okay legitimate warning here
1. never go to a con in its first year that is ran by people who are NOT professionals when it comes to staffing conventions if said con runs more than two days.1 to 2 day ‘test runs’ are the BEST choices for first year cons, unless they very clearly have full staffs that have definitely participated in running and organizing a con before.
2. if staffers have no radios, that’s a really really terrible and concerning sign, especially if the con has that much funds hanging under their belts.
3. if tickets are $60 for a weekend con that’s a first year, that’s a huge red flag.
4. if this is a convention that is very niche, like a tumblr con that has never happened before and is without precedent, proceed with extreme caution.
5. if you do spend $60 for that badge and this fiasco happens, do not settle for compensation in the form of a Sunday badge and ball pit (seriously?) and a discount on next year’s tickets. never, ever pay for a con in advance that has yet to confirm a venue and again is expecting $60 for a weekend.
6. if they can pony up $17k to ‘save the convention’ that they were meant to be giving anyway at the end of the con to the hotel, yet not offer to refund any of that or pay WTNV, that’s fishy.
7. even if you’re having a good time, consider this: is the programming worth it? is it worth $60? if it isn’t, give the con terrible reviews. do not inflate their reputation.
8. do the staff seem competent? do the volunteers? are they helpful and knowledgeable? another red flag is first year cons that are full of confusion. i give leeway to first year cons that generally have competent staff, but you have to remember first year cons are the ones that convince people to attend second years and so forth.
i worked at a first year con, called World Steam Expo. While it was chaos behind the scenes, we made everything work because we were all experienced with running cons. We were helpful and friendly towards the attendees. Everyone left having a good time. Now, the hotel WAS familiar with anime cons (since Youma was hosted there), our budget was managed and we never ran out of funds and surprise, we made it to a couple years after.
Badges were far cheaper and we brought in several bands for actual concerts. We followed through. We had lighting technicians, full tech staff, the whole nine yards. Because we knew what a first year con needed and we pulled through.
People left satisfied and attendance actually climbed far beyond expected due to word of mouth.
We needed no sad ball pit, no rushed fund raisers for $17k. Yes, it’s apples to oranges since the steampunk demographic is different than the tumblr one in many ways, but we made it work.
So always, always proceed with caution when it comes to these things. I feel nothing but absolute sadness that people drove from very, very far away to see WTNV and the con could not and did not compensate them. This meant that they didn’t bother to set aside funds for one of their biggest attractions. Imagine if World Steam Expo had done that to Steam Powered Giraffe or Abney Park. But we did that, and ohmygosh, they came back year after year!
So please, by word of mouth, recommend against Dashcon. Acknowledge it’s flaws over it’s good points, because you can and should. Having a fun weekend because of the people you met does not a con make. Having a good weekend because you got to go to awesome panels (that weren’t interrupted by a sudden desperate plea for moneey) and got your money’s worth does indeed a con make.
If you really want to gauge the success of the con as well, walk through the Dealer’s Hall and ask vendors if they plan to be back. Vendors are directly in touch with higher ups (again, I worked for a major wig company at cons—they want your business back, so you bet your ass you talk face-to-face with someone in charge). If the vendors are embittered by the con, it’s a huge sign.
But remember as well: you’re representing a community (tumblr fans). Exhausted hotel workers generally can do absolutely nothing for you and insulting them looks bad on you and bad on the tumblr community as a whole. I know hotel workers and many are extremely overworked during cons. A little politeness goes a long way.
So keep these things in mind, try to enjoy your weekend, and do not settle for any more bullshit Dashcon may be trying to pull. Be wise, beware, and be respectful to the hotel staff.