Rolling Out the STEP System

The Urban Stoop by Craig Cooper and James Dufour, Photo by Jay Faulconer

Burning Man’s Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) launches this week. STEP is an online system that facilitates the safe resale of tickets that have been purchased directly from Burning Man, and is designed to provide a hassle-free, secure way of buying and selling Burning Man tickets while avoiding scammers, counterfeits and scalpers.

We’ve created a comprehensive FAQ about STEP that will answer any questions you may have about the program … but we wanted to let you know how it’s going to roll out this week so you can plan accordingly. Here’s how it will go:

On Wednesday, February 29 at 12 noon PST, STEP will be opened to those who have tickets they want to sell. We’ll be emailing everybody who bought tickets through our Pre-Sale or Main Sale in the next two days, inviting you to sell your extra tickets into STEP. If you’re one of these people, watch your inbox for that email (if you don’t get an email by Thursday, visit and select “Missing STEP email” from the drop down menu). People selling tickets into STEP will be credited the face value of the ticket and any delivery fees, but not the original service fees; Burning Man will cover the credit card merchant fees for the refund. You’ll be able to sell your tickets into STEP anytime until August 7, 2012 (if they are being held at Will Call), after which STEP will be closed.

On Friday, March 2 at 12 noon PST, we’ll open up STEP to those wanting tickets, inviting those who registered for the Pre-Sale and Main Sale but did not receive tickets to join the “want tickets” queue, on a first-come first-served basis. If you are one of those people, watch your inbox for an email containing sign up information in the next few days (if you don’t get an email by Thursday, visit and select “Missing STEP email” from the drop down menu). When you opt to turn your original Pre-Sale or Main Sale registration into a sign up for the “want tickets” list, you will be signed up as requesting the same number of tickets through STEP as you originally requested.

When a ticket becomes available through STEP, the person at the front of the queue will be sent an email giving them an opportunity to purchase the ticket(s). Tickets will be sold at face value of the original ticket, plus service ($6/ticket + $1/order) and Will Call delivery fees ($12/order). You will only be offered the next ticket(s) available; unfortunately, we’re not able to maintain three queues for three separate ticket price points, so you will only have the option of whatever price point comes up next in the queue. If you decline the ticket(s) or don’t purchase them within 72 hours of their becoming available, the next person in the queue will be given the opportunity to purchase them. If you decline a ticket, you will lose your place in the queue and will not be able to sign up again.

All tickets purchased through STEP are non-transferable, and will be held at Will Call for pick up. If you purchase a ticket through STEP but then decide you cannot attend the event, you can sell it back into STEP for somebody else to purchase, as long as you do it before August 7, 2012.

If you have any questions, please review our FAQ.

About the author: Will Chase

Will Chase first attended Burning Man 2001. He was Burning Man's Web Team Project Manager and Webmaster from 2004-2009, and the Operations Manager and member of the Art Council for the ARTery (Burning Man's art department headquarters in Black Rock City) from 2003-2008. In 2009, he transitioned into the Communications Department, where his responsibilities include global communication strategy, authoring the Jackrabbit Speaks Newsletter, content management for the Burning Man website, coordination of Burning Man's social networking efforts, and acting as editor for the Burning Blog. Tales of his sordid adventures can be found on his website.

400 thoughts on “Rolling Out the STEP System

  • One other factor for everyone to consider is there may be a lot of counterfeit tickets out there for sale on the secondary market. Where else can someone make $1000 with just paper and ink. I know there are several anti-counterfeiting effects built into the ticket, but there’s a big incentive when the price and demand gets this high. It would be a huge disapointment for someone who shells out a chunk of change for a ticket and then gets turned away at the gate because it’s bogus. The STEP program really is the best way to know that the ticket you buy is truly authentic. I hope that the BORG recognise this and take steps to head off this potential land mine. My friends and I bought our tickets in early August last year and there were cases of counterfeit tickets floating around. This year with all of the hype I fear that this may become a serious problem.

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  • My time stamp is 1210 and have not been offered tickets.
    I see posts ten days ago from1208 time stamps getting tickets – any 1209s been successful yet?

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  • Ah yes, quiet like the sounds of silence, or the grave, depends on your context.
    Some reports are that the Step program doesn’t seem to be releasing ‘tickets’ or the right to pickup a ticket at will call. It does seem that the BORG are/is cross checking names and credit cards for duplicates meaning if you buy one of the code tickets (the 10,000) you will not be eligible for STEP or low income tickets.
    Hmmm, the more complex you make something that should be simple the more likely the plan will not accomplish its intended purpose. The more time spent on the acquisition of tickets and the trying to figure out how to maximize the tickets the less time will be available for planning to go, and possibly (an unintended consequence) of spending more time planning on doing something else.
    So far the ‘quiet’ stretches to many camps, maybe it is just me, but it is too quiet.


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  • i think it’s weird if you get some of the 10k tickets that you aren’t eligible for STEP. i don’t get it the point. the 10k disbursement was to help you get the minimum number needed to make the camp happen. but if we want to have a camp with more than just the minimum, shouldn’t we be allowed to have STEP augment the 10k tickets? especially since STEP is non-transferrable.

