far better, and about 20 times faster!! But cronyism is rather a pervasive thing!!

Professional Organization? Not by any standards I'm aware of, which is why after 25 years I quit, and have stopped going to their shows! Mail order is far more easy, and fun!!

John the OFM17 Nov 2013 5:20 p.m. PST

"But we paid for it!" is one of the most feeble excuses ever. If it does not work, it does not work.
I have also heard from "others" that it did exactly what they wanted it to. That's a grim thought.

FlankMonkey17 Nov 2013 5:26 p.m. PST

I'm not a 100% sure but I think we all were signed up for health care…..

Deathwing17 Nov 2013 5:41 p.m. PST

I pre-registered. No fuss no muss.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP17 Nov 2013 7:48 p.m. PST

I worked Prereg and they did change on the fly to take cash for the non prereg folks.
One difference is that members get a discount -therefore membership status needs to be verified.
The big issue with time to process was the internet – the system is designed to be web based and the pipe in and out of the Host was overwhelmed.
I have never seen prereg so fast. I doubt anyone waited more than 2-3 minutes in for the GM or prereg system.

Lord Ashram17 Nov 2013 7:55 p.m. PST

I waited zero seconds after I had preregistered. I think people need to relax a bit… I am sure that folks in charge are upset about it and are already planning.

Bowman17 Nov 2013 9:47 p.m. PST

I have never seen prereg so fast. I doubt anyone waited more than 2-3 minutes in for the GM or prereg system

Don't be so sure. I had preregistered. They had that on record. They even had a bag with my name on it and my T-shirt. But there was no badge. So I got whisked away to the front of the non-preregistration line where I waited 20 minutes for someone to print out a second badge.

pvi99th18 Nov 2013 2:28 a.m. PST

Registration was a mess. I was preregistered and arrived about 10 minutes after 5 on Friday only to find that someone, in their infinite wisdom, closed registration at 5. It has never been closed that early before.

For those of us that don't want to take off extra time from work and don't love that far away, it is a MAJOR in inconvience to be forced to take vacation time so we can get our badge to play on Friday night.

I could sort of see closing non-pre reg, though there were several people coming In at the same time that wanted to pay, but not pre-reg.

Then, the next morning I found they didn't have a shirt that I had ordered. Showed my receipt and got my money back but i wasn't the only one with that issue.

snurl118 Nov 2013 2:51 a.m. PST

The internet connection was very slow for some reason. This was the cause for the delays.
The long line was shortened somewhat when a cash-only line was started.
Attendees were permitted into the Friday Wally's Basement without their badges due to the registration delays.
This year was my first time volunteering on the convention staff. On behalf of the staff I must say we were just as frustrated as the attendees with the situation, and did what we could to try to make it work.

vagamer63 Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2013 4:04 a.m. PST

The internet connection at the Host has ALWAYS been "slow", or (insert your preferred adverb)!! There is no need for an internet connection when running a single use program such as "Registration" on multiple laptops! That's a sorry excuse!!!!

At every one of the three HMGS shows there is a constant disgust with the registration process. It's high time for them to "rethink" the process, and meet the demands of their customers, stop the monolithic thinking, and end the "greater then thou" and "we can do no wrong" attitude! How about making some changes to vastly speed up the process!

VonTed18 Nov 2013 4:14 a.m. PST

The vendors should be appalled at this process as well.

For me, and I suspect quite a few others, these conventions are really a Shopping Convention with Games. (not a gaming convention with vendors in attendance). Visiting the largest hobby store in the country is what it is all about.

The registration takes money away from them, took shopping time away from them. And pretty much garunteed that I would not be attending the following conventions….

Tell me that next time there will be a cash only, no ID required entrance and I would reconsider.

OSchmidt18 Nov 2013 5:30 a.m. PST

Apparently the new registraton system was purchased from the same people who made the Obamacare web site. I got on line at 8:30 and it took me an hour to go the 60 ft to the terminals.. Apparently the guy at the computer told me, the server can only handle three computers at a time (there wre five) so the other two crashed intermittently. Finally got my badge then went out to see that I was one of the lucky ones The line was literally out the door of the hotel! I walked down the line urging the lads ot "buck up! You'll get through it in a few hours or so!"

Whatever! I'm used to this by now, so it doesn't faze me.

I used the time to good effect handing out flyers for
"The Weekend" and got high interest from six people.

There is no such thing as a pre-registration line. If you can't get your badge till you get there then you're not pre-registering, and they still have to look for it. It should be simple. You send your thirty bucks or whatever and they send you your badge in the mail. The only reason we want the damn thing is to get into the dealers area.

If you can'send in your bucks ahead of time or are too forgetful, you have a guy at a desk right in the front lobby. You come up give him the $30 USD bucks (if you want it cheaper because you're a member or are only staying adya, then pre-register) and he hands you a general badge and you go in. Period. If you want your name on it-- pre-register. You can cut the labor needed and the free rooms you have to give away to one. No credit cards, checks or cash. If you want to use your credit card, pre-register on line.

