Conrunner Logo

Eastcon Ops - The Corpse Dissected

Martin Easterbrook

This is an account of the running of ops at EASTCON. I have tried to be fairly honest about the mistakes I know about. It is almost certain that there were others that we did not notice.

SITUATION APPROACHING THE CONVENTION

Membership was low but taking off on a steeper curve than exponential. The late move of site from Birmingham to Liverpool was causing a lot of extra work but the new site was much more popular.

The curse of EASTCON was in full swing with several of the committee having (loss of) job problems.

There was a lot of pre con work to do. Anyone who volunteered to help (Hi Bridget!) was immediately snowed under. This made it more difficult to recruit others, thus maintaining the large work load on potential volunteers, deterring them from helping... and so on.

SUGGESTION 1: HAVE YOUR AT CON NON-COMMITTEE AREA HEADS RECRUITED 3 MONTHS BEFORE THE CON. YOU WILL ALSO NEED TO RECRUIT SOME PRE-CON HELPERS 6 MONTHS BEFORE THE CON. KEEP THEIR WORK LOAD LIGHT!

SUGGESTION 2: BUDGET SPARE COMMITTEE MANPOWER TO BACK UP ANYONE WHO HAS LAST MINUTE PERSONAL/WORK COMMITMENTS BEFORE THE CON.

Several committee members were going to be involved running programme streams 'full time' at the convention. This left us short of people for DCM's. To solve this we had recruited DCM's from SPECULATION and CONFICTION. To make sure that these DCM's had fast access to committee members, if necessary, we appointed some of the committee as 'Oops Managers'. These would be working hard on their own jobs during the con so the theory was that the non-committee DCM would shield them from anything that did not absolutely require committee involvement during their ops shift. (I'm not happy about this as general policy but I think it was a way for us to get around our particular problems).

The room booking confirmations sent out by the hotel lacked information on dates of booking and type of room. We were expecting problems here and had not released our reserve rooms, so that we could use them to sort out any screw ups.

Just over one week before the con we realised that we hadn't properly discussed the security arrangements for the con with our security chief Kevin Anderson. Of course he was out of contact for this week.

SUGGESTION 3: WHERE YOU HAVE NON-COMMITTEE MEMBERS RUNNING AN IMPORTANT AREA MAKE SURE YOU INVITE THEM TO AT LEAST ONE COMMITTEE MEETING TO DISCUSS THEIR WORK IN DETAIL.

Programme seemed to be well under control.

Ops preparations consisted of preparing full rota of ops staff, providing a copy of the full convention run through in the programme packs of all 'staff' members and creating the new post of 'Oops' manager, (having stolen the idea from the 'Programme Oops' staff which CONFICTION was planning to have).

The basic idea was to have one coordinator in the central office and one 'mobile' trouble shooter able to go to the site of any problem and sort it out. In practice the EASTCON use of these people was more complex. We had a shortage of committee members able to act as DCM's because of other things they were doing at the convention. We tried to construct teams of 3 people; ops manager, trouble shooter (Oops Manager) and DCM where a committee member was acting officially as trouble shooter but where the 'stand in DCM' was asked to keep the load on them as light as possible. An unexpected benefit of this technique was the opportunity to use Dutch fans in important ops posts to help us which built up a very good team spirit for CONFICTION.

We set up a system like this with several layers to help us in handling trouble because we were expecting problems at the convention with room bookings etc. Unfortunately we were correct in these assumptions. At many other Eastercons there is far too little for the ops manager to do and the job gets boring. I would suggest that in future the ops manager and oops manager exchange jobs on alternate shifts. This allows the oops manager to do important things like going and having a drink in the bar if there are no problems that need attention. Getting ops people out enjoying the con is good for them but is also a benefit to the ops organisation itself as they will be able to spot problems developing, whereas the ops room is often the last to be told that something is wrong.

To summarise, an EASTCON ops shift consisted of the following;

Committee DCM, Ops Manager, Oops Manager, Ops room Gopher (helps ops manager with problems otherwise they are there to entertain the ops manager).

