Username Post: Rebuttal: 5 Signs a Comic Convention Is Going to Be a Disaster        (Topic#3591)
Obsessed with robots
Posts: 1468
Reg: 02-25-09

06-07-16 01:28 PM - Post#15056    

Just saw this article from Houston and thought I'd toss it in here, see what other's thought.

Warning Signs a Comic Con is Going to be a Disaster

There's some common points to what we've brought up here First Year Con Red Flags, but there's a few more things to look at and I've got an opinion on things here as well.

5. A String of Big-Name Cancellations
This is probably the only point I agree with the article on 100%. If lots of people are dropping out, something is probably going on behind the scenes, either staff is doing something to make the guests decide it's not worth their time, or budgets are getting mismanaged and things like food and transportation for the guests can no longer be paid.

4. A New Convention (Or Under New Management)
This I'll disagree with a bit. Not all new cons are bad, especially if the staff managing it has a lot of experience. I think the author has the right idea that it's important to be flexible when a con is new. "New management" is a very loaded phrase. Some conventions have their leadership change every year through elections, term limits, or other reasons.

3. No Con App or a Bad Con App
Don't get me wrong, I think every convention that can, should use Guidebook, which has more or less set the standard for what a good convention app can and should be, but at the same time, not everyone has the resources to make it really worth their while. Not to mention, smaller conventions are often so contained to a smaller area that it's pretty easy to navigate and look at a schedule outside a room.
As far as a "bad" app. This can definitely be a pain (I'm still not a fan of DragonCon's app which seems to need an update every time it's opened) but there are plenty of other resources out there for disseminating information. This is where having things like a strong social media presence and a well designed website (that's kept up to date!) are very valuable tools.
Beyond that, not everyone has a smart phone. A good app is definitely a useful tool, but it should never be the only way to get information out.

2. Things That Are Too Good to Be True
This is another point that I think needs a bit more unpacking. Some events are able to pull off pretty amazing feats. Anime Boston got the 5 leads from the dub of Gundam Wing when it was near its peak popularity, and that was the con's first year. At the same time, if you can, look at the convention's history, see what other big things they've done in the past. Have they had big things like this before? If ts the new thing is bigger than what they've done in the past, does it seem like reasonable growth from previous years? I think the real key here is to not put all your eggs in one basket. Cons have lots of things going on, and if you're only banking on one thing to make attending a con "worth it" you've got to assume some risk. Programming rooms fill, autograph lines get capped, vendors sell out of certain items. Hope for the best, but just be ready in case something happens.

1. No Walkie-Talkies
I could FEEL my eyes rolling as I read this part.

  • In reply to:
If you walk into a convention and you see that the staff has few or no walkie-talkies, turn around and walk out immediately. There is simply no point in continuing. Get your refund.

No one is going to have a clue what’s going on. Panels will be late or get canceled. Celebrities will not be herded properly. Problems will not be addressed. As with any army, communications is the most important thing, and a con that neglects that, thinking it can make do with smart phones, has not thought this through.

For starters, if you find me a con that will actually give you a refund on the sole reason that you decided to leave when you didn't see enough walkie-talkies, I'll pay you the refund amount. Cons need a really good reason to give you a refund. A lack of radios does not qualify as one
Ok, let's get int the nuts and bolts of this.
In practice, not every staff needs a radio. The more staff members using radios mean more traffic on the channel(s), running the risk of important information not getting through in a timely manner.
There are also times, like herding guests as the article mentions, where you don't want the information getting blasted out over a radio channel. This is why several Guest Relations departments I've seen have been at their best BECAUSE they are communicating via text messages or via apps like Slack and GroupMe.
Again, I think it's easy to forget things like small cons. Buy or renting radios for a weekend gets expensive VERY quick. Not every con has a budget for things like radios, and in reality, they probably don't need them.

It also strikes me as odd that they say "smart phones are good" in an article that insists on having apps.

Ok, I'll step off my soapbox now. Curious to see what the rest of you think.
-Doug Wilder
Resident Mecha fanboy of AnimeCons TV!

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