As for the T-shirts and other crap, sell it in the Mezzanine at the dealers area.

As for the rest of the convention, the word for the Day Gentlemen, was "Underwhelming."

I was particulary sad that Taiphoon Haiyen or Hai-Karate or whatever it was washed out about fifteen dealers to sea, leaving a large area in the back vacant along with several spaces on the back wall. Not many in the Dealer area on Saturday when I was there and couldn't find much new. The only ones who seemed to have new stuff was Eureka (but alas I did not get there soon enough to get the "pillow-fighting girls" but I did get the Can-Can dancers and the soiled doves at Andy's booth. Actually I think I cleaned him out of these.

As for the games again, Underwhelmed. Lot of great games but Satruday evening had quite a few open tables.

Oh well, Fall-In was always a light show, but on the other hand I saw and got to talk with about a dozen friends and buddies and we all met Sunday morning for Breakfast (about 10 of us) over at the Continental and had a great time.

capncarp18 Nov 2013 5:50 a.m. PST

"Apparently the guy at the computer told me, the server can only handle three computers at a time (there wre five) so the other two crashed intermittently."

Hmmm, if they knew that, why not take the extra two off and let the system work on a lighter load? Put the other two people out in the lobby with the extra T-shirts and clipboards to manually sign people in?

OSchmidt18 Nov 2013 6:22 a.m. PST

Dear Capncarp

Don't know. Don't really believe that's the reason but some hypothesis made up to mollify people on the spot.

The system can be born with. We could have borne with the old system as well.

The Key factor is if the new system will be able to tell them the following facts within 1 hour of the closing of the convention.

1. How many people attended each day and a total attendence.

2. How much money did they take in, and hence how much should be in the till.

3. Can you produce a mailing list from the data.

The Old system I HAVE BEEN TOLD BY THE POWERS THAT BE could never do this, and the data remained essentially inaccessible to us. How this could be I do not know, and I was always asking and never got an answer if the database could be downloaded in Excell Spread sheet Form. If it could then you could do anyting you wanted and the sky is the limit.

I suspect that this new system will not be able to provide this data or be downloadable to an Excell Spreadsheet either.

Wildman18 Nov 2013 6:42 a.m. PST

One and a half hours in line on Friday. Not only lost time
in the Vendor area but also physically painfully(I have arthritis in both knees). If HMGS needs all this information, why can't I fill out a form before paying and they can input to their computer at a later time.
I attended a train show the week before Fall In. Paid the entrance fee, received a ticket and was in the show in less
than two minutes. So simple. The HMGS conventions I have attended all seem to take longer and longer to register. It is time for a change to the process.

historygamer18 Nov 2013 6:49 a.m. PST

Perhaps they should offer a cash only line, and put out a sign up list to be put on the mailing list.

I understand they want to capture names to populate/update their mailing lists.

Stepman318 Nov 2013 7:02 a.m. PST

I was only in registration for about 10min, no line when I got there at 1500hrs friday…light attendence, dealer hall missing a few ol' stand-bys…some very nice looking games. Room was clean and will be looking forward to Cold Wars.

WarWizard18 Nov 2013 7:03 a.m. PST

I pre-registered. I always pre-regsiter for all the HMGS convetions. And I have to say this was the simplest and easiest pre-registration I have ever done! I was actually impressed at how easy and simple it was. I do not know what happened with those that registered on site, I did see long lines on Saturday. But whatever changes they made to the HMGS site for online registration please keep those. That was a job well done!

demiurgex18 Nov 2013 7:05 a.m. PST

Or here's an idea. If part of the problem is the speed of the wifi at the Host, why use their wifi? Wireless hotspots are really cheap these days you can get a decent one for $150 USD and a good one for double that.

Oh, and my woes with the prereg system are recorded elsewhere. But even after all of that hassle it still don't go smoothly once we got to the Con. My son and I came to the con and I had gotten my stuff straight after dealing with them for several hours over the course of a month, but when they cancelled my registration by accident they didn't enable my son's registration. So we got there and it sure looked like we were going to have to spend 1+ hours standing in line AFTER preregistration.

Thankfully the people running the sign in have a bit of common sense and they said not to worry about it.

Overall we had a good time, and I found the individuals working the con to be really friendly, conscientious and kind.

But the level of organization was far less than previous cons, and the new system IMO had a pretty bumpy start.

New system, new director, not exactly unexpected, so hopefully this will get worked out, but its diminished my desire to make sure I get to the next one. Might want to give it some time to see if they will get the bugs wrinkled out. I really don't like being someone else's QA project.

John the OFM18 Nov 2013 7:06 a.m. PST

Ten or more years ago, they actually USED their database. A yearly issue of the HMGS newsletter had a list by ZIP or postal code of the members. It was great for finding local gamers.
But I have not seen such an issue for … 10 years.
so, it seems to me that they are hoarding data just for the sake of hoarding data.
That's fine for membership. (I let mine lapse years ago.) But if all I want is to pay for the right to shop, none of that "data" is necessary.

