Consuite - Notes from ConFusion

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The following text file was an email sent to the ConFusion-ConCom list after the 2003 convention. ConFusion is either a small regional convention or a large state convention. There is an average of 700-900 people. The ConSuite is open 24 hours. 2 separate suites (smoking/non) on separate floors ran by one department.

This brain dump was created after the first year at a new hotel. It was not created for this Wiki but was simply copied here. I *highly* encourage people to edit/change/delete/restructure this list.


Chuck F. ConFusion Science Fiction Convention

Suggestions: Plastic snap-together shelving units (similar to what was used in the Art Show) can be used to organize. This could be put in the closets of the core suite's bathroom. Have shelves labeled, "Friday evening", "Saturday Morning", "Saturday Evening", and "Sunday Morning". That way no matter who is staffing the suite, they know exactly what to put out, and how much. Do not put these in easy view of ConSuite guests - they will help themselves.

Purchase a hand-held "Dirt Devil" vacuum cleaner to be used in the ConSuite. It would store easily and can be used to clean up quick messes. ALSO, it can be used to clean up tablecloths on your serving table without having to get a new tablecloth entirely.

Not only create a schedule of shifts and email it out to your staff a couple of weeks before the con, make sure you have people that will show up early on Friday (around 12:00) to help set up the suites. Setting up Thursday night as much as you can is good, but you can't get everything, and the food hasn't arrived yet. It will Friday.

POST YOUR STAFF SCHEDULE. Put this somewhere right near the entrance to the ConSuite. Not somewhere 100% obvious where everyone is going to want to look at it, but have it very easily accessible. That way any staff member can see who is coming in next, or when their next timeslot is if they forget. Scheduling four hour shifts works great. Six hour shifts are doable if you have to. Eight hour shifts are grueling and difficult. Any longer than eight and you'll lose friends. They will never ever work in a ConSuite again.

Set up well in advance people responsible for tear-down on Sunday. You cannot do it yourself, and you *will* need more help than you expect. I figured having four people would be enough. I was very wrong. I suggest at

  • least* six people starting early packing what they can. (Aka, around 9:00

if your pack-out truck leaves at 3:00.) Maybe close one room of the suite for storage.

If we're at the Troy Marriott, we know we will need bathtubs filled with ice on a regular basis. Make arrangements prior to Con to have the hotel fill these bathtubs with ice at pre-set times. Getting ice filled at night was troublesome during this first year. If the hotel knows they have to fill 4 tubs (two smoking, two non) with ice three times day at X, X, and X O'clock it will likely make things a lot easier. MAKE SURE TO TIP THE PEOPLE FILLING UP THE TUBS WITH ICE ON THEIR FIRST RUN. Try to make it a point to tip them each time they fill the tub, as it may be different people each shift.

Sam's Club does not take Visa or MasterCard (and likely no longer American Express) [true in 2003]. The only card they currently accept (though don't count it unless you have to) is Discover. HOWEVER, they do accept personal checks. They also accept business checks, and you can have the Con Treasurer fill them out to Sam's Club for you.

If you have to borrow a large truck to bring lots of unwieldy supplies (kegs, etc.) to the Convention remember that you will need to refill fuel used. Large trucks have HORRID gas mileage, and this mileage (and only this mileage) is a Con expense. The treasurer will probably be glad to know about this as you give him your budget. It cost $20 this year and approximately $25 last year.

At the Troy Marriott, hook up the Smoke Eater in the middle bathroom. You can have the output venting directly into the bathroom vent. This helps quite a bit.

Have a stereo with speakers that are AT LEAST 10 feet away from each other. More is better. If you have a boom box (or close speakers) one portion of the room will be very loud with music, and the other portion of the room won't be able to hear the music over people talking.

Music - Things **without vocals** make perfect background music, and set an ambiance well. A CD changer with a Shuffle function is great. Stick in 3-5 CD's with the same theme, press Shuffle and walk away. Easy and done for hours, and not repetitive.

Thursday night - Keep the door shut in the ConSuite for the after-dinner party. Have the music at a *very* low volume. We don't have the entire hotel and there are business people on the same floor that don't appreciate the noise.

If you have to share your room to be used as a ConSuite storage suite, bring earplugs. Seriously. I bring earplugs whenever I travel and they are very useful.

