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Hazel Chaz

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Con Suite
« on: October 11, 2005, 06:45:55 PM »

Apart from people to staff it, a room to put it in, a budget for the darned thing, and a corkage waiver in the hotel contract, what would it take for FanimeCon to host a con suite?
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MPLe

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Re: Con Suite
« Reply #1 on: October 11, 2005, 06:48:24 PM »

Quote from: "Hazel Chaz"
Apart from people to staff it, a room to put it in, a budget for the darned thing, and a corkage waiver in the hotel contract, what would it take for FanimeCon to host a con suite?


I have no idea what you are talking about. :(

Can you please explain?
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Fain Erevast

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Con Suite
« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2005, 06:18:50 PM »

Con suite...? :|
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Hazel Chaz

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Con Suite = Convention Hospitality Suite
« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2005, 08:45:36 PM »

A Con Suite is a Convention Hospitality Suite. (Baycon, just down the road, has one, for example.)

It's a room that's open during the day (and sometimes evenings) where any member of the convention is welcome to drop by and get a between-meals snack.

What you find in a con suite varies from convention to convention, of course; usually there's soft drinks, water, chips, perhaps some fresh vegetables, or M&M's, or bread and peanut butter for sandwiches... It varies a lot.

Hosting a con suite requires a number of commitments from the convention; you guys are in the enviable position of being able to play one hotel off the other in your negoitations. (I'm so jealous.)

Usually a hotel won't give you "corkage and forkage waiver" in function space, which means that at most conventions that have con suites they end up in a hotel room. Or a hotel suite. Or a set of hotel suites. Not sure what the suite situation is at the SJ Hilton or Marriott, so I couldn't comment on that.

Now, this is not the same as having the hotel's F&B department cater an event in a ballroom. Oh, no.  Not at all. That kind of thing gets expensive. A fan-run consuite, run out of a few suites, dosn't require an enormous food budget (although it does need to be in proportion to the attendance, of course). The convention spends money on the room itself (and possibly on putting down plastic coverings to protect the carpet), and on flats of soda pop and bags of chips and so forth.

You can ask your Baycon alumni for budget estimates, but to give you an idea of the ballpark, I don't expect a fan to eat (on average) a full dollar's worth of groceries a day. (That's because not everyone goes to the con suite, and when they do, they usually just want a can of soda and a handful of chips.)  You can make things even cheaper, soda-wise, by going the chilled 2-liter bottles, or even a soda fountain setup; there are trade-offs vs. cans, but it's a possibility.

Negotiations with the hotel are important, which is why a con suite is usually described as serving between-meal snacks -- "pour and dump" snacks (like a bowl of chips), not cooking up hot soup or otherwise competing with the hotel restaurant. And the fact that it's being done in a guest room gives you certain powers as well.

The hard part for a convention of this size, apart from getting space big enough for a con suite (if you CAN get corkage waiver in the ballroom, you're golden), is staffing. You've got several thousand fans who aren't used to the etiquette of the con suite -- which is, the free food is there for you to have a snack, not for you to fill up your backpack for later and/or for your private party -- so there's a staffing need just to gently educate them.

If I were in charge of such a room, I'd have many, identically-stocked tables. (If I had a ballroom, I'd block off access to one side of the tables so that we could get around them and re-stock them while the fans are feeding.)  I'd start real simple: a couple of identical soft-drink stations (that is, identically stocked; each station would offer the same selection), a lot of chips but no salsa (don't want the mess), M&M's, carrot sticks, bread, and peanut butter & jelly. Maybe Oreos or Chips ahoy, maybe Goldfish. (No Hersheys kisses, because you don't want the little foil wrappers everywhere.) You'd want to cover the salty, sweet/chocolate, fresh veg, and protein food groups. I might even streamline the soft drinks -- save the soda pop for next time, just serve bottled water the first year.

Assuming I was in charge of running it, the biggest part of my own headaches -- once I'd secured the commitment of con mgmt to arrange a place & budget for it to happen -- would be recruiting a big enough staff to run the thing. (That's where Fanime's volunteers policy works in our favor, once convention mgmt. and I had worked out how many staffers the room would need.) Again, I'd probably start small in the first year and just have limited hours, like noon to 5 or 6; this would help in the staffing issues as well as in the food consumption issues. I'd spend a quarter of my budget stocking up before the con, and go shopping the second morning with a list based on what was used up the first day. And I'd seriously consider blowing off Costco's slight discount in favor of the easy-in-and-out shopping at Smart & Final. But that's a logistical issue...
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Spiritsnare

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Re: Con Suite = Convention Hospitality Suite
« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2005, 09:37:42 PM »

Quote from: "Hazel Chaz"
You've got several thousand fans who aren't used to the etiquette of the con suite -- which is, the free food is there for you to have a snack, not for you to fill up your backpack for later and/or for your private party -- so there's a staffing need just to gently educate them.


