Now I owe a number of people responses to that comment thread, however I am going to try and answer most of the questions here. If you have any outstanding questions please ask here so that I can try and answer them. Also feel free to ask more questions, or just comment.
Now it's not that there were major problems at the convention, but more that there were strategic objectives that were largely missed. As an event it was pretty good, well so I have heard; I was a little bit busy in order to actually see what was going on.
About the only issue on the weekend was the time-table. This went through a lot of changes. So much so, that we basically printed a new one on the Sunday; which lasted a good hour before we started making changes to it.
Of course we failed to communicate these changes to everyone, and I can see a few things that we could have done different, to ensure that everyone was told.
While I would love to actually not make any changes to the timetable, this is not something that can actually be done. Some of these changes were prompted by some things beyond our control; which we are now aware of, and can hopefully avoid next year.
However some changes can still happen, we just have to get better at telling people.
There are some things that need to be done to try and grow the convention. These are things that will take several years. So one thing I want to make clear, I intend to remain as Chair-Person of Octocon until at least 2012.
That is at least two more conventions. I have several objectives for that period.
1. To grow the committee, and non committee helpers, so that is less stress on the committee.
2. To grow the attendance by 50%.
3. To maintain, or improve, the quality of the convention.
These are incredibly limited goals.
The first one is probably the most important, as the third will follow from this. While a small group can run a great convention, it is mostly high stress and a bit of luck. The second goal will allow us to increase the quality of the convention as well.
It involves people who are interested being organised and utilised in a way that means they are willing to stay involved. If we don’t engage with people willing to volunteer then we will not have many volunteers.
There was a suggestion that we put together a list of tasks that volunteers can do in the build up to the convention. Which I am in the process of doing; it is a long list. I am also trying to get my hands on a list that was done a few years ago by a previous Con-Chair, just to try and make sure I haven’t forgotten anything.
However it would be useful if we could get people who are interested in joining the committee letting us know, and we can see where we go from there.
I know how people feel. I spent a lot of them carefully avoiding the Octocon committee, usually because I didn’t have the time to commit. In the end though I felt that I couldn’t complain if I wasn’t willing to step up and help out.
Of course that’s just me.
Objective 2 is the easiest one to start with, in that I have already made a step towards doing that. Convention membership is currently €20. This is just 40% of last year’s price. This is the cheapest the con has been for awhile. I hope to keep that price until at least Easter, but there will have to be a price review at Christmas. So it all depends on how our membership numbers stands.
I also intend to travel to Eastercon 2011, it was something I have been planning for awhile, I love both of the GOH’s, however I am going to try and organise a fan table at the convention, and may have to look at some other things that we could do that would help raise the appearance of the convention in the UK.
I don’t know how much that will work, but with sail-rail from London for €60 it is an affordable trip. However just because it is affordable doesn’t mean that people will travel; we still need something to draw the interest of UK Fandom.
I would also like to try and increase the interest in Eastern Europe. For example there is a large Polish community in Ireland, very few of which are probably even aware of the existence of the Convention. We had a very small presence from the community, and I would love to grow it some. Of course that is something that will take a lot of work, and I need to get my plans for this together better.
Objective 3 is the one that builds on 1 and 2.
Even after my time as Con-chair I hope to remain involved in the committee, not sure how, but I forgot how much I enjoyed running conventions because of how long it has been since I did that. I am apparently crazy like that.
There are a couple of great suggestions floating around, all of which will be looked at.
One of these is that we expand our “Cash Day” to a general gathering of fans.
This was something that we tired to do this year, when we created Geek Gaming Sunday. This started as a day we were available to collect cash from people who wanted to get memberships, but did not have access to a credit card. It had a limited success as a cash day, but a lot of people came along to play games.
As a general gathering of fans it was a lot less successful, and we will have to consider something else as a “general fan” gathering. We are willing to work with others on this, and any input is welcome.
The idea of an “elder council” seems good; however I am not sure how something that formal will really work. As it stands a lot of the people who would make up such a council are in contact me in relation to suggestions as to things that we could do differently. The advantage of this method is that I am getting lots of advice, which means I have to consider it all, and see how it would be good or bad for the convention. I am not sure how to formalise the group, and avoid it becoming too “Secret Masters”
One of the issues for the convention is that for a few years there were a couple of badly organised conventions. This is for various reasons that are not right for me to go into, as I was not involved with the convention those years.
It was mentioned that word of mouth is very important for a convention, and we are still suffering from these disorganised years. Basically we need to change the word of mouth of the convention. This is something people can help with. If you enjoyed Octocon, mention it to other people. Tell them why you enjoyed it, and why they might consider going.
If you didn’t enjoy it, please tell me. Let me know why you didn’t like it. I can’t promise that I can fix it, but if I don’t know there is nothing I can do.