Just to add my two cents worth, though for the most part it's already been said several times over. Anime cons could stand to learn from Sci-Fi and I truely to mean a whole lot. If only they would get their heads out of their asses and look into the things they could be doing but refuse to do.
Last year was my first year competing in any kind of masquerades though it was almost my last year of doing so at all due to an unpleasant experiance. One was at Acen and the other was Archon (yeah, I'm the one CC keeps refering too). One anime, one Sci-fi/media and the differences between the two were so drastic that it amazed me. I felt far more welcomed and my work more appreciated at Archon then I ever felt at ACen or any anime Masq for that matter.
Though part of it could be that Archon has been doing Masqs for, counting this year, 30 years now and ACen is only now 10 years old. However, I don't think that's the whole thing with it. Archon strives to have an excellent costume show and Anime cons seem to want to deemphasie costumes and focus all on performance. Which of course we've already talked about. I'm sure this isn't the case at all anime cons but at the ones I've been to it sure seems to be.
Archon and I'm sure most other sci-fi cons have so many things to ensure a nearly flawless show that anime cons should really pick up on. We had a manditory meeting to go to where everything about the show was explained to us. There was another meeting that was optional, but I went to anyway, where you heard about the masq, the history, got to see the greenroom location, backstage stuff as well as other various information. Then you have a tech rehersal, where you go through your performance, lighting crew does lighting things for your costumes so they look good on stage and the stage manager tells you things to do to improve your performance. They also have a rule, though it's more of a suggestion I surmise, that you not wear your contest costume before the show because as was mentioned before if people have seen it all day it's not going to be impressive at all unless you have a kick ass performance in mind that'll drown out the fact that you wore it all day. Skits are only allowed one minute (though you can ask for more time) and walk ons are allowed 30 seconds. And thus the show runs pretty quickly because they have a method that's worked for them for years now.
And the greenroom atmosphere is wonderful. You have dens with den dad or moms and they help you with everything. They joke with you and keep you relaxed and everything. Get food for you, help you if costumes malfunction everything, it's what they're there for to lessen the stress on the performer. The judges were attentive and asked wonderful questions and if you were nervous they helped you to relax as well.
And ACen...we don't really need to talk about them. -_- But there is so much out there anime cons could learn. And I wish they would learn.