EXCLUSIVE: The official Party DC response

Washington, D.C.

So, unless you’re new here, you know that recently I’ve been harping on Party DC.

I’ve never been completely thrilled with the level of service and professionalism that they’ve exhibited at their events – and this weekend’s Wine Festival trip was a prime example, when buses didn’t leave until an hour after their scheduled departure and a complete lack of organization left hundreds of paying customers aimlessly wandering Arlington.

Responding to that specific issue, Patrick Barton, Party DC’s president, e-mailed me last night. In part, he said, “It takes a while to load several hundred people on buses trying to load coolers, making sure they get on the same bus w/ all their friends, making sure all buses are completely full, people running on/off the bus after they have already sat down because they forgot something or rather use the restroom at the restaurant (even though they are restrooms on the bus), etc.”

He also responded to my concern that the company’s chaperones are allowed to drink during events, often leading to confusing and conflicting directions at day’s end. “Though our staff members are allowed to partake in the social aspects of our events, they know they are to maintain and keep up certain professionalism,” he said.

Barton says these aren’t “excuses” but “issues that we run in to on our end that exacerbate the situation.”

I’m appreciative of the time Barton took to get in touch with me directly – although I’m still not sure he adequately addressed some of the bigger issues raised (like, for example, oversold trips). But his taking the time to reach out to me is certainly a step in the right direction.

What’d you think?

Read his complete (and long) e-mail after the jump.

Hey Marc,

Thank you for the feedback – we appreciate both negative and positive comments.

I respect your opinions, but let me share a few facts w/ you:

1. The main staff and I arrived at Front Page at 9:30 in the morning to set up and get ready for the pre-party that started at 10am (this was also after extensive testing of the scanning system, and setup of our tent at the wine fest the day before). Though we offer free continental breakfast to all guests, and started an hour later than Gold Cup, including the loading of the buses, the vast majority of the guests arrived at the very end of the pre-party making a last minute check-in for several hundred. It was pretty dead there until after 9:30, over half-way thru the check-in process.

2. Buses started loading at 11am. It takes a while to load several hundred people on buses trying to load coolers, making sure they get on the same bus w/ all their friends, making sure all buses are completely full, people running on/off the bus after they have already sat down because they forgot something or rather use the restroom at the restaurant (even though they are restrooms on the bus), etc.

3. We are now using, and for the last several parties, state-of-the-art scanning systems, and had 17 of our own staff at the event. If you had specific questions, there should have been someone there to answer it, including myself, as I try to attend all our events as well – as I have for the past 15+ years (yeah, we have been around that long – lol). If you had a specific question and we were not able to answer/address it, I apologize (but that is not normally the case). Another problem w/ the check-in besides the late arrival, were people we talking on their cell phones once they got to our scanning systems and didn’t know what to do as they were not paying attention, did not have their tickets out, or had folded their printed tickets so many times, it made it more difficult to scan.

4. Though our staff members are allowed to partake in the social aspects of our events, they know they are to maintain and keep up certain professionalism. If you know of a specific incidence or individual staff member that was unbecoming to our business, I would like to hear about it – name, bus number, etc.

5. We used to post the exact times and dates of our ticket price increase, but after the price increased we received correspondences from too many people saying they were out of town, sick, their servers were down at work, etc. and wanted us to give them the tix at a lower price. We use a ticket agency and can not flip flop back and forth on the prices each time someone wasn’t able to buy a ticket due to issues like the above. We keep the lower pricing down for a longer period of time, and we sold the majority of both our Gold Cup and wine fest tix at the very lowest price – also, a $29.99 ticket for the wine fest, and $69.99 ticket for Gold Cup are money losers for us (again, prices were we sold the most tix). Also, for the wine fest, the later ticket price increases were due to the fact that we added a large tent, tables, chairs, linens, and security out at the wine fest (something that became very useful during the 85+ degree, sunny day). These were additional items that were not originally advertised as part of our package. We also try to be perfectly honest and address any questions folks may have about ticket price increases, etc. as soon as they come in – below is an example of what I replied to you regarding Gold Cup and ticket price escalations, etc. over six weeks before this year’s Spring Gold Cup actually took place (5 hrs after we had received your initial email):

We are running deep discounts on Bus Trip tix right now ($30 – $40 below where they will end up in just a few weeks).
We do not offer any group discounts since the rate is already so low, but I would suggest purchasing the tix soon, so you can take advantage of this incredible deal.

6. I send out emails to all the ticket holders detailing the upcoming event, usually two days in advance, so that will give them time to reply w/ any questions they may have in advance. The email I send usually has details on the pre and post parties, what to bring, what you can/can’t bring on the buses, IDing requirements, etc. I see that you were sent four of these over the last year – two for the wine fests, and two for the last two Gold Cups – we go out of our way to try and provide our guests w/ info as well as give them ample time to ask any questions – kind of like you did w/ the ticket pricing six weeks before Gold Cup – we encourage this, and will continue to do so.

These are not excuses that I am presenting above but rather issues that we run in to on our end that exacerbate the situation.

Obviously, opinions like yours matter to us, as I wouldn’t have taken the time to address your concerns otherwise.

Again, I appreciate the time you took to explain your less than satisfactory experience, and we respect your concerns.

If we have lost you as a client, for that I am sorry, in addition to the problems you have explained above.

Thanks Again,

Patrick Barton, President
Party DC Events, LLC
11951 Freedom Dr., Suite 1300
Reston, VA 20190
Local – (703) 929-3735
F – (703) 327-0480
Toll Free (800) 370-0573

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Comments

  1. So you get some insincerely apologetic email from the washed-up proprietor of PartyDC and your boycott disappears faster than the proceeds from Victory Club? I thought you were standing up for the little guy, and now it seems like you are on Patrick Barton’s side. What is your price, Marc? Two tickets to next fall’s Gold Cup? A part-time job as one of the drunk staffers you used to hate? You’ve changed, man.

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