This might be your first event or convention. Or you’ve been to a few but keep running into the same problems. Or just can’t figure out why other people have issues with you.
Here are some basic do’s and don’ts when attending conventions and events in general.
Prepare in Advance!
When planning to attend an event. Be prepared! Make sure you have paid and/or booked your travel and lodge in advance. Have your attendance tickets ready. Most events will have their schedules up on their site. Print it out or have a version on your phone or both. Items on the schedules are always subject to change and they usually do. But it will help you to have your time better organized if you have the basic plan laid out in advance.
Plan your route(s)
Make sure you have your route planned out in advance. If possible, try to have an alternate route planned out as well. You never know what can happen. Don’t be stuck with only one option for your way to your event.
Scout the area
Most conventions and events do have their own provisions for you ready to buy. That said, it is wise to scout the area where you will be staying and where the event is held in advance. You never know if the food they serve is not to your liking. You never know if you miss something you actually need. Most events point out maps of the area on their sites. Google Maps is another source of info to see what is around. Walk around the day before the event to know what you can find. You never know when you might need something. Better to be safe than sorry.
Food & Drinks
Make sure you have drinks and snacks for the day(s). Keep in mind you might be standing or walking all day. You may be surrounded by a tight crowd. It can be hot at conventions even if the weather is cold. Have plenty of drinks and foods within reach to keep yourself hydrated and keep your energy up. If you don’t eat or drink enough, especially if you are not used to the convention atmosphere, it can make you light-headed if you are not prepared. And especially if you are not sure you can get food and drinks at the venue the event is being held.
(If possible, check the website of the event for the rules and standards for the event, as they may vary between events and/or locations)
In the case of larger one-day events, it may be an idea to reserve your dinner at a nearby restaurant well in advance. Several days to a week if possible. When the venue closes, you will not be the only one thinking about grabbing something to eat. Chances are that you will either be in line for a while if there is any space at all. If you are in a group, reserve for the biggest number in your group. Should someone drop out, it is easier to scale down the number in your reservation than it is to add people to it.
Separate your money. It is easy to burn through all your money if you are not prepared. Have one pot for your travel and lodge. Have one pot for food, drinks, and other necessities. Whatever is left, is the pot you can use to buy your haul of whatever with. Don’t be tempted to use the other pots for your haul. Buying stuff is cool. But having money to eat, drink, sleep, and go home with, is more important.
You will sweat in a closed room with several hundred other people around you. Don’t be that one douche who thinks that you don’t need it. Make sure you are fresh going in. If you have a room, make sure to have a shower before going to the event. If possible have a travel deodorant with you. They are small, cheap, and are enough to hold you a few days. If you have scouted the area, chances are you will find a drugstore that will sell them, if you didn’t have them with you in the first place.
So you have everything prepared and you have the money to buy stuff. The more you buy, the more difficult it gets to keep everything together. Yes. Most dealers will hand out plastic bags with their sales. However, they do run out at some point. Be prepared and have bags with you in advance.
If possible, try and get a number of cloth bags. They last longer, they can be reused, you can tie them into a knot to keep your ware safe and they are easy to store inside another bag. You don’t want to worry about your stuff falling onto the floor or about being an easy target for pick-pockets.
Look around before you buy. You might find a better deal. Talk with the dealers. Don’t try to make a deal out of EVERYTHING. But try to feel out which deal better suits you. Which dealer seems to be more to your liking. Chances are you will make several rounds. You need to make your own sound judgment if you want to buy something now or buy something later with the chance of making a good deal with someone, risking the chance that someone might buy the item before you can. No one can help you make that decision but you.
Volume is everything
So you have a big wad of money to spend and you want to buy everything in sight because you have the money to do so. That’s nice. But the thing you need to keep in mind is how much you can carry with you going back home. If you have your own car then it depends on how much room you have inside. If you are traveling by train or bus or plane,… In that case, you need to look at the volume of what you are buying. The choice is then yours if you buy one large item or 10 smaller ones. But do not forget that you need to be able to go home again. So keep your carrying capacity in mind when you go shopping. Some conventions have the option to send items via the postal service to your home. If you plan on buying a lot, you might want to check with the convention if that is an option BEFORE you have bought way too much.
I’m walking here
Many of the events invite people to dress up/cosplay. Sometimes items of various sizes can be bought at stands. Especially for indoor events, this can cause some issues. When cosplaying, make sure your costume can’t hit people when you walk around. Think of huge backpacks or (fake) weapons stored in your costume. Big boxes of figures can also cause issues if you do not have them secured on your person. Not only can you hit the people around you with your swinging merch, but you can also damage what you bought. So being careful is also for yourself.
