Octocon 2013 – Stakeholders Report

Since I got involved with Octocon I have tried to give a breakdown of the convention and where we are going next, maybe some aims and similar. This is what i have taken to call my Stakeholders Report. It is for those who are interested in Octocon.

This started in 2010, and continued in both 2011 and 2012. All of those are over on my Live journal, however I decided to continue here on my own Space to see where we go next.

Since I took over after 2010 I have been working with 3 strategic goals.

1. To grow the committee, and non committee helpers.
2. To grow the attendance by 50%.
3. To maintain, or improve, the quality of the convention.

Point 1: Grade F.

This year we explicitly asked people who were not going to attend to come and help us. Unlike how things were done normally, we did not charge them for memberships, and then worked them really hard. This opened the rest of the committee up to actually been able to relax. However we still need to look at growing the committee pool, coming out of 2012 we had a committee of about 5 people, and went into 2013 with a pool of four, however that was down two and up one. I am not sure if all four will remain on board until 2015, so a lot of this is in flux.

Point 2: Grade B-.

Since setting that goal our membership numbers took a dip, we had a major Bump from having George RR Martin as our GOH, a bump that we did not maintain. Over the next few years we grew membership, and I am hoping that while we will get a bump from any GOH, our base level will stay more constant. I think our base membership has probably grown by about 33% since 2010, but it is only a guess. at the end of last year, I made a comment about growing membership to above 200, this we did this year, with actual membership at approximately 210, now not all members made it for various reasons, and so our through the door was about 195. This is progress, but my target is around 250-300.

Point 3: Grade A-.

I know giving myself an A on this is a bit of an ego thing, however this is based on general on reviews of the convention on-line.  We have grown the number of program items, and also the number of program participants. We had a gender balance of about 56-44. There could be some variance from program to actual on weekend numbers. We still have a lot of work in getting in additional participants, as I want the average to to be around 3-4 panels per person, with a maximum of six. This year we had one person on eleven panels! This is at a two day con! The complaint that I have heard from some places is that the convention program was a little bit too serious, and maybe a fun track could be brought back. This is partly my fault, and I hope to be able to change in 2015.

So I still need to work on our strategic goals. However some progress has been made.

2013 was the first year that we decided to have two Professional Guests of Honour. We had two Guests of Honour in 2009, a professional and a fan. This lead to some interesting program things, and i feel it worked really well and is something that I hope we continue to do.

This was the year were we brought in a big US name, to see if it could work. However I do not think Octocon at its current level can actually afford that full cost. This caused a lot of stares at bank balances this year, and join rates, and generally hoping our at the door numbers would be enough. However in the end on a financial level we broke mostly even, though that is because of receipts not handed in.

The convention is taking a break for 2014, for a number of reasons, the main one been ShamroKon, however that break gives us a chance to sit down and fix some of our underlying structures, things like Website and so on. There are also some ideas that we would like to try, but need to get some idea of how to do it, and how to get buy-in from various places.

I think that this year was probably the best Octocon I was involved in, and hope to keep it going a little longer. I had hoped to do a reshuffle, move things around, and while that may still happen, i suspect that the committee will not change position that much over the next two years. So I will likely be in charge when we come back in 2015, though hopefully with someone looking and ready to take over in 2016.