Conventions! You know, those places where a whole lot of people with similar interests get together on a sprcific date. In our case, comic/manga/anime is on our agenda,
We'ver tried to go to every convention we can, or at least send a rep. We know the scene. So we think, 'yeah, maybe' we can give some tips other people.
If you're planning on going to a convention or giving a display (or even planning the whole thing) these tips should help. If you're an old hand yourself, feel free to give your own helpful hints.
Click a link below and see you there!
I'm a visitor! I'm on display! I'm the organiser!
#1:Make sure you know exactly where the convention's taking place. Duh, right? Wrong. You could waste precious time and money running around in circles trying to find the right building (even if it's a big crowd) if you're not sure where it is. Or maybe you didn't hear the ad properly, or you got wrong directions. Criminals can take advantage of you if you wander around in a strange town, stay sharp!Back to top
#2: Before you rush off, make sure you have a ride home. Obvious? Trust me, you do not want to hitchhike home in the dark or hang around a strange street. Neither do you want to wait for hours in blazing hot sun, pouring rain, tornados or other awful weather. Avoid leaving in the dark, especially if you're alone, unless you have Kenshin's sword and fighting skills.Back to top
Weather? Maybe it's a no-brainer but
#3: Check the weather forecast and take along either a big plastic bag or an umbrella, whether the forecast is sun, snow or volcano. Humans can stand a little rain - but your comics, posters and other items can't.
#4: Try to get there early. Nooo, you don't have to camp out a week in advance (unless there's going to be something spectacular). But experienced conventioneers know that if you get there early enough, you can stake out the best seats for movies, take your time to browse through your favorite displays thoroughly and talk to the display organisers or other early-birds. Sometimes you get discounts, and first choice of the free stuff.Back to top
#5: Try to go with a group of friends. Several advantages here, people. You'll be safer walking to and from the convention building, yes. But if the convention's really big, you'll be able to split up and check out different areas at the same time then report back to the others on what's happening where. At best, you'll be able to pool or borrow money to buy things you really want. At least, you'll have people to talk, joke and complain to.Back to top
#6: Notepad and pen! Or anything else handy for notes. You may want autographs or just to write down addresses and phone no.s of retailers and any new friends you might make. If anything, carry just a pen. At least you can write on yourself.Back to top
By the way:A tee-shirt makes a very cool autograph 'book' that can even be worn afterwards if you use non-washable 'pens'. Just carry a plain tee-shirt and colored pens, mrkers, fabric markers, whatever and offer them to people to sign. A good souvenir.
#7: No babies and toddlers! If you really, really have to bring them, fine. But small kids get stepped on, lost or otherwise hurt in big crowds. They tend to grab and break things (which you will have to pay for) They can scream, cry, bug other people and generally spoil a party mood. Yells of 'I'm hungry!' 'I wanna go home now!' and 'I wanna go potty!' probably shouldn't be ignored, so your browsing time is seriously limited. We sympathise with parents/guardians and other caretakers.
#8: Dressing up? Cool! But choose wisely!If you wear a mask make sure you can see and breathe properly. Please. We don't want you bumping into people or collapsing onto the floor. Nuff said.
Your green/white/pink/whatever hair might look cool on Convention Day, but most dyes/color take a day or two to wash out. Don't dye if you've got school pictures to take the next day, this goes for skin colorings as well. (Eh, Silverwolf? No embarassing details, though...^_^) And always check the labels! You don't want your hair looking weird for the next few years, we warned you!
Wear costumes that fit the temperature. Heavy costumes in roasting heat? Uh oh. You'll impress people all right - the people at the hospital where you'll end up with heatstroke.
No real weapons, please! Cops and security guards might get tough -you see a genuine samurai sword but they see a really big, really sharp knife. There's also the temptation to give 'demonstrations' and get into fights. Not good. For example - imitation Wolverine claws may look cool but give nasty wounds which may require stitches. Ow...Back to top
#9: Keep your wallet in your tightest front pocket.It's a sad fact of life, but not everyone at the convention will be totally focused on the displays. Where there's crowds, there's pickpockets. Wallets stuffed carelessly into loose back pockets or half-open handbags will be very tempting... and if you lose your money you can't buy comics. Tragedy!Back to top
#10: Avoid big backpacks! This is common courtesy, isn't it? You don't want a big bulky bag swinging around hitting people left and right, do you? And if you knock over a display, you break it - you've bought it. Hand-carry your bags in front of you and you'll have more control and be able to get through the crowd more easily.Back to top
While we're at it : #11: Keep a sharp eye on your bags and personal belongings. In a crowded and exciting place anything can happen. Mistakes get made, stuff gets lost. Just be alert.Back to top
#12: Check the merchandise! Make sure you get what you apid for. Check that you have the correct number and issues of magazines or books you buy. Check that boxes really contain what they say and that everything works, even if it means opening packages in front of everbody. Some things you may have to "watch but don't touch" but if you really seriously want to buy it : show them the money but make sure you check the item before you give up the cash. It's your right as a consumer.Back to top
Check for damage and defects on brand-new items, maybe you'll get a rebate. Check for seal that certify that the article is genuine, eg. the Nintendo Seal of Approval, so you won't pay full price for cheap rip-offs. Also with so-called 'special edition' comics. You shouldn't handle them, but you should also have proof that they're really worth the cash.Back to top
Lucky you! You're going to be showcasing your stuff for other people to see and drool over! But can you do it effectively?
