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Queuing for a ticket online: Is Computicket crazy?

So the general idea of booking something online is to satisfy the need instantly. The idea of standing in a queue while online does not sit so well with me; but that’s what is happening on online ticketing site Computicket as it attempts to deal with the demand for the South African leg of a Lady Gaga world tour.

So maybe I’m being melodramatic or maybe the promise of a digital world if instant gratification has spoiled me; but the queuing system that has been implemented — although for a valid reason — seems to strike at the heart of my digital ideals.

To cut a long story short, when you visit the Computicket website — which is devoted solely to the online purchase of tickets for sporting events, music concerts, theatre productions and the like — you are redirected to this page:

Lady Gaga Computicket Page

Already the hackles go up. Who says that I am interested in booking for the Lady Gaga concert?

At the bottom of this page, there is a note which goes some way to explaining why users are being confronted by this rather lackluster landing page. Its reasoning is thus :

In an attempt to facilitate a better customer experience during ticket sales openings of high demand events, a queuing system has been implemented on the website to ensure fair and distributed opportunities for all internet users. If you do not want to book for the featured event, please select the option to continue with other bookings. Featured event tickets are only available on the internet through the above link.

What this basically boils down to is a thinly veiled excuse for Computicket not having the backend processing power to facilitate the large-scale onslaught of Gaga fans who are definitely going to be bombarding this page today. What aggravates me about that is that it announced that tickets will ONLY be available online…

Hang on… Excuse me Computicket — but you are going to consciously push tens of thousands of would be concert goers to a website that you well know has not got the processing power to handle all of them?!

Well done for coming up with another solution to your lack of computing power; but surely you should have thought about channeling visitors to offline ticket purchasing mechanisms to help counter this problem?

Let’s be frank here. I quite like the candor and forethought that Computicket have used with its realisation that it has a real business problem. What I do not like is the way in which it looks as if the landing pages were cobbled together overnight. Once you click on the Gaga link you are loaded into the queuing system which looks like it is rendering for a mobile device and not a full screen desktop or laptop:

When we unpack this there are a few lessons that customer facing websites and campaigns need to realise and remember:

1. The user experience is critical. The inconsistent layout of the pages does not translate to a good experience. If you are having to make something quickly to serve a need try everything to ensure that the user experience is not compromised.

2. Make the application vs mobile site decision VERY carefully. Apps are not as easily adaptable as a mobile site. The Computicket iPad application is not loading the Gaga booking page because it has made a fundamental change to the location from where the information is being served and the application cannot cater for the queuing system. The mobile site is working perfectly.

3. Don’t make excuses for inadequate internal systems and try to make it sound like it’s for your client’s own good. Rather be honest and take the hit — your client will respect you more for it.

Ed: Computicket has issued the following response to the article:

Author | Jonathan Houston

Jonathan Houston
Jonathan Houston is passionate about digital marketing and digital strategy. During the day, Jonathan is the Head of Digital Marketing for HKLM. Jonathan's work at HKLM includes strategy conceptualization, focusing on the alignment of digital marketing to business strategy as well as assisting HKLM's clients on fulfilling their digital... More
  • Jonty

    I was in this queue and you are told that you will receive an email when you are able to buy tickets, and you only have 10 minutes to complete the transaction. By chance I checked the website and my turn was 7 minutes in already! The email arrived after my 10 minutes was up, and I could not complete my transaction in time (was busy with the last of the credit card details) and am now back in the queue!

  • Pingback: Queueing for a ticket online: Is Computicket crazy? – Memeburn | Page3gossips()

  • JD

    There is a typo in this sentence:”To cut a long story short, when you visit the Computicket website – a website devoted solely to the online purchase of tickets for sporting events, music concerts, theatre productions and the like – you are redirected the this page:”

    it such be ” you are redirected to this page:”

  • hey, at least you can do it while catching up on FB and having a cup of coffee. Beats standing in line in the shop.

  • Simply put…they know they can not handle high volume of transaction, so they slotted in a 3rd party system to try reduce the load, this turned out to be a complete #FAIL. They have known about the issue for years (U2, Coldplay, etc) and still have not put a proper strategy in place. After all, why would the not want to use a tried and tested platform like Amazon AWS’s EC2 or MS Azures cloud, requests increase -> auto-provision more resources to handle requests. Sigh!