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  • I received 2 tickets through STEP on Saturday March 17th. My email confirmation time stamp was 12:08:09.

    hope this helps. Keep the faith people! It’s gonna happen…

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  • @ Ghost:

    “It does seem that the BORG are/is cross checking names and credit cards for duplicates meaning if you buy one of the code tickets (the 10,000) you will not be eligible for STEP or low income tickets.”

    That would seem to be false. There are people on here who have said they’ve gotten STEP tix. On the other hand, the codes have not been released for the 10,000 tix to either theme camps or mutant vehicles, and once those codes are released, they don’t have to be used before 3/30. (Or maybe later if they extend the redemption date because they are so far past the deadline they announced for distribution of codes.)

    More likely, virtually zero tix were turned into STEP. If you had a ticket you didn’t want to use, the current StubHub price is $1585, while you would have to take a loss on STEP. And the Borg has encouraged private sales at face. I thought a dozen tickets might get turned in, and a friend thought I was being wildly optimistic.

    The Borg told the theme camp organizer list that the camps eligible for the 10k allocation had been pre-selected for a specific quantity, and that if your camp wasn’t pre-selected, you weren’t getting any tix. They never said what would happen to the tix pre-allocated to camps that ended up not returning. My guess is that those tix will be going into STEP at $390. I’m also guessing they will have at least 2k tix from the 10k because of non-returns, so they can announce that STEP was a huge success because all 2000 people in STEP got offered tix and they are ready to open STEP for more names.

    And in the tradition of openness that the Borg has shown throughout this entire process, they will never admit that any unclaimed tix from the 10k went into STEP.

    If you were the Borg, and your goal was to help scalpers get rich, what would you have done differently?

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  • just a step reminder – the average ticket request was 1.7 so the 2000 on step should need about 3400 tickets. step was to reopen when they were sold tickets thru step to a couple of hundred in the system? – has anyone seen the queue open? a suggestion to Bmorg if you reopen the queue when down to 1800 in line let 100 people in the queue so there are 1900 in line then 1800 … so August 15th there aren’t 2000 disappointed in line burners. Sent in a ? about the 6th of March got the auto reply that a human hand would answer – no hands left? It would be nice if Bmorg would release #s like how many people have received tickets through step. ticketless and stepless in MT

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  • We got 2 tickets at $320 through STEP. We got through between 12:07 and 12:09. We got our tickets last week. Not a perfect system but it’s working for some people. We didn’t game the system at all, just went along and now we have tickets.

    I still don’t understand why not link tickets to people. Gifting tickets is so shy of an adequate answer it doesn’t even qualify.

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  • i just feel like i have to post here and say i was not a believer in the STEP program but i got a ticket.

    THANK YOU BMORG for setting this up

    THANK YOU ticket donators for choosing STEP and making so many of us happy!

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  • congrats rob! we are anxiously awaiting 4 tickets in our group too. hopefully the initial prediction that the initial 2k tickets in STEP will be filled comes true…

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  • Just got an e-mail saying Step was closed for me and I wouldn’t be getting any more info on tickets. It pretty much said “TFB…. But don’t give up…Keep looking into friends and the secondary market for tickets”. I am SO DONE with Bman and all the “we’re better than you are” attitudes. This whole experience has been a slap in the face and I’m beginning to think that the dry desert has absorbed the Default World. I’m unsubscribing to the JRS and I’m done reading updates and blogs…. So go ahead and blast my comment here and say mean things to me…. I won’t be reading them.

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  • Hi LittleByrd,

    Do you have a STEP Confirmation email, if so you are still in the running for a ticket, I think the email stated that no one else was able to join it.

    Not sure if this helps, keep those hopes up.


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  • I have a 1210 time stamp and haven’t received a ticket offer yet. But sounds like some folks with 1208 got tickets. Slowly but surely I’m hoping :-)

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  • I have have noticed a few posts stating that people have tickets they will not be using, but do not want to use the STEP program for various understandable reasons- if you are one of these people please read–
    I know this may be a far stretch, but I am going to try anyways because I am willing to work for this.

    Although I have not yet been to the burn, my life over the last year and a half has transformed me into a burner.
    I am an active member/ volunteer in my local community, offering many hours of my time along with my creative ideas and energy. This includes volunteering time & energy towards freezer burn & a number of Calgary burner events.

    I am feeling a strong pull towards burning man this year as I am feeling ready and excited to experience the playa. The only thing that I’m missing is a ticket

    Given the chance I know that I would be a positive addition to the playa, so if anyone has a ticket to sell at face value (I of course would also pay any fees) please contact me at paintedyellow here: paintedyellow (at) . I would be very grateful for the opportunity.

    Thanks :)

    Laura xoxo

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  • A suggestion for the STEP program:

    I signed up about 15 minutes after the program went live, and haven’t yet been able to purchase a ticket yet.

    It would be nice if Burning Man would occasionally report how many ticket have been made available for sale thru STEP. As it is right now, I have no idea whether I’m first in line for a ticket or 1,000th in line!

    It would go a long wait to help re-establish damaged credibility if Burning Man would be a bit more transparent about the status of STEP tickets.

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  • STEP update: I just received 2 tix through STEP at the $240 level. The time stamp on my notification email for entrance into STEP was 12:10pm……keeping the faith for everyone else.

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