We've analysed the displays by helping set up and watching at conventions. So, wanna set up your own? Easier than you'd think if you grasp the basics!
#1: Decide what you want to offer.Do you have a theme or is it a widely ranged display? Are you going to just let poeple look or will any items be on sale? Will you be offering interactive games, free stuff or holding any kind of contest?
Now that you know what you want, will you be able to offer it? Eg., will you be able to keep track of everything? Can you afford the decorations? Can you get enough helpers on the day to keep eveything running smoothly? If you have to order anything, will it arrive in time? Will your prizes be worth entering your contest? Will you be able to transport bulky or fragile items safely?
We Say : People love to get anything free, especially if it's actively offered and they don't have to buy anything to get it. Freebies are also an excellent advertising medium.
Avoid having to specially order anything unless you've got extremely reliable service or months to spare. You never know what might happen, something may have to be returned or exchanged, or it may arrive late.
Get attractive staff members to handle advertising. It makes your section memorable and increases your traffic flow. Physically attractive, yes. But also avoid rude, crude, cranky, grumpy, pms helpers. Important - deoderant! Deoderant!
Definately try to have interactivity in your display. It could be videogames, it could be music-sampling, it could be a contest, anything that allows observers to actually take part. It's fun for them, exposure for you, and they'll enjoy watching other people do things too.
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#2: Decide on your focal point. Your focal point is your main point of interest, something or somewhere you want people to look at and be impressed most by. You build the display around the focal point, which should represent the essence of everything around it. EG. if your theme is Pokemon, you might have a pyramid of the latest Pokemon, a giant Pikachu or a rare card (something interesting and unusual) as your focal point. Draw people's attention to something immediately and they'll become aware of the other cool stuff.
You can break down one big display into several smaller displays in one section, each with its own focal point. EG. if you offer video games and comic books, you can make two displays with focal points of a working game system and a special-edition comic respectively, with games stuff arranged around the system and comics arranged around the special comic.
Analyse Traffic Flow and allocate space accordingly. For you, this means you check out the extent and shape of the section of the room you've been allocated, and location of entrances and exits. EG. if people enter from the left and you're near the door, traffic may flow by you from left to right so you can decide where to place your 'greeter' and flyer distributors, and where to place your interactive stuff so that you won't block the main flow. Or if you end up near a wall, you leave space for posters or something. Or if you're in the middle of the floor, you decide on a circular arrangement around your focal point. Or you can decide what items might go where, if you know your section beforehand. (sometimes we don't, so we have to decide on-site. That's why pre-determined focal points are so useful).Back to top
#3: Decide on background display and foreground display.If you have walls, you decide whether or not you want to put up posters or other things. Deciding what should be in the background or foreground will help you figure out whether you need display racks, clip-lines elevation blocks, mounting tape, whatever. EG. what items are you putting towards the front of your table and will they block other items or the focal point?Back to top
Now that you have a good idea of what you're going to be doing :
#4 : Allocate time, necessary items and materials.If you're going to need transport, secure a car, van or pickup in advance and have a back-up available if possible.
Pick out the items you're going to be needing for the display or sale and separate them a few days in advance. You'll be able to lay hands on them quickly and easily if they're sorted out and all in the same place. Include a few extras in case you run out or something gets damaged in transit.
Buy, borrow, sort out and prepare your 'support materials'. These include things like bristol-board to mount small items and posters, paper or cloth to cover your tables (unless provided by the organisers), streamers for decor etc. They also include things like a t.v. for game systems to run on, a CD player for sampling music, extension cords and racks for packages or displaying books.
We Say :A drinks cooler is a very important support system (for us, at least) if you're going to be at the convention all day and can't leave your post. If it's sturdy enough, it doubles as a seat or elevation block. Scissors and mounting/masking tape are also v.i. If you want to use hot glue bring along the longest extension cords you can get, it might be a loooong way to the nearest e-outlet!!Back to top
#4 : Safeguard your stuff!!The day before the conventions, you
should make lists of everything you're transporting. Divide the lists among your
'staff' if you can, let everyone be responsible for certain things and check
periodically, like when there's a lull in people-traffic.. This way you can keep
track of your belongings better.
Avoid leaving lots of small things lying loose, they're harder to keep track of. If somebody wants something, they'll ask, right? And who says you can't have empty boxes on display? Keep boxed stock under the table in case someone actually wants the item - it's safer in case the box gets bumped or falls, and you won't have to worry about theft. Neither will you have to disturb a display if you don't want to.
If you use electronics, make sure they're mounted on secure bases so they can't fall on anybody or get knocked off. Tape down or otherwise secure trailing cords so people won't trip or accidentally pull down the attached t.v./video/game system/fan/s-f machine/whatever.
