Problem: Not enough people come to your con? Solution: Blame the people who attended it!

Posted: November 18, 2010 by bresslol in Con Review

Before we kick this off, I’d like you to read these posts:

Cosplay.com thread (Start at post #56)

And this one from the convention’s forums.

These two little forum posts are all about a convention in Ottawa, CAN called Naru 2 U.

I want to go over something not seen on these posts, and one thing you do see on those posts.

What you didn’t see was according to people, at this convention’s closing ceremonies, the convention chair, Michael Zwicker, blamed the convention’s low turnout…. wait for it…. on the attendees. That’s right, because people didn’t bring a friend or two, the convention suffered. Don’t blame it on the fact you had problems the previous year, and not handing that with the convention community properly. That negative publicity certainly had nothing to do with your attendance dropping over 40%.

Mr. Zwicker may very well be a shining example of how NOT to oversee a convention. You presented a product, people didn’t want it, and that’s your own fault. If you had problems the previous year, you show how you addressed those problems to encourage people to return to your convention. Look at PAX. They had a swine flu outbreak in 2009 which, at the time, was freaking the whole world out. What did they do? They told people with confirmed cases to give them flight information so others could be warned to get checked. Last I checked, they were doing pretty well.

What was seen on the convention’s forums, however is something that raises the bar in terms of essentially telling your customers to go away. And I quote:

7) Compensation to panelist.
Ok so you want compensation… I’ll give you a free weekend pass ($24.99 Preregistration)if you cover the equipment rental for your panel. If you need a projector it will be $50.00, $25.00 for the Screen, and $30.00 for the P.A system as this does not come free to me to buy or to repair or replace bulbs and have for your disposal for your panel.

For those not doing the math, you’re paying more than triple a 3-day pregistered admission to hold a panel with proper tech. This absolutely blows my mind. I understand this is a for-profit enterprise here, but this goes above and beyond fleecing your attendees. You do not, unless the panelists broke it themselves with malicious intent, charge your panelists the cost of normal use of equipment. You’re becoming the convention equivalent of the airline head who wanted to charge people to use the restroom on flights.

I don’t see how blaming someone who spends their own money on a convention, or the people who work hard to bring you fan-made convention entertainment are to blame for your own financial and publicity shortcomings, Mr. Zwicker. Promote your convention better. Listen to the feedback people give you. Give people more incentive to go. Making a step to lower your admission for you 2011 con may be a good step in the right direction, but at this point, with the outrage you have caused, I fear that’s not good enough. Congoers are not stupid, and until you realize that, I fear your convention career may be in severe jeopardy.

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Comments
  1. Reggie says:

    Hey,
    Interesting report on a convention that clearly doesn’t understand running costs or how to please its guests. I’ve noticed a startling trend with “for profit” conventions run, not by businesses, but by individuals. They realize too late how to bargain and negotiate and what it takes to run a convention (no water at a convention? EVER hotel meeting booking comes with water service STANDARD and free, any country, anywhere what the HECK did they do to botch THAT up?)
    I think this “Naru” person’s statement on panelist compensation was a backhanded insult, not an actual promise of how it’d work. I seriously doubt they’d require panelists to cover costs of equipment, or they’d have no panelists.
    The problem with the convention you speak of is this; the convention runner is clearly already in the red on this convention, and has fallen into that age old “running the con because we legally have to” scenario. Most likely the only way to keep the debt collectors at bay is to continue to mortgage his life year after year on a convention that continues to make no returns. Without proper negotiation skills and the ability to create a foundation that supports a convention community, he is working with the basics of the convention industry – something that no self respecting convention would EVER do.
    Specifically… 25k for a Travelodge meeting space of 20,000 sqft? That price is laughable! Utterly LAUGHABLE, and I should know, I am a convention runner myself who has dealt with hotel contracts. Any convention that pays THAT price for THAT space has not spent enough time looking over the options.
    Sorry for the long comment, I just get so bummed when I realize so many people who run conventions don’t know how to HAGGLE!

    • congear says:

      Travelodge? Seriously? It’s as if they didn’t even try to get a decent hotel, let alone anything else. Don’t those hotels usually just have one or two meeting rooms?

    • CardMaster says:

      “Specifically… 25k for a Travelodge meeting space of 20,000 sqft? That price is laughable! Utterly LAUGHABLE, and I should know, I am a convention runner myself who has dealt with hotel contracts. Any convention that pays THAT price for THAT space has not spent enough time looking over the options.
      Sorry for the long comment, I just get so bummed when I realize so many people who run conventions don’t know how to HAGGLE!”

