When the Great American Beer Festival sold out of tickets last decade, those final ducats would sell onsite in Denver. Then a couple years ago sellouts started occurring in September and then August. Other division and department managers looked at me as if I was crazy when I boldly predicted that July 25 would be the day. They were thinking August at the earliest. Membership Coordinator Erin Glass promptly bet me that it would happen sooner this year. She won that bet. Tickets sold out after only 7 days.
The brewery registrations filled up one day before the "if space is still available" deadline, and some breweries are on a waiting list in case anyone drops out. The lesson for brewers for future years is to get your registration in quickly. Once the beers arrive in the cooler/warehouse for sorting, the competition staff will ready 3,900 beers from 520 brewers for the judges.
The increased demand for tickets on members-only sale day and general public sale day presents another challenge for the BA. We have capacity for 25 incoming phone calls at a time, which meets our needs 363 days a year. For those customers who got right through to a BA staffer, the ticket buying experience was very positive. For those who had to wait for an open line, the wait was potentially extensive now, and could only grow in the future. The time has come to fully outsource ticket sales to a professional company that is built for this kind of demand. It is hard to change procedures, but sometimes change is for the best. I can't wait for the GABF. To borrow a phrase from Leftover Salmon's Vince Herman, "FEST-I-VAL!"
July 11, 2011