Making it Better
Even though this was Toycon’s 15th year, it was their first time implementing so many changes. They definitely bit off more than they could chew this year, but there are ways to give attendees a better experience in the following years.
- Coordinate, coordinate, coordinate.
This year’s Toycon was handled by two sets of organizers: Toycon and Pop Life. Internal coordination is very important for an event to run smoothly, regardless if it’s a small 50-person fan gathering or a large convention hosting thousands of people, from fans of celebrities to toy enthusiasts.
Despite Toycon collaborating Pop Life, there were many times when Toycon seemed to be unaware of Pop Life’s actions and vice versa. This was most notable during the schedule of activities because Toycon was unable to provide a straight answer to attendees’ queries, and implied that Pop Life held the strings as far as the schedule of activities was concerned.
Place importance on rehearsals on top of sound checks. Giving Yanakiku and those in charge of the tech booth time to coordinate would have gone a long way in making their performance on Day 2 that much smoother. The same problem was encountered by Stereodeal on Day Three and could have been avoided had there been time to rehearse.
- Thoroughly orient the staff and volunteers. Arm them with knowledge.
Related to the earlier point, the staffers and volunteers lacked key information. Attendees did not know where to go and did not receive direct nor accurate answers from Toycon x Pop Life staffers. One of the most frustrating things about being a staff member and volunteer is having the desire to help, but being unable to. The volunteers, marshals and staff don’t need to know everything, but they need to at least know the layout of the venue, in-depth knowledge of their own duties and an overview of the functions of other committees. It would be a lot less frustrating for both the attendees and staff if the attendees can be guided to where they need to go, and fully-informed staff members always earn brownie points with attendees, not to mention it boosts morale.
- Give everyone – attendees, guests, performers – enough time to prepare. Respect everyone’s time.
Whether it concerns ticket prices and their corresponding perks, the schedule of activities, or guest appearances, allot enough time for everyone to prepare. After the full roster of guests and performers were announced, a good number of people ended up dismayed instead of angered because a month was not enough to save up even for a one-day ticket.
A good leeway for announcing ticket prices is six weeks, but the earlier the better. The announcement of guests would make it a bit harder to schedule since anything can happen between a verbal confirmation and the contract signing, but a good way to assuage people’s worries is to reassure them that the announcement of guests aren’t done and that more are coming. It might not convince them to buy a ticket immediately, but it greatly lessens the possibility of them completely dismissing the event as a waste of money.
For the guests and performers, it’s important to let them know of their own call times and schedule of appearance. Giving performers enough time to rehearse onstage would lessen the possibility of technical difficulties. For the celebrity guests, knowing what time they’re scheduled to appear onstage would give them time to prepare beforehand so they could be on time (or cancel early, if it comes to that).
There’s claiming that the schedule is subject to change, and then there’s going YOLO at the posted schedule. Day Three was definitely more of the latter. Attendees would have planned their day a bit better if the revised and accurate schedule was posted on the day itself. If it comes down to it, hire a production team. They’re experienced in handling stage events. They make sure that everything goes as planned. (Even if everyone is already panicking backstage.)
- Ask for feedback.
This was Toycon’s first big jump as far as their events go, and asking for feedback is important. Other events such as APCC and Cosplay Mania rolled out feedback forms after their respective events were done so that they can improve on the event. While some complaints may be disregarded, attendees also have the capability to provide feedback that’s well thought out. It would do well to listen to those as it goes a long way in improving future events.
It is never easy to run such an event year after year, much less one with so many changes in the span of a year. However, it’s also rather hard to accept “intindihin mo na lang” and “cut them some slack” because at the end of the day, Toycon has over a decade’s worth of experience under their belt and Pop Life/SLCC is one of the largest conventions in North America.
With that said, Toycon x Pop Life’s partnership is a new venture. This year wasn’t completely terrible but there’s definitely a lot of room for improvement. Despite my own gripes and criticisms, I remain cautiously optimistic and expect better things from them in the following years.
At the end of it all, Toycon 2016 was most definitely an experience, and one we share with you via our coverage and photos over here! Do you have any interesting Toycon2016 stories? Share them with us in the comments below!