Convention Runner? Montreal Comiccon 2014 Debriefing

Hello and welcome!

Last previous weekend (12-14 Sept.) was Montreal Comiccon 2014. Being among the few survivors, I thought I’d share some personal tips on how to prepare for conventions in general. Having attended many trade shows (commercial, educational, career, entertainment, etc.) I think you’ll find these information quite useful or if not, at least educational.

Preparation

Attending any kind of event requires planning. As soon as you know when you’ll addend an event, add it to your calendar/schedule and start planning ahead of time.

To DO List

The single most important thing you can do to prepare yourself is a “To DO List“. It’s pretty simple: you list everything you’ll regret if you were to leave without doing.

Here are some To-DOs examples:

[  ] Ask Artist Doe for a Batman sketch at booth #1740
[ ] Have my movie X signed by Actress Doe at booth #23 at 3pm
[ ] Check out Sony Playstation booth #46
[ ] Attend Microsoft panel on the new Windows 9 at 14:00, room 501
[ ] Take a picture with Actor Doe, photo session ticket at 10:00, at the Photo-Op desk
[ ] Meet and punch Craig in the face during interview at 18:00, room 205
etc.

List everything you need/want to see, do and attend.

Budget is the word

If goods are sold at your event, merchants will most likely ask for CA$H. Although this is changing with the growing popularity of mobile payment processing technologies (Ex.: Square) or depending on the type of trade show (I doubt anyone buys a car ca$h at a trade show), ca$h still is the preferred payment method, as it doesn’t incur processing fees.

Now, the trick for clever spending is to NEVER bring more than what you planned to spend (aka the budget). Absolutely need a credit card? Get a prepaid one for the event.

One or more of the following WILL happen when you have a budget:

1. Suddenly, everything seems more expensive.

2. You will most likely spend it all.

3. You will run out of money to buy something you really want.

4. You will start thinking twice before buying useless stuff.

5. You will know how much money you have at ALL time. Trust me.

The greater consequence though is you’ll make far more valuable, better purchases, leaving the event with proud satisfaction.

Physical shape

Depending on how big the venue is, you might want to think twice before going without being in proper physical (and mental) shape. The Montreal Comiccon was/is HUGE (takes the whole venue’s 200,000 sq.ft space & 60+ meeting rooms!). So lots of walking & standing in lines on the menu. Have good socks & shoes too.

Gear junky

Once you’ve added that date to your calendar, made your To-DO list, planned a budget,  it’s time to prep your convention’s gear. Here’s what my gear checklist for this year’s Comiccon (with comments) looked like:

Water bottle (you need to drink. Believe me. Some people even fainted last year.)
Meal replacement bars (in case I forgot to eat)
Clean pants with large pockets (making sure they aren’t in the washer or in the “to wash” basket when I need ’em)
Backpack: Sharpies, silver ink pen (for autographs), pens, pencils, paper, scissors, 2Gb USB key, map, subway map, etc. (always test your equipment; I had 3 dead pens! Never assume something works; try it.)
Document holder (to prevent important documents from bending in the backpack or in crowds)
Shoulder bag aka Freebie stuffer (perfect for books, documents, flyers, artbooks, business cards, etc. Helps keeping both hands free too)
Plastic bags (different sizes)
-TOP SECRET TIP : Rigid TopLoaders (to carry prints, in case I find good ones. Carry around in a bigger bag.)
Ca$h money cut: Don’t bring hundred dollar bills. Have different cuts (Ex.: 100.00$ = 3 x 20$, 2 x 10$, 4 x 5$)
Comic board & plastic sleeve (a few, just in case)
Printed schedule and printed list of all Exhibitors & Artists.
Movies to get signed by celebrities (I changed my mind after seeing how expensive it was…)
-Make space on cellphone’s SD card for pictures (pretty self explanatory)
Volunteer T-Shirt (yeah, I’m crazy like that. Absolutely required to get free autograph. Nah, just kidding.)

Meeting people

Finally, you usually will meet many people. Make sure you meet the ones who are the most important to you first (aka Planning). Only then, proceed to meet other human beings. A trick I use to remember who I talked to is to ask for a business card and then immediately write down their names on the back. Even if their name is already on it, I’ll still write down a note for myself. Doing so allows me to remember who I talked to and what the conversation was about. I can then follow-up by phone/e-mail easily.

I know it’s a bit longer than my usual articles, but hopefully, you’ll be better prepared for your next big event!

Enjoy!

Sirus
sirusdark.ca

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