Priority queues, codes and pre-sales

We are British. Obviously, that means we love queuing.

But I've noticed Americans don't feel the same way. From what I can see, the only queue Americans like is one they can pay to skip.

This is most evident in airports. In fact, airports make a great analogy of the online waiting room experience, because there is a lot of queuing involved . . . and, in both scenarios, some people will be able to skip the main queue, because they have priority.

CrowdHandler Priority Codes

People use CrowdHandler so that they can ensure they are being fair during moments of capacity overload. But is first-in, first-out queuing truly fair, when some of the people in the queue are your most loyal customers? 

This is why CrowdHandler supports Priority Access with Priority Codes.

To use the airport analogy: Priority Codes allow you to give some of your passengers the opportunity to board first.

Both multi-use codes and individual single-use codes are available for you to issue to users, and you can distribute these in advance of an event, or even set them up in the middle of a live queue. When a user enters a code in the waiting room, it gives them priority in the line. 

But how does this work in practice, and how can CrowdHandler users make best use of the feature?

Typical uses for Priority Codes

The most obvious application for Priority Access is for fan clubs; a group of people with very strong loyalty to an artist or act. For these groups, the multi-use code is perfect. It means you can email everyone who has paid to be part of this club and tell them, "tickets are going on sale tomorrow; here's the code that will take you straight to the front of the queue".

If you need to collect data from your users, then individual codes – which can only be used once and are therefore trackable – are ideal. If you are a sports club with season ticket holders, for example, or an arts company or venue with a membership scheme, then you can email each subscriber with an individual code. Each code can only be used once, which means they can't share it with other people, and you can record which members actually used their code.

But what happens behind the scenes when a Priority Code is used? Are people really cutting in line?

How Priority Access works

For the user, the experience of entering a Priority Code may feel as if they have been able to skip right to the front of the queue. In other words, they may be able to access the site immediately, or at the very least find themselves with a much better position in the queue than they would have had without a code. 

What's actually happened here is that CrowdHandler has moved those users with Priority Codes into a priority lane. Those people haven't skipped the main queue (as this could still cause the site to be overwhelmed); they've been moved to a different, smaller queue. 

It means that not only are the priority customers happier, because they can check out much quicker, but people in the main queue aren't affected negatively at all. In fact, because the main queue has also got smaller, all customers see their position improve and their number go down.

An easier way to run pre-sales

Another cool feature that you can enable with Priority Codes is to set them to skip the countdown: the pre-sale clock that most members of the public see before the queue opens.

Instead of the hassle of running two separate sales – a pre-sale for priority customers before the main onsale – you can use a CrowdHandler waiting room to take over the entire function. Tickets will still go on sale to the general public at the scheduled time on the sale date, but the waiting room goes live in advance. During this pre-sale time, the waiting room page shows a countdown to the onsale time - however, you can set it so that anyone with a Priority Code can use it to skip the countdown and get access to the site (or, if there are a lot of people, access to the queue).

admin screenshot - setting up pre-activation for one Priority Code but not another

From pop to polo

Here's an example: we recently ran an on-sale for a big British pop act (I won't say who, but let's just say he would love to entertain you). Tickets officially went on sale at 11am, but CrowdHandler's Priority Codes system allowed us to run a pre-sale for fans from 9am. Rather than running two separate sales – one for fans and one for the general public – a Priority Code for fans made this a much easier process.

With more than 5000 fans, a queue still activated when the pre-sale started, but the website did not go down. The priority group had a relatively short wait time and were thrilled to be able to purchase their tickets well before the general public.

As another example: a prestigious polo club in New England has been using individual Priority Codes to control access to their season on-sale for the last three years. Before the main sale, the club puts the waiting room into pre-sale mode and emails each member a link which includes their own unique code. The emails go out in batches, which means that small groups of members are clicking their link and going onto the site at any one time. Access is strictly controlled, the queue rarely engages and the site never goes down. 

"... the new (Priority Access) process is fantastic! I must commend you on all the communication leading up to today. I received my email at noon on the dot as promised, and was able to purchase all the matches we were hoping to see. Great experience from start to finish."

Polo club member, March 2020, via Twitter

Priority Codes for retail

As well as the obvious ticketing scenarios, Priority Codes are a really useful tool for online retailers, allowing you to offer an exclusive deal without reducing your prices. Got a big product drop coming up? Why not distribute Priority Codes to people who have purchased from you in the past? Contacting your loyal customers with a Priority Code is a great excuse to reach out to them and re-engage, without having to offer a discount.

Make your priority customers feel special with a Priority Code

Priority Codes are available with CrowdHandler Plus, Professional and Enterprise plans, and setup is easy. For more information, see the CrowdHandler Priority Access User Guide

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