For animelosangeles, I went to a small convention at Cal State Northridge. I wanted our postcards stuffed in the reg bags, so I drove up on Thursday night to bring them and help stuff the bags (right). They gave me a table in Artists' Alley, which was outdoors on the concrete patio in the sun and immediately to the west of the building with the Dealers Room. I looked at the lay of the land, and decided it made sense to set up after noon, when the shade would start coming our way.
The convention, in its third year, was reasonably well run. As it's on campus, they give free badges to any CSUN students who want to attend. Not counting dealers and artists and others of us with particular reasons to promote or publicize or sell at conventions, most of the non-student attendees come from the surrounding area. Their attendance seems to be stable, around the thousand mark. Their published attendance figure this year was 904.
We collected a little money from registrations. But at this point, we are going to the conventions to "wave the flag" -- to talk to people who haven't heard about us, to tell people who have that we have a membership cap of 2700 on Saturday and they should pre-reg and the deadline is mid-December, to tell members that the hotel room block closes mid-December too -- but mostly our agenda now is to see what members want to volunteer. Why is this important? It's not just important, it's vital. Suppose you take everyone that volunteers at a convention in any capacity, including gophers, staff, department heads, division heads, random volunteers and everyone else. Expressed as a percentage of the total membership, what's a good number to have?
I've heard that a good goal to aim for is 10%. One in ten people at the convention are helping to make the convention happen. One in 12 or 13 -- 8% -- is still pretty good. Well, right now 20% of our pre-reg membership are tagged in the database as "STAFF" but we expect to quadruple our membership before the end of the convention. That means that unless we recruit another hundred staff and volunteers, we're looking at a figure of 5%.
Low percentages here are an early warning of potential staff burnout, so I take this very seriously. I think we treat our staff and volunteers well -- in addition to our Con Suite (a novely at anime cons, even though it's a staple at sci-fi cons) we now have a Staff Lounge, we give people breaks, we show them they're appreciated, etc. -- but the trick is to get the word out. More about that in my post about the October picnic, though.
The things that I never knew came with this job... I jest. Chairing a convention isn't a job, it's a hobby. Certainly a very interesting hobby, though!
The Rum Party (right) was here -- they're hitting all the SoCal conventions (perhaps excepting Pacific Media Expo), with Anime Expo in the summer and "Autumn Dream" later in the fall -- and it looks at this point as if Anime Expo is the only one that hasn't figured out the advantages of incorporating them into the con as an official event. Their loss! [Edit: Sarah reminds me that they skipped AX.] I asked Mike, who's recently married Barrie, if they received the cooking wreath safely. I don't think he's twigged to the fact that I'm really saying You haven't sent us a thank-you note yet and of course I can't come left out and chide him for that or remind him that my mailing address is PO Box 17522, Anaheim CA 92817.
We didn't stay for all the closing ceremonies. Miles to go before we sleep -- me to the south, Melissa to the northwest. We did stick around long enough to hear a little of this lady singing (right). I'd bumped into a number of Voice Actors during the weekend, including one or two that had gone the fans-to-pros route (as opposed to a veteran actor who ended up in the anime world, like Kyle Hebert). I need to get better about hanging onto their business cards. (Minions, please take note, for when we're out at pmx. Will they have any VAs there?) Anyhow, this particular lady, whose name I've forgotten, held her own as co-emcee with Kyle on Masquerade night, and was singing the Apeture Science "Still Alive" song. I'd like to see her again, if anyone can tell me her name and where to find her next? Maybe we can lure her out to the LAX Marriott.