Harvesting Brains Around Group Ticketing

On the night before Halloween, Burning Man ate our brains.

Ticket maven Nimbus and tech wizard CameraGirl gathered a group of Burners into a room in San Francisco and asked us to brainstorm about that bugbear, that boogeyman of challenges we face as a culture: Group Ticketing. The meeting of the minds included game theorists, theme camp leaders, artists, volunteers, families, senior staff, and ticket industry experts.

Braaains!!! Photo by Leori Gill

This wasn’t a meeting for hashing out the details of a ticket distribution process. It was a way for the people who run the ticket process to harness some of the energy and ideas of a diverse bunch of Burners (as described in the “WHAT DOES THE FUTURE OF BURNING MAN LOOK LIKE” section of “Rebuilding BRC 2012”).

By the time we were done, our brains were literally gone, eaten from our heads by zombies. In case you didn’t realize it, Burning Man ticketing is HARD.

Now that Burning Man tickets can be expected to sell out each year, we need new, creative solutions to address the challenges of ticketing. Burners are smart people, by and large, so the organization figures we’re the right people to ask.

This wasn’t the first such salon. They even held one on playa this year with a bunch of techies. The conversation started in January, right after IT happened. The lottery had unintended social consequences — the fear-driven ticket orgy at the beginning of the process left organizers of key groups without tickets. Even if some group members did get tickets, the groups couldn’t pull off their projects without every key member present. Since they didn’t all have tickets, planning became really difficult.

Even though it all worked out pretty much okay, thanks to Burning Man’s decision to carefully delegate 10,000 tickets to camps and other groups, this uncertainty and the shift from how things had always been caused fear and anxiety in our community.

In the good old days, we could just sell individual tickets and be fine. But now that everyone and their stepcousin wants to go to Burning Man, we have to plan for the inevitability that tickets will be scarce. We have to find a way to make sure that the groups who make Black Rock City what it is — theme camps, art teams, mutant vehicles, families, what-have-you — get their people to the playa, or else they may not be able to make their contribution at all.

We considered many thorny dilemmas. How do we preserve groups that form the city’s institutions, like the Temple crew or your favorite art car, while still allowing for the evolution of new groups and the entropy of dying ones? How do we quantify the merit of a group? Do we ask its neighbors? Track it on the MOOP Map?

How do we make sure groups are taken care of as well as individuals without groups? Do we even need to protect groups, or can we just go back to individual tickets and trust that new groups will naturally organize and take care of themselves?

When you dig into it, and we did, you quickly come to realize that there ARE no easy answers. Like I said, this stuff is hard. But it’s good to see the hard work being done, and it’s reassuring that Burning Man’s picking our brains as part of the process.

About the author: Jon Mitchell

is the managing editor at Burning Man. His playa name is Argus. He co-wrote a big story about spending 24 hours at the Temple of Juno in 2012, which lives at templestories.com. He's been a Burner since 2008. You can find him on Twitter at @ablaze.

159 thoughts on “Harvesting Brains Around Group Ticketing

  • let’s not forget that in august there was suddenly a ticket surplus as the market flooded with all those tickets bought out of fear

    please don’t overstate the demand

    go back to a simple first come, first served system. make the tickets non-transferrable.

    problem solved.

    the only people buying the tickets will be those who actually plan to go to the event.

    Report comment

  • First come first served, But plans change, What if it’s still first come first serve but if you bye 2 or more tickets at least one of the original people (Name on ticket) has to be there. If I bye 4 tickets and two people change there plans at the last minute I can have two other people go in there place as long as I am there at the gate.?

    Report comment

  • If it were not for tickets being gifted to me and my friend, I would not have been able to experience such a beautiful life changing event. We are now trying to plan a theme camp and get everyone from the original experience involved. Please do not forget that this is not a place for only people who have been. It a place to find your true self and become part of the burner community. I was welcomed into that sanctity with open arms and will continue to do the same next year.

    Report comment

  • It only just sold out in 2011 and was nowhere near selling out in 2012. There is not a huge demand problem.

    If Inticketing got it right in 2011 there would never have been a problem with the initial rush of ticket buyers crashing the servers, and therefore the lottery would never have been introduced.

    Just make it first come first serve with a ticketing company who has a clue what they are doing and the problem goes away.

    Report comment

  • I want to second the sentiment above – please do not forget about the influx of tickets in August and all the people that were left holding onto unused (but paid for) tickets. I don’t know what it was like everywhere else, but those of us in Canada didn’t get our hard copy tickets until the last open sale of 10000 tickets were released. And a lot of people were left holding unused tickets.

    Go back to 2011, but without the tiers, and with a reliable ticketing vendor.

    Report comment

  • Yes, the population peak for 2012 was down from 2011 but that doesn’t mean fewer people passed through the gate. A participant I talked to who’d arrived on Wednesday said there were a lot of dusty cars and trucks heading south on 447 as he was heading north. I suspect they were a lot of first-timers discouraged by the afternoon dust storms on Monday and Tuesday. Like trying to fill a tub with a hole, the high point is less than the total going in. It will be interesting to see how many titkets were collected at the gate, if they ever reveal that figure.

    Report comment

  • Last year was a good year, but far from what which was 2011 and for that matter 2010. The cause can be said to be that many camps folded, or were unable to effect their project due to funding and/or lack of people. Doubt and uncertainty are horrible elements and directly and negatively impact planning.
    What happended last year will effect this year’s event. Many camps are gone. Many burners are electing to go to only a regional. The Borg have to demonstrate competence NOW. A repeat of last year could permanently cripple the event, it is that close.
    Planning requires certainty, right now there is no permit, and the lawsuit with Pershing County continues. Hey, we don’t even have a theme.
    What to do? first come first serve, guarantees for camps, no tiers, limitation of reselling/transfer of tickets — anything but what you did last year on the lottery, that was a failure failure failure (except for your pocketbook)

    Report comment

  • 1. First come, first serve ticket sales.

    2. Limit two tickets per person and tickets are NON-TRANSFERRABLE. This is essential to squash the outrageous scalping that took place last year. Print the name of the ticket purchaser on the tickets rathern than the ticket ID# that’s usually on the back and require that they show up with ID. It’ll be 10 extra seconds at the entry gate to verify that the tickets are being used by the person who made the purchase, no big deal. Plans change and people can’t always make it, so anyone who purchases tickets but can’t use them simply returns them to the Burning Man ticket exchange and then they’re sold again from the original source. The purchase price (minus fees) is refunded to the purchaser and some other lucky burner gets to walk away with tickets. This is tricky with physical tickets rather than will call, so hard copy tickets must be returned no later than 2 weeks prior to the event. This will have to be made clear to purchasers at the time of purhcase so they’re aware of the risk of requesting hard copy tickets rather than will call tickets. Will call orders can be cancelled up to 48 hours prior to the event.

    3. Will Call last year was HORRENDOUS. Shockingly poorly organized and woefully slow. Burning Man Org needs to address this issue. I’ve stood in much longer will call lines in the past but I’ve never spent two hours waiting to get my tickets. This should be a simple solution… it’s not brain surgery to check for a name on a list. If someone is having an issue with their tickets, move them to the side and have them assisted in a manner that doesn’t hold up the hundreds of people waiting in line behind them.

    Report comment

  • Scalpers must be stopped. Even legit artists, groups and camps may succumb to easy money.

    Presently, some groups are organized primarily for profit.

    Nontransferable tickets with info and picture of the purchaser? Or, ID at gate? Would be OK to to charge $5 to cancel last minute.

    Report comment

  • I’m still not sure why there is reluctance to go to non-transferable on the part of the org. If it’s a culture issue, you could give it a try for the pre-sale. High price non-transferable ticket. See what the demand there is.

    If it’s logistics, is it on the ticketing end or the Gate end? Ticketing logistics could be solved with a better ticketing vendor. I’m all for supporting burners and independents, but not at the expense of the whole event.

    If it’s Gate, then that’s where the brainstorming can come in.

    Report comment

  • Last September, I decided that 2012 I would finally go to the burn. I entered the lottery within moments of it opening, and got the two highest tier tickets I put in for. My daughter got the one that she put in for. We were later able to get a fourth, highest tier ticket for her new beau. My camp of four ended up being a camp of 10 when six friends all bought (for cheap) or were given tickets in the 3 days’ pre-event. Every person that I knew who wanted to go, went. The last minute folks seemed to have paid way less than I did. I’m not complaining. I work festivals, and don’t really think that even the highest tier is that much to pay for the 8 or 9 days we were there……. but, the stress to folks who have been going for years and years was so painful. I wish you the best and send my good energy that you will find a solution that keeps the pain level low.

    Report comment

  • First this time listen to the community. Last year you ignored the warning the lottery would be a nightmare and look what happened. There may not be a perfect solution here. I think first come first served, non transferable is the best you can do. If we want to give people the chance to gift tickets, build that into the system. Hold some tickets back in case some vital theme camps fail to get the tickets they need. You did not reach capacity this year and maybe 2011 was a peak. Please put out the theme so people can plan.

    Report comment


    In my estimation, there are ten people who prefer a policy of first come, first-served, NON-TRANSFERABLE tickets for every individual who prefers a complex ticket strategy that will supposedly protect our principle of gifting. Gifting will not only still exist at BM, gifting as well as the other nine principles will thrive if we as a community make a switch to NON-TRANSFERABLE TICKETS.