Beer: Two kegs of Bells Porter, two kegs of Woodchuck Cider (granny smith and amber). Both kegs of the Woodchuck were consumed in the smoking ConSuite and we ran out Sunday morning. We had about 2/3 of a barrel left of the Bells Porter. In the future, there is no need to UN-tap a keg overnight. Simply don't serve it if you don't want to. (Chuck untapping a keg means that Chuck wears a whole lot of beer when he messes up re-tapping it.)

We duplicated food efforts for each ConSuite. The below menu refers to only one ConSuite, so double it if you are planning on buying for two suites.

Standard: Peanut Butter and Jelly (could have kept a better eye on keeping bread out. It went faster than I thought.) Salty/Crunchy/Chocolate/Sugary Coffee - Fresh large pot made every shift. Most shifts poured out 1/2 of the pot. Note: Only make 1/2 pots unless midnight-4 or for mornings.

Breakfast: 3 different boxes of cereal, 3 gal milk, 2 gal OJ. Note: Due to Saturday consumption of 2 gals milk we only bought two gals of milk for Sunday and were fine. (Remaining gallon was *slowly* picked at during the day and more of a bother than a plus.) 12 dozen doughnuts, several dozen (5?) bagels, cream cheese. Note: Only get Plain Cream Cheese. Other types simply are not touched.

Meat/Cheese Trays: 1.5 lb ham 1.5 lb turkey 1 lb roast beef 3 loaves decent bread 3 different types of sliced cheeses. Weight unremembered. As always, meat gets eaten just as fast as we put it out. Originally the plan was to have 1 lb of each meat. The initial tray accidentally had 1.5 lbs (except roast beef, which is sold in 2 lb packs at Sam's Club) and it worked well so we stayed with it.

Deli Trays: 1.5 lb broccoli 1.5 lb baby carrots 1.5 lb celery Bowl of dill dip in the center of the tray. Quick, easy, and the broccoli doesn't go fast at all. It's almost always the one that's left at the end. I think carrots go the quickest.

Crunchy/Salties/Sugary/Random Foodstuffs Buy a lot more standard Salty/Crunchy on Friday than you think you're going to use for all of Friday and Saturday. You'll likely start running out of them Saturday early am anyway - they're cheap, buy lots. One big bag/barrel of pretzels has always lasted me the whole Con. Grapes last a surprisingly long time (as in, they stay out and people don't inhale them.) People love pistachios; they're particularly good late in the evening when people are sitting and talking. Buy a huge can of peanuts - you can fill small bowls with your can all con. Ridged Sun Chips are a hit - no name potato chips are not. Don't eat anything off the floor even if you're almost 100% sure it's the same thing you've just dropped. Fruit goes over well - bananas are great and people like them. Apples are more portable than oranges, but oranges seem to go better.

Sometimes people don't eat a whole banana so cut them in half (horizontally) when you put them out. Also, remove the individual bananas from the "hand"--for some reason, people won't do this. If you have the staff, cut the oranges into wedges, and do the same for the apples. To keep the apples from browning, you can put them in a bowl and pour Sprite over them. Have a fork next to the bowl for people to fish them out. Unless you know people specifically want it, don't save pennies buying lower quality foods/brands that you wouldn't want to eat - other people will share your opinion.

There's plenty more in my head, but if I keep writing them this will be a novel and not a printout or email. There is one suggestion that I've saved for last, as it is the most important. Pick a good staff. A good staff will ensure that things will go well and that you won't have to worry (though you will anyway). Who knows, you might even get to some programming because of it. <grin>


Chuck Co-ConSuite, ConFusion 2003


ConSuite - needs a plan for shopping, unloading truck, and storage

- engineering room should be done Thursday afternoon so room can be ready for relaxing Thursday night after dinner

- shelving needed for ConSuite for closet in middle bathroom - was in Ops, may be damaged: Check cube!

- put 1 banquet under chandelier, one under window

- rearrange flow of rooms

- documentation would be great: plan and responsibilities, supplies and how they work

- sign for "birthday must be on or before 'X' date"

- Chuck wrote a "shift, here's what you need to know"

- Chuck had shifts overlap by 1/2 hour

- may need to buy right-sized coffee cups