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Welcome to ConRunner, a Why and How-To reference for Convention organizers.

ConRunner was started in July 2005, and we are currently working on 275 articles. You are invited to join us, and to help make them better.

We hope to document all aspects of running a successful, enjoyable, memorable convention. Please browse our pages, and if you have something to add, please do so. Registration is required to edit or to add pages, however anyone may browse the articles. We hope you find something of use!

Featured Article - Guests_of_Honor

Guests of Honor, or GoHs, are the special guests of your convention.

Different conventions have different numbers of GoHs. Some select guests based on thematic "guest slots', such as Author or Pro Guest, Scientist, Artist, Fan, Toastmaster, Editor, Filker, Media Guest, etc.

Different conventions provide different benefits to Guests of Honor for their convention. Most volunteer-run conventions that are not run for profit do not pay appearance fees. However, it is fairly standard to cover travel expenses, provide a hotel room, and provide for the Guest's food while they are at the convention, either through a per diem or by offering to cover all their expenses. As I heard one author put it, the convention should try to make sure it doesn't cost the guest anything to attend the convention. Depending on their budget, conventions may also offer to cover expenses for a companion of the Guest of Honor, to travel to the convention with them. This is considered a Good Idea, if you can afford it. Some conventions also have a policy whereby GoHs receive lifetime memberships to the convention, to encourage them to return in future years.

There are both general and specific expectations of what a convention will get in return from their GoHs. These may include that the GoH should participate in some minimum amount of programming, that they should say something for a GoH Speech perhaps, and that they will allow the convention to use their name to promote the convention.

All benefits offered and expectations held in return should be expressed to a prospective GoH when they are invited to be a Guest of Honor. This is commonly done in an invitation letter, which should also include a description of the event, how wonderful it is, and why your group would particularly like that person to be a guest.

Every Guest of Honor should be assigned a Guest Liaison, to be their point of contact throughout the year and their personal shepherd during the convention itself.


There is no One True Way to organize your committee into departments. Often times a convention will run for a few years one way, and then combine departments that share a lot of the same resources or purpose into a single department. Or a department may split, as the needs of the convention grow. Do what works for you, and recruit reliable department heads. Create, publish, and maintain a clear set of objectives and methods to document continuity of what works, what doesn't, and why. Check on the senior staff regularly to make sure they're getting whatever support they need from you and the rest of the committee, pre-con and at-con. Department heads then recruit what staff and at-con volunteers they need to accomplish the goals of the department.

Have your department heads document the procedures of running their department, and train people under them so that you have a pool of people ready to be future department heads, and you are capturing knowledge from one year to the next.

A common way to split a science fiction convention into departments is like so:

  • Contests:
    • Young writers contest
    • Anime Music Video
    • Original Animation
    • Fan Art
    • Student Art

You can easily see how Volunteers might also go under Operations, Masquerade and Dance under Programming, etc. A small enough convention may not have a person dedicated to publicity separate from their publications head, or an information desk, or whatever. And of course, some conventions don't have Art Shows, or Charity Auctions, or whatever. Try to pick a structure that best supports what you do and how you want to do it.

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