As I reflect back on Gen Con 2016, I am also looking forward to Gen Con 2017. After an event as big as this that I plan to repeat, I like to take notes while things are still really fresh in my mind. Taking notes and making plans for next year now enables me to focus on facts more than fuzzy memories. If you are planning to return to Gen Con next year, I encourage you to do a similar reflection. Next year is the 50th Gen Con so it will likely be even bigger and crazier, even more reason to plan ahead.
This being our first foray into an extended time for my wife Angie to attend Gen Con meant we really had to focus on the accessibility. Get Con staff were very accommodating to our needs, and we already have contacts to use for next year. The SpringHill Suites were wonderful as an accessible hotel, so we will plan to stay there again and have already spoken with Gen Con Exhibitor Services as to how to reserve an accessible room next year. One thing we did learn, we will need to stay an extra night in Indy with Angie there. Trying to pack and check out on Sunday morning, then tear down the booth after 4 pm, meant a late night getting home. Also, heat in the Exhibit Hall rises quickly after the 4 pm closing, which is not good for my wife’s Multiple Sclerosis. It increases her fatigue quickly. By staying an extra night, Angie can rest in the hotel while my daughters and I dismantle the booth. We can then have a relaxing evening with friends also staying another night in Indy. Monday morning, we can pack up, check out, and make the drive home rested rather than exhausted. We also have made note of and will remember to use the Special Services desk in Customer Services. We will be telling other friends with accessibility needs about that desk. That is a hidden gem of the Gen Con management they need to advertise better.
I need to take better care of my feet. I came home with very sore feet and a slight injury in my right foot. I thought my shoes were good enough, but they were not. Even with the gel inserts I could feel the shoes failing me as the week progressed. I need to invest in some much better quality shoes for all the standing and walking I do at Gen Con, especially long term standing in the booth. We have foam flooring but that is not enough, plus all the walking outdoors on concrete takes its toll on the feet. I did use medicated foot powder again this year, which really keeps my feet dry and healthy. So, I am looking to invest some money into higher quality shoes.
This was my third year managing a booth and second year with my daughters assisting. Chris Birch (Modiphius) and I are already discussing how to do things even better next year. Chris will be bringing more people and arriving Monday night so he can assist with Tuesday setup. This year, it was just my daughters and me Tuesday, with others helping on Wednesday. I have also already started a list of additional items to bring to the booth (broom/dustpan, paper towels, business card holder, another tape gun, increased petty cash, additional black tablecloths, and more) and ones we need less of (wet wipes, granola bars, hand sanitizer, brochures, chairs, etc). We also need to open our booth worker schedule before Gen Con Event Registration begins so we can confirm booth workers before they choose events. We had challenges finding booth staffing because many who were willing already had events scheduled during our open slots. We also need to discuss how we allocate Exhibitor Badges and compensate booth workers because our current system was confusing.
Gen Con 2016 was an amazing time of meeting so many people, yet I still missed some that I really wanted and had planned to meet with. I need to do a better job of scheduling some meetings ahead of time, even before Gen Con arrives. Trying the “we will find a time to meet” during Gen Con just does not work consistently. Instead, an official schedule of some deliberately scheduled meetings is in order for Gen Con 2017. As a freelancer, I really need to spend some face time with the publishers I am working significantly with. These meetings can not be left to chance but need to be planned accordingly. So, next year I will be contacting more publishers before Gen Con to schedule meetings or meals together to discuss current and upcoming projects.
Like many of you I expect, I spent more than I had planned for Gen Con. Hotel and Parking were as expected and my game purchasing was not that far off. My meal budget was where I underestimated the most. Feeding four people and the occasional paying for a friend’s meal exceeded our budget. We will be looking at that budget for next year likely increasing the value and looking for ways to decreasing costs as well with different restaurant choices and perhaps bringing more food with us from home to the hotel. As discussed earlier, we also need to budget for an additional night at the hotel and the accompanying meals.
Each Gen Con, I focus more on booth work and relationship building, but I do get in some gaming. Game demos in the Exhibit Hall and our yearly Saturday night gaming with friends and family really fill my tabletop gaming needs during the con. What I have not done yet at Gen Con is roleplaying, neither playing nor GMing. Next year, I would really like to try my hand at a convention RPG one-shot. I think it might be best if I play a game in 2017 and then contemplate running one in 2018 if I feel I understand how GMing works at a convention after experiencing it as a player. I also need to get some BattleTech gaming in. Some of my friends are huge BattleTech fans and have been asking me for years to play with them, so I need to make some time at Gen Con 2017.
Well, that is what I have made note of so far. I am sure more things will come to me this week and next as I catch up on sleep and my mind becomes less fuzzy. What things have you made note of to do better or at least differently at Gen Con 2017?