There is no better way to learn or celebrate ones interest then a weekend at a convention. Be it industry or fan – a convention is the best place to meet new friends, learn something new and have a good time.
As someone who has covered a verity of conventions, I have attended events that were well planned and those that were a total dumpster fire. This is another look at some of the mistakes conventions make while acknowledge those that do a great job at hosting an unforgettable weekend.
Please note that out of respect for the organizers and staff, I will not be calling out events that have issues.
5. Poor Communication
Communication is key to organizing a convention (be it major or minor). It’s how panelist and members of the press learn their credentials have been approved, vendors know where they need to setup, or volunteers known what their tasks are. It’s also important to keep attendees updated with regular newsletters or social media posts.
The Game Developers Conference would send newsletters every week to keep attendees and guests up to date. Silicon Valley Comic Con along with San Fransico Comic Con would regularly make announcements on Facebook regarding who has been added to the guest list and what has been canceled.
Hence it’s really baffling when the leadership fails to keep people updated or there is no real team dedicated to this task. Among the most common issues regarding poor communication have been panelists not being informed that their presentation has been approved or failing to inform attendees that an event has been canceled. Worst is when an event policy fails to reach the staff, causing a state of annoyance for everyone.
4. Lax Security
Following the averted shooting at Phoenix ComiCon 2017, convention organizers have had to find a balance between keeping everyone safe while preserving the festivities. It has now become standard practice for events to hire security while also having a few police officers at events to ensure everyone’s safety.
For example: there has always been a solid police presence along with bag checks at Silicon Valley Comic Con. Sea Monster Entertainment along with Crunchyroll hired additional security and requested officers from the Santa Clara Police Department to be present for Hydra Comic Con and Crunchyroll Expo 2017. Facebook took no chances in ensuring the safety of attendees at Oculus Connect 4 by having metal detectors, bag checks and police officers at every entrance.
Hence; its kind of baffling that some conventions don’t take security seriously. There have been conventions that don’t do a bag check or have any kind of security officer present. Then there have been convention that take the security to the extreme in which entering the event has become a hassle or too many items are banned (for the dumbest reasons). The key is to have a balance between having an open but safe atmosphere.
3. Inadequate WiFi
We live in a world that is always connected, which is why a proper internet connection is needed to showcase the convention. To ensure an event is being properly promoted as its taking place – attendees are encouraged to take photos and videos then post it on social media. This is only made possible if there is a proper WiFi setup at the convention.
Most convention centers will have free WiFi but most conventions will provide professionals with accesses to a special network. Many conventions in the South Bay are held at the San Jose Convention Center or the Santa Clara Convention Center, which provide guests with free WiFi. In regards to events; Oculus Connect 4, Crunchyroll Expo and the Game Developers Conference provided professionals with access to a separate WiFi network.
To not take the importance of good WiFi seriously is basically cutting off all the free promotion that guests could be offering. A lot of convention centers have areas that are dead-zones, resulting in smart phones unable to connect with an LTE network. It’s a different story at industry conventions when tech firms need a reliable network for their booth. Having issues with the WiFi would make start ups and major tech firms not wanna return for the next convention.
2. Tech Staff is Ill-Prepared
The tech staff are the backbone of every convention as they are responsible for ensuring everything is working. They are the ones who set up the projector for the panels, ensure the gaming stations are working or the audio equipment is properly set up for the concerts. The point is that they are the most important team at the convention.
So its really baffling when a convention either dose not provide the right equipment or the tech staff is ill trained. There have been conventions in which the tech staff were not provided with the right cables or outlets to set up the equipment. Other times, the tech staff had no knowledge or training in overcoming an issue. While rare, a poorly trained and equipped tech staff will could heavily disrupt the event for many guests.
1. Not Accepting Corporate Sponsors
Organizing a convention is not easy nor is it cheap, especially here in the Bay Area. While ticket and vendor spot sales are always the primary source of generating revenue, many events try to work out special partnerships with third parties. Some will have a special deal with the venue or hotel, others will work with local business to help out. A major division in supporting a convention has always been the acceptance of corporate sponsors.
This might not be a big deal for small events that attract under 3,000 guests, but it’s a different story for mid-sized and major conventions. Not accepting sponsors is basically shooting themselves in the foot because it limits what they can do and how much they can grow. Sometimes corporate support could help make the event more notable with exclusive premiers or early film screenings.
Major events like Silicon Valley Comic Con and the Game Developers Conference are made possible thanks to the help of corporate sponsors. Yet corporate sponsorship doesn’t have to be limited to financial support but by helping out with the convention. For example; Twitch is well known for helping organize gaming tournaments while Crunchyroll along with Funimation are known to support anime screenings and Moveable Feast has worked to have food trucks setup around several events.
On a side note, conventions should also be selective of who they accept support from as the wrong organization could cause problems. For example – don’t accept financial support from a company whose CEO demands a ban on pro-LGBT panels or events during the convention. However there is nothing wrong with accepting support from Marvel Studios in exchange for helping them promote their next movie.
Have you spotted these problems and what are your red flags for a poorly organized con? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. If we missed something then check out 5 Major Mistakes Convention Organizers Make.