    You guys are awesome, keep up the hard work.

    Report comment

  • Please do “first come, first serve” non transferable. My hubby stayed on the phone for hours 2 yrs ago but I got a ticket. He put in the work and time plus paid attention when they went up for sale. Please do not do a lottery, please, please please. Have u thought about turning it over to Ticketmaster and add the processing fee? Limit to 2 tickets per person. Problem solved.

    Any idea when the theme will be announced? Want to start my art project :) love u guys. I am sure it is not easy!

    Report comment

  • im already planning my trip, but am holding off on a few ideas because i want to know what the ticket situation is before i start making plans with others. i know ill get there one way or the other! i have to say, i think making it a commitment to go when you buy your ticket is a fabulous idea!

    Report comment

  • The key cost for most of us international visitors to Burning Man is that of an international flight to the USA. The current ticketing arrangements make it a big gamble to take advantage of airline sales around Christmas time. This year I’m swallowing hard and booking my flight before BM tickets go on sale (gulp!). Here’s hoping some sort of ticket sale system is devised that allows me to get a ticket or it will be a week’s west coast vacation!

    Report comment

  • After all the hype earlier this year, I thought all the spare tickets were with scalpers. I was unlucky in the lottery. Burners I knew said they had no spares. Then 2 weeks before the event, burners I knew had tickets for sale. But too late for me to organise international travel.

    It seems a lot of burners bid using multiple credit cards, and got more than they needed. It saddens me that the reality of a lot of the ticketing problems were caused by burners, and not scalpers. I get no pleasure from the fact that these burners then had problems selling their spares in the weeks before the burn.

    There are enough tickets for those who want to go, I am sure of it. Can we not eliminate multiple bidding from the same name, at the same address, using a number of credit cards? I thought by entering the lottery once, with one credit card, I was doing what all other burners would do. Seems I was wrong. I ended up not going. But I WILL be back in 2013. I have to go home!

    A ticketing strategy should not be based around those who may want to sell their tickets at some point because they can no longer go – it should be based around the majority who will go. For the sake of fairness, I would rather buy a ticket and then lose the money if I have to drop out, rather than have a system which is designed to accommodate the minority who wish to sell or transfer their tickets.


    Report comment

  • First Come, First Served.
    Really, it is that simple. Eliminate the hype and people will not buy out of fear. Last year didn’t work very well and much confusion was abound. Consider making the pre Holiday ticket sales price reasonable (I have purchased before in the past as Christmas Gifts but last year was alittle bit out of hand) and go back to first come, first served general ticket sales. Please….

    Report comment

  • I too echo the hope that the powers that be listen to the community. It’s one hell of a crowd source and we are your target audience. We currently are telling you what we need. It comes down to one word. Certainty. Provide certainty and you’ve got the problem licked.

    It is my opinion that Inticketing has performed poorly for too many years in a row and that they need to be replaced. Period.

    Here is my idea…… Brace your selves! It involves names on/associated with tickets and tickets only transferable through STEP.

    1, Open up for sale 15,000 tickets for the pre sale at full price. Maximum of 2 tickets per purchaser and each one must have a name attached to it. Any name but it has to have a name associated with it.

    2, Start the main sale first come first served with one name one ticket for the next 30,000 tickets.

    3, Sell the next 10,000 tickets first come first served with maximum 2 tickets per purchaser with a name attached to one ticket and the other ticket labeled as gift with no ID check required with that ticket.

    4, Hold back 5,000 tickets for contingency, bribery and the good o’l boy system.

    5, All tickets except gift are transferable only through STEP and STEP becomes active as soon as the first person wants to sell a ticket back. If regular ticket sales are still proceeding when STEP starts up then the purchaser in the first come first served line has the option of buying the available STEP ticket or whatever tier they FCFS in to. When the open sales sell out registration for future STEP tickets automatically begins at the end of the FCFS line.

    Good Day.

    Report comment

  • After 11 years of burning, a pilgrimage takes a lot of planning and effort (post-apocalyptic living is not for everyone) just sell me a f*g ticket and I’ll be there with advance notice and the posse will come together. I’ll see you there pinches Burners! Love. First come, first served. I’ll see you there interplanetary homies!

    Report comment

  • Please listen to what we are saying, no more lottery! Please do not use Inticketing again, just because they are a “burner” company, they should not be given the contract again after so many failures. Use a proven company. I am not a fan of Tickemaster’s fees, but they always get the job done. Please, please, please, do the right thing.

    Report comment

  • Planning on making the same mistakes again? Really? Part of the thrill of going to BM is being poised to purchase tickets on the day and hour they become available. My feeling is if you can’t figure out how to buy a ticket then you don’t belong on the playa. If the Borg wants to make sure first timers are able to purchase tickets then hold back 5000 tickets and have first timers that dont know how to purchase a ticket write an essay about why they should be able to secure one.

    Report comment

  • please do a first come first serve non transferable, names on the tickets, limit 2 tickets per purchase and let burners be responsible for their own selves.

    Report comment

  • I think Tim may have a point. The glut of tickets that came out near the burn was a problem. They came out too late for folks who really wanted to go. I think first come, first served, identity based, you can sell tickets back through STEP (hey everyone let’s acknowledge that STEP worked pretty well), but after June 1st you can only sell back at half the ticket price. That way people still have an insentive to sell back unwanted tickets, but they have a greater insentive to make plans early enough for others to take advantage of available tickets.

    Report comment

  • +1 Peace’s comment STEP did seem to work well and last minute sell back paying higher fees (maybe not 1/2) but the penalty could offset the cost of discounted for Volunteers tickets

    Count me as in with the First come first serve, non transferable, outside of STEP camp

    hold reserve tickets for Artists and major camps (equal to number of people needing early entry passes maybe? or who have a track record? discuss)

    and SCREW Ticketmaster after working in preforming arts for 20 years I can say I’d rather have the money go to an honest independent scalper than those scum sucking pieces of shit at ticketmaster they are scalpers with a monopoly that try to rip off both the patron and the producer

    Report comment

  • I say get rid of the pricing tiers and just have one price (with exception of Low Income). I think it used to make sense to have the tiers to incentivize Burners to buy tickets early and help generate funding for BMORG operations, but with the event selling out instantly, this is no longer necessary. So pick a fair middle ground price and stick with it.

    Report comment

  • First come, first sever, non-transferable. So simple! O’ never had ticketmaster crash
    ever, maybe check out how they do it.
    Thanks for all you do!!

    Alex, if plans change that’s life, it is always changing. I have had to eat things I have paid for but could not use. It may also help slow down the buying frenzy if the buyer knew that they were making a $200.00 plus commitment eight months ahead?

    Report comment

  • @Alex, we put up with heat, dust, portapotties, etc. Making a real committment six month ahead of time doesn’t seem like a ral imposition. BM is one of the top priorities in my life. I can make that comittment now, for next year, and for the year after that.

    Report comment

  • Black Rock City is the most amazing place on the planet. It’s citizens are some of the most creative people alive. Year after year, this collective mass of energy “brings it” to the palya. I mean that in a literal sense. The amount of cargo hauled out there is truly mind boggling. This horde includes artists, performers, builders, technicians and organizers. A lot of the same faces every year. Burning Man wouldn’t be what it is without these people. BMORG recognized this last year when it allocated the last 10,000 tickets. Was it fair? I don’t know, but it’s what helped save BM from becoming something different. For better or worse, who can say? Continuity can be good, but so can change. I’m in favor of insuring that people who “make it happen”, weather long time attendees, or newcomers, are able to contribute. They’ll need a ticket to be able to do that.

    The tricky part is identifying these people. Sure, there is a database of who did art, or organized a theme camp, or volunteered for something, and they certainly need to be there. But there are also a bunch of folks who are under the radar. The guy with the hot dog stand, the cool bike that makes you go oooohhhh, the random funny encounters that make you laugh hysterically. And of course, the people who run your neighborhood bar. All essential people, but how do we identify who they are?

    One possibility is to set up a checkpoint on 447, maybe just outside Nixon. Look inside each vehicle to see what they are bringing to Burning Man. The obvious art cars, crazy structures, and colorful artifacts get waved thru. Closer inspections looking for quantities of PVC pipe, parachutes, lumber, LED lights, rebar, decorated bikes, bungee cords, and alcohol in obvious excess, will help determine passage. Vehicles with nothing but enough food and water for it’s occupants, and no more, will be turned around, and directed to the nearest Home Depot or Wall Mart.

    BM works best when everyone contributes. No scalpers, no moochers, no plug & play camps. A giant pot luck, with no limitations. Show us what you’re bringing, and we’ll get you a ticket.

    Report comment

  • I have been to BM 11 years straight. I don’t mind the line to get in. I actually love the exodus pulsing to get out. I think transferable tickets goes along with gifting and you can not take that away. Also, people should be allowed to buy tickets at the gate. Duh.

    Report comment

  • I have made the very gutsy decision of moving forward with my art projects for Burning Man 2013 there’s no way I can turn back now, without being out a bunch of cash. I’m sure that I’m not the only 1 that makes plans the moment they step off the playa. it takes a whole year to plan I mean that’s why we have the countdown right. It sounds like the people have spoken first come first serve.