Keep your personal bags or kits with you where you can see them, and keep those and everything else not on display somewhere inaccessible to the general public.
We Say : If it's expensive, if it can break, it it can get dirty - keep it in sight but keep it out of reach. Let them drool at a distance. If it's small and you can't afford losing it, glue it down (the package, at least).Back to top
Anyone can host a convention. Some people can host a truly excellent convention. All of them have some basic groundwork, but it's the tricks of the trade which can change a tiny soiree into Woodstock. ^_^ And it's surprisingly simple, once you've got your act together.
We'll go from the basics to the suggestions, tips 'n' tricks.^_^
Basic aims : To bring as many people as possible together in one area and keep them occupied / entertained.
Main plan : Obtain a venue, Advertise your location, Fill space with relevant displays.
Basic requirements: Committee, Floorspace, Time, Telephone/email
COMMITTEE : Organise your core people first. The people who are dedicated to make this thing work. Even if they do not assist you on D-day, they will help you organise other aspects leading up to it. You may have to delegate responsibility. You probably won't be able to do this alone because you need to advertise, contact people with displays and bring in other friends.
TELEPHONE / EMAIL : Most important to communicate with people. We assume that you've called all your friends to see who's interested. Good.
You're going to have to talk to a lot of people from the time you even think about hosting.
You'll have to :
Contact and keep in contact with the owner of your venue to make your arrangements for using the place
Get regular updates and discussions with your committee members, to solve problems in time and scan new ideas
Call your sponsors if you have any
Send out press releases and arrange for other forms of advertising,
Contact the people who want to set up displays, to ensure that they will arrive, and find how much space they might need
FLOORSPACE :This is the room/ building/ area where you're going to put all the displays and all the people. Ideally, it should be as big as you can manage, (hey, it's a convention) but can vary depending on the kind of crowd you realistically think you can expect. (See below. Way below.)
TIME : Even if you don't have much money budgeted, you must have time. Or else when are you going to make all those calls, emails and visits? You must also calculate your opening time eg. a convention in vacation time will have more visitors and be more welcome than one in the middle of a busy work/ school week. (Common sense here). Same thing goes for a convention that's been hyped for 3 days, less people will come than if they were expecting it for 3 weeks.
OKAY! That's over! Onto the tips n stuff! ^_^
Sponsors! Get them as soon as you can, maybe before you even get a committee. They'll help you advertise more or rent your floorspace and other things that might bite into your pocket.
Visit other conventions! If you have time in advance, that is. Check out other displays etc, get names and nos. of companies and individuals who might want to set up their displays in your place. It's a win-win situation, you want crowd attractors, they want crowd attention. Then you can drop names and pull people with your adds.
Surf the Net! Useful, so very very useful. Find other people like yourself and spread the word through chatrooms (do not spam people. that might drive tham away!!). Find interesting items and people who can contribute to your displays. Submit convention date, venue and time to appropriate bulletin / message boards or event trackers.
Bring your own crowd! A crowd attracts a crowd. Don't just tell your friends about your convention. Get them to promise to be there, to at least show up. Get them to bring along some other friends. Drive them there if you have to! ^_^ Other convention visitors may then arrive out of sheer curiousity. A sizable crowd will impress others and encourage them to remember the event and make an effort to come to the next one you host.
Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!It doesn't have to be TV or radio. (That helps a lot, though) You just have to (a) give your info to lots of people or (b) place your info where a lot of people will see it. Big bright banners are good. Flyers are okay. Business card- sized handouts are handy and convenient for a lot of people, but hold only basic info (use these along with other forms of advertising).Back to top
Somehow nothing much gets done and not much fun is when a crowd is jammed into a room without airconditioning in heatstroke weather. Please, spare us that! Try to organise for fans or open all the doors and windows.Back to top DOOR CRUSH
A crowd getting jammed in a doorway trying to get in or out damages bodies as well as collectible items. Designate 'entrance/exit' doors clearly. Maybe even rope and divide doorways to get some order.Back to top ADMISSION FEES
No way, Hosay. Especially not high door prices. It's a convention, not a concert. Don't ask us to pay to get in unless it's a huge crowd-puller. Sell some souvenirs or something.Back to top DOOR PRIZE
Always a good idea. Get yourself a decent sponsor, come up with a decent prize and people may come just to try to win it. Better yet, come up with several prizes and increase the odds of winning. Word will spread, the crowd will want to come to the next con you organise.Back to top CLEAR DIRECTIONS
A big banner or sign or any other bright, easily-seen indicator must be used to show where the convention is taking place. Please. And make sure the tv/radio/Net ad isn't screwed up. Include landmarks. You want guests from other towns, don't you?Back to top MAP
If you're using several rooms or a whole building, a map showing directions to each room and a list of the occupants would be an excellent guide.Back to top BE STRANGER-FRIENDLY
Depending on the extent of your convention, the duration and degree of advertising, there may be a lot of people who may not be familiar with your chosen part of town. A simple flyer with a convention map, location of payphones, bathrooms would help anyone - but add a mini-map showing eating-places and landmarks and your out-of-towners may bless your name.Back to top