I figured out this was a bad idea back when it was called Tumbl-con USA.
Every warning sign in the world was there, and I’ve been actively warning attendees and artists off of it for more than a year. Because there was no indication that the organizers had any goddamn idea what they were doing I honestly don’t know if there were bad intentions, or if they just made mistakes but here’s the thing:
Everyone seems to think that running a con results in a giant pile of money that the organizers sleep on at night. They look around and say, “X number of people at Y dollars, YOU ARE MONEY GRUBBING BASTARDS,” when in fact it’s a hell of a lot harder and more expensive to run a con than most people will ever believe. Here’s some hard facts:
1. A con looking to survive has two ‘oh dear god’ numbers. The first one is absolute MINIMUM amount of money they can make. The second is the absolute MAXIMUM amount of people they’re prepared to handle. If the organizers are off on more than 10% on either of those numbers, they are in trouble, and it’s not going to end well. Judging by the ‘estimated’ numbers they were looking for and the ‘reported’ numbers I’m hearing, they were way off. They are likely royally screwed on this alone. But…
2. The number no one ever looks at is the hotel block. Hotels cut you deals on the actual ‘convention space,’ dependent on how many hotel rooms you fill. This can be on a sliding scale, but some places do a “you must fill X number of room nights to make this worth our time.” So you get a contract that says in big print, “You will have to pay five thousand dollars for the function space! (provided you fill two hundred hotel rooms. If you don’t, it’ll be twenty thousand dollars!)” Guess which number an inexperienced con runner will pay attention to? The best case scenario. Every. Single. Time.
3. Cons get kicked out of hotels. All the time. Involving the attendees in a public way with an issue with the hotel was a NIGHTMARE of epic proportions and everyone involved is lucky the hotel didn’t call the cops on their asses and have them tossed out.
4. This has nothing to do with it being a ‘Tumblr con.’ This has to do with it being something run by inexperienced people. Anime cons have flamed out like this. MLP cons. Sci-fi cons. Comic cons. I could fill a file folder with cons that were the result of hubris, bad planning, stupid decision making, straight out up and up fraudulent planners. I know of multiple cons that have ended in the negative in the $10-50 THOUSAND dollar range. I could name three RIGHT NOW. It has nothing to do with the fandom. It has to do with the fans running a con who should not be running a con.
We’ll see how it shakes out, of course, but…
Yes. I saw this coming in April of 2013.