Be on your best behavior
It goes without saying. But be on your best behavior, please. Don’t try to piss off the people around you, the dealers, the crew, or the organization. The people around you are there to have a good time. The dealers are there to earn a living. The crew is there to work their asses off…for you, I might add. And the organization is busy keeping it all together. If you have a problem, be level-headed about it. If it is something serious and you want to file a complaint, go through the proper channels to do so. The rules are not made to make it more difficult, they are there to keep things running. You don’t know what goes on behind the scenes. Don’t make it more difficult for people.
Listen to the crew!
If the crew tells you something, you listen. Don’t go into discussions about why. They know why they ask you something, you don’t. They are there for everyone! They all have jobs to do and reasons why they do them. They don’t have the time to explain themselves to you. Don’t keep them from their jobs. Even if it appears they don’t do anything, chances are they have a ton of stuff in the back of their minds. If you have complaints, keep them to yourself until after the event. If the complaints are more urgent, try to contact the organization if it is absolutely necessary. But do realize they have 1001 other things that they need to do during the event. Please don’t test their patience.
Respect each other’s space
I’m not shy or anything, I’m not a germaphobe. But I am not the touchy-feely type of person either. So if I get hugged by strangers, I tend not to be at ease. Give people their space. That is not always an easy thing to do within a crowd. But when talking to someone, let them breathe. You don’t know what reasons they may have to keep their distance. So please respect that.
They’re walking here
Many of the events invite people to dress up / cosplay. Especially for indoor events, this can cause some issues. When you see someone cosplaying, keep in mind that it may be so that the costume is limiting the moveability of the person inside. They may not be able to easily make a side step. With the more elaborate costumes, the visibility of the person inside may also be limited. They may only be able to look straight on, and may not be able to look down. Please give these people the room when they need to. It makes it easier for them, but it is also in your own interest as giving them space leads you to move on quicker.
Hold the line
Many events will have signing sessions. Some guests are more popular than others. Everyone may stand in line to meet their idol. But standing in line is not something one does for fun. Keep in mind that you are not alone in line. If you are in a party of more than two people, limit the number of your party to stand in line. Or split your party into smaller groups, until you have met the guest. Especially if not all in your party want to meet the person at the start of the line. “But we are together” is NOT a valid argument.
Limit the space you take up in line. Don’t sit down when the line is supposed to be moving along. (If the lone is on hold for a longer period of time, then that is okay. But still, be mindful of the people behind you).
If you have small children with you, keep them occupied. The attention span of most younger children is not that long. Also, if they are surrounded in line by mostly adults, it may get claustrophobic for them. If there is a crew member attending the line, ask if one of your party can stand in line and when it is your time if the smaller kids can rejoin you then. Most of the time crew members will understand, as long as you also have someone watching your kids outside of the line. Do not bring babies into the line. It is too loud and crowded for babies. Do not take strollers or carriages into the line. They take up too much space. People in front and behind you are already limited in their movements. If someone kicks the stroller by accident it will be your own fault. Again, ask a crew member attending the line if the rest of your party can stand outside of the line and rejoin you when it is your time.
Lesser abled than you
Most conventions will allow people with disabilities, people in wheelchairs or on crutches to move on first when entering a public room or while standing in line. This is not to put them ahead of the other visitors or to give them an unfair advantage. Their situation already gave them an unfair disadvantage before you got there. They usually have to contact the organization in advance to let them know their special needs for moving to the venue and for just being there. Often they need special attention to get the equal opportunity the abled people have. Also for safety reasons, it may be better for these people to go ahead of the line. You don’t want someone with crutches to lose balance while standing in line or have someone be hit by a wheelchair by accident because the line doesn’t allow people to move out of the way. So don’t be a prick about it.
There are some events that do not give these people these special treatments. (That could be due to a number of reasons, like not having the manpower to accommodate these people). If you do encounter these people, give them the room they need. You don’t need to walk on eggshells around them. But if they travel past you, give them enough room to move. Have the common courtesy to let them pass. If there is an activity, don’t be a dork by standing in front of them. Especially when you can still see everything if you stand behind them. They deserve just as much enjoyment of the event as you.
