Eirtaku in the Wild: At the Arcade
3 months until Eirtakon and Mark is busy thinking about other conventions, tickets and walking around empty venues. Is he mad?
Wow, what a month it’s been; I don’t think July could have been busier! We had Arcade Con in Dublin, Brocon in Limerick, MCM Expo in Manchester and a host of other events across the UK. Just goes to show that despite a lot of manga/anime distribution companies going to the wall in recent years, the community is flourishing!
I’m tipping a hat to the Arcade Con organisers, despite only being in its second year they managed to run everything smoothly and without any major hiccups. Hosting a weekend long convention is difficult enough but running it well is even harder! You can have the best ideas with some amazing events planned but if you can’t get the stage show started on time, or you have no idea how to use the PA equipment, then there’s almost no point in organising anything to begin with. So my respect to the Arcade Con crew.
It’s difficult but you need to run everything to the highest standards. Remember, people paid into your event and gave up their weekend to be there, so they deserve the best service. Running 2 hours behind schedule or cancelling shows for no apparent reason isn’t going to be good enough. I’m looking forward to seeing what Arcade Con come up with for year 3.
At casa del Eirtakon, we’re into twice monthly meetings and constant contact via email and our forum. We announced our cosplay guests a few weeks ago as Parle Productions, who are making their first trip to Ireland! We can’t wait to have them over.
Soon we’ll be in talks with our venue The Helix to discuss staff requirements, opening times, food, tech equipment, timetables and a lot more in between. It’s really absolutely vital to be in constant close contact with the venue in the months before an event – if they don’t know what to expect, how can they cater for you?
One positive aspect of meetings with venue organisers is that it can help give a sense of perspective and clarity for the weekend. When bogged down by a hundred and one things flying about constantly, to spend a few hours in the venue itself chatting to the managers can really help clear your head. It’s also a good way to mentally plan layouts and figure out crowd control & queue management.
Something that often confuses me is conventions having issues with counting attendees. I’ve heard of numbers getting mixed up, tickers not working, somebody losing a piece of paper with number counts on it, files crashing and even tickets simply not being counted! All these problems, and how they arise, confuse me. A dedicated front desk manager should handle all of this with a plan laid out well in advance. Getting a bit dry here but stick with me, it’s worth the read!
When Eirtakon started out we printed tickets that we hand numbered on the back, however more recently we’ve been using Tyvek wristbands. Tyvek wristbands are made of plastic and, despite feeling like rice paper, are incredibly durable and hard wearing. They’re also sequentially numbered! Simply note the lowest and highest numbers in the batch and distribute them to attendees. If you have 1000 Sunday tickets, starting at 10 and ending at 1010, and you’re at 900, then you can safely assume you’ve sold 890 Sunday tickets. Double check and count how many are left to the end of the batch.
Keep a laptop at reception where the front desk manager notes sales every hour (two columns – one cumulative and one since the previous hour) based off the wristband numbers. That way you know how many you’ve sold and roughly how many are in the venue at every hour. If there’s a fire limit this can be tightened to only allow a certain amount to be sold. Always keep an off-site backup (i.e. backup the file onto a USB stick every hour)! It’s a simple enough system but if you slip up at any stage, some number-based mayhem will likely ensue.
But Mark! What if my attendee badge of choice isn’t numbered? Simple! Get a marker and start writing on the back from 1! Keeping count of numbers is pretty important for a variety of reasons and if you follow the above, you should have a very accurate set of numbers. Some conventions (none in Ireland or the UK that I know of, mind) count turnstile numbers, i.e. if you buy a weekend pass then they count you 3 times. That seems like a white lie to me. If you sell a ticket then it’s 1 ticket, not 3, and that’s as far as Eirtakon takes it.
So what are we looking forward to? Well! We have Nom-Con on the weekend of August 24th and it will take a natural disaster to keep me away! Eirtakon is announcing plenty of competitions and more guests over the coming weeks, along with info on traders, new events, returning old events and plenty more. August will fly by and we’re coming to a boil – see you in a few weeks!
Until next time,