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AcadArena executives to retire CONQuest Festival after 'unsuccessful' 2023 event: 'We need a hard reset'

By Melanie Uson Published Jun 28, 2023 3:35 pm

After admitting that this year’s CONQuest Festival was "unsuccessful," AcadArena executives announced their decision to retire the event as a “brand and vision” for a much-needed “hard reset.” 

In a Facebook post, Ariane Lim—the COO and co-founder of AcadArena, which organized the event—addressed the backlash gained from the attendees who had to wait in line for hours due to overcrowding, which was allegedly caused by ticket overselling.

“Saw the anger, saw the frustrations whether during the con and on the comments. Honestly, we are still there,” she began her post. 

She went on to admit that the event was a failure as she detailed what went wrong in the process. 

“The core of the problem is a programming to venue incompatibility and a lack of understanding of the Filipino audience. ‘People weren't dispersing enough.’ Well, no sh*t. It takes us 3++ hours to get home. If I'm a fan, I will camp for more just to see my idol,” she wrote. 

“It's unacceptable that that's the core of the problem we've arrived at. Basic, eh. We wanted to talk about premium when we can't even talk about the basics,” she added. 

In a separate post, CEO Kevin Hoang echoed Lim’s statement, stressing that the team lacked the “ability to execute” and understand the audience in the industry. 

“This event was not a success. Period,” he wrote. 

“This event ballooned because of our own pride and desire to produce the biggest show for the Filipino communities, while lacking the ability to execute and not understanding the fandom that is here.” 

“The experience that we wanted to create did not live up to our standards and your expectations.” 

Reflecting on the outcome of the event, the executives announced that they have come to the decision to retire the CONQuest Festival to “reassess their approach” when it comes to producing events. 

“We aren't just offering an apology. We are enacting change,” said Lim. 

Earlier this month, co-founder and event director Justin Gorriceta Banusing apologized and acknowledged that the affair was “overpromised [and] undelivered.”  

“I was in over my head to think I could deliver an experience at this magnitude in the second year that CONQuest is in Manila. There is no excuse and I took all your good faith in me and wasted it,” he wrote in a Facebook post on June 4.

This year’s CONQuest Festival was held from June 2 to 4, featuring over 70 local and international guests such as James Reid, K-pop band The Rose, content creators Valkyrae and Ashley Gosiengfiao as well as gaming streamers like Akosi Dogie and Mobile Legends professional team Echo PH, among others.

Some attendees reportedly camped as early as 6 a.m., but the crowd eventually thickened and the lines stretched for hundreds of meters. Others, meanwhile, said they had to give up their spaces and return when the lines freed up a bit. There were also queues for the escalator, and some had to queue again for hours after re-entering. Several goers simply went back home after hours of waiting outside the venue for nothing.