    Report comment

  • I am a first timer. With the need to plan and build for transport, it is difficult to start without certainty of tickets for our 5 participants. The opinion seems to be professionally run, non transfer, FIFO ticket sales with an alotment for the known camps and contributors. Unused tickets are tragic. Attending with spirit, giving, creativity takes planing. With so many ideas, i will connect with a Seattle area burner to discuss what works.

    Report comment

  • 1st come 1st served. 1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.1st come 1st served.

    Thank you for your kind attention to this matter and best of luck on the lawsuit!

    Report comment

  • I know that a fair number of people were able to finagle a ticket at the last minute this year. That’s nice, but it is difficult to put together a significant art project, theme camp, art car, performance event, or other major gifts to the community with individuals who decide to go at the last minute. Cetainly the spontaneous stuff is lots of fun, but many of the art pieces and events that we love take months, and sometimes years, of team work to produce. The 2013 ticketing plan should take that reality into account. Only making tickets available through a first-come, first-served mechanisms may look good to individuals, but let’s not lose track of the fact that much of what makes Burning Man amazing is the long-term contribution of teams.

    Report comment

  • “In the good old days, we could just sell individual tickets and be fine”

    in the good old days, the LLC didn’t exist and didn’t sell tickets.

    there are no ‘good old days’ after the borg fucking killed burning man.

    Report comment

  • I agree with Motz. He has some good ideas. Especially the gifting of tickets. Somehow I know that those 10,000 ‘Gift’ tickets will still be scalped. My only other request is that you do not use a professional company like ticketmaster/stubhub. They charge way too much for their ‘convenience’ fees.

    From Motz..

    1, Open up for sale 15,000 tickets for the pre sale at full price. Maximum of 2 tickets per purchaser and each one must have a name attached to it. Any name but it has to have a name associated with it.

    2, Start the main sale first come first served with one name one ticket for the next 30,000 tickets.

    3, Sell the next 10,000 tickets first come first served with maximum 2 tickets per purchaser with a name attached to one ticket and the other ticket labeled as gift with no ID check required with that ticket.

    4, Hold back 5,000 tickets for contingency, bribery and the good o’l boy system.

    5, All tickets except gift are transferable only through STEP and STEP becomes active as soon as the first person wants to sell a ticket back. If regular ticket sales are still proceeding when STEP starts up then the purchaser in the first come first served line has the option of buying the available STEP ticket or whatever tier they FCFS in to. When the open sales sell out registration for future STEP tickets automatically begins at the end of the FCFS line.

    Report comment

  • I think we have to make the tickets transferrable… for example, next year I’m buying a ticket for myself and one of my two sons. It won’t be clear until very late in the game which one will be able to go, so putting a nontransferrable name on the second ticket won’t work. The limit of two tickets per buyer is ALL we need to stop scalping. Names on the tickets will just add confusion to the normal process of last minute ticket shuffling between friends… please: DON’T add names to the tickets. I have a very elderly mother; what happens if in the last week before BM I unexpectidly have to give my ticket to someone else, but it has my name on it? It will be too late for STEP and I probably already know a deserving Burner who needs it anyway. Won’t that person be afraid that they will wait through the entire line only to experience problems when reaching the front?

    Report comment

  • Dont do mistakes again with non transferable tickets.Come on.Think guys.Want to avoid scams? Lets go with names on tickets.But with chance to return ticket back to Bm.I think thats would be right.

    Report comment

  • Offer a percentage of the tickets to the camps that participated in this year’s BM. The rest of the tickets first come first serve and transferable.

    This will force people to be more involved in contributing to the Burn and ensure that long time burners are not isolated from future events because of greedy ticket scalpers.

    Report comment

  • Yes. For those of us who wanted to plan an art project AHEAD OF TIME, didn’t get tickets, and then watched with dismay in August and even after the event started as tickets started appearing, some for free, sat at home and bitched continuously as non-participatory people snatched up free tickets and hopped on their buses and broke down somewhere outside of Reno PLEASE NON-TRANSFERRABLE TICKETS with the exception of through the BM organization! And maybe with some tickets released later to theme camps missing key members, but all in all, if you’re not planning months and months ahead, you’re probably not an obsessed artist who wants to bring their special something to the festival.

    Report comment

  • For each ticket you buy, you must supply the name of the person who will use it. That name will be printed on the ticket. Tickets will be checked at the gate, and the name on the ticket must match the name on the attendee’s driver’s license.

    Provide a way for people to “return” their tickets. People who return their tickets should not get a full refund; instead, they should be charged a $50 cancellation fee. This will discourage speculation. Set a date after which tickets may no longer be returned. If that date passes and someone realizes they can’t use their ticket, tough luck. They just made a donation to Burning Man.

    Report comment

  • I strongly disagree that gifting is obstructed by going non-transferable tickets. If anything, non-transferable tickets improve gifting.

    I’ve bought a will-call-only decompression tickets for friends. I’ll buy two will-call-only regional tickets for friends this year. I simply enter their name when I buy the ticket and email them, done.

    What happens if they cannot come? I’ll simply change the name. What happens if you don’t let me change the name, but instead simply refund me the money? You’ve only made my life simpler! I’m serious, just go non-transferable and will-call-only with no-questions-asked refunds, problem largely solved. Is BM worried that refunds might screw up finances? Fine, simply make STEP the only ticket transfer option.

    I’m fine with a special ticket distribution for critical camp personnel as well, but let’s try keeping it under 2k tickets, not the 10k done this year. Any camps requesting these should write a “paragraph of shame” for every person requesting a ticket, again the ticket becomes non-transferable with that person’s name. Recall that pee funnel camp tried scalping their distributed tickets.

    Instead, you should offer 1k to 5k ticket to “burners who participate in spreading the ten principles”. These tickets should be available to anyone who has attended a week long *regional* burn, or done two weekend burns, during the last two years. We enforce this by requiring proof of purchase for the regional event tickets for every ticket under the same name.

    In addition, art cars should receive one bonus point towards DMV qualification if they participated in a week long regional event.

    Report comment

  • Whatever you do, NO LOTTERY. The lottery was a confusing system, and caused so many people to request tickets from so many email addresses that you ended up with all the tickets gone early in the year, many long time burners left out, and then tons of tickets on Craigslist in late August when it was too late for many of us to go. First come first serve always worked well in the past.

    Report comment

  • Hi team,

    First off, how WONDERFUL that you are reaching out and asking the community for our opinion. It feels good after the frustration of last year to feel like we have a say here.

    I know it has been said maybe times before above, but I wanted to echo:
    – 1st come, 1st served: Frankly, this makes it so that those who plan well in advance get to go. Radical self reliance!!

    – Non transferable: This would go a long way. Maybe we can make STEP available to those who need to transfer their tickets because that went really well. When my STEP came up, there was no ‘sell it to a friend’ issue in the first place because that ticket would need to be in my name. I am sure this discouraged scalpers (which frankly were out there)

    – One price: I just think this streamlines the process. On the other hand, the low income and scholarship program I felt went really well this year. I had a few friends who really just couldn’t afford those higher ticket prices and ended up getting one this way. Love that program.

    – Directed distribution: I think this saved the burn last year. Maybe we need to consider the fact that burning man is getting really popular now and a directed distribution needs to be considered from the outset

    Thank you for all your hard work!!

    Report comment

  • The ticket system crashed in 2010 because people rushed the sale in order to get the cheapest tickets. Remove the tiers, and that will solve that issue.
    I think the ticket-sell-out issue has peaked. So many folks bought tickets and then bailed last minute that it was obvious the fear caused by the lottery encouraged the sell out, not the community or desire to attend the event.
    Just go with a tier-free, normal sale and let the rest sort itself out. It took months for the tickets to sell out in 2010, so anyone serious about going should be able to work it out in time.
    I’m not sure what I think about non-transferable tickets; we got our tickets via lottery in 2011, decided not to go, and sold them to friends. Then we changed our minds and got tickets about 2 weeks before the event. That would have been impossible had our tickets or the second set of tickets been non-transferable. If we must go with non-transferable tickets, definitely have STEP set up for those who decide not to go, or those who decide to go late in the game.
    I believe all the freak out and grief over the issue is unnecessary. This community can overcome; let’s just use a simple, straight-forward system and go with that.
    Love you guys and can’t wait to see you next year!

    Report comment

  • Theme camps and artists should have access to the tickets they need to build.

    They should be allotted without fear of them scalping. Theme camp people are not the same people who scalp.

    Report comment

  • 12 yr Burner who didn’t “win” in the lottery this year.
    1st come first serve, non-transferrable ticket with name on it.
    If I can’t go, it goes back to BM to admin.

    Give us time to plan, esp living 2500kms away! Release the tickets in Jan and mail them immediately, so we know! My friend (the only person to get a tx in our 15pp camp) received her 2012 ticket 1 week before the event started and she applied in Jan. Not cool!

    May the Force of Logic and Simplicity be with you!

    Report comment

  • One other thing! I noticed someone above talking about unprepared campers coming through the gate. As a greeter, I saw cars of people coming in with absolutely nothing!! Just themselves and a bag of cloths. Upon speaking with them, it turned out they were going to their pre rented RV where everything was taken care of for them.