Don’t show off
So you have bought your stuff. You may have nice things with you. Don’t be the dick to rub your gains in the faces of others. The other person may not have been able to get that very same item you were able to score for whatever reason. Or maybe the person just doesn’t give a hoot about what you got. It’s annoying. If you need to, show your haul once, but then put it away unless someone actually asks for it.
IN A PARTY
When planning on going to an event with more people. While being at an event. Make sure everyone in your party has the means to contact each other. Exchange phone numbers. Create a Whatsapp group. Create a Facebook group. Anything to be able to have anyone at your call when needed. Not just before going, but also during the event. It can always happen that someone in your party gets separated from the group. The bigger the event, the more difficult it can get to find each other again.
Mind your space
When you are in a party of people, keep in mind that you take up more walking space. Other people can get annoyed if a group of people blocks the path they are walking or their line of sight. Dealers at stands will not appreciate a group of people standing at their stand, blocking the view of other potential buys. Especially if only one person in your party intends to buy anything, or if all your party is doing is watching. Let two or three people from your party go to the stand and then take turns. When walking by the aisles, try walking with no more than two or three people next to each other. Leave room for your fellow attendees.
When planning your day(s). Make a timetable for what everyone is doing. Should the group decide to split up or if someone gets separated, it is a good thing to know where the group can meet up again, at which location at what time. Having the event’s schedule at hand. Communicate with each other who wants to attend what activity or panel can be enough, depending on the event. And make agreements within the group with each other beforehand.
Losing your life-line
No matter how you plan things, you can always lose each other out of sight. When you are with more people, keep an eye out for each other. When an aisle is closing up with people, try to walk the path with the most room. A well-organized event will have separations between stands, dealers, activities, etc every 10 to 15 meters or so. (They are supposed to do that according to safety protocols at the bigger indoor events). Usually, there is an exit sign nearby in plain sight. Use these spots to make sure your group is still complete. If your group is not complete, retrace your steps to the last place the group accounted for. Are you the one who got separated from the group, walk back to the last place you saw your group and wait for them.
There is no I in Team
When you are in a group of two or more people, keep in mind that you are supposed to be together. You don’t need to be together for every waking moment. But if you have made certain agreements together, you stick to them. Don’t run off without warning. Stick to the agreements you made. Be on time when you have made arrangements. Not doing so could mean that others in your party are waiting for you, while they could have been doing something else at that time. It will lower the morale of the other person(s). Keep in mind that if you promised to be with someone or a group of people for an amount of time, your behavior affects all the other people in your group. Ignoring that may sour your relations with these people in the future.
Don’t hog time at the autograph stands.
Yes, it is always nice to get a conversation going or have something you want to have signed by a guest. But don’t forget there are people behind you that also want to have their moments. You are not alone. Keep things moving along. Have ready what you want to be signed. Don’t stand there looking for that one item in your bag. Have it ready before you walk up. If you have multiple items, pick one or two of the more important ones. If you want more items signed, just head back to the end of the line again. That way EVERYONE can have their moment.
It’s handy to bring your own Sharpies with you for signing artwork or the like. Creators sometimes run out of pens or markers. A silver Sharpie especially, for those books with black insides or comics with dark covers.
And when you know you are going to buy art, bring a tube or a folder with you. So it won’t get damaged!
Many of the events may have one or more guests at their venue to have a question and answer, or Q&A session with. Most events will either have a line for people to stand in or have a runner with a microphone to walk up to you. You do not want to be the one who takes up the time to be set up for a question…and you draw a blank. It happens to the best of us. But these Q&A’s are usually only an hour, at some venues even less. So if there are more people who want to squeeze their questions in, you don’t want to bring it all to a screeching hold. So be prepared. Either have your question written down. Either on a piece of paper or use a text app on your phone. Or memorize multiple questions. If you forget one, you still have some to draw on. Also if the person in front of you happened to ask the exact question you wanted to ask, you have a backup.
You are not alone
So you made it to the Q&A with one of the guests and you are in line to ask something. Although it is your time to ask or say something. It is time you share with the people on stage and the people around you. Although YOU think it is funny to ask for a hug or record something for someone that didn’t make it to the event… It is wasted time for everyone else. You can do the same thing at the autograph sessions. That’s more private and perfect for individual requests.
It’s still just a job
We all have these moments of our favorite shows we want to know more about. You can just imagine what happened at that exact moment that is edged in your memory. So you get to ask your question. “In episode 13 of season 2 you said…” and the actor draws a complete blank. To many of these people, the recordings of said scenes happened years and years ago. And most likely, when they recorded said scene, to them, it was just a job they had to do. Never realizing that the thing they did as something just to pay the bills would ever be held in high regard by fans. So don’t hold it against these people if they don’t remember the thing you want to know more about.
