San Diego Comic-Con Returning Registration is just 2 days away. Are you ready? Are you nervous? Have you already practiced all the steps several times in your mind?
You probably don't need to; SDCC badge sales have been pretty consistent for years now. But if somehow other people have bought your badges for you and this is your first time at the wheel - let's review.
How it works
1) On Saturday morning, you'll click the link you got in your email from CCI today (which is also in your Member ID account) and input the code that was also in that email/your Member ID account. You want to do this before 9 am PST. A minute late and you won't get into the sale.
2) Once you're in the waiting room, you'll probably nervously text your friends, check Twitter, worry about the flakiest person in your buying group/circle of friends. If you're working with enough people, inevitably someone will experience a dead laptop, hangover or personal crisis that prevents them from participating in the sale. OR you'll have the opposite happen in a bit of luck - someone will send you their code to use since they've decided not to go to SDCC next year.
3) Finally it will be zero hour and the sale will start at 9 a.m. PST. And... not much will happen at first. There will be a spinning blue circle and a yellow bar of CCI's nerd jokes. They'll assure you that people are being moved into random groups. You'll wonder if people are finally buying badges yet. Then you'll see someone crow about getting a Preview Night badge - and at the moment, your real anxiety will begin as you wait to be chosen.
4) Once you're picked for a session, your waiting room will automatically convert to a very intuitive interface that asks your member ID and last name and how many people you're buying for. Do not screw that up. In fact, don't rush at any point through this process. You've got time. Slow down and make sure you input the correct information. The last thing you want is to give up a spot or only get your friend a Sunday badge when Preview Night was available.
5) You'll do the same for the other people you're buying for, inputting their last names and Member IDs and then choosing the days you all want - and doing all of it very carefully. Note: just because it's your code that got you into the waiting room (or someone else's code), that doesn't mean you have to enter the Member ID and last name associated with that code. In fact, if someone else already got you a badge, you can buy for 3 other people when you get picked.
6) At this point, you will advance (after double checking everything) and pay with a credit card. Again, slow down and make sure you enter everything correctly. It's not uncommon for hearts to pound and hands to shake through a badge sale, so try to be calm and focus on being accurate. Errors are common and I know attendees who are carrying grudges to this day because of a friend accidentally costing them a badge years ago.
7) Once you pay, you're done - there's no next stage of booking a hotel like there is with some other Con ticket sales.
- Screenshot everything you can. I always send a picture of my final screen with all the names and days on it to whoever I bought for - it's a little piece of reassurance for them until their email confirmation comes in. And screenshots can save you if something doesn't go through.
- Double check last name and Member ID spellings before the sale - but if you still can't get someone's to validate, check with them and then move on to someone else if they don't respond. Don't waste a spot because someone flubbed their own information.
- Even if you're disappointed because you couldn't get Saturday/the whole show, take what you can get. This is Returning Registration; you can try to upgrade in Open Reg. And even if you get "only" a Sunday or Thursday/Sunday, it's still worth it.
- Test your technology and lock down your funds ahead of time. If you're the first one picked in your buying group, can you afford to buy 3 Preview Night badges on your credit limit? If not, borrow someone else's card.
- Follow good buying group etiquette - be organized and stay in real time communication to troubleshoot any difficulties and understand everyone's badge status. Pay promptly. Share screenshots. And remember CCI's threat to cancel all badges bought in the same session if 1 of them is sold on the black market. You want to make sure you're working with people you trust.
- Take your whole weekend into account, especially if you're emotionally invested in this badge sale. (And who isn't?) Don't descend into some chemical-fueled wormhole Friday night and then crawl hungover to your laptop on Saturday morning (or wake up hours after Ret Reg is over.) And think about how you'll feel if you don't get a badge. That's always a possibility so carve out some Saturday space where you can afford to marinate in self-pity.
Finally - I know many of us are being orbited by first-timers ready for Open Registration. Make sure they make a Member ID account now. Do not wait. CCI will shut that down without warning. And it's quite likely that Open Reg will be in November, though that's not certain.
I'll be live-blogging the sale like always. Good luck.