    GATE – What happened to turning people away who did not look prepared?!?! What happened to having enough food and water and shelter in your car to be able to take care of yourself. I was saddened to watch these people roll past me without a clue in the world. One such car had no idea where they were camped and the ‘organizer’ wasn’t picking up their phone. We let them pass because there was nothing else to do about it but these people did not even have WATER. We need to do something about this.

    Report comment

  • Greeting’s Humans.. Here’s what I think
    *Decide on the limit of tickets.
    *First come First Serve.
    *And if U notice any Scalper’s overpricing it, Cancel the ticket.
    *Pls Do Not do the LOTTERY this year.. it was Stupid for some, and to Some too complicated.
    Camp BloPopOasis

    Report comment

  • Yeah, I think maybe the “Tiered” ticket system has outlived its usefulness. It creates more of a mad rush in the beginning to get those lower priced tickets. I know from experience that I can’t help but want a lower priced ticket, even though I can actually afford a higher priced one. I think so many us are now so programmed to want to get a lower price, on everything from eBay to Amazon to Craigslist, that you can’t help it. And the money you save on your ticket can then go towards playa costumes and supplies. But perhaps just averaging out the ticket tiers into one price (in addition to a certain amount of low income tix) would lessen the demand/frenzy/speculators. My ideas:

    1. First come first serve system
    2. One ticket price
    3. Transferrable only through STEP

    Report comment

  • Burners are smart and ambitious you say, but looking at eplaya there’s a flood of stupid ideas playing off of each other regarding how the ticketing should be handled. Please pay no attention to that. First come first serve regular ticketing is fair and easy and let’s organizers plan appropriately. Tickets come to the secondary market, and last year the week of the burn some people couldn’t get $150 out of tickets they paid $400+ for out of fear. Fear that the BMorg fostered by not being consistent about anything. My two cents is most people just want regular ticketing, first come first serve, that we can plan around. Don’t listen to every yahoo with an idea.

    Report comment

  • Please do not create a “preferred” class of Burners. You did that last year by redirecting the 10,000 tickets from open sale to hand-picked “essential” theme camps. I get that these camps have spent a small fortune over the years bringing their gifts to the playa, but predetermining who gets a ticket flies in the face of the very first principal:

    Radical Inclusion – Anyone may be a part of Burning Man. We welcome and respect the stranger. No prerequisites exist for participation in our community.

    Not all burners are associated with registered theme camps. There are so many veteran Burner individuals and small groups that come every year to make huge neighborhood contributions. Please don’t turn that into ‘Radical Exclusion’ where because you don’t belong to a mega-camp and your contribution has not been documented by BMOrg then you are not one of the Preferred Burner class.

    Please consider:
    *No tiered sales. Same price for all tickets.
    *First come, first served
    * Two ticket limit – no names. Life happens and gets it the way sometimes.
    *Do it soon – people have to start planning
    *Announce the theme! Again, people have to start planning

    All of this hype and speculation you are spinning is feeding the fear and promoting a sense of lack. Look at how many tickets suddenly became available at the last minute last year. It would be wonderful if instead of tickets going unused this year, they got into the hands of a Burner who is just dying to hear those two little words: Welcome Home!

    Report comment

  • The mistakes that have been made in the past are predictable and avoidable. Use an innovative, radical and playa friendly means to reach our most devoted constituents.

    Its clear that permission to buy a substantial percentage of BM tickets could best be provided to identifiable persons at the previous event, during a dust storm at a far away and previously unannounced location or two or three. These permissions might be made transferable. Those who are experienced and participating at BRC will be likely to be served by such a system. Some percentage of tickets should be sold in a manner that makes them likely to end up in the hands of those who have never been- and these should be equally accessible world wide-

    Report comment

  • One thing, please do NOT use Ticketmaster. From all my dealings, their “fee” is typically 50% of the ticket price. The fee for a $20 ticket is $10, the fee for a $40 ticket is $20… can you imagine their glee when they can charge a fee of $200 on a $400 ticket? Ughh, please no.

    Report comment

  • i’m curious to know of the 69 previous commenters, who of you went to the event pre ticket? pre trash fence, porta potties et al?
    who has a ticket from ’96? if you do you know how much it was and how you got it.
    maybe it’s time to check the moral compass and figure the course from there…

    Report comment

  • My first year was ’98. I believe the ticket cost was something like $65.00. I don’t remember if there were tiers. Getting the tickets on the website was easy, and there was no danger of selling out. There were about 15,000 people at the event that year. One of the coolest things in those years is that there were openings in the trash fence big enough to walk or ride a bike out of, so you had access to the vast playa beyond the event, a place with no cars, no art cars, no art, just hundreds of square miles of empty desert. Very cool, and very good for the soul to have all that space.

    Report comment

  • Dear burning man think tanks,
    1. Burning mans ‘Major’ theme camps should get first priority over any tickets. period.

    BM can get creative on requirements for ‘Major’ theme camps. Setting higher standard for theme camps will increase the basic infrastructure for BM

    -A solution to tracking theme camps and ticket sales is simple.

    -Theme camps will be required to register with BM officials prior to ticket sales.

    -They inform officials of camp name, and number of attending members, and their names (with a possible ID for eliminating theft).

    -Officials develop a web sight, where members of theme camps can purchase a ticket, that is reserved specifically for them online under their camp name, under their ID #, name or both.

    -Theme camps are allowed to grow by x amount of people each year. thus making for healthy growth management.

    – Any left over tickets can be lotto’ed off, or split into lotto and first come first serve basis for anyone who is almost a theme camp, based off a listed criteria. It would be like motivation to create! :)

    However, there should be lottery for those who are first timers. Heres why: I am not saying that we don’t want new people in burning man, I am simply saying that we need to manage our growth according to land use permits and federal laws that preserve the environment. Permits take time to grant, and EIRs and EIAs are time consuming and must be implemented before new permits allowing more people to attend BM are granted.

    Its a way to work with policy and stimulate the growth of BM.

    -Say your are a lotto’ed virgin, you comes for the first time. A Major theme camp adopts you, and he is now on the roll call for the following year, done deal. Your set for life and out of the lotto, hence making room for more virgins.

    -Personally I am convinced that this type of system will enhance BRC infrastructure growth to new artistic capacities and creativity. Most people are probably thinking about themselves and the guarantee that they will get to attend a huge rave at the end of the year.
    To me, I think, if action is not placed into the management of the growth of the city, your city will eventually loose it infrastructure, and deteriorate.

    Personally, If I had to choose between working harder to make my camp a ‘major’ theme camp in order to get seniority tickets, or risk not getting a ticket because I dint have the money to buy one at first sale due to first come first serve criteria, I would put in the extra work!!!

    Burning Man can be sooooooo much more in leu of its artistic ability, lets not let let that be jaded by loud music and drugs.
    -It is clear that BM needs to start thinking of new strategies for managing its city’s growth (which it obviously is), and while some may view this idea as a bad one right now, they will probably come back and say, ‘ya know. I think shes onto something!’


    Report comment

  • 1. Only 2 tiers of tickets.. Low income & regular

    2. Have names on the tickets. If the person whose name is on the ticket can’t make it
    then the only way for someone else to use that ticket is with a photocopy of the original person’s ID and a signed note stating the tickets are being signed over to X individual.

    3. Make sure the actual tickets arrive at least a month before the event. This is especially important for people coming from long distances that may be travelling to other places before the event.

    4. Unused tickets can be refunded at the gate for a $50 fee only within the first 24 hours of the event. Then allow those tickets to be sold at the gate..first come first served. Once they are gone if you don’t have a ticket you won’t get in.

    I think those are some good basic guidelines. I’m no ticket expert, but it seems like common sense to me. :)

    I would also suggest selling the tickets as early in the year as possible to that people can know if they have a ticket and have time to prepare. Be it art, costumes, accommodations..whatever.

    If you want to have a higher priced set of tickets to sell at Christmas I wouldn’t have a problem with that, but limit it to less than 5,000 tickets. Those people can subsidize the low income people.

    Hope that helps! Good luck with your ticket sales! I’m hoping to be there for 2013..as long as I can get a ticket. ;)

    Report comment

  • Yes, thank you for your work. Add my voice to the firstcomefirstserved chorus.

    I don’t think it will induce disaster – 2011 was certainly not a disaster and we have not proven that one will occur even if demand is higher than that year (I agree with the first few comments about hype and fear being created in 2012 rather than a much greater demand actually existing). We have proven that a lottery creates a mess and encourages poor planning.

    To make tickets non-transferable but allow each non-transferable ticket to be bought with one “gift” ticket seems reasonable to me. With tickets being sold last minute below cost this last year (I also had a friend who could not find anyone to sell to, and several who could no longer go once tickets were available), scalpers can’t have done too well.

    Report comment

  • Its simple, very simple. Dont fix what wasnt broken. In 2011, everyone who had thier shit together and wanted to go, bought a ticket when they went on sale. The servers crashed yes so you can get a handle on that. The people who wanted to go last minute had a harder time finding tickets. Thats life when you live it that way. DO NOT USE TICKEMASTER!!! They are corportae blood suckig devils and are probably wringing their hands already trying to leech onto this event. F THEM!!! Please go back to the way it was. It worked fine, really!

