Like thousands of others across Canada I spent part of my day last Saturday trying to buy tickets for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Games (VANOC). The phase 3 window had just opened and I thought I’d add another event or two to my ticket portfolio. VANOC promised 100,000 tickets would be made available for many events including the high-profile ceremonies, ice hockey finals and figure skating. As a member of the media I have some access to these events without tickets, but I still want to enjoy the full fan experience and be able to share it with family and friends – so I was ready to shop.
But due to technical difficulties somewhere between Vancouver 2010 and Tickets.com, Internet shoppers were shut-out. None were able to log and complete any transactions for the tickets they desired. Even worse, ticket seekers were left in the dark – not knowing whether to keep trying with their futile efforts or to just give up – and this went on for three hours.
VANOC issued official “tweets” on Twitter to keep the public in the loop, however after a hopeful comment minutes after the sales began that stated things were getting better, the tweets ceased leaving Olympic fans in a frenzy of trying to dig up information while continually hitting “refresh” on their computer keyboards.
My first destination for information was the official Website, Vancouver2010.com. Of course it was – wouldn’t you have done the same? Apparently VANOC didn’t figure this out as there was no message on the site’s home page, or anywhere else on the site that I searched.
My next destination was the GamesBids.com Forums (this should have been my first stop) – a thread had already been started by frustrated shoppers looking for answers. At least one member pointed out the available, but useless, official tweets. Much later, news reports began to get posted of the rumours, then the confirmed problems. Finally an official press release admitted the difficulties, spoke of the postponement – and ended the agony of refresh buttons everywhere. The problems were to be repaired and we would do this all again one week hence, Saturday, November 14.
I’m very familair with the impact of high volumes of Internet traffic on servers and the associated technical difficulties. During bid elections (most recently on October 2nd when Rio won the 2016 Olympic Games) GamesBids.com gets bombarded with millions (yes, literally millions) of hits. We prepare accordingly but can never seem to keep up and we sit helplessly as the Website slows to a crawl. But then again, GamesBids.com is not the Olympics – and this is not really a technical issue, it’s a communication issue.
Wasn’t there any way for VANOC to get the message out before the three hour wait? Couldn’t the postponement been after one hour when significant damage had already been experienced? Why not make one more official tweet at say, the one-hour and thirty-minute mark, telling us something?! Even a simple line of text on the homepage could have minimized the cumulative thousands of hours wasted in front of keyboards hoping, waiting and wondering.
I have been very unlucky during the ticket buying process. I missed participating in the first phase due to my own negligence – we won’t talk about that. I was well prepared and on-time for the second phase but something went wrong with my session connection after my shopping cart was full of prime tickets; when I managed to reconnect they were all gone and I was only able to buy tickets that had been my third and fourth choices. I’m not sure who to blame for that technical glitch – but the experience was not fun. Then – last Saturday.
So, I can’t afford for anything to go wrong when the ticket window opens for the final time Saturday. I have put together the following survival guide to share with all as we plunge into the Internet black hole once again and hope for the best (please just promise to give me a five-minute head start when the window opens).
Phase 3 Ticket Buyers’ Survival Guide for Canadians
1. Follow VANOC’s official instructions and attempt to purchase tickets.
2. Follow VANOC for updates on Twitter – 2010tweets
3. If #2 isn’t satisfactory then follow GamesBids.com on Twitter – gamesbids – we were a little more informative than last week’s official feed. You know what? Just follow us on Twitter.
4. If you want to share your experience, read how others are faring, or just need some moral support while stressing out in the virtual waiting room – join our dedicated GamesBids.com Forum thread on the topic.
5. While in the virtual waiting room you might as well call 1-800-TICKETS (1-800-842-5387) too – a few hundred tickets were actually purchased using the good old fashioned telephone last week.
5. Good luck!
Let me know how it works out for you.