Username Post: Five Things More Anime Conventions Need
Obsessed with robots
Posts: 1468
Age: 36
Reg: 02-25-09
05-05-12 06:24 AM - Post#10751    
    In response to EllyStar

Some others I thought of:

Room/Programming Tracking
There are many ways this can be done. If your convention has a specific theme each year, you might want to highlight panels and events that are related to it in the program guide. (Example: If you've got a sports theme, make it known that the Princess Nine screening and Eyeshield 21 panels are related to the theme with an asterisk next to their titles in the schedule and program guide)
Another form this can take is by tracking rooms. This largely depends on the number of programming rooms are available in the space the convention is held in, but if it can be done, it helps a lot. This tends to be better for multi-genre conventions, (such as every panel on anime being in the same place) but I've seen it work at more focused events too when there are a lot of events that draw the same types of fans. (Example: Having Bleach, Naruto and One Piece panels all in the same area saves people from having to keep searching for a new room. 

Offer strong counter masquerade programming
I think more conventions are getting better about this, but it's still a problem that persists. Masquerades are a big part of the convention, but they aren't everyone's bag. They also are a larger chunk of time. If you're an attendee who isn't interested in the masquerade, or even someone who couldn't get in because the room was at capacity, that chunk of time is going to be really boring if the Masq is the only decent event going on. 

Take care of your staff
Bill Marriott Sr. (yes, the guy who the huge hotel company is named after) had a saying. "If you take care of the employee, the employee will take care of the customer, and the customer will come back." It's as true for hotels as it is conventions. Most staffers a volunteers, offering their time and skills to make the event successful, so make them feel appreciated for the work they do. The ways you can take care of your staff will depend on your budget. You might be able to pay for everyone's hotel room, meals, and throw a wrap party, but you can nurture camaderie, be honest with them, and listen to ideas and feedback from everyone on staff. That being said, if you do make promises, keep them and do them right. I've heard horror stories from big name cons. One friend had to make an emergency run for lots of bread, peanut butter, and jelly because the "dinner" promised to him and his staffers turned out to be a 6 foot long Subway sub that had been left uncovered for hours. 

Document, acknowledge, and above all learn from your mistakes
If you think you did everything right, you're not looking hard enough. Few things can be more disheartening than seeing the same issue arise at a con year after year. It's often why people stop coming to certain conventions. This is why cons have feedback panels, but it can also come about in forums, e-mails, social media, and of course staff. (Remember what I said about listening to your staff?)

Get the community involved
When I'm at a con, especially one that I've traveled a significant distance to attend, one thing that's sure to put a smile on my face is seeing a "Welcome ______ attendees!" It can come in many forms, like a banner from the tourist bureau, the local pizza place advertising specials for attendees, or a nearby copy center looking forward to artists making more prints to sell.  I've seen cons get free goodies to give away to attendees and local restaurants offer deals to people wearing con badges (or discounts on deliveries to con hotels). Heck I even met a clerk at a shoe store near Anime Boston that couldn't wait for the con to return. 
Initially, it's a lot of leg work, contacting press outlets, calling and visiting nearby business, but when the community knows about your event and looks forward to it, everyone wins. Attendees like specials and freebies, stores and restaurants like doing more business. A community that seems welcoming to the attendee has a better chance of seeing that attendee return to the convention. 
-Doug Wilder
Resident Mecha fanboy of AnimeCons TV!

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