Allowing for 5 shifts of 3 hours each this requires 15 - 20 people!

If there are not enough people to fill these posts then the jobs of DCM and Oops manager should be combined. If possible try to use people from last years and next years Eastercons so that experience will be accumulated over the years.

I don't go into other departments such as Tech, Green Room etc. as these were left to organise themselves. However, as a rough guide, below are some estimates of the numbers required to make up a shift.

Added to the ops requirement this implies about 14 people on a shift for a total of 70, plus of course other unshifted staff. The rule of thumb seems to be that you need about 10% of your attendance as staff.

If you try to get away with fewer people than this you will end up overworking a lot of people. Remember that the people you want will have other things they want to do at the con like running desks for their own convention and even enjoying themselves at some time. Many people will be much keener to help if it is clear that it is only for 3 hours a day.

THE RUN THROUGH DOCUMENT

If there was one thing about EASTCON ops which I would recommend other committees to follow it is in the creation of a run through document which describes the complete running of the convention and which is distributed as widely as possible amongst those working on the convention. Ours was also distributed to hotel staff. Note that this may require care in the way some things are phrased.

This allows as many people as possible to know what should be going on at any time. It also allows other people to take over jobs at short notice when the original staff member cannot attend the convention for some reason (with the number of people we are now using at Eastercons this will probably happen to at least one staff member).

The major error made with the run through was in distributing it to staff members in their programme packs. Most people do not have time to read such enclosures and it would have been far better to have posted it out to staff members two weeks in advance of the convention itself.

Another error was in not having a staff book describing the jobs and spending powers etc. for each staff post as was done at FOLLYCON. Such a staff book would not change very much between Eastercons and could be updated relatively easily for each individual convention.

SUGGESTION 4: HAVE A RUN THROUGH DOCUMENT WHICH GIVES AS MUCH DETAIL OF THE ORGANISATION OF THE CONVENTION AS POSSIBLE AND POST THIS OUT TO YOUR STAFF WORKERS BEFORE THE CONVENTION.

SUGGESTION 5: HAVE A STAFF BOOK DESCRIBING POWERS AND DUTIES OF ALL STAFF POSTS. HIGHLIGHT ANY CHANGES FROM PREVIOUS CONVENTIONS.

The run through document began 3 weeks before the convention, with the final run through planning meeting. Up until 2 weeks before the convention most actions are concerned with deadlines for various publications.

The weekend before the convention was scheduled as a final 'panic' meeting and work session where there was some chance to resolve last minute crises with all the committee present. Also over this weekend there is a lot of last minute work to do and it is handy to get as many committee and helpers together as possible. Some people will have to be working elsewhere, because of access to computers etc., but they should still make sure that everyone else knows what they are doing and where they are reachable by phone.

Operations proper began for the convention on the preceding Wednesday. Myself, Stuart Andrews and Hugh Mascetti arrived at the hotel and checked through final arrangements with them. Hugh also checked arrangements at the overflow hotels. Hire of the 'logistics' van started and equipment coming up to Liverpool from the London/South East area was gathered together. As things were now beginning to happen we arranged that someone in London would be manning a phone throughout the day to coordinate activities.

There was also a mobile phone on one of the vans, courtesy of John Stewart. This proved amazingly useful, enabling them to do things like ordering extra technical equipment on the way to the hire agency.

THURSDAY

The first job for those in the Hotel on Thursday was to set up the secure store and operations room. The ops room phone then became the central coordination point for moving equipment to Liverpool. It is important to sort out an external phone line with the hotel, and also to sort out how the bill will be paid at the end of the convention. We also went through the run through document with the hotel management to ensure that they knew what was needed at any time. By Thursday people are beginning to arrive at the con and one of the ops rooms jobs was to press gang as many as possible to meet the equipment vans and unload them.

During Thursday it became apparent that there were several things we should have done to make the ops room more effective.

  1. We should have had a copy of most if not all of the documents, hire agreements, insurance forms etc.In particular we should have had complete copies of all the logistics plans and delivery schedules.

