Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pants go down

It is downright shameful. Should never have happened. How could it have taken place at all? It's the last thing you'd expect in a high tech island with one of the greatest take-up rates in handphones (cellphones) and internet usage. And what's more, this is a can-do place. I'd understand if this happened in Malaysia, but Singapore of all places?

For those who haven't guessed it, I am referring to the online ticket sales debacle for Singapore's just revived F1 Grand Prix event scheduled this September. People who queued or tried to use the Internet to buy the tickets on the first day the ticket went on sale literally wasted a whole day because they failed to get a single ticket. These people were prepared to shell out as much as a few thousand dollars for the tickets. They were THAT hot!

If the people selling the tickets are to be believed, there were too many people online for the system to handle. And I thought that the system had been stressed-tested, at least that was what the provider of the ticketing system claimed. Well, if it was, it wasn't enough. And it made the ticketing agent, OmniTicket Network, look like rank amateurs. Certainly, the reputation of Singapore has been damaged grievously. Even the Singapore government stepped in to express unhappiness over this international embarrassment. It has made the international news and I bet the Malaysians must be gleeful over this because we, Singaporean's, do this often enough to them whenever anything they did screwed-up (excuse the language). Well, Singapore got screwed this time around by OmniTicket. They can bet that the next time they handled another ticketing event (like the Singapore Airshow next), they'll be placed under a nanoscope.

Singapore GP is now out-of-pocket by a couple of thousand dollars for the apology ads they put up in two major local newspapers. Their faces have also been plastered with yesterday's pumpkin pie. There are lessons here, guys. Don't oversell your event unless you are willing to back up your sales pitch with more than enough capacity. Expect the unexpected. And don't rely totally on the internet for your sales. This is what Singapore GP did. They must have used the same system at the 62 SingPost outlets (Post Offices), the Singapore Visitor Centres and some popular shopping centres - the very same one on the Internet. When the internet system fails, everything else will, stupid. Somebody didn't think of putting in an offline system - something which is done in all mission-critical systems such as a Point-of-Sales system.

Lastly, we must develop a healthy respect for technology. It tends to fail when you need it most, so Mr Murphy observed, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong.". You only hope that that won't happen when your pants are down. Pity Singapore GP. Perhaps they were too fast off the block to make sure first that the drawstrings had been tightened enough.

See also:
OmniTicket wins Singapore GP Contract
Huge demand creates problem for Singapore
Huge demand for Singapore's F1 Grand Prix tickets

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