    Report comment

  • I’m not sure anybody is giving any advice that hasn’t been thought of. The reason there was a surplus of tickets last year is because a lot of burners decided not to go when the ticketing problems started in 2012. By the time people could get tickets, many burners had already planned other vacations. Now that the lottery system failed there are soooo many people planning on going. & if the problem is stable next year, or the year after that….eventually this festival will outgrow itself. It’s inevitable.

    Report comment

  • One of the beauties of BRC is that it’s an ongoing experiment, and gets to reinvent itself every year
    I’ll throw my vote in for single tier first-come first-served, names on tickets, with holiday season sales subsidizing a lower income tier.
    Come on BMORG give it a try!
    There’s always 2014 to try to smooth over whatever happens in 2013.

    Report comment

  • Ok. 2 possible solutions for the transferable/nontransferable debate

    1) Offer both transferable and non-transferable tickets. But have transferable tickets cost more.


    2) Tickets have names/need ID at the gate. But ARE transferable. And make transferring tickets a grueling a torturous process.


    *bonus option*
    3) complete craziness-> tickets at the gate only

    Report comment

  • Heres a random idea…

    Ditch the physical tickets.

    Go with first-come, first-served e-tickets. All tickets must have a name on them and can be printed at home and have a bar code on them.

    At the gate there is no longer a need for will call, which offsets the slight delay where the tickets are scanned and the holders photo Id checked.

    Groups of tickets could all have the same name, as long as that person is present. (let’s someone who is guaranteed to be going buy tickets for friends as long as they travel together)

    Allow tickets to be refunded back into step, and the nice thing is that you could keep step open right up until the event started as you don’t need to worry about physical tickets being returned or posted.

    I know a real ticket is nice, and easy to gift, but really it’s the twenty first century and we have the technology to do this stuff better nowadays.

    Report comment

  • I dont know if this has been addressed yet, it certainly has not been addressed by the BMORG. But has anyone who read the little blurb at the bottom of the Saturdays Black Rock Beacon from the event this year?

    It clearly says that almost 10,000 tickets went UNUSED, with a max total population of only 52,000 people. They were paid for, yet not used. Is there any information available to say that the majority of those tickets were from the Direct Distributed tickets?, because I seriously doubt these were from scalpers.

    I remember the Friday before the event, major theme camps were selling tickets via their Facebook pages. Black Rock Year Book infact still had like 100 tickets 3 days before the event. Seems to me that Direct Distribution is not the way.

    Report comment

  • I agree with a lot of what has been said in the comments, here, but I feel compelled to add one thing: for those of you complaining about the volunteers that may have had trouble pulling off flawless victories in any of the primarily volunteer posts, are you volunteering yourself in order to make it better, or just complaining about the free workers not being perfect?

    Report comment

  • Zigzag,

    I am a volunteer, I work with both a major theme camp (set up, during the burn, and take down days) and as a greeter. I am not saying that I don’t know how hard it is to volunteer, or that they didn’t do an absolutely fantastic job. All I am doing is voicing a concern about a policy that seems to be overlooked as someone who experienced it first hand during my shifts. I’m not complaining about free workers not being perfect.

    Report comment

  • When do we get our theme? I’m planning every day but it would be nice to have my art go with the theme of 2013. I can’t wait to see the playa again I haven’t been home in 8 years! First come first served! Radical self reliance!

    Report comment

  • I am not sure Burning Man is quite there yet however, if you Google Glastonbury Festival you will see that the 135,000 tickets sold out In less than two hours . . . .

    First come first served indeed!

    Report comment

  • I want to ditto Matt. Ditch the physical tickets (they are pretty and I love them but they limit what you can do). Let people print their own ticket with a bar code. Let the technology work for you.

    Report comment

  • First come, first serve with a program to return tickets to the borg (as your step child others must be allowed your conditional love)

    Remember the individual in your plans. Many theme camps simply proved hoarders and killed dozens of others. 2012 was great, but there was less of everything from art cars to bars to random old men giving me mimosas at the man at 6 am (with the notable exception of art installations). Many of the greatest moments for an explorative burner occur away from the hub bub on a very intimate level (not always involving coitus). These people need to be there along with the mind f’d tourists blocking up the streets.

    ps ~ can we keep the bros out? Please? broke my backpack smashing into each other friday night

    Report comment

  • Let’s think of a reverse tier system and a “pay for the features you want” and “price vs. risk of not getting a ticket” system.

    For example:
    50,000 tickets and 5000 contingency tickets

    5000 first come first serve – the money is no object(MINO) crowd– those who would pay scalper price the day of the event if needed. Fully transferrable and sold very early and at the most recent scalper price (2012) up until the day the gate opens.

    20000 Theme/art camp tickets – sold in blocks of 2, 4, 6 or whatever to/through a theme camp organizer. Transferrable within the theme camp up until 4 weeks before the gate opens, Final theme camp members then get issued an ID/photo required type ticket. Price 10-15% above a “Final wave” ticket – no sense in gouging those who bring so much to the table. This structure should also prevent a virtual “Scalper” theme camp.

    5000 First wave tickets – first come first serve – Initial round of tickets sold openly. Priced higher than a theme camp ticket because they are transferrable. Priced lower than the MINO ticket because of the perceived risk of transferrable tickets selling out. Hard to scalp because of the volume of tickets still remaining to be sold at lower prices. Sales of these tickets end before Second wave tickets start with the unsold FW tickets becoming SW tickets

    7500 (minimum) Second wave tickets – first come first serve – sold after the First wave tickets are sold. Non transferrable, ID/photo required type ticket. Priced well below first wave tickets because they are not transferrable and the added risk of waiting.

    12500 Final wave tickets – first come first serve – sold after the Second wave tickets are sold. ID/photo required type ticket. Least price ticket because they are not transferrable and sold in the last few months before gate open. These carry the highest risk for those waiting to the last minute and also carry the highest deterrent to scalping of earlier tickets. Increased volume of “wave” tickets as time passes reduces the risk of not getting a ticket.

    The 5000 contingency tickets – low income, starving artist, altruism, philanthropy whatever.

    Report comment

  • I think the idea of first come, first served is really the only fair way to handle all of this. But I think that 3000 tickets or so should be left for distribution by Black Rock City for the theme camps, mutant vehicles, etc. that might not get tickets to make sure the foundation of Burning Man stays strong.

    Figure out a better way to prevent scalpers from getting tickets (ie, pictures printed on tickets like Glastonbury does) If someone decides they don’t want to go, they can only sell their ticket on the BRC ticket exchange. Have an option on the ticket exchange site that allows the seller to sell it directly to either a particular individual (friend or family member, etc) who is registered on the site with their picture and registered ID Number OR put it in a general ticket population where it will be sold at random to someone registered on the exchange site with their photo and ID number. Add a service fee to this re-sell option.

    If the person that the ticket exchange system randomly chooses to sell the ticket to doesn’t claim it after 5 days, the system moves on to the next person. Have a reasonable time period to when the tickets will be shipped out before the event (3 weeks). If someone needs the ticket before that particular date because they are traveling out earlier, that ticket will be held at will call. Any tickets sold through the exchange site within 3 weeks of the event would be at will call only. This would limit the amount of scalpers out there trying to sell tickets for over face value and make sure that only the people who really want to be there get tickets.

    Report comment

  • After reading 70 of the 90 comments posted, i think the move is to have 2 different ticket classes, transferrable and non transferrable. transferable pays more for the luxury of gift or trade and nontransferrable has the buyers name printed on the ticket. And transferrable tickets should be recycled into step, if the aren’t going to be used. I was lucky enough to get a low income ticket this year but the lottery was, from what i heard, a total nightmare. Group tickets? Maybe a group with a good track (read:moop) record can be allowed to buy tickets in multiples of 4, with at least 2 of those being nontransferrable?

    Report comment

  • Ok, for once, READ THESE COMMENTS, LISTEN TO THE COMMUNITY. I have read through these and the vast majority and to sum it up they seem to say:

    1. first come first serve
    2. Non Transferable
    3. Use the STEP program to resell tickets
    4. The system used to cancel scalped tickets is good
    5. Remove the tiers and make all the tickets one price
    6. Swallow your pride/revulsion and use Ticketmaster

    Discussing group tickets is a waste of energy that could be well used elsewhere. Quit stiring the pot with unsubstantiated hype that will just get the community at each others throats again.

    Report comment

  • I for one, thought this years system was great. By artificially restricting supply in multiple ways, BMORG managed to sell out the event AND reduce the population. I for one, am thrilled that I managed to lose about $1200 on tickets when my group couldn’t make it (2 non-transferable and 2 sold into oversupply the week before). With any luck, next years system will be even more obnoxious. Since BMORG still seems to believe that that the event is oversubscribed, and they still think that all the ‘first-timers’ registering for the lottery weren’t friends and family of the more perceptive burners, I look forward to a convoluted and patchwork fiasco in 2013.

    I realize a lot of my fellow burners would rather that things like basic economics weren’t true, but…c’mon. Just sell the tickets FCFS and let them be transferrable.

    Report comment

  • Please don’t create another ticket fiasco. So many friends couldn’t go and in the end the population was lower than 2011. First come first serve!!!! Leave it alone! Just get a better server!

