A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

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A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby oanhderbread » Mon Jun 06, 2016 9:50 am

In case anyone checks the forum still... how was A-Kon this year for y'all?
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:33 am

The forum is much quieter than it has been, unfortunately.

Ill make two posts one as Staff, one for my tables.

Staff:

We've really focused this year to be on time with every scheduled step forward, as well as moving things swifter and earlier in the year so everyone could get prepped and plans set.

The wait list is still something that due to the fact its a shared room will always be a later thing than we would like. We want to fill all the tables, and get the wait list moving - but all the ducks have to be in a row.

No matter how much that makes some of you sigh, thats just the reality of the situation.

We got two islands back this year (lost from the split levels, then the recombine, then the alley move to the new hotel) and greatly reduced guest tables. That means more artists can get through the FCFS Jury and be able to sell at A-kon for a more diverse and awesome Alley!

Guests are for now in the backmost island, as well as sharing some of the "Convention Alley" around the edges. We really, really want no "empty seeming" tables for Guests messing with the Alleys flow.

Twitter and Facebook were more rolled in for announcements and all that - I'll start up a Tumblr for next year as well. Emails were mostly answered within a few business days with information I knew I could say without checking in with Hastur. For more complex questions, I do attempt to send a "checking in to make sure" email. Communication is a prime thing Im focused on keeping updated.

As to the onsite issues, Hastur is currently dealing with:

- The tables arriving late. Thank you all that helped - SO MUCH. - Seriously. Gold stars. You made everyones set up way smoother, way less stress.
- Those horrid white chairs. All the fury on them. Thats not what was arranged, that is what arrived. Hastur is 100% on this to ensure it doesnt happen again.
- Charity Fast Pass. That news came late, and we truly hope it didnt mess with anyones plans. That made the days VERY long, and we will be seeking feedback on the overall hour length.


Good things:

- Everyone checked in smoothly, for the most part.
- Everyone checked out and cleaned their space. Yay everyone!
- Thank you for more display donations to the volunteers. Its super appreciated!

Most important info you are prolly interested in:

Expect nothing about 2017 til late 2016. We will seek to do signups as early as mid January, and will attempt to give more notice for it. As always, we seek to NOT have it land on a convention but thats fairly impossible to do as more and more crop up. It will almost certainly be First Come First Serve Jury. Announcements will go out over Mailing List, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and lastly here. We will also aim for more official website integration but thats a complex series of dance steps!

Forums will begin to be lesser used as they are much less checked.

Also for next year, the "Corner Booths" may be opened to Staff choice, click here if interested on the sign up booth for all applicants. Its been worked out.
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:51 am

My own tables:

Ive been working since like Feb. more or less steadily to be the best I ever was, hooray! *tiny victory flag*

I focused on original Fantasy Artwork (although one fanart crept in) at my art table. I did 12 posters, and a few minis. I did alright over there, didnt make printing back but - its a first year and a limited catalog. Thats just the way it goes - as much as its all *sigh* Love my art! Love me! I did talk to a few of you Poster-Awesomeness artists and thanks for the encouragement and insight. Its greatly appreciated <3

I also focused on branding, signage, and a clear and easy to navigate display. It really, REALLY seemed to help. Again I saw a lot of tables with no names on them. Put your names on your tables! Even just a small 8x10 with branding info.

As to the Perfumes and Lipbalms (now the Purrfumery) I did excellent, better than last year which was a banner year. I also added Rollerballs which seemed to go well, which is always great for a first time product. I got banners but havent quite caught the knack of hanging them over the tables, and thank you for the tips and offers of help on Thursday when we clearly didnt have it up there right.

Other than the awful white chairs, and the slower foot traffic (which actually helps with my more interactive booth) I had a great A-kon. Lots of nice things from other tables, too!

On a personal note, I've heard some really not so nice stuff getting back to me about my table spread. Ive only had more than one table for two previous years, and the same amount of space as last. This is my 8th year as staff. We added in many more tables, and I know everyones wanting more space. We are all trying to do our best, and rock our goals. Youre totally welcome to volunteer! And please remember, folks really can hear you when you say nasty things about me, or my art being worthy to be in the Alley. Come on over and critique me, I'm all ears!

Be excellent to each other.
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:15 pm

Since I got a few questions.

Re: The "Invite only" corner booths.

This was a Staff choice made about halfway through the Jury system, and the choice was to invite crafters of a wide variety of items, large fanbases and generally speaking a successful Kickstarter.

As I said above - next year, as it stands now, we will be adding a checkbox to be considered for those corner spots. ^_^
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Tue Jun 07, 2016 3:36 pm

Also: Rule Clarification incoming next year about "Clean Booth Checkouts".


We really just mean the big trash, you really dont have to get down on the floor for crumbs, eraser debris, and spiral paper debris. They Vacuum up the hall after we leave, we just need folks to not leave trash, half their display, etc.