  2. We did not have a convention cheque book and enough people with signing powers to pay for some hired equipment when it arrived. Some of the con equipment had to be put on a credit card (Tim Illingworth's of course). As we were also shipping equipment from London we also needed the ability to sign cheques at the London end of the operation. This complicates the Treasurers task of financial control and some care should be taken that excessive expenses are not encountered at both ends of the operation thus putting the convention into deficit.

  3. We needed a more detailed schedule of the arrival times of committee members.

  4. The name 'Ops Room' is meaningful to us but does not mean much to hotel staff. It should be given the additional title of 'Convention Office'.

Even on Thursday we were beginning to see the expected problems with room bookings (one of our Guests of Honour wasn't booked in according to the hotel!!).

Despite this we had established good relationships with the banqueting and catering managers and their staff. This was to prove a great help later in making sure that a number of minor problems stayed minor.

Even on a Thursday the bank holiday traffic provided us with some horrific surprises. Four committee members set off from London at 11 am and then didn't get to the hotel until 7 pm. We then discovered that of 5 boxes of membership documents only 4 had been packed. Some people wanted to drive back down to get them but prompted by visions of not seeing them again until the Tuesday after the con or of having them falling asleep while driving on the motorway we used a commercial courier firm instead. (This is another indication that we should have had duplicates of as many documents as possible brought up by another source).

SUGGESTION 6: TRY TO HAVE SOMEONE AT 'HOME BASE' WHO IS NOT COMING TO THE CONVENTION, PROBABLY A NON FAN FRIEND, PREFERABLY A QUALIFIED BURGLAR!

The scheduled gopher volunteer meeting at 7 pm was a great non event. There must be a better way of organising this (a free pint for every volunteer?) but I can't think of it.

Even late in the evening Thursday still had further unpleasant surprises for us. Kevin Anderson, who was organising our security, could not attend the convention because of a death in the family. We already knew we'd made a mistake in not talking to Kevin properly. Now that mistake came home to roost. We didn't know who he wanted to use and KIM, the usual emergency security person, was already doing too many jobs. Security is an area where you can only use people you can really trust and of course you will already have grabbed those for other jobs.

We immediately drafted Chris Cooper (who swore in Neil Mittenshaw-Hodge as his deputy). Martin Hoare took over the tech set up for the masquerade which Chris had been originally going to do.

Chris and Neil gave up the whole of their convention to work on security and help us out of our problem. Thanks guys!

The other remaining problem of the day was the chaos over room bookings. We were doing the best we could to sort out problems but the sheer number of people needing to be dealt with was overwhelming the system. By the end of the evening everyone in this area was extremely tired and fed up. Rather than just let the situation continue we sat down together and worked out a system that had a better chance of coping. We recruited extra helpers to answer the simple questions (ie "Where the hell is my hotel") and so left the people with more knowledge of the hotel booking system to deal with the more imaginative screw ups which were happening. Bridget Wilkinson became the third person to help us out by sacrificing the whole of her time to this job).

SUGGESTION 7: ON THE DAY YOU MAY FIND THAT SOME OF YOUR BRILLIANTLY PLANNED SYSTEMS JUST DON'T WORK. BE PREPARED TO CHANGE THEM.
(QUIBBLE - Sometimes we did spot other things going wrong but decided that changing them would cause even more confusion).

By this time on Thursday I'd made the discovery that all the disasters you expected will turn up, and they'll bring a lot of their friends.

ROOM BOOKINGS - AN INQUEST

The basic hotel problems were the poor confirmations sent out by the Adelphi and their habit of overbooking. That they were changing over computerised booking systems during the convention was just some unpleasant icing on the cake.

Our mistakes in not being ready for this were twofold. Firstly our mental outlook was that hotel liaison was all about planning convention functions. We never sat down with the hotel and went through their procedures for booking and registering guests and taking payment.

SUGGESTION 8: INCLUDE DETAILS OF WHAT THE HOTEL WILL DO ABOUT CONFIRMATIONS ETC. IN YOUR NEGOTIATIONS. IF THIS IS MARKEDLY INFERIOR TO THE NORMAL EXPECTATIONS FOR AN EASTERCON YOU WILL HAVE TO PUT IN A LOT OF EFFORT YOURSELF.