    At the end of the day, isn’t queuing for tickets online like pre-ordering digital game online incase they run out of stock? It is something that shouldn’t happen…?

  • Totally true – the point is though that there should be no line. Computicket were not only made aware of this “little” concert 2 days ago – they had time to prep their systems and ensure ample fail over

  • Ugh. People and their first world problems. You’re sitting on your fat ass at a desk checking the site every now and then. is this really SO BAD? This hardly warrants a post.

  • Having just survived this experience and eventually got my tickets I suspect that the load they are trying to balance was with the mandatory 3DSecure credit card validation system which is served by banks. My first transation failed because Nedbank’s Verified by Visa final step in the process timed out. Much like Jonty’s experience below.

  • The booking system is an utter fiasco – again. There is such a gap in the market for a company that can actually handle big volume bookings. It’s time for Computicket to go! Follow the #LadyGagaSA tag on Twitter to see the complaints. Not only that, but neither Computicket nor Big Concerts feel it’s necessary to keep people updated regularly on the Facebook fan pages when there were 38000 people queuing this morning! It’s embarrassing for this country and shameful to treat customers this way.

  • Dave from Cape Town

    “Already the hackles go up. Who says that I am interested in booking for the Lady Gaga concert?”

    What a ridiculous thing to write. 99% + of the visitors to computicket this morning will be wanting to book for Lady Gaga.

    I agree that computicket has ****ed up again, but when you make a statement like that at the start of your piece, it des look like you already have it in for them before you even log on.

  • Nice writeup Jonathan, judged by their Facebook comments people are very frustrated. I calculated that they can handle 1-2 bookings/transactions a second – which is quite slow. Gary as far as I understand they already are on AWS, but clearly not using the full cloud functionality. E.g. did they scale their servers up last night in prep for this morning (or better just use ELB elastic load balancers and auto scaling to handle that for them). SQL Server and other database servers can easily handle those loads, so how optimized are indexing etc? I would use AWS Elasticache or other service to keep all seat configuration in memory and if a 3rd party payment gateway has issues, at least provide your client with the option to reserve that seat and pay within x hours. User experience is critical. From a system point of view it all boils down to poor system architecture. Would love to prototype something for them.

  • jason92

    Iv been queuing for 4hours straight

  • The latest update on the Computicket queuing system: “We are currently experiencing problems with our acquiring bank. Please be patient.”

    Guess we should have expected that…!

  • Did Computicket seriously just try and sidestep the issue by placing the blame on Big Concerts? Surely as the ticket issuers on whose platform the tickets are being sold; you have a say as to the experience of the users who are interacting with YOUR brand and not the Big Concerts brand?!

  • little monster

    I have to disagree, I had a fantastic user experience: I registered at 8:50, got into the prequeue, and felt less stressed that I would get tossed off the site or have the system freeze up on me. I checked every 15 minutes after getting my queue link via email and at 9:56 got into the booking system which was loaded nicely and paid and was done. I would have gone to the kiosk, but I would happily do this way again. Remembering the chaos that was WC2010 bookings, I am very impressed with the system.

  • Back to the future, um, past. They’re a bunch of morons. Even if they’d just staggered the online bookings for JHB and CT they would have halved the server load at no extra cost. How dof can you be??

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  • Lol

    I’ve been waiting for almost 5 hours!! With still 1000 of other people in front of me.. that message hasn’t changed all day! This is ridiculous! I’m going to miss Ticketmaster when I move home in October!

  • I got through after a few hours, filled in my details and credit card details. The page timed out, my card was charged and I didnt get the tickets. I have no idea who to get hold of – sent email via the website and tweeted them. They will probably just refund my money and say “apologies”.

  • Computicket lets everybody queue virtually and then on top of that only allows bookings during office hours! http://twitpic.com/9yatne. From which planet are these people?

  • chukaman

    “it such be” – are you serious? Careful commenting on typos before you learn to speak English correctly.

  • Pingback: Fans outraged at Lady Gaga online ticket fiasco – Times LIVE | Page3gossips()

  • Pingback: Twitter blasts Computicket for #LadyGagaSA fail | memeburn()

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