In all reality -- yeah, like they'll listen. Even I'd bring a Zip-Loc bag to stuff some munchies into.

Wherever and whenever there's free food, people are bound to take advantage of it.
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Re: Con Suite = Convention Hospitality Suite
« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2005, 10:43:27 PM »

Quote from: "Spiritsnare"
Quote from: "Hazel Chaz"
You've got several thousand fans who aren't used to the etiquette of the con suite -- which is, the free food is there for you to have a snack, not for you to fill up your backpack for later and/or for your private party -- so there's a staffing need just to gently educate them.


In all reality -- yeah, like they'll listen. Even I'd bring a Zip-Loc bag to stuff some munchies into.

Wherever and whenever there's free food, people are bound to take advantage of it.

True, which is why the food should be BEHIND the staff members, that way people have NO CHOICE!! :twisted: They will be FORCED to only snack on it.....Although even then it could get a little crazy with remembering all those faces, ESPECIALLY with certain cosplay outfits and people getting out of them....<.<;;
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Hazel Chaz

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Re: Con Suite = Convention Hospitality Suite
« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2005, 11:17:44 PM »

Quote from: "Spiritsnare"
In all reality -- yeah, like they'll listen. Even I'd bring a Zip-Loc bag to stuff some munchies into.

Wherever and whenever there's free food, people are bound to take advantage of it.


I'm not so pessimistic. (I've seen con suites work well before at 6000-person conventions, as well as smaller conventions like Anime Los Angeles.) After they get over their initial shock of "OMG, it's all free", they also clue into the fact that it'll still be there if they come back later. There is a learning curve involved; posted rules, some gentle (or not so gentle!) corrections, and bouncing people out if we have to because they're too greedy, should do the trick.

The other aspect I forgot to mention earlier is policing the room; refilling the empty bowls, sweeping up the crumbs, and so forth. And if there seems to be a wave of people abusing the system, well, we don't refill the bowl until they leave the room...

Anyhow, that's why I say it's staff-intensive; we not only need enough people to keep an eye on the snacks, we also need to keep an eye on the fans, with a couple of people who are just there to explain things (again and again, they'll get tired of the speech...). I'd want between a dozen and a hundred staffers on duty -- I'm still trying to figure out a more precise number, because that's a somewhat vague range -- but I believe it could be done at Fanime.

Quote from: "Ayanami Rei First Child"
True, which is why the food should be BEHIND the staff members, that way people have NO CHOICE!!  They will be FORCED to only snack on it.....Although even then it could get a little crazy with remembering all those faces, ESPECIALLY with certain cosplay outfits and people getting out of them....<.<;;


I'm not concerned with people leaving the room and coming back later; that's not against the rules, even if they don't change their costume. It's the grabbing of bowlfuls and backpackfuls of snacks that they're taking away to share with half a dozen friends that we're trying to prevent.
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The-O

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Con Suite
« Reply #7 on: October 13, 2005, 01:59:14 AM »

I can honestly tell you ( I don't know about the other departments), but this year in Rovers (based on my experience) we basically got no food. The only day we did get food was the night of the concert where our generous Co-Department Head graciously bestowed upon us, pizza! Really, if the staff was under-fed, I don't know about having a budget for snacks for attendees.
Last year, staff had breakfast, and was provided with some type of dinner.
(Please, we need FOOD to survive not just water :p)
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Ayanami Rei First Child

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Con Suite
« Reply #8 on: October 13, 2005, 11:56:07 AM »

Quote from: "The-O"
I can honestly tell you ( I don't know about the other departments), but this year in Rovers (based on my experience) we basically got no food. The only day we did get food was the night of the concert where our generous Co-Department Head graciously bestowed upon us, pizza! Really, if the staff was under-fed, I don't know about having a budget for snacks for attendees.
Last year, staff had breakfast, and was provided with some type of dinner.
(Please, we need FOOD to survive not just water :p)

I fully support this decision. Besides....if the Staff gets underfed then it makes it where they get bitchy. When Staff gets bitchy, people loose faith in the wonders of Fanime. Although I'm still a loyal fan of Fanime...just not interested in working as Staff ^^;;
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Hazel Chaz

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Con Suite
« Reply #9 on: October 13, 2005, 01:53:19 PM »

Quote from: "The-O"
Really, if the staff was under-fed, I don't know about having a budget for snacks for attendees.
Last year, staff had breakfast, and was provided with some type of dinner.
(Please, we need FOOD to survive not just water :p)


Well, I did lead off with "budget" as one of the principle factors in making it happen. I heard about the breakfast thing when I was talking to Craige last year; I didn't make it to Fanime this year (I was in Kansas City) so this is the first I've heard about how things went.

