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Use "supporting-shares" to fund Nats?


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Another year and the prime Nats rooms sold out in under an hour. I understand the complication of sizing room blocks in advance and hotels playing fast-and-loose with their own rules,  but maybe there is a better way?

The "World Science Fiction Convention" is a big event held in a major city around the world every year, attendance is typically 3-5000 people, with registration costing $2-300 with budgets in the one million dollar range. Interesting thing: there is no national organization running the shows - the event sponsors are small local clubs that raise the funds themselves. One of the ways they generate seed money is to sell "supporting-shares" at $100-250 a share - basically they pay for registration several years in advance, maybe with some sweetener like a discounted registration or special event thrown in.

Could IPMS do something like this where the pre-pre-registration sweetener was a guaranteed reservation in the convention hotel (just the chance to get the reservation, not the room fee)? Since you would know the number of pre-registrations two years in advance, the organization could use that knowledge to size the room-block, and reduce the rush for reservations.

Just wondering...



 

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An interesting idea, but I not sure how it would work for us. Find out more specific information.

As for me, I have never had trouble getting a room at the convention hotel.

Dak

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On 10/18/2021 at 3:27 PM, Dakimbrell said:

An interesting idea, but I not sure how it would work for us. Find out more specific information.

As for me, I have never had trouble getting a room at the convention hotel.

Dak

Use the guarantee as a room down payment?  otherwise it sounds like the NFL Box License tax on Season Ticket holders.

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1 hour ago, DaSWO said:

Use the guarantee as a room down payment?  otherwise it sounds like the NFL Box License tax on Season Ticket holders.

I'm trying to figure out how the SciFi guys actually do this - it seems... complicated, and I may have gotten the terminology wrong. Here is how I imagined using this at a Nats:

  • 2 years out a location and date are announced.
  • The hosting club puts out a basic outline for their show: convention center, hotel(s), theme awards, special events, registration fees, etc. This probably isn't set in stone, but presumably they will have worked most of this out before getting the bid.
  • For 3 months the hosting club sells "shares" (or "memberships" or "sponsorships"). There can be different levels with different privileges attached. These are just examples - prices/levels/extras could be fine-tuned to the particular site/event:
    • $50 - bronze - pays for convention registration, option to reserve a room 1 day early on a first come/first serve basis.
    • $75 - silver -  convention registration, plus banquet ticket, guaranteed option to reserve a room 
    • $100 - everything in silver plus special swag (e.g. polo-shirt with show logo)
  • You can cancel your sponsorship up to 6 months before the show, but the refund isn't issued until after the show, and your room reservation is canceled too.

Paying well in advance gets you a small discount on the prices of registration/banquet-ticket/etc, plus you get to skip to the front of the line for room reservations.  The host club will know how many room reservations they've "guaranteed" and how many are likely, and they can use that to help size the room block. Likewise, they know how many banquet tickets and shirts are already sold - it can take some of the uncertainty out of their planning. And they've generated seed-money, which may not be as important as it used to be before the National organization underwrote the expenses, but money upfront is usually better than at the last minute.
 

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One thing to look at is the number of people involved in running a WorldCon - for example, https://chicon.org/home/about-worldcon/chicon-8-committee/  - there are easily over 100 people involved.  I can't think of too many places in the US where we have a club, or clubs, with enough members to get 100 volunteers.

And they all purchase memberships to the Con to become a volunteer.  Yes, they may get all of that refunded, but it may not happen.

As for the dealers, they pay $350 for a single 72" by 30" table with two chairs and a membership for the person at the table at $690.00 for DisCon III - there are some discounts for additional tables & memberships, I think.

Also a number of past WorldCons have been part of established Sci-Fi cons which have run for decades....  I'd also look at the list on http://www.smofinfo.com/LL/TheLongList.html and look at the number that attended and the number that were members for each year.

While there are some ideas we might be able to work into the Nats, WorldCon is really a different animal....

E

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2 hours ago, Eric Aitala said:

While there are some ideas we might be able to work into the Nats, WorldCon is really a different animal....

Totally agree a World Con is bigger and pricier than the IPMS Nats - they have 3x the turnout and prices are 3x as high. What was interesting was that they essentially finance their shows through (very) early registration. That's a fundamental difference compared to the Nats: a World Con is "built to order" while a Nats is more like a limited-run product where the organizers have to guess how many customers they might have.

I was looking at early-registration as a way to avoid the mad rush for hotel rooms, but the business model might also help if we ever want to grow the Nats beyond the 2nd-tier venues we're limited to today.

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