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Subject: Anyone have any suggestions on RUNNING a con? rss

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Mike zebrowski
United States
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I've run and have helped run numerous small conventions, so I'll toss my 2 cents in...

1)Define the purpose of the convention.

I'm guessing that the purpose is to promote the store and attract more people to gaming.

2) Determine the entry fee.

Is this being run in a controlled setting or in the middle of the mall? I'm guessing that it will be in the middle of the mall. In this case, you may want to not charge anything for people to play games.

What I would do instead is have people "register" and receive a free button (in full color) that will allow them to play in any game during the three days. When people register, they provide their mailing address which the store can use in a follow-up promotional mailing.

3) Recruit the judges and volunteers.

This will be the most difficult part. You need to find good judges and volunteers to run things. These can be drawn from the local community. As this is in a mall with a large amount of walk-through traffic, the judges and volunteers will have to assume the 99% of the games will be demoes and not competative events. The store can compensate the judges and volunteers with store-credit.

The judges will have to teach and run the games within the specified time. The volunteers will be needed to control traffic flow through the area, answer random questions from onlookers and work to get people to try the games. The volunteers are the most important aspect as they will effectively be salesmen.

The convention staff will need something, such as a brightly colored tee-shirt, to stand out.

4) Posters, Posters, Posters. There should be lots of posters all over the area explaining to onlookers what is going on and how they can join in the fun. Avoid any imagary that might deter families from stopping by.

5) Plants. A common demo trick that I have used in the past to attact people to a game is to actually start playing. For some strange reason, people are more willing to jump into a game that is just getting started than be there at the beginning. For this to work, you need to recruit enough gamers from the local community to show-up and start playing games.

6) Make any tournements "Sealed Deck" and offer several demoes before any tournement begins.

7) Prizes. As this is a promotion, every game should have a prize of some kind. The simplest way to go is to use a punch card system.
Every player in a game gets one punch on their card. The winner of a game gets 3-5 punches on the card. Fill up a card, say 10 punches, and you get $10 off of your next purchase at the store. Don't forget to include an expriation date.

8) Have flyers for the store and the convention. Even if people don't participate in a game, handing them a flyer (with a coupon) is a good way for them to either return the next day or check out the store.

9) Make sure the store is in tip-top shape. People will be curious and check out the store even if they don't play in a game.

10) Keep things colorful and cheerful. Games are suppose to be fun!

Things to watch out for:

1) Parents using the convention as a baby-sitting service.

2) Poor judges and volunteers. Judges that show up late (if at all), don't know the rules to the game, are not prepared, etc... should be avoided. Volunteers who are not into "customer service" should be avoided.

3) Have backups for judges and volunteers. Stuff happens, so be prepared to fill in for people.

4) Trash. See about getting extra bins and police the area often.

Mike Z
 
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Gone Fishing
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I personally believe that sweatpants and headbands are a must for any event organizers.
 
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Glenn Ironhat
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Good advice from Mike.

If you plan to run stuff after mall hours, you should try to see what you can do to get food available. Whether you talk some kiosk owner to stay late, or one of the mall type restaurants.

If you have an idea of the number of attendees and it is large enough, you may have some luck getting someone to stay open.
 
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