I’ll let you into a little secret; event organising is relatively easy. Well, depends on how you’re intending to do it.
We’ve had few low-grade summer conventions here in my home town within the recent years, and it’s quite clear that the people who run the thing are modelling after other conventions in general look and feel. Outside the mimicry of everything else has been lacklustre. The biggest problem is that the people who are running the convention barely know what they’re doing, as they follow general ideas out there and act upon them without really thinking. In addition basically none of the people there have the proper education for the task they’re doing. You’d might thing that’s fine, but you’d be wrong with that.
In a city where there are possibilities to employ people for free from schools to handle certain aspects of your event, these possibilities are an immense resource you should never overlook. A second year graphics designer student knows more about making posters, illustrations and similar than a random person who draws a lot. A business student will more know more on advertising and other business related materials than a random chick who wants to post posters on her school walls. Even better; your city most likely has a business that handles event organising from scratch to the end and will be there to see that it will be good.
Of course, these resources are overlooked and discarded because making things together sounds nicer, which is loads of bullshit. If I’m exchanging money for a service, I’m not there to make anything; I’m there to consume the product I have put money into. It is extremely unfortunate that very few people realize that in making an event the event itself is secondary, as the customers who come to the event are what matters. Everything builds around them, everything is catered around them and all the goods the event organisers plan should surround in making the customers happy rather than aiming at making the event better. When the customer is happy, the event itself a success. Concentrating on the tree from the forest will be a fatal mistake.
Recently Frostbite, the same convention I reviewed early in the year, announced that they’ll turn next year’s convention into R-18. This means that all under eighteen years old people can’t get in. This is immensely stupid, as we know that most anime practitioners are from 14 to 20 years old. I see no reason why they should be limiting their customer base. No business model, especially those that are non-profit, should exclude customers from their base. The event organisers may be aiming for a deluxe-model service, but if the convention won’t get made in a far superior fashion, this is just stupid. Did they ever stop consider the sales stands as well? It’s pretty common to see younger kids buy more stuff on their allowances than older folks, as older customer generally have an access to such thing as the Internet, from which they can buy the exact same stuff for massively cheaper price. For example, locally I see people selling Pocky sticks for 30€ for six boxes. This is outrageously overpriced and nobody should support such scalping. If you know where to look, you can buy six boxes of Pocky sticks for 10€, and eight boxes all different flavours in larger boxes for the same price the local people offer. Then again, with this they shouldn’t be afraid of having porn out front. Seriously, why are these people stupid enough to allow under aged people to browse porn magazines and buy them?
You don’t need to be a graduated graphics designer or a business student to be able to put together a proper event. You need experience from people who already have extensive knowledge on how to put up put together an event. It is vital not to follow the ways of people who never had any idea of how to put up an event and just went with it. Life teaches, but those lessons can be wrong. You don’t hear anybody teaching Flat World theory anymore. If you do have access to people who know how things are supposed to be done, contact them for an advice or two. There is a clear line with how things are done well, half-assedly and just plain wrong.
One thing with conventions that is often negated in Finnish conventions is the quality of the programs volunteers put up. They’re just horribly bad, overall uninteresting and very uneducated. This is mostly because of lack of editorial involvement from the organisers’ part. There is usually one program responsible, who mostly just gets the people to be there and marks what their subject will be and how long it’ll take. That’s doing it wrong. This person should be involved with every program that is made, see their progress and comment what it needs and what needs to be cut down and keep the program presenters in tight leash. It doesn’t take much extra time in the end, it just needs to be given a damn. This makes he program building easier on the longer run and also gives proper feedback how the program has been built, which in turn makes the program presenter more experienced. It never matters what you as the presenter what to do and how, it’s always about what the audience wants to see and hear. It’s frustrating to see programs with high potential, only to be screwed up because the presentation lacks cohesion, concentrates on unnecessary points, lacks information and generally are just of bad subjects. It’s never about what you want to present; it’s what the audience, the customer, wants to hear.
I’ll tell you how I choose the few programs I’ve made. The starting point is what I am able to amass into a cohesive structure and thus be able to present, but only so that the audience would find it interesting and/or amusing. It’s vital that the subject is something of worth and value, something that’s not brought up before. If they have, I’m always sure to make mine superior in every way. It doesn’t really matter if the subject is somewhat new and unknown for me, as it is my job as a volunteering presenter to be sure the program I have is as good as it can be. This means that if I need to study and do many hours of research, then that’s what I need to do. It isn’t enough just to throw some damn pictures into a PowerPoint slide. That’s not even trying.
Next time you’re putting up an event, conduct a customer research. See what they like, whom they liked, what they want to see and what they hated. If your feedback is on level This and that was nice, it was cool to hang with friends, then you have a seriously troubled event in your hands and you need to start working on fixing it.