    Report comment

  • A lot of comments are indicating pictures on tickets. While this sounds good it is a little clumsy and adds another layer to the ticketing process. I
    f you want to look at a large event that mandates pictures on tickets go to the Glastonbury Festival website and you will see a ticketing process which requires that you post a picture before being eligible to purchase a ticket. I would not that the picture has to be approved by them and meet certain standards.
    A picture on a ticket is a way to satisfy transfer requirements or restrictions, but it is an expensive way to go.

    Report comment

  • Tiers were an invention to get people to buy their tickets early, back when the event wasn’t selling out. I don’t think we really need them any more.

    Keep the low-income and scholarship ticket programs, please.

    I’ve worked in event ticketing and I don’t really see how a non-transferrable ticketing system for an event as large as the Burn wouldn’t turn into a total fiasco and wind up pissing off a lot more people than are already pissed off now. And it DOES squelch the gifting economy, too. I have an ailing mother who might pass on at any time, and I would sure love to be able to gift my ticket last minute, no questions asked, if she were to pass on right before the event. There are plenty of other possible situations just like mine that people could get caught up in, winding up with spare tickets last minute through no fault of their own. I love being able to gift things to people. It would sure take a little of the sting out of my grief if I could make someone else happy if that happened to me…

    Name-on-ticket systems are going to be complicated, expensive, unreliable, and frankly they kind of have a whiff of “surveillance culture” about them. I don’t personally feel like that really goes with Burning Man.

    So I have no idea how to fix this, but here’s what occurs to me now.

    Keep the low-income and scholarship programs

    Release the bulk of the tickets in first-come first-served basis, with no pricing tiers. I think the tiers are a really big part of the problem.

    Let nobody buy more than 2 tickets per name/credit card.

    Keep STEP but allow tickets to be transferrable other ways too. Encourage STEP – I’m sure there are creative ways to do this. Try to build the Burner culture of “sell it for what you paid for it” or “gift it”…but don’t try to be enforcers. Use the carrot more than the stick.

    Keep back a chunk of tickets for the established theme camps, art projects etc. as insurance. Release them on the open market, at the same one-tier price, only when it’s clear the event will have enough infrastructure. This will also help out those hippies who didn’t have their shit together earlier in the year.

    Tiered pricing is definitely part of what’s been driving the feeding frenzy. It works really well for events that don’t sell out when you’re trying to motivate people (come on hippies, GET YOUR SHIT TOGETHER!), but it’s applying the wrong kind of pressure in this instance. I’d rather pay a little more for my tickets and be able to be more relaxed about it, than enter that competitive fray every year.

    Report comment

  • …Also something to think about at the Gate is that at Glastonbury, if your face doesn’t match your pic on your ticket and you get turned away, you are still in the middle of civilization in jolly old England. It’s a bummer, but OK, you’re still safe.

    At the Burn, in the middle of the dead heart of the Nevada desert, where would you send all the people who didn’t match their ticket? Bruno’s? And there would be plenty of ticketing irregularities. I know my people, and many of them are not naturally well-organized. They are still amazing artists and performers and fire spinners though, and the event would not be the same if they were excluded.

    Report comment

  • you all need to understand that the gate crew are mostly DPW rejects. it’s really REALLY hard to get rejected from DPW, but these folks manage to do so. if you think they are capable of verifying IDs by handling technological equipment you are imagining things.

    most of the gate crew are severely hung over or drunk, or just fucking stupid.

    so start limiting your imaginative solutions based upon these facts.

    Report comment

  • Now, there have been a lot of unhelpful comments in this thread (among a great many wonderfully helpful ones), but that one, susan bunny, is totally unbefitting. Come on. Don’t be a piece of shit. Help your people build something.

    Report comment

  • It’s good to know that it wasn’t put off until *now* to figure out.

    First-come-first-served would have worked fine had the ticketing company been prepared. If they cannot provide the service we need, then we need to find another servicer (and there are several out there that are capable).

    In my opinion, its time to drop the tiered system. It served its purpose in-the-day, but things have changed. Once price for everyone will reduce the frantic grab the SECOND ticketing opens.

    It seems like BMORG is creating more complication than there really needs to be. Keep it simple.

    Report comment

  • Last minute tickets were great to see but getting away last minute is not that simple for some of us.. the 2011 sales method worked…plenty of time to buy and organize for everyone.

    How about it?

    Report comment

  • I’m not sure if anyone from BMORG reads this thread, but NEWS FLASH! The zombies ate your brains more than a year ago, and you haven’t found anything to replace it! GAME THEORISTS!? ARTISTS?! FAMILIES?! What the F*CK do these people know about ticketing? You guys keep beating around the bush over and over and over again expecting two birds to fly out and land in your hand! The community has clearly decided something that you haven’t been able to grasp yet:

    Direct, first come, first served ticket sales. All ONE price tier.

    AND, if you are that concerned about the scalpers, sacrifice the ticket gifting for non-transferable tickets. If you’re not willing to deal with that (which has to be a TINY portion of the population of tickets being sold), then allow for a system of transfers through BMORG or the ticketing agency (which will cost you more money).


    Report comment

  • Game theorists know a lot about ticketing. I bet they’ve got models for some critical Burning Man ticketing scenarios you never would have thought of.

    What makes you think that the comments on this thread represent the community’s clear decision? Don’t you think it’s probably a pretty small subset of the Burning Man population that feels compelled to comment on a blog post? Meanwhile, representatives of art projects, theme camps, and families seem like pretty important constituencies to include in the sample, don’t you think? If it was only young, unattached party-Burners, some important considerations would be left out.

    Report comment

  • @ Jon Mitchell

    If you referring to me and the vast majority of others leaving comments here as unattached party-burners, I think you may be leaving some important considerations out.

    But maybe you’re right. Let’s just keep talking about ticketing for another year. Action can wait, the politics are more important.

    Report comment

  • I wasn’t referring to anyone in particular, I was just basing a general statement off of the disdain you expressed for artists and families.

    Why are you being so sarcastic? Do you think that’s a helpful way to move the process forward? I don’t.

    Report comment

  • Sorry, they didn’t mention the ravers that attended the brain gorging. And Yes, I do. Somebody needs to be a dick about it. When sunshine and rainbows don’t work, its time to break out the black leather and boots and start kicking some ass.

    Report comment

  • Wow. Why do people think First Come First Served will be a good idea? The idea that I’ll have to be sitting on my computer frantically refreshing a web site hoping that I can get in before the tickets all disappear – well, that sucks. I liked the lottery experience much more – there was what, two weeks, that i was allowed to enter my information? That’s a much nicer experience!

    As far as I saw, there weren’t actually very many scalpers, just people who were scared of missing out and bought tickets that they probably weren’t going to actually use.

    I’m a huge fan of paper, transferrable tickets. Every year so far, I’ve given a ticket to a friend, and more than once there’s been some last minute shuffle where a different friend needs it than the one I thought I was buying it for. It’s important to me to keep that ability, and if that means that I’d have to phone someone in the ticketing team every time our plans changed – well, that would create a lot of work for me and for the Org and I just don’t think it’s worth it.

    I like the way that theme camps were able to take care of their own members last year. I’d be in favor of that process being more official – I’d like the see the org give theme camps a larger number of tickets that they’re able to buy, and the camp could sell those tickets to their members and their friends, and there’d be a lot less panic, and a lot more tickets in the hands of committed burners and friends of committed burners.

    In summary: I like the 2012 system. Let’s do it again, only more.

    Report comment

  • the easiest solution would be to just end this thing finally. i’ve never seen anything so dragged over the shark as burning man. they keep propping this wooden skeleton up year after year after year. it’s such a disgrace to its origins. just let it die already = no more ticket problems.

    Report comment

  • @ Jon, well first off the “unattached party Burners” comment was pretty sarcastic and negative in itself. I’m a 50+ Burner who attends with my wife and is part of a big camp. I’ve suggested first come, first serve. I would like to see non-transferable tickets to prevent scalping, but if you want to continue with the ticket gifting I think you’re going to have to accept some scalping. I think I would put 40,000 tickets in the initial sale and ask those involved in important theme camps to attempt to buy their tickets the old fashion way. If that goes well and then release the rest, if not you’ve got the chance to beef up the tickets to the theme camps.

    Last year BMORG was told by the people on this blog that lottery was going to be a disaster. They were not listened to. So it’s a little disturbing to hear you don’t think this blog constitutes a representative sample of Burners. So…why did you ask?

    Report comment

  • My vote is for a KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) system like the system in previous years. First come first served. One price + low income. No lottery.

