Ah, conventions! Those special events in the year where you can just get out of your shells, meet new people in the same interests as you, buy a lot of merchandise, meet special guests, and so on. All the big and highly anticipated conventions start out small and eventually they grow bigger and bigger as years go by.
I have been attending cosplay conventions since 2010. I started travelling to attend bigger ones in 2014. My experiences were a mixture of mostly good and sometimes bad. Aside from that, I also heard a lot of tales from fellow friends who are both con attendees and cosplayers.
Behind all the massive success and hype that these events bring, it doesn’t hide the fact that there are some that don’t really go as planned—I’m pretty sure some of you have experienced this whether it’s a small cosplay event or a massively ambitious anime convention. This has been in my thoughts for quite some time now and here are some of my observations to why some conventions tend to fail.
Lack of Communication Between Organizers and Venue Management
The secret formula to a successful event is not just about the sponsorships and partners that help you out, it’s also the proper and clear communication between organizers and venue management. This is easier said than done because the organizers have their own thing and own system but the venue management has their own protocols and they don’t just bend or change their system for a particular event.
This is why it’s a must that organizers should coordinate with the venue management as early as a year before the convention dates. Don’t forget that you are going to cater hundreds and thousands of people and this is a volume that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You’d probably end up with disappointed attendees staying on long lines or decided to just have their cosplay photoshoots outside of the venue instead.
One of the reasons why some would travel miles just to attend a convention is because of the guests that organizers are inviting in to be part of the events. However, some bite off more than they can chew so they ended up promoting these guests, keeping theirs and their attendees’ hopes up but in the end, they never came because the organizers were so confident that they would bring them not realizing how much time and expense are needed to make sure they will be here safely and be taken care off.
Remember that they can’t just fly to your venue for free and as organizers, it is their responsibility to cover everything during their stay.
Just in case you don’t really get what I mean, I’ll give you these videos as popular examples. The first video is during the infamous Dashcon back in 2014 where the Welcome to Night Vale team was invited for a live-reading panel but only decided to back out after the organizers did not pay for their flight tickets, performance fee, and accommodations.
The second video is about blogger and cosplayer Kelly Eden sharing that she (along with other cosplayers) were invited to the Philippines but only to find out that the event dates were moved. For the knowledge of everyone, the said event did not push through and the organizer went into hiding.
There are lots and lots of stories under this category but this is getting too long so I’ll leave it at that.
Tickets Too Pricey but Not Worth It
Convention tickets and badges are your entrance to these epic events. However, if you paid a pricey ticket but you ended up with an event that is as bland as a dish from Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares, then there’s a high chance you wouldn’t want to go that event ever again. Keep in mind that each attendee has very high expectations for an annual con so it is the organizer’s responsibility to make sure there are lots of activities, lots of panels, and other stuff for everyone to enjoy.
Lack of Security
If you’re going to organize a con, at least put security as part of the top priority list. If the venue cannot provide you with enough security guards to go around the venue premises, you can always let the convention organizing staff do the work. There had been tales of guests and con attendees getting their belongings stolen.
You know too well that majority of the attendees will be bringing some big bags with them—how about putting up a bag deposit area in the con to keep them safe or something?
Conventions are made for one simple reason: to bring everyone together for the interests they love. Although money or business connections are most of the time involved in this, let’s not forget what is more important here. Organizers, if one thing did not go well while the con is ongoing, then you need to fix it immediately before the situation gets worse in the next days or even in the next convention date. The more you let some things repeat itself, don’t be surprised that you’d be hearing comments from others saying that they rather attend a different convention next year and not attend yours at all.
For convention attendees, let’s also remember that not all conventions are perfect. Although they have everything being laid down to you on the table, they are just some things that are out of their control. If the event that you attended did not go well this year, don’t fret. There’s more to come next year so don’t keep your hopes down.
Well, the choice is yours in the end anyway. If you have convention experiences to share (both good and bad), feel free to leave a comment.