We've been to Aki Con as vendors for several years and our last year we were shoved into one of the halls of the Hilton. Booth size was not as stated, about 1/2 smaller. We worked with it, the hotel staff was actually very nice. Great breakfast, spacious room. The convention volunteers tried, I mean from what we dealt with they really tried, but many of them were very young, as in 16- young with no adult supervision which is a big no-no in WA state. Like hosting after hours events or 24hr spaces like the manga library. If I'd been a parent or guardian, that alone would have been an automatic ban. That was our last year at Aki and we only came back because our booth was comped due to the Everett location's parking garage debacle the previous year I like to call "Dungeon Con."
Poorly lit, very cold, drafty, hard to get to underground garage. Our booth had the misfortune of being right next to the air shaft. Many of us myself included got sick. There were no carpets, drapes, etc, in fact barely any markers to delineate booth spaces. Other vendors were even stealing ours and other fellow vendors' chairs, wtf? Again, the hotel staff were very nice to us and seemed genuinely happy to have the event there. Much of the con staff very young...Anyway, parking garage con is nothing new for Aki. The last year, 2010, it also rained and I remember many attendees including us running across the causeway to get to the Hilton's garage. I can see why it was a deterrent for many. My husband even offered to get the car and pick me up at the lobby door, lol. As a long time convention attendee and vendor, (10+years) I really wanted to enjoy the smaller size and community of Aki but each year was more disappointing than the last. Talk about logistical problems. Many of the staffers are good people and work very hard to make that convention fun and well run but the issues are systemic and go to the top.
Prior, we actually vended at Kumoricon the first year it was in DT Portland and the booths were located in the underground parking garage. It was not ideal, either. There was no carpet on the concrete but there were at least poles and drapes separating the booths and much better if not ideally lit. Nor was it drafty outdoor cold. For other reasons, we have also chosen not to return there, either. Which is unfortunate because it was a lot of fun, especially the 21+ after hours Karaoke Bar with actual Bar, nothing fancy but it was nice to have a space for older folks. Also, the staff running it were awesome and incredibly patient.
Unless the convention runners create some drastic change rather than placing blame on attendees/artists/vendors/everyone but themselves, it will continue to create many unhappy people. Threatening to abolish AA due to complaints (by basically blaming "hard to please" artists) is quite childish and another move to further push away responsibility. Also, many of the responses from Aki reps. run into each other and contradict their reasons for the vendor/AA location. Much of the actual frustration I believe is that the vendors and artists were not forewarned of the conditions nor had any say in at least to dress appropriately, etc. That was a breach of trust and then trying to justify it as a Halloween theme is ludicrous. Instead, Aki staff claim there is some kind of conspiracy among vendors and other local area cons that are keeping Aki down. Uh no. These other events have their issues, too but for the most part have never suffered from the kind of trials we went through. We've vended volunteer/for profit/big/small events and rarely if ever did we experience something like this. It was more than just a lapse in communication. This was full on denial.
I think it also takes a huge advantage of the many attendees who pay and show up to have a great time. It's irresponsible and disrespectful.
We thought about vending this year but considering our past experience coupled with cost/profit margin/what's my time worth we chose to not apply. Suffice it to say, I'm relieved that we weren't there.
Last edited by ssmitty : 11-03-2012 at 02:06 AM.