Secondly, although we did talk to several members of the FOLLYCON committee during our planning we did not specifically talk to Pat Brown about the way in which she had handled memberships and hotel registrations. It turned out that Pat had dealt with many of these problems for FOLLYCON quietly and efficiently. Therefore nobody noticed a lot of the things she had done.

SUGGESTION 9: TALK TO SOMEONE WHO HAS DONE YOUR JOB AT A RECENT CONVENTION IN SOME DETAIL ABOUT WHAT THEY DID AND WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO DO.

The problem would have been far worse if Hugh Mascetti had not turned himself into an instant expert in finding other hotel accommodation in Liverpool. At one point we were down to a reserve of 3 beds that we knew of in the whole city.

FRIDAY

The first delight of Friday morning was finding the secure store left wide open and unattended after the hotel cleaners had been in there! This was something else we should have put in the briefing for the hotel. (When told about this some FOLLYCON committee members remarked "Ah yes, that happened to us as well!".)

Friday was due to start with a committee meeting over breakfast at 9.00 am. This didn't really work and continued not to work for the rest of the convention. (Indeed daily staff meetings didn't seem to work at CONFICTION either so I can't suggest a remedy for this).

Hotel booking problems continued for the rest of the day but we now felt we were better able to solve some of the problems when they arose.

I was worried that I had not sorted out a first aid coverage scheme but later found out that the ops room had done this themselves.

The hotel were rather concerned about a crack in one of the steps leading into the main lounge. It was thought to have been caused by a trolley being taken into the dealers room. There was some mumbling about us paying for the damage but nothing was agreed at the time.

During one of the several room booking panics we decided to check that the rooms would be ready for the guests from PAN BOOKS when they arrived at 10 pm. We'd actually remembered to put this advance checking into the run through so we were totally confident that nothing would go wrong. Imagine our delight on discovering that the hotel had booked Steve Baines into Steve Barnes room and that there were no rooms for two of the PAN executives accompanying them. This happened because when the room bookings for Larry Niven, Steve Barnes and Chris Claremont had been brought forward from Saturday to Friday we hadn't automatically changed the bookings for the executives.

The hotel was by now apparently utterly and totally full. They were very apologetic about the problem and eager to help. They were even more eager to help when we explained that PAN were financing the party scheduled in the main lounge and if they didn't get rooms they might not be quite so keen on paying the hotel all that money for booze. It may sound as though we were screaming at the hotel at this point but in fact they were doing their best to work with us in solving the problem. For the first time they let us have access to their booking records so we could try to sort something out. If we'd been able to do this before and get someone working behind the reception desk a lot of other problems could have been dealt with more easily.

The first possible solution we found was to throw out a single female fan with a young child who had a room booking but hadn't arrived yet. After the briefest of consideration we decided that we weren't quite evil and nasty enough to do that.

The hotel managed to find one room from somewhere. We managed to come up with another 2 good quality rooms by moving a committee member onto the floor of another room (with the hotels permission) and paying someone else to spend the night in one of the overflow hotels.

When things settled down the registrations manageress was very apologetic about the general overbooking problem. Since there was nothing that could be done to solve that problem at this stage we asked her to put in a good word for us with the general management about the damaged step. We heard nothing further about the step, so this may have helped.

Most of the EASTCON lessons about handling emergencies at a convention are illustrated by this event.

  1. Doing a check a few hours before the event saved us from disaster.

  2. We had established a good relationship with the hotel and could work together.

  3. Despite our initial panic and horror the solution was fairly obvious once we calmed down.

  4. The only resources available for handling such problems are spare people and spare money. Make sure there are reserves of both.

In general I think it is good policy whenever things are quiet to start checking on events due to happen in about 3 hours time.

SATURDAY

By Saturday the room bookings problem was easing somewhat. It still wasn't good but it had improved.