Chaz
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sykoeent

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Con Suite
« Reply #10 on: November 25, 2005, 05:00:58 PM »

The San Diego Comic-Con has a Pro Suite inside the convention. It's a good place for the pros to meet up and relax a little bit while having a few snacks. The thing is, this is restricted to Pros only. If you have one for your industry badge holders, it shouldn't be too much a problem to stock food and it'll attract more industry people to your convention. The SDCC had a con suite for everyone, but it was at a near by hotel room's ballroom or conference room. I don't know if they still have this cos since last going to one, I've just been going to the pro suite.

The only problem with this is that a lot of the food vendors will compain that you will be taking away from their business.
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Sen

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« Reply #11 on: November 27, 2005, 04:52:29 PM »

This seems more like a logistical nightmare than something that is worthwhile.

As for underfed staff, I think it depends on which department you worked.
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Claudia

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Hazel Chaz

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Con Suite offer: throwing down the gauntlet
« Reply #12 on: November 29, 2005, 06:55:09 PM »

Quote from: "Sen"
This seems more like a logistical nightmare than something that is worthwhile.

Logistical nightmare? I don't think so; Dragon*con is much bigger than FanimeCon and they manage to pull one off.

The convention would have to commit to the concept and find a space in one of the hotels for it. I'd favor the Marriott, in Salon IV for example. Or one of the large suites upstairs. But in any event, get a "tear-and-pour" corkage waiver in the agreement with the hotel for the room used.

This is the hardest part, really -- negotiating with the hotel for a space. Logistical nightmare? No, but definitely something that would have to be worked out. And this is what could clobber the whole plan, of course. One possible sop to the F&B department would be to order a coffee service every morning, so they've at least got some F&B income they can point to...

If the convention will make it possible, and fund it, I will volunteer to run it.

I think we could do it for $4000, and probably come under budget.

This is what I'd do. I'd recruit a team. (Who wants to help? It'll be fun -- lots of fans will be so grateful for what we're doing for them.)  We'd want the room arranged with a lot of chairs and some  small cocktail rounds in the front half of the room; the back half of the room would have a bunch of  6' tables, arranged in pairs to make big 5'x6' tables. And at the very back we'd have a wall -- perhaps formed by art show fixtures, or by borrowed office cubicle walls -- to section off the prep area.

For the first year, we'd limit our hours to, say, noon to 6:00 pm. We'd plan on getting to the room at 10:00 am and making it ready to open, and then if we throw open the doors at 11:30 people are amazed that we opened early. The Con Suite is not a substitute for breakfast, nor is it a substitute for dinner; it's a place to get a snack that'll tide you over because you skipped lunch.

We'd limit our menu in Year 1 to bottled water, pretzels, M&M's, and fruit. (Probably oranges.) Every table would have a case of water, a big bowl of pretzels, a bowl of the M&M's, a bowl of fruit, a stack of those little paper boats you get your nachos served in at the movies, and napkins. (So each 5'x6' double-table would have the same on each side.)

Half of the team would be prepping and restocking with full replacement bowls for when they run out, and the other half would be roving around greeting people and explaining the etiquette of the room. You can sit and eat your snacks, or you can take some with you, but please don't take more than one bottle of water and one nacho-boat full of snacks. Very simple, easy to understand.

We'd have a vacuum cleaner and a big pile of clean tablecloths; if a table got too grungy, we'd whip off the dirty tablecloth and put on a clean one.

If we can get access to the room the day before, we might be able to decorate the room. Perhaps with wall scrolls, hung really high using curtain hooks (which can be used on hotel airwalls without damaging them).  I've got four or five, we could probably put the word out and get a bunch of loaned wall scrolls to decorate the place.

Logistics? That's the easy part. The convention deciding that it's important enough to provide the room and the budget -- that's the hard part.

