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Sunday, June 2, 2013

And a Good Time Was Had by All

ConQuesT 44 was held Memorial Day weekend in KC at the Holiday Inn hotel on I-70, across from Royal's Stadium.  Excuse me... "The K".  You know, that place where the Royals lose with regularity.  
This was the first year at the facility and it was mostly a good experience for all; the room rate, especially with the Royals in town for a series with the LA Angles (who swept the Royals in 4 games) reasonable, the restaurant had a con-attendee-friendly buffet, and the event rooms were good (if a bit chilly on occasion).
The big thing this year was the attendance of one George R. R. Martin; yes, THAT George R. R. Martin, although he was there as an attendee, not a guest.  However, Mr. Martin did provide some gracious time, with a couple of readings/talks and an autograph session.  
Attendance was better than usual, thanks, I'm sure, to Mr. Martin's appearance, but also, the hotel is a LOT easier to reach and parking is no problem, so that undoubtedly helped as well.  And the convention this year seemed to have more energy; again, in part to GRRM's being there, but the new facility, and other factors possibly helped.
It was, in general, a good time, and like most attending, I go to "get away from it all"; the daily grind, emails, voice mails, snail mails, and whatever you happen to do to fill your days with... you know.
Of course the best things about ConQuesT are the worst things, too. The panels (there were, I think 61 this year), the consuite, the workshops (several), and the ever-helpful staff.  Now don't get me wrong; none of this is "bad", its just... business as usual.  
I wish I could put this into the appropriate words, because I don't want the wrong impression taken.  ConQuesT is a great weekend, a chance to see folks we don't see often (if we're not regulars on the convention circuit), talk "shop", and generally immerse ourselves in a pastime we all would like to live in. 
Even with GRRM's presence, the attendance was still lower than I thought it would be.  Yes, his name wasn't used in advertising, at his request as I understand it.  Still...
ConQuesT needs to grow, and it's going to be tough to shake the "relax-i-con" image it's grown into the last few years.  
So what does it need?  More higher-profile guests?  More media attention?  More advertising?  
All of the above means more money going out, and that, my friends, is a fine line to walk; I know, I've been there.  
Maybe what ConQuesT needs is an investor, an entrepreneur, willing to put some bucks into the convention to give it a boost.  Not every year, maybe, but, say, every other year, or once every three years.  
I attend professional trade shows for my company, and one of the recent formulas is "one year on/two years off" for the big shows.  ConQuesT might consider this format; a GRRM-type guest next year, then two years of smaller stuff.  Not a bad way to go, and it builds interest for the big shows while maintaining the smaller years with the "regulars".  
Worth thinking about?  That's up to the con committee.  And your dealers would know how to plan as well.
So that's my story and I'm stickin' to it.  Had a great time overall, and I hope ConQuesT continues with success.  The committee works hard to present a good product and for my money (pun intended) they deliver.
See you there next year!  

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