Monday, October 29, 2012

Top Five things to bring to a Convention/Expo

As many countries around the world begin their pop culture/fan expo season I think this is a very timely subject. I've been going to conventions for the last five years, averaging about three per year, and here is my list of top five things to bring to a convention/expo:

1- Comfortable shoes
There will be a lot of walking around and even more standing in lines during the typical convention, so you best be prepared. High heels might look great but your feet will begin to ache after a few hours. If you’re cosplaying (costume playing) you might need a pair of great looking shoes to complete the outfit. However, you can plan ahead by bringing a second pair of shoes that you can change into at regular intervals. I have also seen people bring camping chairs that are light and portable. When they're in a long line they fold out the chair and have a sit. 

2- A large bag
I find carrying one large bag is easier than carrying a purse or small back pack. For one thing, a purse or handbag will most likely not fit everything you will buying. And I get very nervous having everything in a back pack that I can't monitor at all times. A large bag such as a canvas bag that a lot of grocery stores sell for cheap will be large enough to fit in most things that you'll end up buying over the day or two. 

3- Your manners
Personally, I think you should bring this everywhere you go, but manners are very important during a convention/expo experience. The excitement of the event can sometimes cloud your judgement, but you should always remember to say thank you to the line guards/monitors and to ask the guest politely before you engage them in a hug or hand shake. Remember, just because they pulled you into a hug at that convention that one time it's not polite to embrace them without forewarning. 
Some conventions offer VIP passes which are usually very expensive and come with many perks. Among these perks tends to be express queuing, which means holders of these passes can cut to the front of the time. If you have one of these passes please remember to say excuse me and thank you to the people in front of whom you're pushing. And if these VIP pass holders are cutting in front of you please don't bitch or complain about them. Sure, it can be very annoying to be pushed back further and further in the line, but these pass holders sometimes pay up to ten times as much for their tickets. Without VIP passes being sold months before the convention most guests wouldn't be able to come. 

4- Enough money
A lot of conventions are now switching from cash only to cash and EFTPOS, but this is never a guarantee. and this doesn't account for the possibility that the phone lines can go down when they're overtaxed (say, like at a convention when hundreds of people are using EFTPOS to purchase comics, photos, autograph tokens, clothing, etc). Many conventions/expos are located near ATM's, but the lines there are usually incredibly long, and more than once I've seen these machines run out of money. It's always safer to bring cold hard cash to these events. Sure, it can be a hassle carrying a lot of money with you, but it will be worth it when you're able to buy the things that you want. To make sure you have enough money before the event you should check out the event website. There you will be able to calculate how much your photo and autograph sessions are going to cost, and then you can add in extra for such things like comics, clothes, badges, food, books, etc, etc, etc.

5- Snacks
I usually bring a bag of chips or biscuits, but this last convention I bought a box of nut bars and this went down pretty well. No matter what your taste is, you should bring some snacks to help you make it throughout the day. The expos that I frequent are located near large food courts but you can never guarantee that you'll have the time to eat a proper lunch. When food establishments are inside the convention you can bet that the food offered will be quick and easy, aka not very healthy. 
If you have a particular dietary needs (lactose intolerant, gluten free, sucrose intolerant, etc) then you should bring your own food along. You'll end up saving money if you pack your own lunch. 

So there you go; my top five things to bring to a convention/expo. Please let me know if you have any other ideas. 

Themes: conventions, expos, comic conventions, fan days, lists

Thursday, October 4, 2012

How to prepare for a convention

Hi everyone!
Sorry I've been MIA for so long, I've been struggling to get into the mood to write. I've got a few ideas on what to write, but I just can't seem to find the motivation. 
But I'm working for the next seven days straight and then going to Melbourne for the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo for four days so there will be little time to write in the near future. So I'm sucking it up and writing now. This is all stream of consciousness writing; this isn't planned or moderated in any way. 
This is how to prepare for a convention/expo:
1- Check out the schedule as soon as possible
Many conventions will release a demo of their schedule before the official one is made. While these are never set in stone (and they aren't even set in stone on the day) it's good to look these over and get a sense of how busy you're convention is going to be. Personally, I like to copy the schedule into a spreadsheet. This helps me to get rid of the events that don't interest me and help me to focus on what I really want to see.
2- Understand how much money your convention experience will cost
Just getting into the convention area will cost money, but there will also be many things inside the convention that you will want to have or you will want to do. If you don't prepare for this beforehand you can be blind-sided in one of two ways; you can overspend and you can underspend. Overspending is pretty self explanatory, and the effects of this are pretty obvious. Underspending can also be an issue because you can end up feeling that the convention wasn't worth attending. 
Proper planning will mean you'll know exactly how much you will be spending so you won't be surprised or disappointed. 
3- Plan for the unknown
That sounds impossible, but it's always good to plan for when things go wrong. At many conventions and expos guests can pull out at any minute. Guests can even pull out the morning of the convention, if another offer comes up such as a job or they get sick or their family gets sick. Guests can show up for day one but something can go wrong and they don't make it to day two. 
The schedule can also change depending on the already mentioned guest changes but also for other reasons such as inefficient space for the expected number of ticket holders. Other reasons for last minute changes include flooding of the convention space due to heavy rain (this has happened before).
4- Relax!
Preparing for a comic convention or pop culture expo can be a lot of work, but it's only a lot of work to make sure you have a good time. Knowing the schedule before you arrive means that you won't miss out on anything, and knowing how much it will cost will help you to budget wisely. 
Conventions are meant to be fun, so relax and smile and enjoy the experience. 
If you have any other tips on how to prepare for a convention please add them in the comments.