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Planning A Fan Convention: The Basics

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Fan conventions are enjoyable events that can surround nearly anything in popular culture. Comics and science fiction are well-known convention types, but there are also conventions for everyone from board game players to hobbyists, like droid fliers. If there isn't a con in your area that reflects your passion, consider starting one. The following guide can get you started.

Step 1: Locate your audience

Most first year conventions are relatively small and primarily draw from local crowds – or those within driving distance. Before planning too heavily, get a feel for how large the audience is and how much of the audience is likely to convert into attendees. Joining or starting a group, such as a Facebook group or a club, for the fandom gives you access to real fans that you can then poll and question to help determine interest. If there is a shop nearby that caters to the fans, you can also do informal polling of their customers (with the owner's permission) to gauge local interest.

Step 2: Find a location and set the date

The next step is to find a location and to set the date. Planning should begin 6 to 12 months out from the convention date so you have time to organize and to sell tickets. A hotel convention center like Clarion Hotel - Seattle International Airport is the best option for a location because they can provide the space and the infrastructure, such as tables and chairs, that are needed for your event. Most hotels provide event planners to help you set up your convention – although you may not have much experience, the hotel planner does. Another benefit is that there is usually a discount on lodging for attendees of your event, which can encourage people to attend.

Step 3: Secure the talent

No convention is complete without talent. Attendees want to meet someone that has something to do with their fandom. For creative property fans, such as a convention for a show, having at least one of the actors, writers, or artists make an appearance and host a panel or give a talk is a must. For a hobby convention, find an expert or accomplished person in the hobby to give a talk or workshop. The more talks, panels, and workshops you can arrange, the more tickets you are likely to sell.

Step 4: Set a price

Once you have an idea of the event cost, set your prices. Most conventions have a vendor row or artist alley. The vendor cost should cover your base expenses for the convention space. Then, you can set a reasonable ticket costs, which will cover incidental costs as well as providing funds for kick starting an even better event next year.

Once you have the dates, location, entertainment, and costs set, you are ready to go live with your event. Although the event will require some more nuanced planning before the big day, this basic guide can at least get you started.