So sorry if that caused any stress about "Must be clean or banned 4evah" for tiny trash!
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Kiriska » Tue Jun 07, 2016 4:21 pm

Somewhat miffed about "invite only" corner booths being decided post-rules/jury this year and without public information about how they're judged/qualified/etc, but it's done, so whatever. This feels like a small step back in terms of transparency, which I otherwise feel has been improving significantly, along with communication, in the last few years. Like, this doesn't even affect me, since I can't man a corner booth by myself and have zero doubt that I'm not cool enough to qualify anyway, but it's irksome to see when as far as anyone's known, "one table per artist" has been the rule for years. I assume much more information about it will become available for next year though, as I'm sure a lot of artists are interested.

Other than that, I'm very glad that the horrible white chairs were noted, and I don't really have any complaints about the rest of the pre or at con processes this year.

Sales were down 25% for me this year. Disappointing, but not detrimental, for now. I mostly blame FanExpo, but I hope this doesn't signal a continual downward trend as FanExpo is again to be on the same weekend. And idk, when cons are down, I always feel like I could've probably tried harder. A-kon was a fourth consecutive con for me this year and I'm sure that showed. I'm exhausted.

If folks are interested, my 2016 convention artist survey is here. More data is better data, so consider helping out.

ETA: oh wait, I wanted to talk about hours. 11+ hour days are killing me. Can we cut that down to like... 9? I get being open longer than Dealer's, but how about cutting down Dealer hours too.

Proposed:

Dealers:
THUR: none
FRI: 10-6
SAT: 10-6
SUN: 10-3

Artists:
THUR: 6-8
FRI: 10-7
SAT: 10-7
SUN: 10-4

If there's gonna be fast pass again, push back all regular open times 30 minutes, so to 10:30. <_<
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Tue Jun 07, 2016 4:47 pm

[quote="Kiriska"][/quote]

The corner tables was a top level choice as a test. I had thought we had said that in the announcement email, I went back to check and it appears I only said something about it elsewhere. As I dont write the emails, that just slipped by.

So I really had thought we told everyone and didnt, so apologizes there. We really do try to be all "This is how it is! Really! No secrets!" but theres a metric ton of information to attempt to streamline.

It will be a checkbox unless that gets changed for next year, and will be Staff choice for those that can fill and man those corners - but we might have another solution to the "but we cant fit in a corner" either as a single person or two tables. Curse the corners!

And Fan Expo, I just dont even know. I think it was an overall combo of that, the weather, flooding in Texas, and a more controlled inflow to the AA/DR. When we get a final attendance number that will help us know if it WAS the Expo at least attendance wise.

Hours, yes. I really doubt well drop to 7pm. Were considering doing one hour less on Friday / Saturday but really unlikely to be all the way to close an hour after the DR. We aim for at least 2 hours after the DR but.... yes, 9 is late for us all. Thats not an anytime soon Staff discussion. As AAs all over go from the "24 hour" vibe to "locked room and more reasonable hours" vibe we'll adjust as we get feedback. We have no input on the Dealers Room hours but Ill pass it on ^_^

Edit: Numbers are hard.
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby oanhderbread » Wed Jun 08, 2016 1:02 am

I actually did pretty bad this year, although I sort of expected to. Sales/Money I made less than half of what I made last year (and of the three previous years I've made about the same).

A few things I sort of contribute it to:
1) My plushies are a little different this year. I started using an embroidery machine. Sometimes I think it looks a lot better than button eyes, other times I think people prefer button eyes
2) I had more higher priced plushies this year. I started inventory late and ended up making more big things because they're less painful to do.
3) Comicon was happenin's.
4) Not to sound bitter or anything, but just wondering, thought mass produced wasn't allowed?
5) Traffic to me was pretty dead (to my table anyways). It was only hefty at the beginning, then by 1pm it was slow enough for me to sit without my sister or a friend. Although my friend just sat there and binged anime on his tablet haha. I only got two sales Friday and Saturday after the Dealers room closed.
6) I didn't judge very well what plushies would sell more vs what wouldn't. I took a gamble on I've never made majority faces with embroidery machine before, therefore... i.e. ill prepared
7) More not so nice comments than usual this year

I had a really bad year personally so although sales were down a lot for me, I kind of deserved it, but A-Kon was still fun and I kind of just needed to be there for my spirit. I don't know if handmade can really compete with mass produced. We won't be able to fill as much, or at least, I know I can't juggling full time work and esp unexpected things like this year.. and it won't be the same quality or consistency. I had several people ask me if I handmade everything, and there were quite a few this year that scoffed at prices, more this year than most years, so that kind of hurt a little.. esp one point where one girl was holding a boba tea yelling to her friend who was already more than halfway to the next AA island "I want this boba! It's $25! Is it worth it?" "NO". Haha.. Okay. So A-Kon helped my spirit a bit but also hurt it more at the same time.

I see in the A-Kon group a ton of people complaining about dealers room closing at six and others defending the dealers needing the break, too. We stay open until 9 each day. Let me tell you... I was exhausted. I had no energy to even eat. I knocked out in my room as soon as I got back after closing (although Friday I attempted to sew a few more plushies, but only finished two before passing out). Shorter hours would be nice. I wanted to close up each night at 7 but I felt guilty closing early. By 7 I was out of energy, but other things probably contributed to that.

