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Baycon: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.

No, you're not getting the play-by-play. The internet wasn't free in the hotel this year, and I didn't feel like paying for service, so there was no liveblogging.

We'll start with the ugly, just to get it out of the way.

Having 425 seats for the masquerade last year was ugly. Having less than half of that this year was worse. Having the house open over 45 minutes late was bad. Not having any risers so nobody behind the first 5 rows could really see anything was ugly. Yes, I know there are reasons that the space wasn't larger and there wasn't a stage. It doesn't change the problems.

That's the only real ugly. The rest of the flaws were just bad.

The room layouts in the hotel were suboptimal for parties, fanzine lounge and consuite. Nothing that can really be done about this, except maybe finding a new home for consuite and/or fanzine lounge in the future.

There was almost no hanging space in the hotel rooms, just an alcove with a hanger rod.

The Dealers' room was less than thrilling. There were some good dealers in there, but space allocation could have been handled better.

Closing reg at 9:00pm on Friday night when the party floor is badged is a nuisance. Some folks can't come to the con until after work, and in some cases "after work" is in another county or fairly late at night. We had several folks who just couldn't get to Santa Clara until well after that. It was explained that this happened because reg wasn't allowed to have more staff to stay open later, and that's a failure of the BayCon staffing model.

The fire alarm on Friday night that only went off on some floors and proceeded to leave much of the convention and hotel staff confused about what happened and when it actually ended was a nuisance.

Having the only upper-story path between the convention center and the hotel pass through the break-out rooms being used by the Northern California Catholic Charismatic Conference was not good. Granted, BayCon was only using ground-level space at the convention center, but I know a lot of people tried at least once to get to it via the second-floor hotel connection or the parking structure bridge.

That said, there weren't that many other problems that impacted us directly.

The good?

This is the first BayCon I've been to in years where there was no lack of parking. Our room overlooked the parking garage, and I could always see at least a few spaces available on the top level.

Function space in the Hyatt and ballroom space in the convention center was all pretty good. Public spaces (the bar, restaurant and patios) were really nice, and if the weather was in the high 70's to low 80's would be even better.

One would think being in a tower with only 4 elevators and no sleeping rooms below 3rd floor would be horrific, but elevator congestion was manageable. That was actually good.

With the exception of a bad waiter or two in the bar and the restaurant, all the hotel staff was fantastic, friendly and cheerful.

The 'zine was good. The program book took a series of what could have been horrible design choices and made them work. The design was attractive and readability was OK.

Program green room was calm, quiet and nicely stocked (even if you had to ask someone to fetch you a cold soda or water). Program ops was well-organized. Ops was well-organized.

The consuite was, even in cramped space, absolutely gorgeous. Best decorating job in years.

Art show was pretty nice.

Fanzine lounge was a blast.

Parties were excellent and plentiful. Our last outing as party landlords went really well. The last loeg party is over. The A.C.R.O.N.Y.M. Harem party was fantastic, and the furcon party on Sunday was fabulous.

Comments

( 30 comments — Leave a comment )
genuine_snark
May. 28th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)
The internet was arranged to be free, for roomholders. The T-Mobile charges were supposed to be forgiven off your bill. I had that straight from Hotel division.

BayCon did manage to leave that off the "cheat sheet" and the hotel also apparently failed to deduct the charges (mine showed up on my bill). I ended up getting mine deducted from the final bill via Con Ops.

kproche
May. 28th, 2008 05:37 am (UTC)
Well, then, free Internet that no one is told about isn't a whole lot of good, is it?

Sheesh.

Plus the fact that T-mobile can't seem to maintain my user info from daypass to daypass, and gripes when I try to create a new account with the old email address.
bovil
May. 28th, 2008 05:55 am (UTC)
There was never a "$0.00" option on the Hyatt wired network subscription page, at least not in my rooms, nor was there in the fanzine lounge (which was a big disappointment).

So not letting anybody know (and I talked to Christian about this on Thursday and Friday, at which point he didn't know) that the charges would be cleared from the final bill was a major communication failure.
(no subject) - genuine_snark - May. 28th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC) - Expand
johno
May. 28th, 2008 06:08 am (UTC)
How/When was this communicated?
(no subject) - genuine_snark - May. 28th, 2008 07:19 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nohwhere_man - May. 28th, 2008 02:48 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kevin_standlee - May. 28th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
rmjwell
May. 28th, 2008 05:47 am (UTC)
The hotel rooms had lots of non-functional decor (such as the mile wide faux cabinet to put the TV on and the retro-futuristic chair and ottoman that weren't on rollers) that didn't impress me, but the bed was very comfortable.

The restaurant did their best and didn't seem to suck, which for their first time is a positive.

I'm not a masquerade attendee and even I was shocked at the seating plans for that event. And Baycon has a large costuming component so I was surprised at the decision.

