I received an e-mail from a representative of a company that organizes and helps organizers run conventions, concerts, and other events and it was suggested that I write about how I prepare and survive at conventions. Considering that many of you have already attended an event or two, you probably know the ropes far better than I do. However there may be some of you reading this that have never attended an event, so I thought I might share a little of what I have learned.
Before The Event…
There are a lot of cons these days for almost everything that one can imagine. Comic Cons, Game Cons, Cons that deal with Science Fiction and/or Fantasy and so on. Before you decide on a con to attend, be sure that it is aimed at something that you are interested in. If you want to meet celebrities, a quilting con might not be something you are interested in. If you do not like standing in long lines waiting, be careful of going to the really big cons because that is one thing that you can rest assured you will be doing, standing in line.
Get your tickets early. Some of the larger cons might have adequate room for everyone and if you wait until you get to the door, you might get turned away.
Book your room early if you are staying away from home. If the motel you plan to stay at is offering a special rate for con attendance, BE SURE TO GET THE ARRANGEMENTS IN WRITING! Last year I had a very unpleasant experience when I had booked a room and did not get my reservation in writing and wound up in an argument with a clerk and the manager arguing over an almost $100 difference in what I was quoted and what they wanted to charge me. Also, when getting a place to stay, keep in mind that you do not need a luxury suite or a whole lot of amenities with your room; you are there to attend a convention and your room is nothing more than a place to crash after a long day of “conning” as I like to call it. However, complimentary breakfast is always a plus.
Plan What You Want To Do In Advance…
As far as I know, events at cons are usually planned out in advance. Check the con’s web page and see if they have posted a schedule of events, panels, photo ops, etc. and use a highlighter to figure out where you want to be at what time. In my experience, events at cons start pretty well on time unless circumstances change, and the people that are at the cons are usually on top of delays and will let you know if there is a problem.
If you are looking to get celebrity autographs, keep in mind that they do charge for them, and they can be very expensive depending on who it is and how much in demand they are. Be prepared to be disappointed because celebrities are human and things do come up that might call them away. There will most likely be another opportunity to meet them in the future.
When you get autographs, please make sure that you have them personalized to you, or to whomever you are getting them for. Unfortunately, a lot of unscrupulous individuals get autographs just to turn them around and sell them on eBay or some other clearing house. Celebrities know this and the prices are going up in part because of this practice.
Another thing you can use to get an autograph is something you already have, a DVD cover, a card from a game, or a favorite book in the case of an author is appropriate, and the author will most likely not charge to sign your book. If you are like me, most of your books are on an electronic device, authors always have copies of their books at their table and will be happy to sell you one with a personalized autograph and a thanks.
Packing For A Con…
Depending on the event, you will need clothes for three or four days, plus an extra change of clothes just in case of a mishap. If you are planning to meet a personality from a particular television show or movie, a t-shirt with the show title on it is always nice, and the celebrities notice it; it adds to the fun of the event. Keep in mind the climate and weather conditions so you can dress appropriately.
Comfortable shoes are a must! You will most likely be doing a lot of walking or standing in one place and there is nothing more miserable than having shoes that have not been properly broken in. You might also consider bringing along a second pair of comfortable shoes to change into half way through the day. I would not advise shoes without arch support; flip-flops are a very bad idea.
Take Care Of Yourself And Your Health…
The last thing you want to happen is to get sick while you are attending an event. The first con I attended a few years back, I hadn’t had anything to drink but coffee for two days. By the afternoon of the second day, I was feeling pretty miserable. I had become dehydrated. It cost me about two hours of the day to get myself together again before I could start moving around again. Remember to stay hydrated; just plain water is the best thing, avoid sugary drinks because they actually take more water from your system to process the syrup in the drink. Also be sure to carry a backpack stocked with snacks like cereal bars or crackers of some kind, personally I like Goldfish crackers. Another favorite is caramel flavored FiberOne bars. Nuts are also a good idea. If there are concession stands at the con, the food there can be very expensive for what you get, be sure to take time out for at least one good meal a day.
Oh, and this should go without saying, but please shower every day. Con-funk can be embarrassing for you and miserable for those around you.
Conduct At The Event…
You are going to see a lot of sights at a con that are interesting. Many of the attendees will be wearing costumes that are very elaborate, and some will be quite skimpy, revealing more than just a little skin. Please remember the cardinal rule “costumes are not permission.” Sexual harassment of someone is not looked upon lightly and could be severely punished. Think before you say something.
Most of the time, people in costume love to stop to allow others to take a photo of them. It is just a common courtesy to ask permission before you snap a picture, I doubt you will be turned down. Many of those that are in costume have invested a lot of money and hours of their personal time putting their outfit together and will be proud and flattered that you would want to capture their image.
Occasionally you might see a celebrity walking around taking in some of the sights. If you encounter this situation, be cool. By all means, say hello, but please don’t try to stop them and visit; give them some space. You may think you know them because of their role in your favorite television series or movie, but they really don’t know you.
If there is anything you feel I have forgotten or wish to share any of your con stories, please feel free to leave them in the comments section below.
Well, there it is…