The title of this letter is with love, because all that I say here is with love. It is love that gives me hope that the message I carry, shared by more than just me gets through, and who knows some of it might even get implemented. There is a place for tradition and a place for adaptation. 2014 is where these two places converge. You can’t choose one or the other. You need to house both.
Returning to the Black BEAT that was is the simplest way to kill your vizion of a conference that we’ve all come to love. It is the fastest way to return to the days when it was difficult to sell out even a floor of the hotel. Those days were not all that long ago. We don’t want a return to then. Talk to us. Us, those who love you and have supported you and are down for you. Secrecy and back room talks makes us feel like this conference is about you and not about us. You are in the “planning” stages now for next year, but we have not heard from you. We’ve gone to the group on Fetlife you made for us and told you what we love about you and what we hope to see from you and you’ve ignored us. Not even one line to say – I see that you’ve made suggestions and we will consider them. Not even one thank you for even taking the time to bother to speak to us and share with us. Talk to us. If this conference is about us, the attendees, ignoring us will only alienate us. Be willing to adjust your model. Even though there was a different event not all that long ago, we all know that event was not Black BEAT. We also know that if you are willing you can adopt some things from that model to improve your own product. Don’t tell us that its not broken so there is no need to fix it. It’s not broken beyond repair but there are nicks and scratches and injuries that adjusting your model can help heal.
We don’t need 8 or 9 am classes. How many years have you struggled to get up yourselves at that time to open a room for a presenter and found the presenter and 2-3 other people struggling to get through the class? Start our classes at 1pm. So we can attend. So we can learn. So we can support. Give us our mornings to rest or have breakfast or mingle.
We don’t need a commemorative program. It’s a nice addition, a nice touch, and totally not needed. The program adds to the cost of the event without adding to the greater good of the event. Especially when they are full of typos, you can’t sell ads, and they are not bound properly. There have even been events where you are in the hotel on the Xerox machine running copies of the program hours before registration opens. Cut your costs, reduce your stress and let the program go.
Open registration now. You have the excitement of those who are patiently waiting for Black BEAT to return, combined with people still talking about WR a month later. Do yourself and us a favor and capitalize on that momentum. January is too late. By January you will find yourself in the awkward position of having to resell the event when at this moment the event is selling itself. While we are talking about selling…. stop selling day passes. Yes I’ve been a former day pass holder, but making your attendees stay at the host hotel sells out the host hotel. Selling out the host hotel gives you leverage with the hotel and an invite for next year and the year after. They are about money, give them their money by giving us the only option of staying at the hotel.
Give us more time to bond with one another. We don’t have to be scheduled to death to meet with one another. Give us more flex time and social time. We are adults, treat us like adults.
If you insist on holding the auction don’t stop the dungeon to do it. You might even want to consider eliminating the auction all together. How many stories of people who have stood up there to zero bids do you need to hear before you understand that yes it can go very right, but it can also go very wrong and you should not be in the habit of humiliating your attendees. If you insist on it though, it needs to be held outside of the dungeon. Don’t interrupt our play time with the auction.
Let’s get rid of the dinner? Or at the least alter it to something that doesn’t involve us sitting down in a crowded room eating bad food. We don’t need an awards dinner. It can be a champagne social or something similar.
Mostly though what we need from you is the willingness to adapt, the willingness to listen, and a little more transparency on your part.
Even if you don’t implement any of these suggestions transparency and communication on your part will go a very long way to making 2014 a success. We want you to win… we also want you to want it as much as we want it for you. Refusing to make any changes at all I fear will be a grave error. There is a time for tradition, there is a time for alteration. They meet in 2014.Aphrodite Brown