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Board games & crowdfunding

10 more tips for conventions

1st June 2023 0

Earlier this week, I shared 10 tips for exhibiting at a convention, but my original list was much longer. Today, I’d like to share 10 more tips to help you have a better time when exhibiting at a board game show.

1. Water: Take plenty of water with you for your entire team, and make sure to offer water to all your volunteers regularly. It’s easy to forget how much you talk at a show, and you’ll be projecting your voice due to the noise. I always take at least 2 litres of water per person per day.

2. Snacks: In addition to water, you should provide a variety of snacks for your team. I take a mixture of high-energy bars that can be eaten quickly, without making a mess or causing sticky fingers. You should also check for allergies in your team and make sure you have something appropriate for everyone.

3. Setup day: Many people rush the setup process during the setup day and just want to get it done. It’s a lot of work, typically not the kind of work we usually do, and there are many exciting people and friends around to distract us. How you present your booth is critical to how your show will go, and I highly recommend using the entire day and giving yourself enough time to get things right.

4. Keep fresh: Exhibiting can cost $1,000’s and often much more. This year, I’m spending around $15,000 on UK Games Expo. While hotels and time are expensive, I highly recommend turning up the night before the setup day begins. I arrive at my hotel the day before, get a good night’s sleep, and start the day fresh. It helps everything go smoothly.

5. Heat: Convention centres often get very warm, especially during the setup day as many won’t switch on their air conditioning. Wear sensible clothes for warm environments and bring layers just in case it gets cold when the crowds reduce.

6. Promos/pricing: Shows are an exciting time for visitors, and you should do what you can to add to that excitement. I like to offer discounts when people purchase multiple items and offer free promotional items to people making purchases. It is easy to do and often puts an extra smile on someone’s face.

7. Presentation: Throughout the day, hundreds of people will be interacting with your stand. They’ll often be moving pieces, touching boxes, leaving litter, and doing all sorts of things you may not expect. It’s important to keep your booth tidy and maintain the same level of presentation you started with throughout the day. Take a moment every hour or so and do a quick tidy up and repositioning of things.

8. Terminology: Many people don’t realize that a great deal of convention-goers aren’t hobbyists. There are a lot of people new to the hobby looking for a fun day out. Whenever you speak to anyone, it is important to not assume they know hobbyist terminology and to welcome them with everyday language. You’ll quickly know how much they know as you’re chatting and can adjust your words as you go if needed.

9. Workload: These days, a convention day is 14-18 hours of work for me. The moment I wake up, I walk to the halls, and Sara (my loving partner) arrives later with coffee and breakfast. I’ll stay well past the closing time of the show and then head to meetings with a variety of people. This means my normal workload needs to be managed, and you shouldn’t expect to keep on top of emails and phone calls during the days of the show. Plan accordingly!

10. Enjoy yourself: Finally, conventions can be one of the most exciting and rewarding parts of being a publisher. I find they recharge my batteries every time I go, as I see hundreds of people having fun, chatting games, and showing me why I do what I do. Find time to enjoy yourself, and if a show becomes non-enjoyable work, find a way to adjust your approach to bring back that fun factor.

Frank West

Frank West is a gamer and designer based in Bristol, UK. He published his first board game, The City of Kings, in 2018 and now works on other games and organising events in the local area. His goal? To design and publish games focusing on immersive themes, fun mechanics and beautiful components. If you have any questions or would just like a chat, feel free to get in touch at any time!

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