Letter:Dealers room - Kathy Evans

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Goal

Here are my suggestions on convention communication details; hope some of this helps you and others. I've probably have forgotten many things, but have tried to include a number of the "gotchas" and pieces of helpful information I've encountered through the years with the idea of saving headaches all around. Miscommunication is frustrating for everyone. Thank you for your time and effort reading this and producing good conventions. Let's all have fun.

Details

1. Approach I feel it is most productive if everyone kept attitudes and politics out of running and participating in conventions. If we all would put our best foot forward with the goal of everyone having a fun and fulfilling event and ditching the nastiness, we'd all have much more enjoyable events. Cut folks some slack, be patient, and thank all the volunteers you interact with for all the hard work that goes into making and running an event; it wouldn't happen without them.

2. Communicate clearly ALL the details about the convention well in advance for everyone. The old who, where, when, why, and how are important. Not everyone will know that Xyz convention is held in Abc city and state, or that it is always held in Byj hotel/building, so have several non-fen people read your copy to see it they understand and can pick up all the important details. Always list working phone numbers as well as websites and emails; remember not everyone has a computer (I don't, just have use of one semi-regularly). Have several people proofread for accuracy and correct language (English skills are devolving rapidly). Get flyers out to dealers, other conventions, and individuals in advance for event promotion. (Meet those financial commitments for hotel block reservations and meeting room costs, plus hopefully, gather in more and future fen.)

4. Applications for memberships and dealers- please use a large enough font for easy legibility and design every response area with enough room for people to hand write in long addresses, emails, etc.

5. Hotels Include names, addresses, phone numbers, convention pricing codes to quote when making reservations (ie, ask for LACON code #587), negotiated pricing for the rooms (1-2 people $79, 3-4 people $99, self parking $8 per day, valet $12 per day), are there are days before and/or after available at the same rate (rates good April 4-10, 2007), party rooms (contact the hotel directly for special placement, furniture moves, additional insurance waivers, door stops, and ice orders), shuttles available to/from airports, restaurants.

6. Shipping It would be helpful to attendees who are flying and dealers to know if there are local postal, UPS or Fed Ex offices and include their local phone numbers and addresses (with cross streets) for "will call" shipments. Also, see the "ship into the event" details under details.

7. Dealers need to know well in advance ALL the details that will affect their participation (or not).

   A. Dates and times for the event itself, including setup and tear down days. Who the special guests are is also important. 
   B. Applications details- availability and return deadlines (example apps avail after__, from___, their address___, due by___), and details "application must include____" (such as ___size SASE, fees required with application or after acceptance, paid by check, or not check but money order, NSF check fees, etc); 
   C. Setup (eg, Wed 4-8pm and Thurs 8am-noon)(best to have a bare minimum of 4 hours, better 8 hours). Let the dealers know which room they will be in and where to load from, and full details (many dealers have physical challenges and/or heavy products). (Example Dealers will be in the Incline Room in the Convention Center. Load in will be from the loading dock facing Blank Street at the back of the building. There is one short steep ramp with a hump at the top, a set of stairs, plus the standard tractor/trailer loading bay. Access to the ramp itself is limited, so please plan for extra time and patience. The Incline Room is at the front of the building, accessible thru a long service corridor. The center does not allow loading from the front). 
   D. Dealers open hours (for example, Thurs noon-6pm, Fri and Sat 10am-6pm, Sun 10am-3pm); 
   E. Dealer-only room access time for prep and closing (1 hour before and after selling times best); 
   F. Pack out deadlines(Sun 3-7pm)(best to have a minimum of 3 hours); 
   G. Table/booth info 
       1. Physical sizes and pricing, eg, 1 6'x2.5' (includes 6' behind table and one membership)=$50 , 2 tables (maximum allowed includes two memberships)=$120 total, one 10'x10' booth with one 6'x2.5' table included=$150 (includes two memberships), extra table within your space $10 each. 
       2. Dealers helper memberships $20 at application time, maximum allowed two, at convention $25 (many dealers would like this option; they don't have regular helpers and may only be able to find help once at the event). Prices should have a payment deadline, and maybe an increased cost at a closer date to the con. 
       3. Space details/limitations (eg, table cloths included, let us know in advance if you'll need night covers and how many. All displays limited to 8' tall. No audio output allowed- please provide headsets for selling previews. 
       4. Ask for special needs info such as "no tables please -I'll be bringing my own bookcases", "need to be close to bathroom", "please next to", "please Not next to",. 
       5. Mention if there is a waiting list, and how it will be handled. 
   H. Any other related details and fees such as 
       1. Union load/pack out requirements (eg, you can only hand carry in one item with the rest having to be put onto pallets with no shrink wrapping); 
       2. Union timing (ie, only available Wed from 8am-4pm, lunch break from 12-1245pm, last sign up for loading 3pm. No union load in Thurs am) 
       3. Union costs (example, $25 per pallet moved in or out, payable only in cash); 
       4. Info such as bring your own hand truck/dolly, the hotel only has two and keeps them just for guests. or "we'll try to get the union to relax these requirements, so bring your own hand trucks/dollies in case". 
       5. City business licenses required (with application, deadline, mail to address and phone number, cost); 
       6. Electricity (the Incline Room is very well lit; most dealers won't need extra lighting. power costs are $25 and require your own 12 gauge three prong extension cord. no duct tape allowed on the floor; blue painters tape ok) 
       7. Phone lines (phone reception is iffy, with only Cingular, and Sprint getting reception. radio registers don't work here, unless you want to take it outside, 300' from front of Dealers room; no slipping out the back doors due to security. the hotel will drop in phone lines for $35). 
   I. Shipping availability in and/or out of the event to either the building or nearby hotel, with specific addressing requirements (example, The convention center doesn't allow direct shipments. The hotel will allow packages up to ___x___ and ___lbs if labeled "Joe Blow, LaCon Dealer, c/o Marriott Hotel, street address, city, state, zip"), time limits (example, pkgs not accepted before or after___date , or holds no longer than___), fees for shipping in (at LACon, the Marriot charged $10 per pkg plus $10 per pkg per day storage). See also earlier note on shipping. 

Plug; Speaking for myself, dealers are an important part of the science fiction and fantasy community. The dealers room is one of the major draws at a convention as well as the book signings, meet-the-authors, art show, panels, masquerade, games, dances, anime, parties, and many other activities. We appreciate having accurately listed open days and hours in the pocket programs, newsletters, websites, program books, and door signs along with these other events.

We are fen too; we like to be able to see the art show and masquerade, and go to panels and parties. We want to see friends, meet new people and have a good time. Primarily, we're at a convention to work. Many of us work beyond full time, committing massive amounts of energy, and money to our businesses. We want to be professional, providing good products and service.

We (and our staffs) have many other business commitments, often have to book our calenders and our finances a year or more in advance, and don't have the flexibility for last minute schedule notification and/or changes. Many of us may be coming from far away or be on the road for weeks at a time, and need to plan packing/shipping ahead. The more information we can have in advance about a convention, the better we can serve our customers.