FanimeCon: Participate, Join, Create > Ideas and Suggestions

Con Suite

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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?

MPLe:

--- 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?
--- End quote ---


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

Can you please explain?

Fain Erevast:
Con suite...? :|

Hazel Chaz:
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...

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.
--- End quote ---


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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