Steve Davies writes about things to do before the convention (with some additions by Alex McLintock)
GRTs - or Groats or "Gopher Refreshment Tokens" are a mechanism by which volunteers are rewarded for a shift of unpaid work by some tokens which can be exchanged for food or drink with the hotel bar. This has to be negotiated in advance. It is usually simpler to have a groat worth £1 (one pound) and have the hotel accept them like cash. It makes it very simple for the Treasurer and the hotel as they hand over, say, 225 groats and get £225 in cash.
It is vital to get agreement from the hotel about where the groats can be spent (just the con bar, every bar, all restaurants, the late night food, to pay for your hotel bill etc.) and then to get a sample sheet made up that shows what the Groat looks like, where it can be used, how it is to be recorded by the bar staff, to get it signed by the hotel conferencing/catering/bar manager(s), copied, laminated and a copy placed with every bar, food serving area etc. so that temporary staff can be pointed to it when they say "sorry, we don't take toy money" at 2am on Saturday night.
How will Green Room buy drinks? Possibly the most important job the Green room has (apart from finding the programme participants) is making sure the speakers get a drink. You need to arrange a tab with the bar and also agree how to get bulk soft drinks without paying large amounts of corkage.
Can you take credit cards?
Cash float? Who looks after it and how
Badges for hotel staff? (Do they need them?)
Real Ale. If you don't know about Real Ale then ask for help - there will always be some fan keen to sort it out for you.
At some point you have to stuff the envelopes/bags that we discussed earlier. Try not to leave this to the day before the convention since this is exactly the time at which you can't afford to have everybody putting flyers into envelopes. Reserve the two weekends before the con for committee business and try to do as much as you can of the badge-making and stuffing then. However, don't fool yourself, there's always someone (usually one of the publishers) who sends you up a package of stuff to go in at the last minute. Consider just putting them in a pile on the registration desk and hand one to each person as they register. Don't forget to make up additional programme packs for people joining on the door. These should have everything except the badge in them.
The above is the thoughts of Steve Davies. It is now very common for the bag stuffing to be done on the Thursday afternoon/evening of the convention by grabbing the people who have shown up early and getting them to work as a big team. It allows people to feel part of the convention, and it's far easier to transport boxes of flyers than 1,000 odd shaped bags, and then still have to go through them all adding the last minute flyer. In particular, if another convention wants to put their flyer in the bag, then the requirement should be that they provide at least one volunteer to help with the bag stuffing as at least part payment ... ... the pile on the desk is a good idea, but keep it away from where people are currently trying to register (though quite close). Again it is quite common now for every membership pack to be identical (maybe a different free book in each) and to have the items that differ for each person (badge, list of programme items etc.) in a separate sorted pile/box/filing system. That way you can hand over the badge/programme list and then tell the person to take a generic bag for the rest of their stuff. The Magician
Things to go in:
- Map of how to get to the hotel
- Phone numbers
- Who to contact (and how) at the last minute
OK, here's one I've been bitten on. You're accepting advertising in your Programme Book, right? What do you do if an ad doesn't turn up? Chase it. Phone up the person responsible and find out whether they've sent it. Is it lost in the mail? Sitting on your neighbour's doormat getting wet? Whatever you do, don't just assume that they aren't going to want to want that page. Worse still, never put in a page saying "reserved for X" unless you have really made made every possible effort to get it. It's unspeakably rude.
This is the leaflet that people get to help them find their way around the convention. These days it's often split up into several booklets covering the con itself, the surrounding area and so on. Things to go in the inside part of the ReadMe might include:
- Up to date programme
- Locations of other items e.g. video room, games room
- Child care times and location
- Warnings/reminders about behaviour, dress etc. in the hotel
- Times of gripe sessions
In the outdoors part, you might include:
- Locations of cash machines
- Reviews, locations and phone numbers of local restaurants
- Local churches and times of services
- Shops offering discounts to convention members
- Warnings about dangerous parts of town
This is something I've done on a number of occasions.
Do they get a per diem in cash? Or do you let them charge to their rooms?
Who picks them up from the airport/station and when?
Who looks after them?
How many tables can you fit in the room?
How much do you charge?
Signing sessions - tell dealers
There are a number of completely separate things that you have to do here. Let's start at the beginning:
- The Programme subcommittee (3-5 people, don't be tempted to try and have one person do this) contact likely people by phone/email/letter/whatever and say "Are you coming to the convention? If so, will you do 'X' for us?"
- Programming planing software like Grenadine makes the process much smoother.
- Once people have agreed to do something on the programme, you send them a letter of confirmation, about 6 weeks before the convention. This says "You have agreed to do 'X', the other people on this item are 'A', 'B' and 'C' (moderator), please remember to bring everything you need." If they have asked you to supply equipment, such as an overhead projector, the letter should say "we have booked an OHP for you."
- At the convention, all programme participants should get a printout when they register. This should say "You are on item 'X' which is at 2pm on Saturday in the Main Hall, please go to the Green Room 20 minutes before the item starts."
Everything you haven't thought of, but should have done weeks agoEdit
Yes, everybody leaves something to the last minute.