Username Post: The Art of Inviting a Guest HELP        (Topic#3545)
UncleBoogeyman 
Newbie

Loc: FL
Reg: 01-17-16

01-17-16 01:31 PM - Post#14780    

So,
I'm in the very, very preliminary stages of starting a con, and it would really help if someone here would display a template or examples of how they contact a guest and request their appearance.

I'm not fond of the idea of appearance fees, but do not want to explicitly state so... and also don't want to give them much lead-way by asking if they require it, but of course need to go over all details with said guest... and I also want to appear as professional as possible to ensure their comfort, so if you have any advice, or hopefully examples, by all means, please share them. Thank you!


 
PatrickD 
Executive Producer
PatrickD
Loc: California
Reg: 12-07-06

01-18-16 02:35 AM - Post#14781    
    In response to UncleBoogeyman

  • UncleBoogeyman Said:
So,
I'm in the very, very preliminary stages of starting a con, and it would really help if someone here would display a template or examples of how they contact a guest and request their appearance.

I'm not fond of the idea of appearance fees, but do not want to explicitly state so... and also don't want to give them much lead-way by asking if they require it, but of course need to go over all details with said guest... and I also want to appear as professional as possible to ensure their comfort, so if you have any advice, or hopefully examples, by all means, please share them. Thank you!



Appearance fees are an unfortunate reality of conventions these days. If you want to avoid them and try to get guests on a very limited budget, there may be some options.

At the very least, you'll have to pay for a badge for any guest. They're not going to come if they have to pay, obviously. You'll also be expected to handle lodging and meals for the guest for the duration of the convention. Some conventions will take guests out to dinner and others will give them a stipend for meals. It depends on what you have in your area. If there's not a lot of places to eat around you, then you should take them somewhere to eat...but if your convention is surrounded by an assortment of restaurants (not fast food) then they may be fine on their own. Some guests will sometimes prefer to go out on their own too. (...and keep in mind that some guests may have dietary restrictions or requirements...vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, allergies, etc...)

For any guests in your local area, that may be enough. (Hell, you may even get some that live really close to come without lodging as long as they can park for free too.) ...but as you reach out beyond your town, you'll have to cover travel. If they drive, you'd pay a certain amount per mile. If they fly, you'd obviously pay for their flight and give them rides to/from the airport. (Coach is usually fine, but upgrade someone to at least business class if they're coming from overseas.)

That covers lodging, dining, and travel. The only remaining expense is for an appearance fee. Many guests will want one...but appearance fees vary greatly. Some may want a couple hundred bucks, but your big name actors will command tens of thousands. If you're a first year con, you're not going to be able to afford William Shatner or Nathan Fillion. Set your sights a little lower. Even an appearance fee of a few hundred bucks isn't that much after you consider the return on your investment. Will Guest X bring in 100 people paying $40? That's $4000...minus the hotel, travel, and meals, you should still be able to pay up to a couple thousand and still have some leftover to help with other con expenses.

Now, I'm not saying that you need to blow the whole budget on guests, but don't write off appearance fees as something that you absolutely must avoid. Seek out a few nice guests with lower appearance fees of a few hundred bucks and you should be fine.
-PatrickD
AnimeCons.com Executive Producer
Co-Founder: Anime Boston and Providence Anime Conference
Host of The Chibi Project & Anime Unscripted™


 
UncleBoogeyman 
Newbie

Loc: FL
Reg: 01-17-16

01-18-16 04:13 AM - Post#14783    
    In response to PatrickD

Oh, I am certainly not actively writing off appearance fees. There are plenty of guests I'd be willing to splurge on! My point was the process of sending that first email to the guest or their agent, manager, etc, and how to word the specifics. Do you immediately mention that you'll pay for travel, hotel costs? Do you ask upfront if they have an appearance fee or do you make an offer or do you just wait and see if they respond to the possibility of attending?

I assume you have to send multiple emails in regards to photo-op & panel schedules... and I assume you do this through the usual way, contacting their agent, or are you usually on a texting/personal email basis after a certain point?
I'll take it as common courtesy to offer pick-up from the airport, especially with older guests. Given I live in a metro area with a bit of sightseeing, I'm assuming some of the younger guests may want to do a bit of traveling so I'm thinking I will mention the car rental services & sights to see. I'm a bit on the younger side.. meaning I don't have my license, so would it be perfectly okay to leave the duty of pick-up to a more established staff member/volunteer?

It's the Tampa Bay area, so choices in dining shouldn't be an issue. At least I don't *think* taking the guests out to eat would be necessary... Paying them upfront for food is fine, but how much is reasonable?

When it comes to plane tickets, do you send in the mail or via email? I ask because one guest at a horror convention seemed to have an issue after his ticket didn't arrive via mail... I assume a discussion regarding the purchasing of the ticket is in order... Is paying for their significant other/+1's ticket common?

So many things to keep track of.

If you could provide an actual copy, either here or via message, of an email you've sent to a guest/agent, I'd appreciate it immensely. And thank you so much for the response!


 
Brian M 
Newbie

Loc: Georgia
Reg: 06-25-15

06-05-16 01:23 PM - Post#15046    
    In response to UncleBoogeyman

Another option is to do paid autographs. Most anime cons do appearance fees, and the guest signs autographs for free (because they are paid to be there). You may have noticed that comic cons charge for autographs. This is because the guests are allowed to keep the money from autographs and photo ops, rather than a flat rate appearance fee. Keep in mind that some guests will want a guaranteed amount. For example Guest X may show up without an appearance fee and charge for autographs, but they will ask you to guarantee that they get at least $1500 in autograph sales. How do you guarantee that? You top them up if they come in under that amount. You may have noticed that the guests at a comic con have someone who checks off a tracking sheet for each autograph sold, that is so the con knows if the guest made their guaranteed sales. If a guest comes in under the guaranteed amount, (i.e. sold $1200 of autographs when they were guaranteed $1500) you would pay them the difference (i.e. $300). If they make or exceed their goal, then there is no appearance fee. That's how comic cons get 15 or 20 guests to show up, they don't have to pay appearance fees.

Keep in mind that even though there is no appearance fees, you may still have to cover travel and lodging for the guest, but that will be spelled out in your contract. I have known of guests with very strange specifications in their contracts, including one that demanded a beef tongue burrito.

Good luck and have fun running your con. It is a lot of hard work, but its definitely very fulfilling if all goes well.

 
shaquanj 
Newbie

Loc: 1910 Skidaway Rd, 33A
Reg: 01-19-17

01-19-17 06:51 PM - Post#15296    
    In response to UncleBoogeyman

I am starting a con next year and I also had issues with the appearance fees, but one thing I can say is if you keep looking you'll find great guests that may just appear "at-cost". Or those who "sell autographs". I would say keep looking. Keep in mind that on your first year,you need to be very careful about how much you spend on what. Don't splurge on guests. It's the content that attendees will care for more.

 
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