CONQuest 2023, the highly anticipated summer convention for pop culture enthusiasts, promised an unforgettable experience filled with gaming, music, comics, cosplay, and anime.
Held mainly at the SMX Convention Center, attendees eagerly awaited star-studded guests and exciting performances from their favorite bands.
However, the event faced severe criticism starting from Day 2 and Day 3 due to numerous technical and operational difficulties.
Although the convention was held at multiple locations, including SMX Manila, Conrad Hotel, NU MOA, Mall of Asia Atrium, Seashell Lane, and Microtel MOA, attendees experienced frustration and disappointment.
The main SMX Area was overwhelmed by an unprecedented number of people, resulting in long queues lasting three to five hours in scorching heat.
Even con-goers inside the venue were forced to line up due to overcrowding. Signs held by guards indicated that both venues had reached maximum capacity.
Day 1 – The Calm Before the Storm
Day 1 of CONQuest 2023 proceeded without major issues. Attendees enjoyed a variety of exciting activities on the First Floor Main Event Hall, including booths with free merchandise and engaging games.
Famous personalities like Joey TheAnimeMan and Akidearest entertained the crowd, while brands like Riot, Predator, Undawn, Binance, and Garena added to the excitement.
Day 2 – The Sudden Influx of Attendees
The second day of the event started out fine in the morning, but gradually lines began to form around lunchtime.
Venue attendees suddenly found themselves unable to get into the first- and second-floor areas, with guards and staff already informing the attendees that the event area was already full.
Con-goers had to line up for hours just to enter, and even re-entry participants had to also join in the same line, ending up waiting to enter the event floors for more than two hours inside the venue.
Entrances to the area had also been closed off, and a lot of ticket holders were unable to enter despite having their wristbands ready. Disappointed and frustrated Congoers ranting on social media about their experience.
One con-goer, Mai Kozakura, shares her experience:
“We paid 800 pesos to line up for 4 hours outside of SMX in the heat and another hour to go up the 2nd floor.”
Another attendee, Abigail Misalucha, also shares her thoughts on the event:
“I also wasn’t able to go in; the line was suffocating, and it was a whole waste of time waiting to get in only to be surprised by more lines as we slowly made our way around the building—definitely not worth the ticket.”
Day 3 – Lines starting as early as 8AM
The third day seemed to still have its line issues, starting as early as 8 a.m. despite the doors still opening at 10 a.m. Attendees were forced to line up in the early morning in hopes of getting in, while others who saw the long line had already opted not to pursue going to the event anymore.
“I couldn’t go in. The line occupied one half of the road and wrapped around the SMX building,” Jia Sato states, sharing her lament upon being unable to enter the premises.
Aside from the long lines, entrances to other areas had been limited, thus also running out of the guests’ Meet and Greet passes, making attendees who had already paid tickets unable to meet their idols and/or having very limited time to enjoy the event.
Food stalls had also been reported to have been cut off as early as 3 p.m. onward, further agitating the Congoers who had planned to eat inside the premises after a long line.
More issues were raised throughout the event, mainly stemming from the suspected overselling of tickets and overfilling of the venue’s capacity. With that being said, CONQuest had already addressed those who were unable to attend the links for their refund process, which is still ongoing as of now (June 7, 2023).
CONQuest Offers Ticket Refunds to Attendees
With the unsatisfactory event for those who were not able to attend the event, CONQuest had already issued their process of refunding through their Facebook Page, which is accessible here: conquestph.com/refunds
According to their official page:
“We acknowledge that there are several issues that need to be addressed besides this, and we are dedicated to resolving them one by one in the following days. Our objective is to do right by our community and enact sweeping changes and remedies to deliver the convention experience you deserve.”
Questers, we sincerely apologize for the inconvenience and discomfort that many of you experienced during CONQuest due to the long lines outside the convention.
We recognize that your experience did not meet your expectations, and we will make amends starting with the release… pic.twitter.com/Z6og5lqUed
— CONQuest Festival 2023 ☁️ (@CONQuestPHL) June 7, 2023
An Apology post from the co-organizer, Justin Banusing, had also been circulating throughout social media, in which he says he had “overpromised and underdelivered” and that he still thanks everyone for the support of the event. He vows to rectify CONQuest’s lapses to help earn back the public’s trust, starting with the ongoing refunds.
“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. Worse is that I hyped it up a LOT – and hype means nothing when you cannot enjoy it.” – Justin Banusing
After Event and Moving Forward
The whole CONQuest event had left quite an unforgettable experience for the Con-goers, with most of them still hoping for better organizational management at their future events.
Some attendees still hope for a possible redemption event, such as influencer LadyMadeStar, with her comments stating that despite lining for 3 hours, she believes events are “not always perfect” and that the CONQuest team can do better next time.
“Stay strong and malalagpasan niyo rin. I appreciate your bravery and accountability in posting your apology. You’re a great leader in my pov.”
Will the CONQUEST team still be able to reestablish themselves from the last event? It might be too early to tell, but one thing’s for sure: they plan to rectify their mistakes and hope for better changes in the future.