I do like sewing at my table since people can see its handmade and a lot of work. Being able to show that makes me proud.

All in all I think I'm just really disappointed in myself. At least I finally had a display this year so I didn't get swallowed up in view :)

Feedback about AA in general without my self griping
1) The volunteers are as awesome as always
2) Check in was smooth
3) Hastur announcements all weekend were great
4) The chairs... ugh. no. no. nope.
5) I'm glad the no table cloth warning came in email
6) Everything seemed organized and was a stress free process. Thank you so much for that
7) Iced water <3
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Wed Jun 08, 2016 2:18 pm

Note about the manufactured plush: It was part of signup information this year, factory made plush are fine as long as its not fanart.

Sorry you had a rough year =/ We were all just wiped by 9, so we are considering getting it pulled back to 8 - but hours are a top level decision.

Edit: I love my plush! <3
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Shattered-Earth » Wed Jun 08, 2016 10:53 pm

I'm so glad the chairs were not me going crazy, i could have sworn we usually had plush nice chairs that held prints and my lower back LOL. Good to know that won't happen again ;u;, it exacerbated my back injury weep

I had a 15% drop this year despite having better stuff, I'm going to attribute this to just being in a less good spot ( I mean really can you beat FRONT ROW LOL) and the fan expo thing. I'm sure it was a mixture of both, and maybe a sprinkle of the alley being a bit larger. But i'm all for the last change regardless, no one liked artists being spread around empty tables.

I am honestly nervous it might drop more next year because of fan expo, but what can a-kon do you know? It's out of your control, so I don't blame anyone. The AA staff particularly just gets better and better each year. Both in keeping us updated with a slew of emails/tweets and bringing water and being understanding at con of circumstances people may have, etc.

Re: Hours: I did end up leaving early friday and saturday because I felt sales weren't worth waiting. I think friday i left at 8pm sharp, then saturday i left at 8:30. I wouldn't mind if we closed at 8pm instead of 9 on those days, I'm getting older and i'd love to eat and sleep earlier. Turns out almost all the barbeque places close at 10pm, which a 9pm close just isn't conducive to so *wink wink* hehe. Personally i'd love to see cons move towards west coats hours which are 10-6 or 7pm, but it totally makes sense to wean attendees into that since they would be awful confused if we switched from 9pm to 7pm suddenly!
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Starrydance » Thu Jun 09, 2016 2:04 pm

"To Eat BBQ" is prolly a valid reason we can swing shorter hours.....

Edit: We do a lot of comprehensive observation of flow, dont assume Front Row is best row, all Im saying <3
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby idrawrainbows » Sat Jun 11, 2016 1:53 pm

I definitely agree with y'all on the hours. The last hour or so was a bust for me on both Friday & Saturday. If The Powers That Be decide to roll our closing time back to 8, I think that might be the perfect balance of not losing out on too many sales and also not losing out on too much sanity XD
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Shattered-Earth » Thu Jun 16, 2016 2:07 pm

Yea the front row thing was just a guess, I really have no idea. Con sales are a mystery for the most part to me XD.

Yesss more BBQ time! I'm from out of state, this is the only time we get some really good texas bbq :D!!
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Re: A-Kon 2016 Feedback Thread?

Postby Buzzard » Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:42 am

I ended up doing a little worse than last year-- which already wasn't a very good year, on account of being in the Dealers' Room where AA stuff just plain does not do as well-- but I'm certain that a big part of that was having to leave at 4:30 on Saturday to attend a graduation. -_-; Everything was still a lot of fun anyway, there were so many cool people!

The chairs were horrid, yes.

I need to remember to specifically ask for an end table next year, I completely forgot that my display kindasorta depends on it and just lucked into an end table this time.

I for one have no problem whatsoever with long hours, since my Day Job schedule is 13-14 hour shifts, but for people who know they're going to get wrecked by 11+ hours at the table, maybe there could be more of an effort on everyone's part to arrange some kind of table-sharing deals? I was honestly surprised at how little interest there was this year in the table sharing thread, I remember people being a lot more up on the idea in years past. If you know you won't be able to grind through an entire day, it would surely help to have someone else who could make use of the space while you got some downtime.

Much thanks to Hastur for being the only %#$& person with a radio who cared enough to address the blatant fire hazard of the herd of people clotting up the area by the cafe, where some idiots decided to have a dance competition or what-bloody-ever and literally hundreds of morons just stood there and completely blocked all travel between the atrium and the bar area leading to the AA/Dealers' Room. Multiple hotel staff and reflective-vested Kon staff and actual Dallas Marshals didn't seem to give two farts for the fact that people would have literally died by the dozens if there had been a fire or other emergency while that idiocy was going on, but Hastur got right on the radio and got Ops involved, and hopefully they broke it up and forced people to obey The Actual Law and stop blocking the entire hallway. Seriously, I hate the @#$% Hilton Anatole so much, they are a truly lousy hotel.
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