    I don’t see that 2011 was a disaster, it worked just fine. A few people who waited until a couple of weeks prior to the event to buy tickets (I was one of those because I thought I couldn’t get off work) may not have gotten a ticket (I did), but that’s not a disaster. IMHO, 2012’s ticket lottery was a debacle due in part to
    A) lottery system did a very poor allocation of tickets due to some people pressed friends/family into entering the lottery for them because of the pre-lottery mass hysteria. As a result of these people entering the lottery for 4+ tickets when they only needed 1-2, some people ended up with more tickets than they needed and some ended up with none…then they hysteria really ramped up. Gloom and doom, even from BMORG …rumors of no art projects nor theme camps.
    B) 2012 “system” generated a lot more bad will among repeat burners than the 2011 sell out generated; some repeat burners were disenfranchised due to the poor results of the lottery so didn’t go in 2012 even though they could possibly have gotten tickets through STAMP.
    C) the 2012 pricing was not transparent, again generating ill will among some. We were advised by BMORG to enter all 3 ticket tiers to increase our chances of getting a ticket. In reality, there wasn’t a way to enter all tiers. We were likely just charged the highest price agreed to pay. Was anyone charged less than the max they agreed to pay?
    D) by the time the event rolled around I saw people trying to give tickets away or sell below face value. How many went unused in 2012? I’ll bet more than in previous years.

    A complicated and murky system does not benefit anyone.

    Report comment

  • I got a super cheap ticket last minute this year as did many that wanted to go. Many scalpers lost lots of money :) The lottery wasn’t ALL bad just misunderstood and boycotted by angry burners…

    Report comment

  • Creativity got us into this mess. Creativity will get us out. The biggest hurdle, getting a ticket. I’ll take it! Just shell them out, first come first serve to those of us who aren’t an Art/Theme or Sound Camp. Don’t worry on gifiting tickets. Gift another way. Geeze. Get the servers/technology to handle the load. We’ll pay our dues in front of the computer. Then let the chips fall. There’s nothing wrong with a little monkey wrench. I think it’s gonna be pretty hard to fuck things up at this point. How many humans/energy does it take to have good time 10 days in a row anyway. The playa knows we’re coming. It want’s to see what the hell is going on out there. We know something is happening around every dustdevil, which can’t be stopped. This much I know. So, let’s just agree to ‘no theme’ and to give as much as you can. And that’s that.

    Even if you don’t get a ticket.

    Report comment

  • Just to repeat what nearly everyone has said…

    First-come, first-served means that the people who are really sure they want to go will get tickets. Non-transferable defeats most scalpers and means if life happens and you can’t go, the tickets go back into the system. (It wouldn’t be unreasonable to let there be two names on a pair of tickets so that either member of a pair could pick them up, that way if my bestie, fiance, or whatever punks out I can still take someone else or vice versa, or if carpool arrangements in a theme camp switch around, etc.)

    There is major overlap between people who plan ahead for the Burn and people who make stuff happen there. Key members of key groups are really sure they want to go and plan accordingly. Just because some people who might decide they want to go won’t be able to find tickets doesn’t mean the people who are committed to the event shouldn’t get a first shot at it. That’s the case for all ticketed events. That’s life.

    Let’s not make this so complicated.

    Report comment

  • I don’t get it. Why are camps more important than people?

    First come/First served. Limit 2. Of course tix should be transferable — each Burner should be able to gift a ticket to a friend or first-timer.

    Face it. The more convoluted the system becomes, the less freedom we all have. You are just proving how little faith you have in human beings. There will always be someone who plays the system. Get over it.

    Report comment

  • There is a clear consensus here: Non-Transferrable, Named Tickets. The problem has been solved for a long time, there is no need to reinvent on this one. It works just fine for airplanes, it will work for the big ship Black Rock.

    Do not ignore the input of the clear majority of burners.

    Report comment

  • Creativity got us into this mess, but keeping the future process as simple as possible will get us out. Every layer of nuance beyond a simple limit of two tickets per customer has unintended consequences beaucoup… Keeping the future process as simple as possible will prevent us from tripping over our own you know whats again.

    Report comment

  • I will add my voice to the chorus for non-transferable tickets, one price tier, sold first come first served.

    It would be nice to be able to buy two tickets at a time, with a name on one, so that we could give the other ticket as a gift. I support what Motz said on November 8, which in turn was echoed by Disco on November 12 (and others).

    Ticketing did not work for me at all last year. I live in Canada so to come to Burning Man takes planning, and that takes certainty. Last year, around March, I just decided this was my year to sit out. The lottery was really heart-wrenching and I hope we don’t have to go through it again.

    Report comment

  • If tickets are non transferable then they should be refundable up till a certain date and then a second batch of returned tickets released later. This is because a lot of people do not know if they can really afford to go up until closer to the time of the actual festival, especially those travelling from far away.

    I want to come from Australia this year, but I won’t know till probably till 3 months before if I can afford my airfare and money for stuff I will need for the Playa once I arrive in the US and by then I suspect the tickets will be well and truly gone. Hopefully see you in 2013!!

    Report comment

  • Shesh, what’s with the negative energy???? I only attended twice, and I fly from the east coast. I’m also not an artist, but have a creative side and not a huge amount of money. I’ve grown personally after attending BM, and I think excluding people who “only bring enough food and water for themselves and sending them to Walmart or Home Depot” is bullshit. I also camp with people I never would have met otherwise, and have come to think of them as family. I’d bring physical art to share if I could, but my biggest strength and talent is being kind and generous of spirit. If that makes me not worthy of attending then I must have missed the memo.

    As for the ticketing system, 1st come 1st served with one price tier and low income makes sense to me. The lottery had people freaked.



    Report comment

  • “…Even though it all worked out pretty much okay, thanks to Burning Man’s decision to carefully delegate 10,000 tickets to camps and other groups…”

    Don’t be so quick to pat yourselves on the back.

    The decision to re-allocate tickets to camps and other groups was at the EXPENSE of others – all those that had been told earlier that they could expect to see 10,000 tickets in the next phase of the ‘lottery’ system.

    Yes, ticket re-allocation probably saved the event, but the whole mess wouldn’t have happened in the first place if not for InTicketing, and BMORG ignoring community advice beforehand.

    For 2013:

    1. Remove pricing tiers and make all the tickets one price.
    2. First come, First served.
    3. Limit purchase to 2 tickets.
    4. All tickets deemed Non Transferable, with names printed on the tickets.
    5. Tickets matched to ID at Gate.
    6. Option to print your tickets online, have them mailed, or available at Will-Call pickup.
    7. STEP program as a means to return tickets if your plans change, and you cannot attend.
    8. Tickets returned through STEP have a fee applied to cover ticket administration, but also acts as a de-incentive to impulsive purchasing / reserving.
    9. Save gifting for inside the event – not for ticketing
    10. For those registered in STEP, assign an ID number. Users can go online at any time and see how many tickets are in the pool, and what their position is in the queue.
    11. Tickets awarded through STEP can also be printed online, or mailed up to a certain date. This could reduce waiting problems at Will-Call.

    Report comment

  • No way am I going to build that art car! Unless I’m sure I can get a ticket.

    Whatever the “Final Solution”, start ticket sales in October so I can get back to work.

    Report comment

  • What if you were to sell them first come first serve. If the original person who buys it can no longer attend the only way they can pass on the ticket is by selling it through the Burning Man website for the same price they purchased – Non Transferable unless authorized by BMORG.

    Report comment

  • So i commented on this last year when it was all going down and I think that i still have a good idea…

    As far as the ticketing goes you (BMOG) Could use face recognition software and link it to ipads that ALL gatekeepers have. ALL people that attend burningman would simply have to give a photo that could be linked to their ticket. Then when the attendant would arrive at the gate, the gate keeper would simply have to take a photo of the participant then it would give the gatekeeper confirmation that it was all legit…

    This is simple software that would be easily put in place. Every burner that i know would be willing to send in a photo of themselves to “try” something new… It would make it so that gifted tickets were still a possibility. After receiving the gift send a photo with your ticket number on it. No problem…

    Report comment

  • The theme for Apogaea (Colorado’s Regional Burn) 2013 is “Alchemy”. What a cool idea! Implies change, magic, all the things that make this regional so special.

    Dear BMORG – “SIMPLICITY” – That would make a very nice theme for Burning Man this year.

    Thanks for what you do. Hope to see you in the dust in Lucky 13! <– Hey look, ANOTHER theme! :)

    Report comment

  • theme camp tickets are a must. we have invested huge dollars over 8 years to have a legit camp and then we were not able to attend. our team comes from every which way and because of the “iffyness” of ticket purchases, they could not in confidence buy plane tickets into reno and have no ticket in hand to the playa.

    it seriously sucked. please, for the love of whatever, DON’T do that lottery thing again. I beg you.

    Report comment

  • Dear BMORG,
    Please read all of the comments above. The solution is obvious:
    (a) one price tier
    (b) first-come first served
    (c) names on tickets, non transferable
    (d) unused ticket can be returned to and re-sold by the BMOG

    I hope you guys are smart enough to realize that your 2012 ticket lottery was a disaster and should not be repeated.

    Report comment

  • First come, first served. Release in blocks of 10-15,000 tickets at various times and days, including one Saturday. For instance, release the first block on a Monday at 10:00 am, the next block Wednesday at 7:00 PM, another Saturday at Noon. You get the idea. Spread it out over two months. This way, those who can’t be home on a weekday at 10:00 am will have another chance. Definitely put a name on the tickets, or some identifier. Don’t worry so much about every theme camp getting tickets, they can manage on their own. As long as CORE Services are there, that is most important. Other theme camps, though important, are not critical. Core services are lamplighters, ice, medical, mental health, etc. Do away with tiers; one ticket one price, limit two per address, credit card, name, Identification at the gate must match one of the ticket holders. Take drivers license numbers and print that on the ticket?
    You all are awesome and I’m sure you will figure it out! Simple is better, sometimes the easiest answer is the best one.
    I am already anxious to return home!!! 2012 rocked!!! Neither I nor anyone in my camp had trouble with a ticket.