Or at least give a backdrop to what you want to ask before you ask it, to give the special guest a chance to remember what you mean. But if you do, try to keep it short and concise. Again, you are not alone.
Sometimes guests are linked to franchises you like and to some you don’t. Which is fine. But you are an idiot if you think you are smart if you tell said actor and/or talent that something they worked sucked. There is no problem if you say that something was not something you liked. But telling a talent something they were attached to sucked is insulting to them. Even if they themselves think the end result “sucked”, it is still something they put their time and energy in. It was a job for them and was something that helped that person feed his or her family. Also, the thing you loathe may be the thing the person next to you absolutely loves. So think twice before putting down a franchise in public.
They are still people
So you finally get to meet that person that you wanted to meet for so long… And they are very short with you. It’s not what you had hoped for. But you have no idea what that person has gone through to get there. They are still people. They get hurt, they get tired, and they get pissed off. Who knows how long their flight was? Who knows if the person before you did something to piss the guest off. It is a sad fact, but it happens. So if something like that does happen, just leave it be. And maybe if you leave them some room for a moment, they are in better spirits later on if you left them in respect.
In a flash
When taking pictures in public, have your flashlight on your camera/recording device turned off as standard when taking pictures. If you have the need to use flash photography, ask the people around you in advance. You don’t know how many times the person you want to take a picture with already had to stare into a flashlight. Be mindful.
Keep your boundaries
When you are having your picture taken with a guest at a convention or in public, please keep your boundaries in check. Ask for permission. If the person in question has reservations or a certain request for having their picture taken, RESPECT THAT. Don’t grab someone by the arm unless given permission. Don’t hug, touch, kiss, or cross that person’s personal space. Don’t play practical jokes unless the person to be photographed is in on the joke.
Know your place
When interacting with a celebrity for a photo opt, leave the person in question with their dignity. Especially at a convention, you are most likely not the first or the last person with whom this person has taken a picture that day. Don’t take control. Don’t be rude. Don’t take time away from the next person in line who may also want to have their picture taken. Don’t make special requests that may be in poor taste or maybe crossing certain lines. If you do make requests and the answer is no, respect that answer.
Enough is enough
When you have the chance to have your picture taken with someone, limit the number of pictures you take. 3 to 5 is a normal amount to make sure you have a good-quality picture that is in focus and does not have closed eyes or other errors in the frame. The person with whom you take your picture, especially at an event, can get tired and may need to reserve strength for the rest of the day. Most likely there are also other people behind you in line. If you really want to take more pictures, go back to the end of the line and let others have their chance first. If the person in question does not want to grant you a second pass at taking another picture, respect that.
If you want a celebrity to take a picture with a sign to promote your website or store or something of that nature. Keep in mind that some celebrities are under strict contracts that prohibit them from doing those types of promotions. Or they already have promotional deals with companies that would make these types of actions difficult to move forward with. Don’t get upset if that person denies your request. Also if some other celebrity had no problem granting your request. Overall it is not done anyways.
Many of us like to take pictures or make videos of the event. That’s all fine. But keep in mind when you post images or videos online, that there is a chance you might have caught something that the people involved might not want to be spread online. When taking close-up pictures of people (in costume), if possible try to ask permission first. Otherwise, try and use your best judgment before hitting the internet with your reportage.
Some conventions are ideal to make contact with new people. At your own risk, feel free to exchange contacts with each other. However, please keep in mind what you do with the info you have given. Don’t give out private information to others. Don’t spam e-mails, Twitter, or Facebook pages of your new friends. Don’t call them if you have not been given the okay to do so. One convention doesn’t suddenly make you ‘not strangers’ to each other. Keep in mind if people live in other countries, that if you do call them that your days may be their nights. Use common sense.
The world was hit by a pandemic in late 2019. Due to this crisis, many of the group activities were amended or most likely completely halted. In 2022 the world started to go back to normalcy. While most events strive to go back to the world before it all changed. It is possible there may still be some lasting after-effects. Check their websites beforehand in case there may still be some lingering mandates during the event. This could be a decision from within the organization. It could be a mandate that is laid upon them with them having no control over that decision. Either way, they enforce those rules for you. Don’t question their decisions. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you your event goodies…