One bonus for people who attend the National Quartet Convention annually is the ability to lock in permanent seat assignments. If you buy a three-night or six night package, you can renew it the following year. This is great. I met several wonderful individuals who have permanent seats next to mine in Louisville, and I look forward to seeing them every year. I’m glad I’m going back for the final year in Louisville, because it may be the last time I get to see them.
The general question about whether the permanent seat program would continue in 2014 was addressed by NQC several months ago:
“When you purchase your seats for the 2013 NQC, you will have seats reserved in a comparable location in the Leconte Center for 2014. You can purchase and try to upgrade those seats at the 2013 NQC or wait for the invoice and pay by the end of February of 2014.” – (SOURCE)
On Monday, permanent seat holders who had an email address associated with their account received an invoice and a link to a seating chart showing their new seat assignments for 2014. I received one for a pair of seats I purchased earlier this year for some friends, but not for the seat I have held for approximately 15 years that is 5 rows from the stage in Louisville. After contacting iTickets (NQC’s ticket processing company), they were able to look it up and send me the seat assignment for that seat as well.
When I saw the new assignment, one thing baffled me. I’m on the same row every night in Louisville, and even in the same seat two of those nights, yet I was assigned seats that ranged from 8 to 16 rows back for the three nights in Pigeon Forge. I’m not sure how that qualifies as “comparable.” I didn’t expect to be within five rows necessarily, but I expected the seats to be consistent since my 2013 seats are virtually in the same spot every night.
I called again and was able to speak with the same rep. She did not have an answer for my question, but explained that she could upgrade my seats. I said OK. Two of those seats are going to be closer than my Louisville seats. Yay, me!
Well, sort of…
Usually, when I renew my permanent seat, I’m not required to pay until February. My options this year were to either take the seats I was assigned (which were definitely not “comparable” to the Louisville seats), or pay six months earlier than usual for the upgrade. I paid.
I sent an email to Clarke Beasley questioning this policy, and while he didn’t really get into the wheres and whys in his reply, he did raise one very important point that permanent seat holders should consider:
Even if you pay right now, there is no risk, because they are offering refunds through the month of July.
If you are currently a permanent seat holder and plan to attend NQC in 2014, I would urge you to call them as soon as possible at 800-846-8499. Select extension 1. Many of you may have never provided NQC with an email address associated with your permanent seat purchase, so you won’t have received a notification. 2014 seats go on sale September 9, but current permanent seat holders may be able to upgrade your location as long as you don’t mind paying now.
A few hours ago, I sent out a request for comments to other permanent seat holders. Some are happy and some are not. Here are a few of the responses:
1. “I got seats closer but at an angle.” (This comment was accompanied by a frown face icon.)
2. “I have a row Q, a row J & a row B. My previous seats were 5 rows up, 3 rows up and 2 rows up from the floor. Since this new venue is all on the floor…….??? Who knows??? I seriously don’t think I will be going after this year. Hate the thought, but the new venue all on one level doesn’t look appealing to me.”
3. “I got an e-mail that told me which seat numbers I have and then I looked at the seating chart. Yes, mine are pretty comparable. I’m very satisfied with the assignments.”
4. “We received our new assignments via email. The bottom of the email contained a link to the NQC seating plan. Some of the assignments were better than Louisville and some worse. I made a phone call to pay for next year and try to get some of the seats changed. Within a short period of time I was able to change 3 of the nights to better seats. We’re a little disappointed that we are in different seats each night, however, most of our seats are closer than we were in Louisville. The furthest back is row K. We will have to see how good that is when we get there.”
5. “I got my e-mail yesterday and mine seems pretty similar to what i have in Louisville!!!”
6. “My opinion: the new system is awful so far. This year (2013) will be our 17th NQC. Every year we have gone over early on Monday morning at NQC, in the dark many years, standing in line waiting for the doors to open to try to upgrade our tickets. We really like the seats we have for all 6 nights. You know where we are for 3 of them. The other 3 nights we are 7 and 9 rows, respectively, higher than Mon-Wed. We do not have aisle seats. Wow, what a disappointment when we received our email. In 2014, the first 3 nights are okay, but Thurs-Sat they have placed us anywhere from 25 to 27 rows back.”
7. “Our seats are different all three nights and instead of being in row H, we are in rows X and Y. They said if we want to give up our aisle seats they can move us forward. We are thinking about it but probably will not go anymore.”
Feel free to add you own comments at the end of this article.
Finally, here is the 2014 seating chart. A couple of other seating charts for the Pigeon Forge venue are floating around the internet, but this is the one NQC will be using in 2014.