      To be honest with you I running the Con of G-Anime, the Con that run in the Palais des Congrès juste the other site of the Bridge in Gatineau in a few month. I did have to make research for a hotel to find a place to do a con. I did have to Look in Ottawa and the price of the Travel lodge is that price and guess what it is the cheapper by far….. Hampton inn 33 000$ per day for the hotel, 40 000 square feet. THe price of Ottawa is affecting the congres center of Gatineau in fact, and that raising the price of ours congres center.

      As for Naru 2 u. I am not suprise of what happen at the con. Except the comment of the Chairman and the reply to the panalist thing. Think did not improve in three years, one reason is of course to relly on they guest for the contenant.

  2. Lauthin says:

    Hello
    I have read your full review on this and I have to agree with the comments and some of the personal ones that I have been going over for the convention. My friends and I refused to pay 35$ just for one day where we were told by a few people that were volunteering that we would have to provide most of our own entertainment, WE just left the con and had a better time at our place then we would at the con itself. From what I was told from my friends who did attend the convention there was very small lack of option on what to do there. The small hour and a half we were there waiting for our friends to arrive to get the last of our stuff we saw about ten groups just walking around the place just trying to find something to do and half the people there were comment that there was nothing to do or nothing to buy in the dealers room.

    Travellodge can be a good place for the con because i remember my first time going to AC3 that there was a lot to do seeing that the gaming room was on the very top floor with much more variety of things to keep you entertained and It being well organized.

  3. C says:

    fyi: that “drugged” water thing was totally bogus. the rest of your article was totally on point.

    • congear says:

      Hey, thanks for that. I’ve edited the article to reflect that.

      -Bressler

      • AshleyAshes says:

        Actually the drugged water thing at their 2009 con is LIGIT. Six ambulances showed up and people were taken to hospital and the con was almost shut down.

        There’s like hundreds of witnesses to it. The reason that there is no thread on this to prove it is because… The entire Naru 2 U 2009 thread got DELETED from Cosplay.com. Their staff went apeshit, apeshit enough to get the con chair dragged through a human rights tribunal to deal with it. But the water thing did happen and people were certianly taken to hospital in 2009. I was there, I saw it.

  4. PiggyLove says:

    I was in the dealer room near the end of the day on Sunday and overheard Mr. Zwicker telling one of the dealers that he was going to raise the price of both the dealer tables and the artist alley tables next year because of the losses this year. He went on to say that he did not care that they were “starving artists”.

    There is many things Mr. Zwicker did not address in his post and I don’t think he ever will.

    I have been to all 3 of the Naru 2 U cons and have not been impressed with much of the way it has been run.

    I figured out why the printing costs were so much, it was for all the t-shirts he made for his staff.

  5. Terezar says:

    The water drugging did indeed happen and it was a very serious issue for a lot of people, including some of my friends. It was a travesty that should never have been allowed to happen.

    That being said, good PR and advertising can recover from such an incident, something that Mr.Zwicker is sorely lacking. Those along with business sense (or anything business related actually), tact, common sense, and respect.

  6. I hate to comment off-topic on a post, but: I assume you guys heard about the recent snafu (again!!) concerning Comic-Con badges and their difficulty with online registration? What a mess.

  7. Dinger says:

    I been wondering since first reading about this on the ACML.
    What exactly is a human rights tribunal, what was the full cause for the tribunal, and what could they have done to the convention chair.

    I think at 1 point the cosplay.com stuff where staff from Naru was claiming to be cosplay.com staff and issuing threats, was that part of the tribunal, or just a separate incident.

    • AshleyAshes says:

      The Human Rights Tribunal was involved after the 2009 con. I was sub-contracted to supply some gaming resources to the con, in the aftermath of their piss poor handling of the rave/drug situation, I brought up some safety concerns. The staff went nuts on me and actually announced, publicly, that the staff held a meeting and concluded that I would now offically be refered to as ‘It’ because I’m an effeminate homosexual.

      Believe it or not, here in Canada you can’t call a human bring ‘It’ so I filed a case with the Human Rights Tribunal. The conchair resisted for a year until he finally capitulated in mediation. Had it moved beyond the mediation stage and he lost he could have been fined thousands of dollars by the Provence of Ontario.

      To be honest, I almost sorta wish it had gone that far. It was hilarious seeing him say ‘No, my lawyer told me that it’s perfectly okay to call a person it’. To which the adjudicator, overseeing the mediation sharply corrected ‘No, it’s not’. Interestingly, his lawyer wasn’t present and I think the lawyer was fictional. I have great difficulty imagining a lawyer saying ‘Oh yeah, you can call people ‘It’. That’ll fly at a human rights tribunal’.

  8. trowa says:

    Drugged water at an anime con? Going to a tribunal over calling someone “it”? Canada is like the United States’ retarded older brother.

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