    Report comment

  • When are we going to know about when and how the tickets are going to be sold. Hope BMORG got the lottery fiasco out of their system!
    What’s the hold up? Whats the Theme?

    Report comment

  • Unfortunately, a lot of planning needs to take place in order to fund a theme camp and facilitate the creative process. You simply do not have the luxury to “wait and see” till august if all your people will be able to make it. That being said, I also acknowledge the necessity to maintain an open and fair method to ensure the acculturation of our dear new comers. They are the impetus and fundamental mechanism that breathes new life into our city year upon year. But if there is no way to guarantee that there will be collaborative camps there to do the acculturating, I fear you run the risk of having a city full of newcomers waiting for the big show. Failing to see that the big show is the same thing that their shadow is attached to. I say MAJORITY of the tickets should be FIRST COME FIRST SERVE, ONE TICKET PER PERSON, NON TRANSFERABLE—GIFT-ABLE ONLY THROUGH A MODIFIED STEP PROGRAM. The rest should again be DIRECT DISTRIBUTION through a camp application process. Moving forward there can be a limited number of time’s your theme camp could apply consecutively. Thus allowing established theme camps to still make grand comeback returns while allowing for new camps to become established during their off years. Furthermore, theme camps participating in regional events could get priority as well since they are essential participating in the growth of the culture as a whole…Regionals need our love too, of course! =)

    Report comment

  • I’m still sitting next to my computer patiently waiting for any news about tickets and the theme. The good news is that I’m almost done with all of my outfits and I am starting to work on my bike!

    Report comment

  • The BMORG should set continuously evolving goals for group ticket recipients (and placement). They can be the leaders of any evolution of the culture that comes from the ORG.

    An example would be to weigh off-playa & regional projects by recipients. Another would be to weigh international participation support.

    That means devoting much, much more personpower on playa to following up with group ticket recipients to see if they are following through.

    Report comment

  • There’s a lot of discussion about non-transferrability as a way to defeat scalping.

    But may I point out that the two tickets per purchase cap defeats scalping already, so we don’t need non-transferrability at all.

    We’ll be sorry if we make this complicated… even by 15%. I respectfully say: Simpler is better and there are unintended consequences to every nuance we bake into the system beyond the barest minimum required to get the job done.

    Report comment

  • First come first serve. Tiers, and maybe go on sale *a little* bit later. STEP. Christmas presale; higher priced and/or non refundable.

    The ticketing situation last year really broke my heart. It didnt stay broken, but I do have to say I do not want a repeat.

    I know this is hard, and thank you for listening to us…

    Report comment

  • In my opinion, the tickets should be sold at a first come first serve basis, like all other major events BUT the all names should be printed on the tickets! This would deter many would be scalpers…

    But now you’re probably thinking well what about the nice burner folk who are not scalpers, but cannot attend or want to get rid of their ticket for whatever reason? Well, all ticket exchanges after the initial sale should have to go through an intermediary website, facilitated by black rock city llc., where all of the prices for tickets on the website would be FIXED (aka face value of the ticket only) and this would be the only place to get a new name printed on the ticket. This would prevent any price hikes and deter those seeking to profit off of selling burning man tickets. It would prevent a majority of the scalpers from participating in the first place and reduce the amount of fake tickets as well.

    This may be a more cumbersome way for burners to exchange tickets between themselves, but the whole point of this is to get rid of those damn tech-savvy-scum-of-the-earth-cash-whore types know to many as professional scalpers.

    Burning man NEEDS to be the most progressive force in creating a new ticketing system…we must set the standard for the rest of the world

    Report comment

  • Exactly what clocksnmirrors said. My boyfriend and I ate $600+ when we couldn’t go this year, and also couldnt unload our tickets because of ticket saturation right before BM. We are veteran burners and bought our tickets 100% expecting to attend, not just in the off chance that we could pull it together. Stop trying to complicate things more than they already are. First come, first served. People will work it out.

    Report comment

  • Keep it Simple!

    As some other people pointed out, the gate crew can be a pretty stupid/lazy/drunk bunch. I don’t think any system that requires a functional person with a brain/alertness/sobriety to check tickets is going to work.

    1) Two ticket prices; Low Income and Everyone Else.
    2) Transferable, like they always are.

    Don’t saddle yourselves with any solution the ENTIRE Burning Man Org is not capable of implementing.

    The bonus is, if you sell tickets of one price, your web traffic will balance itself out since not everyone is rushing to get tickets in the first hour they go on sale.

    Report comment

  • I agree with the first few people below me. This is not an event that should only be available for those that are BRC staple theme camps. There needs to be room for expansion and evolution, bar none. I vote for first come, first served. If people dont want to get their asses in gear at the beginning of the year and sleep on getting their tickets, let another burner who wants to be part of the community and is motivated to go get their ticket instead! Burning Man is all about self-sufficiency, the people who are motivated to come to the playa will get their tickets as soon as they go on sale, not go looking 5 mins before the event.

    And yes, there was a huge surplus of tickets that flooded the market from those that bought out of fear. I echo clocksnmirrors sentiments to not overstate the demand. Dont make it into a bigger deal than it has to be, keep it simple and let the beauty of our community shine!

    Report comment

  • I would like the BMORG (and others) to seriously think about the 2 ticket limit. This limit last year required my family to consider not going. We needed three tickets and only got two (because we only have one debit card to make purchases), luckily we got the third on Craigslist and were able to all go. This next year we will need four total. We don’t have multiple credit cards to make multiple 2 ticket purchases. I am sure this is true for a lot of families/groups that need more than two tickets.

    How about group sales, where you can purchase more that two tickets. Camps/groups/families could purchase tickets in bulk. This would be separate from the individual sales with special rules, like a name assigned to the ticket, etc.

    Report comment

  • also if you have applied for Placement as a Theme Camp, you should be able to request Pre-Sale Tickets for your Group. Maybe a Lot of 10,000 set aside for that.
    or maybe a top tier price that IS transferrable, and a lower tier price that is non-transferrable.

    Report comment

  • Please just go back to individual ticket sales. Y’all didn’t even sell out in 2011 till July. If you can’t get your shit together by July then you obviously aren’t a key leader for a camp or art project (most likely). Last year was a total shit show and I really hope you don’t do that awful lottery again. I trust and love y’all so I have faith that you will resolve this so no deserving burner is left in the dark.. )'( see ya in 2013

    Report comment

  • After many a burn I find the reading here lacking in only one thing. Who shall commit. We all are ready for the go and the first come first serve is #1. There are those that do not carry an ID for they are off the grid and yet still go, and maybe they need a little help with gifting. Gifting is how I take my tribe as I pay the way for them through the love we share on the playa. We are all smart in our own way and I’m sure that 2013 shall be less nerve racking as we didn’t get our tickets 2012 till three weeks out and had to make such changes in the last minute that makes for an undue stressfullness I never care to feel again.

    It was with great elation to get the tickets, but a sad way to feel for months knowing I wasn’t going, till those last weeks.

    I am a burner all year long but need my community for that window of time to rebirth. Please make it simple.

    Report comment

  • As soon as we make them non-transferable, there has to be some sort of system to track it and check ID – cumbersome PIA for our staff, complexity and loss of flexibility for participants, and a loss of anonymity in a world where there is less and less of that comfort. Many of my volunteers insist on it, I prefer it.

    … and canceling of suspected scalped tickets = huge effort to be punitive on our community. Someone always gets hurt. The Bandit Class has always existed, always will. Resist it in positive ways, encourage it to participate rightfully. The rest …. our gift to the dregs of society, a nod to chaos that always nips at our heels. Stop chasing it with bad energy.

    Thanks for all of your efforts, but sometimes less is more.

    Low income and regular price, first come first serve. Resist scalpers using positive social pressure, ultimately a better use of our energy.

    Report comment

  • Group Ticketing. . . I admit to not reading this entire paid as I simply do not have all that much time left on the planet but I may or may not have come upon a solution to handling your group purchases with a website/financial group called WePay.com

    Good luck

    Report comment

  • The following is kind of a gripe but has good advice… The excess was from scalper heaven caused by BMORG. They were smiling… Then the stupidity of BMORG to cancle tickets. Talk about showing everyone you only cared about the $$$$ side and not the Burners. You already had your money and wanted more. Old school burners knew this was coming when it went corporate.
    Enough Bitching

    Never heard a peep out of camps before the lotto. That was a major RUSH will I get a ticket will I not get a ticket, sitting at the computer waiting to push the submit button AAHHHHHHH it was uforic………. Now just dump it in the mail and wait
    WOOPIE TY COW PATTY…. Just not working an atr car of anything till we are confirmed to get tickets. Sounds like the military — Hurry Up And Wait

    Lets do it right this time, Better servers (BMORG can afford it) First come first served

    Kioty Out

    INVEST IN BETTER SERVERS !!!! PROBLEM SOLVED that way you can keep your 10
    thousand tickets to give away to the grounds crew.

    Report comment

  • Comments are closed.