The good and the bad of convention organising

Yesterday the Christchurch 2009 organising team had their first meeting via email, and it was great – a really constructive atmosphere, with ideas flowing freely and criticism given and taken in a friendly way. I left the computer feeling really excited about the next two years. Then this morning I read this thread on the Bookcrossing forums complaining about Charleston, and I remembered the other side of organising – the unrealistic expectations some people have and the fact that no matter what you do, someone will complain. I’m afraid I responded with a bit of a rant.

I usually try not to be inflammatory in the forums, but those complaints just pushed all my buttons. Bookcrossing conventions are totally grass-roots, volunteer-run, low-budget affairs, and yet (some) people expect them to be slick and professional. And as for complaining about the hotel not being perfect! I totally fail to see how that’s the organisers’ fault – how were they supposed to know when they booked that there’d be some building work going on and puddles in the car park? Grrr!

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for constructive criticism – that’s why we always include a feedback form in the convention goody bags. But I really think some people need to get a more realistic idea of exactly what’s under the control of organisers, and to realise that you get what you pay for. I’m sure I could organise a convention that would live up to the expectations of the complainers. Of course, I’d have to charge $2000 a head, but I’m sure they’d be happy to pay that to have everything to their satisfaction… not!

Back to happy thoughts now! Thank goodness for the 99% of bookcrossers who just enjoy the chance to get together with their friends and are appreciative of the amount of work it takes to make that happen.

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