We discovered that despite an agreement to serve full breakfast during the convention the hotel was serving a restricted menu. Hugh and I girded ourselves for a row with the hotel and went to see the duty manager. He took one look at the agreement, said "There's been a cock up here", and went off immediately to sort out the problem.

Of course just when we thought it was safe to go back into the convention the thefts began!

It soon became obvious that we had attracted a number of the local pickpockets and sneak thieves. We suspected that some of them had bought day memberships so our badge checks were no protection. Our responses were: to organise a saturation campaign of warning posters ; to make announcements during the breaks in the programme and to draft other people into security.

To be honest this is a type of problem that a con committee will have difficulty in handling. Even if we'd caught some of the perpetrators we would have been on very dangerous legal ground in trying to hold them. Thankfully fandom seemed to understand our problems.

In this situation we missed the presence of a convention newsletter which could have given more detailed security advice to attendees and helped in rumour control. We had decided not to have a newsletter simply because we couldn't find anyone to run it.

We brainstormed a number of 'original' theft countermeasures including staging some street theatre in the lounge where some volunteers would be strip searched by KIM or would pretend to be caught. Alternatively we considered going through the lounge and asking everyone questions like "Who wrote FOUNDATION AND EMPIRE". However we decided against the first because if we were convincing other people might become involved. We decided against the second because it would have been very annoying and there is no guarantee that attendees at a 90's EASTERCON will know such answers.

I did go in search of the Hotel Security manager but he was off duty from Saturday to Monday. (In fact I was told several times that "He would be in later" which led me to decide, wrongly, not to have him called at home). Had he been available I would have investigated hiring some of our own plain clothes security people from colleagues of his. I would recommend inquiring about security and coverage over the convention weekend when negotiating with the hotel. Do emphasise that it is not our own membership which worries us.

We could have tried insisting on some kind of plain clothes police presence but were put off this by reports of certain substances in the bar which might have diverted their attention. Sadly I think it is unwise to trust the British police in the way we were able to cooperate with the Dutch force at CONFICTION.

To be honest I am not entirely happy with our response to the thefts. I think we were as constructive as possible considering the available people we had and the need to do something quickly. I am not sure that there was much more we could do but I would have liked to have asked 3 or 4 people to go away to somewhere quiet for a couple of hours and think through the situation calmly in order to suggest other possible actions. We couldn't do this because we were already using everyone we could think of for something else.

I think we did manage to keep tightening security throughout the next couple of days until the thieves were frightened off. The extra patrolling involved produced several remarkable sets of blisters!

SUGGESTION 10: DO HAVE FOOT SPRAY AVAILABLE AT THE CON! THIS IS NOT A JOKE!!

Most fans were very cooperative with the extra security checks but we did have problems with some of the hotel staff who objected to them.

The expected 'Ops Shift from Hell' covering set up of the PAN party, the masquerade and the disco was not as bad as expected because a lot of the PAN advertising that we intended to use as decorations in the lounge did not arrive. We did find out later however that the tech set up for the masquerade supervised by Martin Hoare was rather short of people.

A major help in organising the PAN party was appointing one person, Peter Wareham, to coordinate with them and to make sure that any problems they had went directly to the right person to deal with them.

Some other publishers felt that they were rather overshadowed by the PAN event but given the amount of money they were spending I think PAN would have been annoyed if this were not the case. Publishers are potentially able to provide much more support for conventions if you can find the right people to talk to and can convince them that they will be properly treated.

SUGGESTION 12: APPOINT SOMEONE TO TALK TO PUBLISHERS ABOUT SUPPORT.

SUNDAY

At 3 pm on the Sunday morning we had what I consider to be the most serious incident of the convention. A number of rather tough types who had previously been prevented from entering the main lounge came out of the downstairs bar and forced their way in. Chris Cooper and I were standing with some other stewards at the top of the stairs. In the second available to make a decision we all came to the conclusion that they were rather more drunk than previously and to attempt to stop them this time would lead to violence.