Worthwhile? Oh, you would not believe the amount of goodwill this project would generate...
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Nina Star 9

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Con Suite
« Reply #13 on: November 29, 2005, 07:42:48 PM »

reading the above post, this sounds like a good idea. :D

maybe add in trail mix too. the nuts in it would be good for some protein. people need more than carbs, sugar, and fruit. :D
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Suspicious

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« Reply #14 on: November 29, 2005, 08:52:20 PM »

If you end up pulling this idea off, I'd love to join in and help too.  I'm always out doing food runs for stranded, starving staff already.  I always have packs of crackers on me (even in cosplay) for anybody I happen to bump into who needs food.
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Hazel Chaz

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« Reply #15 on: November 30, 2005, 03:03:26 PM »

Quote from: "Nina Star 9"
Maybe add in trail mix too. the nuts in it would be good for some protein. people need more than carbs, sugar, and fruit. :D

I was thinking of getting peanut M&M's, but trail mix or some other source of nuts might be a good idea too...
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Sen

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« Reply #16 on: November 30, 2005, 03:57:49 PM »

Quote from: "Hazel Chaz"
Quote from: "Nina Star 9"
Maybe add in trail mix too. the nuts in it would be good for some protein. people need more than carbs, sugar, and fruit. :D

I was thinking of getting peanut M&M's, but trail mix or some other source of nuts might be a good idea too...


Cereal bars?

Anyways. I'm still skeptical about it. But kudos if you can pull it off.
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Claudia

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« Reply #17 on: December 03, 2005, 08:05:46 PM »

Keep in mind this is my humble opinion ONLY - and I'm NOT representing Fanime's posion here:

1) Logistics - easy
2) $4000 budget - NOT going to happen
3) Approval from hotel/ convention center - NOT going to happen or at least not without great cost...basically NO

Fanime has cheaper admission fees then Baycon. This is made possible by NOT providing certain things that Baycon does for example a con suite and also Fanime in general does not compensate its staffers for their hotel rooms.

If I'm correct (not sure?) Fanime did have a staff suite at one time in it's history. That's the closest Fanime ever got to having a con suite.
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Hazel Chaz

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« Reply #18 on: December 04, 2005, 01:30:38 AM »

Quote from: "astroboy"
Keep in mind this is my humble opinion ONLY - and I'm NOT representing Fanime's posion here:

1) Logistics - easy
2) $4000 budget - NOT going to happen
3) Approval from hotel/ convention center - NOT going to happen or at least not without great cost...basically NO

Fanime has cheaper admission fees then Baycon. This is made possible by NOT providing certain things that Baycon does for example a con suite and also Fanime in general does not compensate its staffers for their hotel rooms.

You are correct, in that right now Fanime costs $45 to join and Baycon costs $50. But there are two big differences in their economic situations. First, Fanime has to pay the convention center a rental fee, while Baycon gets all of their space from their hotel. (The cost of the Hilton and the Marriott's space to Fanime, and the cost of the Doubletree space for Baycon, is negligible compared to the enormous convention center bill Fanime gets.) And second, Fanime gets three times as many people as Baycon gets.

My figure of $4000 was deliberately padded; the intent was to present something minimal, and either (a) go massively under budget and impress the hell out of everyone, or (b) add other goodies as a surprise, like perhaps bringing in a thousand chocolate chip cookies from a local bakery, and impress the hell out of everyone. We could probably do the basic approach that I outlined for $2000 to $3000 and still make an amazing number of fans happy. (And as you can see from the streamlined menu we'd be serving, it wouldn't be serious competition to any restaurant or snack bar serving up meals.)

In any event, it's all up to the FanimeCon management; realistically, it's all up to their Board to decide if they want to commit to it in their negotiations for 2007, because the 2006 agreement has probably already been signed. The convention center's approval is not necessary for something going on in the hotels, so it would be a matter of seeing what the hotels say.

And they could surprise you. In Boston, last year's Worldcon had a corkage waiver in all their ballrooms on the second floor of the Sheraton, where the Con Suite was held -- and a bunch of other parties -- they paid the hotel a certain dollar amount for the privilege, and the hotel provided all the soda (cans of Coke products, like Sprite etc.) that the convention could use as part of the package. You never know until you ask (that is, until the convention's contract negotiator asks -- would that be Craige? I dunno).
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Captaine Kit

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« Reply #19 on: December 04, 2005, 07:04:17 PM »

I like the quoting of people whose post immediately preceded yours.
Everyone.
The dumbness of court, got-nuffin-to-do-widdit comments seems dwarfed compared to this phenomenon :b
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