Pre-con preparations



How will Green Room buy drinks?

Can you take credit cards?

Cash float?


Badges for hotel staff?

Real Ale


Here is a piece of good advice. Do not listen to anyone who offers to computerise Registration. Speaking as a computer consultant who has considered the problem, there is currently no way of doing this that does not involve either (1) unacceptably large amounts of money or (2) unacceptably lengthy delays at the Registration desk, or (more likely) both. I have seen it done well precisely once, at Chicon 2000.

Doing registration manually is usually simple, cheap and one can throw additional untrained people at it with some expectation of improving the throughput. As soon as you try and automate the process, you lose all this. Do not be misled by professional events which use computerised registration. These usually have spent a lot of money on the problem, have trained staff on Registration who use the system every working day of the year and the whole process is much simplified. Even then, it often takes longer to register someone than is possible with a manual system. Don’t do it.


At some point you have to stuff the envelopes/bags that we discussed earlier. Try not to leave this to the day before the convention since this is exactly the time at which you can’t afford to have everybody putting flyers into envelopes. Reserve the two weekends before the con for committee business and try to do as much as you can of the badge-making and stuffing then. However, don't fool yourself, there's always someone (usually one of the publishers) who sends you up a package of stuff to go in at the last minute. Consider just putting them in a pile on the registration desk and hand one to each person as they register.

Don’t forget to make up additional programme packs for people joining on the door. These should have everything except the badge in them.


Last PR

Things to go in:

Programme Book

OK, here's one I've been bitten on. You're accepting advertising in your Programme Book, right? What do you do if an ad doesn't turn up? Chase it. Phone up the person responsible and find out whether they've sent it. Is it lost in the mail? Sitting on your neighbour's doormat getting wet? Whatever you do, don't just assume that they aren't going to want to want that page. Worse still, never put in a page saying "reserved for X" unless you have really made made every possible effort to get it. It's unspeakably rude.

Read Me

This is the leaflet that people get to help them find their way around the convention. These days it's often split up into several booklets covering the con itself, the surrounding area and so on. Things to go in the inside part of the ReadMe might include:

In the outdoors part, you might include:


This is something I've done on a number of occasions.


Do they get a per diem in cash? Or do you let them charge to their rooms?

Who picks them up from the airport/station and when?

Who looks after them?

Dealers’ Room

How many tables can you fit in the room?

How much do you charge?

Signing sessions – tell dealers

Programme Participants

There are a number of completely separate things that you have to do here. Let's start at the beginning:

  1. The Programme subcommittee (3-5 people, don't be tempted to try and have one person do this) contact likely people by phone/email/letter/whatever and say "Are you coming to the convention? If so, will you do 'X' for us?"
  2. Once people have agreed to do something on the programme, you send them a letter of confirmation, about 6 weeks before the convention. This says "You have agreed to do 'X', the other people on this item are 'A', 'B' and 'C' (moderator), please remember to bring everything you need." If they have asked you to supply equipment, such as an overhead projector, the letter should say "we have booked an OHP for you."
  3. At the convention, all programme participants should get a printout when they register. This should say "You are on item 'X' which is at 2pm on Saturday in the Main Hall, please go to the Green Room 20 minutes before the item starts."

Everything you haven’t thought of, but should have done weeks ago

Yes, everybody leaves something to the last minute.