CONQuest 2023 organizers have issued an apology after drawing flak from attendees who had to wait in line for hours due to overcrowding, which was allegedly caused by ticket overselling.
The festival, which took place from June 2 to 4 in several venues in Pasay, saw thousands of attendees comprising mainly young adults, as well as over 70 local and international guests including OPM artists James Reid and Autotelic; South Korean band The Rose; content creators Ashley Gosiengfiao, Sharlene San Pedro, and Valkyrae; and Mobile Legends streamer Akosi Dogie and professional team Echo PH.
Venues included the SMX Convention Center, Seashell Lane, SM Mall of Asia, National University Mall of Asia Campus, and Conrad Manila.
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, told ABS-CBN News 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, however, simply went back home after hours of waiting outside the venue for nothing.
Many users took to social media to air their frustrations, including TV5 anchor Julius Babao, who shared a photo of the situation outside the SMX Convention Center as he questioned the event organizers in a tweet.
"Ang laki daw ng nakokektang bayad ng entrance dito pero mukhang nag-oversell ng tickets!" he wrote. "Tingnan nyo ang mga bata naka heavy costume pa tapos pinapila ng milya milya sa ilalim ng init ng araw!"
Ticket selling for CONQuest 2023 began in May and sold out in days, prompting organizers to sell additional tickets.
Sino ba organizer niting #ConQuest sa SMX ? Ang laki daw ng nakokektang bayad ng entrance dito pero mukhang nag-oversell ng tickets! Tingnan nyo ang mga bata naka heavy costume pa tapos pinapila ng milya milya sa ilalim ng init ng araw! Bakit pinapayagan ito ng SM Management??? pic.twitter.com/Eqrh0KWb6y— julius babao (@juLiusbabao) June 4, 2023
CONQuest 2023 director Justin Banusing in a June 4 Twitter thread apologized to the public for an event that was "overpromised" but "undelivered."
"I know you’ve been looking forward to this event all year and it sucked that not everyone who wanted to experience CQ was able to do so," Banusing wrote. "Worse is that I hyped it up a LOT – and hype means nothing when not all attendees can enjoy it."
Banusing said they'll refund aggrieved attendees, saying it's the "very least" they can do to start earning back "whatever trust" they have in him.
He also asked the public to not harass or threaten their team members, crew members, and volunteers, who he described as hardworking and "looking forward to this as much as you did."
The CONQuest Festival's Facebook page on June 3 also apologized for the "unsatisfactory" queueing situation.
"There are no reasons we can provide when it comes to this other than that we made a mistake and underestimated the fan demand for the event," it said.
At the time, CONQuest sought to redress attendees by extending event hours, and refunding them or giving them a pass the next day. Those in the queues were also reportedly given free food.