I have heard rumors for years of the dealers forming their own group to run conventions, since they have no say in how HMGS cons are run.
I hope they do it.

egoodlander18 Nov 2013 7:12 a.m. PST

Pre-registered and it took 3 mins for all three of us.
Didn't even hear any grumblings about registration until Saturday. Sorry to hear it didnt go well.

Personal logo Jlundberg Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2013 7:19 a.m. PST

I think the solution is more distributed data input than "pay cash and let me in." IF prereg could stay open longer or even be dynamic in a way such that you could show up with an e-ticket to get your badge printed, it would speed things up. I understand the frustration for those registering on site – I have had to wait 30 minutes in the past for my preprinted GM badge.
It is past the con, but if you are frustrated by delays, have sympathy for the staff who are faced by irate customer after irate customer.

John the OFM18 Nov 2013 7:36 a.m. PST

WHY do they need "distributed data input", whatever that is.
Why NOT just "pay cash and let me in"?
Why does a badge need to be printed?
You suggest improvements for pre-reg which apparently had no problems.

demiurgex18 Nov 2013 7:55 a.m. PST

I had significant problem with my prereg, and I know at least one other person that had similar problems. A significant problem was a lack of communication from the staff one guy I know had to cancel half of his games due to a personal conflict and had to chase down the answer of whether they got his email because no one had responded 3 weeks later.

A lot of that no doubt has to do with the efforts taken to get the new system up. Looks like their schedule was a bit too aggressive to make a smooth transition.

Again, you could cut the wait time considerably by just providing your own wireless hotspots, and that should be doable via petty cash.

Personal logo 7th Va Cavalry Supporting Member of TMP18 Nov 2013 11:22 a.m. PST

Yeah, I was there on Friday morning about 10 and all the info they wanted for a day pass. The guy at the computer didn't notice the 555 number I gave him. They were to busy trying to sell shirts and raffle tickets.

John the OFM18 Nov 2013 11:53 a.m. PST

Agreed. Selling crap should have NOTHING to do with registration, especially with the line stretching to the front door of the hotel.

FlankMonkey18 Nov 2013 12:04 p.m. PST

Death Wing "I pre-registered. No fuss no muss".

That may be true if your with HMGS East, but to register under another HMGS group it is all Fuss and Muss….

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2013 5:29 a.m. PST

Yes, see my other post, but FlankMonkey nailed it… pre-reg and there is very rarely any wait in that line.


bhall389 Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2013 7:01 a.m. PST

I pre-registered, and it was totally painless this year, which is an improvement. In and out in 30 seconds on Thursday evening, so I was having a beer in the bar while my friends who didn't pre-register stood in line.

My Saturday evening game was cancelled, but that is not the HMGS organizers cross to bear…

I do have to commend the organizers for the use of the Guidebook app, the data and utility for Fall-In was first rate. I guess you'll need to increase the license in the future though…

Poniatowski Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2013 9:01 a.m. PST

Yes, I am in the process of getting it "officially" put into the budget. I need to get some info and then submit it. The person running it wil be the same for next year… if he takes the job again.


historygamer19 Nov 2013 10:08 a.m. PST


Using the same system for pre-reg (my time at home) and at the convention seems like a bad plan. If it takes me five minutes on my computer, and takes that long at the convention – the math doesn't add up. If you have two computers doing registration – and 10 people standing in line – that means it will take about 25 minutes to process those ten people (two at a time). Multiply that by 30 or more people in line – and you get the back-up had at FI.

Not your fault, but I think the BOD needs to come up with a different plan for both CW and Hcon to process people more quickly, given the larger numbers. Make the PPI stuff voluntary, not required, especially for people who are not renewing their membership. Sometimes technology does not improve things.

I thought the pre-reg system was easy, much better than the old system.

Just my two cents. :-)

Thanks to you and all your hard working con staff. :-)

USAFpilot19 Nov 2013 11:26 a.m. PST

"Sometimes technology does not improve things."

BINGO!!! We have a winner.

grtbrt20 Nov 2013 8:51 a.m. PST

I have to say that the registration process was awful -especially for a system that I was told was "a true professional system "-HA .
There is no excuse for what happens on a continuous basis (basically every convention).
I registered on Friday mid afternoon (3ish ) there were 4 people in line and it took 37mins . a couple of contributing factors _from my perspective:
a) untrained staff- and before you say it -almost all nonprofit events use volunteers and most do not seem to have these problems.
b) system did not seem to allow easy transition to from 1 activity to another . (I rejoined HMGS -I know I regret it already – I am an enabler ). I was told that the system had to process that before I could register . They had to enter my name 4 times (along with all info pertaining to that ) That part could be more untrained staff problems.

Pre-reg is not an option for me as I do not usually know if I will attend until the week before.

There is no real reason that there is not a line for people that just want to buy a pass(day or weekend )without giving their info to HMGS .

The last thing I want to do after driving 4 hours to the convention is to wait in a line for more time .

VonTed21 Nov 2013 5:49 a.m. PST

Just thought this thread needed to reach the "50" post mark. :)

Oh, and I hated the registration process.

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