About a dozen of them with accompanying (ahem) professional ladies took up residence in the lounge and proceeded to behave in an insulting manner. I checked the situation with the night manageress and found that she was equally unhappy with it. It appeared that many of the intruders were bouncers from the nightclub downstairs. She had ordered them out but had been ignored. Our options appeared to be to call the police to evict them forcibly or to let them finish the drinks they had brought up from the bar and then leave. Many of them were carrying several bottles but they looked as though they were quite capable of returning to the convention later to cause trouble if evicted. The situation was calmed considerably by the excellent self control of the fans in the lounge at that time.

I waited until 6 am when only 3 fans were left in the lounge and then, after checking they were happy for me to leave, decided things had quietened down enough to go to bed. This was a mistake. Some people attending or working on the video programme, in particular Pat Brown, were abused by these thugs as they passed through the lounge later. I would therefore like to apologise to Pat and any others who suffered this.

Again on longer reflection I am not convinced that my decision not to call in the police was the right one. I seem to have been correct in believing that if we ignored them they would be unpleasant but not violent. I was also inclined to go along with the judgment of the night manageress who knew them better than I did. But if we had been wrong then other people might have suffered. I now think I should have requested that the police be called in at least 'unofficially' to talk over the situation.

I later took this matter up with the hotel general manager who said that the downstairs night club staff were outside of his control but he had now banned them from all the bars and lounges in the hotel, on the basis of the report from the night manageress. I also wrote to the DR WHO convention NEBULA held later in the year at the Adelphi to warn them about this event.

As far as convention operations goes I think the incident showed up some confusion in our coverage of the convention overnight. We were operating a system where one committee member was staying awake until about 4 am but this was on an 'unofficial' basis so that no one else knew who to contact about problems. Providing full all night coverage, while desirable, would have burned out our committee and/or some of our staff.

SUGGESTION 13: HAVE OVERNIGHT DCMS WHO CAN SLEEP BUT WHO ARE KNOWN TO THE RECEPTION DESK SO THAT THEY CAN BE AWOKEN BY THEM OR BLEEPED IF THEY ARE AWAKE. PUBLICISE THIS ARRANGEMENT.

For Sunday proper our priority was still security. To add insult to injury one of the thefts on Sunday was from one of the PAN executives.

We spotted several people without badges in the lounge and devoted some effort to watching them instead of throwing them out immediately. Some of them settled down worryingly close to the registration cash box. These people were coming into the lounge from the upstairs section of the hotel, thus avoiding our badge check.

On Sunday evening we inadvertently discovered the best way of getting the committee together during the convention. In order to make sure that the Adelphi kept its expensive restaurant open for the use of convention attendees we had booked the committee (and the Glasgow in 95 committee) into it. Of course the hotel managed to misunderstand this. They not only kept on just enough staff for us but actually locked the doors so that no one else could get in.

This meant that for the first time we were able to get some peace and quiet. Also because we had brought in a wallyphone with us we were able to answer any questions from the duty ops shift very easily. Our only problem was in deciding whether the wallyphone should be passed in the same direction as the port (the restaurant staff seemed equally bemused by this problem). Meanwhile we avoided the outbreak of the childrens paper aeroplane competition which raged unchecked in the lounge until halted by the 'establishment of the peace of Van Toorn' by Kees acting as DCM.

I recommend a secluded committee meal of this sort during the convention as a great contribution to the smooth running of the convention and to the sanity of the committee.

Following this the gopher party took place in the fan room. Since we had taken much more money than we expected in 'on the day memberships' we tried to get the gophers to drink more but were surprisingly unsuccessfully.

It would be nice to be able to reward people who had worked on an EASTERCON with a T-Shirt as is done at Worldcons and many American conventions. However this would cost several hundred pounds and would change the budgeting of EASTERCONS quite considerably. Certainly we could not have afforded to do this before the convention. Our final convention profit coming from on the day memberships which we felt unable to count on but which turned out to be far larger than we anticipated.

By Sunday night a lot of people were getting quite tired. The best example of this being two people in secure store, one searching for the children's masquerade prizes and the other wondering what six chocolate Easter eggs were doing in there. None of us put these two things together until later!

