I don’t normally post comments, but thought I’d share my two cents and I apologize if any of this sounds negative. This is coming from someone who had never been to a fan convention prior to the GB one. I’m also sure it will upset some people. I’ve been to 3 or 4 conventions. Haven’t been to the last two for family reasons and unless the date changes or I can convince my mom to go, probably won’t be attending anymore. I went by myself the first time, and definitely felt like I was in high school because of the “cliques”. After Thu and Fri night, I almost regretted going, but Sat made up for it. I’m used to traveling by myself and being alone, but am shy so it’s not easy for me to cozy up to people. A few people went out of their way to talk to me, but many already had friendships formed and concentrated on existing relationships. Not a bad thing but makes things more difficult for shy people. I’ve only been to conventions for work so I was surprised there weren’t very many workshop sessions during the day and those that did exist, weren’t very structured. I had no clue what a siggy was or a card (?) and still don’t have either because just not quite sure about them. The 2nd one I knew more people so I was more comfortable, and I’m pretty sure my best friend joined me even though she’s not a GB fan like I am.
It feels sometimes like the convention is trying to be all things to everyone and isn’t succeeding. Based on this and other comments I’ve read, here is what I like or suggest. I like the idea of having a tiered choice for Friday and Saturday night. I like having one charitable organization that donation efforts are directed towards. I like doing charitable work on Saturday. I liked the workshop about empowering women given by Marlene, Celine’s gutter gal talk and watching a movie at an actual movie theater. Having guests is nice, but not necessary. If there are guests, would prefer they have some relation to GB, but don’t have to be actors or super recognized or important. I loved Holly’s comedy routine and Katie’s singing. I really enjoyed the Neil Diamond impersonator. I love Landa’s cookies. I like the video contest with a GB theme. I like the raffles, but think there are too many and they are too time consuming. I also spent time crafting items to donate both GB and non-GB related and felt like they were not really appreciated, partly because of a comment from another attendee and partly because of how some of the more difficult items to craft were put into raffle bags instead of being auctioned. I should have said something before donating, but really didn't expect they would be parts of raffle bags. Crafting is difficult and time-consuming so I quit making things for that reason but do continue to contribute items for the auctions and raffles. I love both the live and silent auctions, and participated in the silent auctions but doubt I’d do the live auction with the amount of money involved. I feel like devoting one night to AOEA and one night to TST may be problematic. I also wondered why we don't do anything for Kids Kicking Cancer since it was or is a charity GB supports although I know MGP was the main reason. Kids in EA are important but so are those in the US. I think Vegas is a great place for a convention because I’ve heard rates are pretty low compared to other cities and there is a lot to do in Vegas unrelated to an actual convention. I read somewhere at one point why it would always be in Vegas and it made since. Don’t remember the reason but was ok with it.
As for suggestions, I would recommend a few structured workshop sessions whether a scrapbooking session, jewelry-making, etc. and charge a small fee for some that require supplies. I went on a scrapbooking cruise and they had a session with a small kit to make a small scrapbook of the cruise. All supplies were included. I started at one point to suggest something like that at the convention, but gave up on it for crafting reason mentioned above. I recommend having a tiered charge so you can choose which nights to attend. Have a buddy system so that newcomers will be paired up with veterans if they feel the need. When I started junior high, we had someone assigned to us to help us acclimate. I think it would help some of the shyer people. Use Friday for workshops, lunch provided by the hotel (nothing fancy) with maybe a speaker, casual night (maybe even pajamas), video contest and all things Gerry-related. Have a small talent competition of GALS and PALS for our entertainment. Have silent auctions and raffles but don’t designate funds to go to just one charity. Use Saturday for some time at TST and maybe host another workshop or provide a same workshop again for those who don't want to go to TST. A movie is fun but not really necessary, although it sounded great to show MGP and have Sam talk afterwards. Have the gala with dressing up and some entertainment (AHP if available?), but don’t spend a lot of money to bring a big or known name. Maybe that should be the night Holly and Katie perform and/or an encore of Friday night’s winner. Have the major live auction Saturday night. Identify the charities that will receive the funds and split the money among them. I would prefer we stick with TST, but I’ll go with whatever is decided. I noticed a change in focus from the first one I attended to the second one where attendance dropped almost in half, I think. Don't know if it's because the focus has seemed to move away some from Gerry or just a maturing of the event and organization.
I forgot to mention how much I appreciate all the work of the mods/admins. They've done an amazing job.