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Life Skills for Fanboys: Con Locations

written by Tony DiGerolamo, Copyright 2014

To further my goal of helping fellow fanboys, I have included an index of links of previous columns with their topics.  Don’t take it personal, I’m just trying to help.  Previous columns are indexed at the end.

Con Organizing Ain’t Easy

But one of the major factors in building your con is just like a business:  Location, location, location.  Too far away from the highway and transit systems, no one can find you.  Too close to a major city and the facility will be out of your price range.  Where’s the sweet spot?

Where it’s not

I’ve never liked convention halls for a whole slew of reasons.  First, they are expensive.  And while they are highly visible, they tend to cater to be corporations who put on events like car shows where money is no object.  For comic book and sci-fi cons, it’s not really going to work.  Anyone remember the year Dragon Con moved to the convention center?  Oy.  It was terrible that year in my view.

But what about the San Diego Comic Con?

Yes, what about it?  In fact, what is it anymore?  Can you honestly describe it as a Comic Con when every cast of every TV show arrives to do panels?  Where the biggest displays are for movies?  Sure, it’s a huge facility that can accommodate the traffic, but again prices are super high.  One year I went, I met some fans that had to sleep in the park across the street.  They barely had enough money to come into the show and they had no money to buy anything.  Hardcore, but jeez.  Is this what it’s come to?  That same year, the restaurants also charged for electricity.  What the Hell?  If you ask, the San Diego Comic Con should be split up into multiple cons.  Let the TV and movie people have their own weeks.  Shift the comics to some place down town or get outside the city.

What is a Con?

Well a con is short for a convention and in the case of a comic book convention, it’s usually about comics and creators.  The best part is meeting the creator and interacting with them and finding some great comics to buy.  The problem with convention halls is that they’re too big and not very intimate.  Once the room closes, there’s often no where to go, so a lot of the con just ends until the next day.

Other Cons of the Convention Center

Over priced food, over paid convention center employees, paying to park, too much security and, the worst, the room always closes.

Hotel Option

Compare that to Dragon Con where the party runs all night.  I find the hotel option a much better one.  Sure, the facilities tend to be smaller, but so what?  Dragon Con just spread out to more hotels.  One for the art show, one for costume ball and concerts, etc.  Sure, the food is still going to be overpriced, but at least it’ll be high end.  And most hotels are happy to accommodate guests that want to eat elsewhere.  Convention Halls won’t even let you bring food inside!

Hotel employees tend to be friendlier.  Over the years, I’ve had at least three incidents with convention center employees, but hotel employees?  Not a one, really.  Usually you’re staying there and they don’t want to upset.  The other benefit is just that you’re not stuck in a giant, echo-y room with no carpeting.  Hotels also tend to be located near the highways and transit systems and during down time, they’re more than happy to lower their prices for an event that will make them money.

Hotel over convention hall any day of the week, I say.

Other Options

Depending on the size and scope of the show, there’s always VFW and Fire Halls.  College campuses often have facilities too.  And the campus facilities are more intimate like a hotel.  VFW Halls and Fire Halls tend to be more like small convention centers, but the price tag tends to make it worth it.

Thinking Outside the Box

I’ve also been at shows that were outside.  Great idea, if the weather is nice.  I’d love to see a convention on, say, a cruise ship.  That would be fun, although a tad more expensive, I think adult geeks would jump at it.  Just FYI, I am totally available to be a guest on a floating convention like that.  You’ll find me at the buffet with shrimp in my mouth if you need a comic book.

Previous Columns
Obesity at Cons
The Art of Conversation
Grooming The Line Between Fans and Pros
Geek Elitism
Convention Panels
Convention Volunteers
Food Gifts Women and Cons
Get Your Room Party Together
Stop Bringing Your Kids to Cons
The Face of Geek Needs Work
Fixing the Face of Geek
Franchise Worship
Presenting Your Project
The New Image?
Stop Trying to Make Geek Cool
 Rethinking the Comic Book Con
Zombie Stories Should Still Be About People
Geek Stereotypes and the Big Bang Theory