To aid tired minds it would be handy to label as many things in secure store as possible with details of their use at the convention and of where they should be returned afterwards.

MONDAY

By Monday we seemed to have the security problem under better control. I am not aware of any thefts on that day.

The striking of film equipment and the art show began as early as 10 am. The strike of the convention is one of the most complex jobs and, as mentioned above, people who have been working solidly on the convention will be feeling quite shattered by then. The set up and strike should be under the control of the Logistics manager who should idealy be able to go away and enjoy the convention as much as possible between these events. The Logistics manager should certainly not be worked to death helping to sort out room bookings as we did with Roger Perkins.

SUGGESTION 14: MINIMISE THE WORK OF THE LOGISTICS MANAGER DURING THE CONVENTION.

Before the gripe session there was some debate about asking a member of hotel staff present for this item. Several of us (particularly myself) were very much against this and effectively vetoed it. By this time we had an excellent relationship with about half a dozen of the hotel management staff. We felt that if one of them was present at the business meeting they would take a great deal of hassle about the overbooking situation even though they had not been personally responsible for it. I suspect that it may be generally true that only the 'good guys' in hotel management would appear at a gripe session while the 'bad guys' would never do so. We were also very concerned not to upset the hotel before everyone had checked out.

Generally the gripe session went much better than I expected. Fandom does appear to be ready to forgive problems if they believe you have made a genuine attempt to solve them. I actually enjoyed a lot of the session because it was a chance to talk about con running.

We did however make a mistake during the gripe session. Because Bridget Wilkinson knew most about the details of overbooking she answered many of the questions on this topic. Consequently she also took a lot of the flack. I think we should have made it clear that Bridget volunteered to help us when the problem became apparent and that she did a huge amount to solve them. Criticism over the remaining problems should have been addressed at the committee not at her.

In general it may sometimes be necessary to ask staff members to get up at a gripe session to explain something but responsibility for any situation must remain with the committee.

The closing ceremony is something of a blur in my memory. Despite having promised myself that I would not name any individuals for particular thanks I felt that there were many who deserved to be publicly credited. Of course doing this also guarantees that some people will be left out. Convention thanks remains a great unsolved problem. Like the gopher party and convention strike this would be better left to someone who has not been rushing around for the previous few days.

Feeling shattered I took a break for an hour after the closing ceremony. When I emerged I found that the convention strike was well underway. This proceeded well partly because a great deal of advanced thought had been given to coordinating it with the dealers moving out.

TUESDAY

Before leaving on Tuesday morning we inspected the hotel to check for damage and had meetings with the duty manager and the general manager. We talked about the overbooking and security problems but apart from these we were very pleased with the hotel and they seemed pleased with us. Such a meeting is very useful if you are thinking of using a hotel again.

I think the Adelphi now knows better than to repeat the overbooking problem and is very keen to host future conventions. Solving the security question is not entirely in our control or theirs and requires further thought.

The final act of the convention was a slow tour back to Southern England dropping off equipment at fannish homes from the hire van as we went. As on the trip up having a mobile phone on the hire van proved invaluable for this.

PROGRAMME

Some people may have noticed that this report concentrates on operations and excludes programme almost completely. This is because during the convention itself I, and many others on the committee, got very little chance to see any of the programme.

The programme itself was organised by Lisanne, Kathy Westhead and Tim Illingworth (plus a few dozen others). They ran the 'programme oops' area and kept the programme itself organised during the convention. A multi stream EASTERCON programme is a complex beast that requires this sort of attention to run at all. I particularly think it was a good idea that Lisanne and I as co-chairs concentrated on the programme and ops areas separately. If one of us had tried to do both the result would have been total chaos.

I think it is worth emphasising to potential future EASTERCON committees that we now have quite a few people in fandom with plenty of 'ops' experience. A committee that has ideas for an innovative convention can recruit plenty of help for the nuts and bolts side of convention running, if they ask nicely and get volunteers very drunk first. This should leave them with more time to work on the programme than if they try to learn the black arts of hotel liaison and tech etc. from scratch themselves.


Index

This page updated on 09 July 1999