The Trailer Park was incredibly lame and no amount of johnnyeponymous vamping could cover for it.
bovil
May. 28th, 2008 05:51 am (UTC)
Trailer Park ran when I was working on our hoax-zine (and drinking and playing cards in the bar). I would, however, likely have found some other thing to fill that time; I've really lost interest in that panel.
(no subject) - iamradar - May. 28th, 2008 06:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - shipofools999 - May. 28th, 2008 08:03 pm (UTC) - Expand
johno
May. 28th, 2008 06:12 am (UTC)
Signage

New space and no signs to point the way to the dealers room, art show, large events. Gaming was well placed to be noticed, but it didn't have any standing signs either.

bovil
May. 29th, 2008 05:01 am (UTC)
Yes. Better signage would have been a real boon, particularly with the facility being unfamiliar to many attendees.
(no subject) - nitroace - May. 29th, 2008 05:23 pm (UTC) - Expand
karisu_sama
May. 28th, 2008 07:11 am (UTC)
Fanime in that location always held its Masquerade in the convention center - and what sort of passed for a Hospitality suite was there as well.
iamradar
May. 28th, 2008 08:03 am (UTC)
I also saw a picture on the map that they have a Real Theater there as well...although I don't know if BayCon's willing to fork over the cash for the use of it for Masquerade.
(no subject) - bovil - May. 29th, 2008 05:02 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - iamradar - May. 29th, 2008 05:09 am (UTC) - Expand
dinogrl
May. 28th, 2008 07:25 am (UTC)
I have to agree with most of your assessment. I found one bartender very grumpy about having to change the channel on Sunday for the "shuttle mission". (Yeah, that told you how informed he was.) He wasn't happy that he had to miss the play by play of the Indy 500 after show. Otherwise the hotel staff was extremely nice and really went the extra mile for your comfort.
The dealers' room was a mess. Costumers in front of costumers, not nearly enough book vendors, and more than a few empty spaces. I heard a few of them left after a day of no sales, and many book dealers were not allowed in until they offered them space one week out, and then it was too late. My situation really sucked from the perspective of having to explain why I wasn't in the dealers' room to many anxious fans who are customers, when that is my only real local area convention. I wasn't in a position to give them a reason, just speculation. You don't mess with a major overhaul (or was that a "new mix"??) of dealers when many fans count on those vendors to be there with "lists" in hand of what they have been saving up for a year to buy. I was lead to the function space by someone who had been there before, as it wasn't well marked, and was surprised to see how tomb-like the dealers' function space was. It was actually a blessing to not deal this year and look at things from a more relaxed perspective. Sure it will hurt in the financial side, but it was actually nice to attend the social side of the convention. My hope is that someone actually listened to concerns (if they were voiced), and does something positive to correct those situations.
nohwhere_man
May. 28th, 2008 02:59 pm (UTC)
Tomb like? Maybe Friday morning. I know saturday and sunday it was pretty well bustling, since I was in and out of the art show all the time. I was told by other staffers that they had -way- more costume-related vendors apply than could reasonable accept, and they certainly seemed to have more than past years. As for dealers leaving early, I suppose there were a couple of empty spots, but why? Did those dealers leave Friday, which would be IMHO stupid, or did they decide to pull out? And if someone pulled on the week before, what should the dealer's room manager do? Not offer the space to someone else?

That aside, they do try to balance how many of which sort of dealers are in the room, so there aren't all booksellers and no DVDs/etc.

You have sent your concerns to baycon, haven't you?
(no subject) - baronlaw - May. 28th, 2008 03:34 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - nohwhere_man - May. 28th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dinogrl - May. 28th, 2008 08:37 pm (UTC) - Expand
cmdrsuzdal
May. 28th, 2008 05:32 pm (UTC)
I liked the rooms fine, partly since I'm used to tiny rooms in certain other cons and think of the Doubletree as the exception. The long TV counter worked for me and all my crap and the rod/open closet was helpful since I could see what I had-although not having a top shelf was weird. Ditto the sinks had plus and minuses.

I liked the hotel layout, but that's probably because I was on the 3rd floor so I could use the pool elevator. The modularity does mean that it's less likely to pass one area of programming space on the way to another which is a shame. But the Coffee Garden Replacement Zones are excellent and I look forward to being at the hotel when it's warm enough to enjoy the outdoors. I liked the food better.

The party floor suffered from small rooms, non-removed beds and narrow hallways. Buuut... I noticed that instead of the Doubletree tendency of everyone ending up in one or two places (like the balcony) this seems to have lead to more traffic in each party since people kept moving. Things seemed livelier in some ways.

The fanzine lounge could have had a better space, but a) it's had worse, and b) it probably fitted more people more comfortably that the party rooms ;)

The staff was awesome. The restaurant staff was mostly awesome.

The art show room was muuuuuuuch better. There were new-to-Baycon artists on display.

The dealer's room seemed fine to me, I spent more than in past years and found what I was looking for. There were at least four bookdealers that I saw, two new and two used. There were some nice new-to-Baycon dealers I think.
supersniffles
May. 29th, 2008 03:07 am (UTC)
It was explained that this happened because reg wasn't allowed to have more staff to stay open later, and that's a failure of the BayCon staffing model.
There was a misunderstanding here somewhere; We would have been allowed more staff, we couldn't find more staff.
bovil
May. 29th, 2008 04:58 am (UTC)
This is what was related to me.

Mind you, I understand communication errors, and I so understand having difficulty recruiting staff.
(no subject) - supersniffles - May. 30th, 2008 02:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - supersniffles - May. 30th, 2008 02:24 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - bovil - May. 30th, 2008 09:31 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 30 comments — Leave a comment )