A TIMETABLE FOR CONVENTION PLANNING
compiled by Garth Spencer (1993)
Note: this timetable is based on planning a convention on the U.S. Memorial
Day weekend. Other references are based on the Pacific Northwest congoing
area, and the experience of V-Con committees.
Sources consulted for the compilation of this timeline include Erwin Strauss'
Complete Guide to SF Conventions and SF Convention Committe's
Guide, Donna McMahon's unpublished "How to Run V-Con in 15,436
Easy Steps" (drafted Nov. 1987), my own notes on convention publications,
the Costumers Guild West's Masquerade Handbook, and Philip Jansen's
notes on A/V Tech operations for Orycon. To a great extent this is an attempt
to reconstruct the lost timeline used for planning Moscons.
T - 12
by May ("More than 1 year ahead" Donna McMahon)
- First Publicity job for next year's con: spread out flyers at this year's
- Choose your convention committee (at least the core group).
- procure your seed money.
- sketch out your budget.
- set the date of your convention.
- locate the site for your convention (preferably have a signed contract
- invite authors to be the guests of your convention. (DM)
- check out transportation for GoHs to and from.
- decide on at least some of the programme.
- prepare and deliver your publicity.
- open your membership books.
T - 11
- Within a month after this year's con (ideally), hold post-mortem meeting,
at which various department heads can sum up their experience, their decisions,
and the outcomes..
- Within a month after this year's con (ideally), Treasurer to finalize
T - 10
- Conversion in Calgary
T - 9
- Viking Con in Bellingham
- Con in Portland
T - 8
- Norwescon #.5 in Seattle/Tacoma
- InCon in Spokane
- Moscon in Moscow
T - 7
- NonCon in (usually) Alberta
Have basic info to put in PR #1 - hanging fees, commissions, etc.
Have basic info to put in PR #1 - table fees, whether memberships included,
Produce Progress Report #1 by end of this month (by Nov. 1 - DM), and send
to a) previous con's registered members and b) next con's preregistered
members and c) newszines, etc. that will spread news of the con. Departments
to make their first publicity report:
- title, date, and location
- The Guests of Honour (at least 100 words on each)
- short list of preregistered "special guests" (other writers
- the membership rates, and deadlines for each
- comprehensive information on dealers' table rates
- comprehensive information on artshow, hanging fees and rules, or where
to get ahold of the information
- comprehensive information on writers' workshop
- the programme so far established
- any policies that members should be aware of
- a short feature on the hotel
- a list of preregistered members
- a hotel reservation form, with address and rates
- a membership form (with address)
- Include last con's financial statement.
- Recruit Operations Manager and Backstage Manager.
- Operations Manager recruit light, video and sound tech heads.
- Visit hotel with OM and BM and tech heads if possible.
- Map ballroom, door & ceiling heights, electrical outlets, type of power
supply, riser availability, main corridors, service halls, bathrooms, video
- Do hall and stage layout.*
- Write Rules.*
- Write tech info for contestants.*
- Determine Masq. start time, crew call and contestant call. Tell appropriate
concom so rooms are available.
- Find out what tech capabilities you will have.
- Publish rules, layout and tech info in PR.
- Send layouts to Hotel liaison and con chair, con ops.
- Preliminary budget to con treasurer.
- Start encouraging costumers to compete.
T - 6
- Nov. 1 - Jan. 1 send out invitations to potential guests (with PR 1,
if it looks good). Do not send over Christmas - either earlier, or just
T - 4
- Rustycon in Seattle/Tacoma
Costume Bacchanal: Have meeting with key staff heads for full briefing on
what to expect and what their needs are.
- Backstage Manager starts recruiting den staff, repair person.
- Ops Manager recruits front of house manager.
- Masq. Director or Ops manager recruits photo head.
- Recruit MC.*
- Determine judging intermission entertainment.
- Get award certificates designed* and ribbons ordered.
- Get entry forms made*.
- Continue to recruit entries.
- have specific information, particularly if volunteers are needed, for
PR #2. (DM)
T - 3
produce Progress Report #2 by end of this month. This PR goes only to
members. Departments to report in this PR now include:
T - 2
- special guests
- how to get to the con site -- with map and directions
- the hotel site and house rules/courtesies
- who is preregistered
- a hotel reservation form
- a membership form
- Norwescon in Seattle/Tacoma
- deadline for expensive equipment requests to A/V Tech.
- Make equipment list for tech*, ops*, backstage*, photo.
- Send job descriptions to key crew along with timetable, layouts, tech
info, call times*.
- Make supplies list. *
- Continue recruiting crew.
- Continue recruiting contestants.
- have tentative program schedule and list of equipment for Ops. Send letters
to "yes" and "maybe" guests. Send requests for more
biographical information, if necessary.
T - 1
(end of April - May 1st)
- deadline for less expensive/minor equipment requests to A/V Tech.
- Reconfirm with hotel and hotel liaison about room arrangements.
- Identify rental sources and costs for tech and pipe and drape.
- Recruit judges.* Send copies of rules, judges guidelines, call times*.
- Recruit secondary tech crews.
- Advise convention Volunteer Coordinator of needs for security, traffic
and other volunteers.
- Give concom final budget.
DM - final program for inclusion in program book, and list for
* Ideally, send copies of the scheudle to guests; otherwise, schedules to
be attached to nametags and picked up at Registration.
- guest bios for the program book.
- Names of all pro guests to the Registrar so free nametags will be
- final program for pocket program.
produce Program Book, to be finished, laid out and copied and delivered
by at least two weeks before con. Program Book to include:
T - 1 week
- a cover illo, with a logo carrying title, date and location
- advertisements to defray publication costs
- publication credits (committee list, artist[s], the printer) and a
- Bios on each of the GoHs, to go with their intros, and pictures to
- Chairman's message (one page)
- more maps and directions, for hotel site, neighborhood, city (see
- Where to find artshow, dealers room, hospitality, Operations, gaming
room, media room, costuming room, writing workshop, and programming rooms
- The programme in point-paragraph form, organized by day, hour and
- Visitor's Information -- where to find necessities, conveniences,
and luxuries; how to behave with costumes and stuff
- house rules feature (again)
- Membership list
- Maybe a list of nearby restaurants
- Assemble repair kit.*
- Buy all supplies.
- Start packing supplies by area.*
- Confirm equipment rental arrangements.
- Reconfirm hotel arrangements.
- Pick up ribbons; get award certificates copied.
- Get all forms assembled.
- Make backstage signs*
- Put together registration signs, forms, including photo sign up and supply
- Reconfirm judges.
produce Pocket Program with somewhat updated, table-format program and onsite
- equipment setup; have someone from concom on site.
GoH Liaison - meet guests at airport.
Committee and GoH dinner.
- final/expensive equipment pickup/delivery and setup. At con, techs see
that all equipment is running smoothly, or if not, why not, and fix up
All Departments, e.g.
Artshow & Dealers Room
- last onsite program changes (DM)
- Pick up all rental equipment.
- Move all supplies & equipment to hotel.
- Recruit supplemental staff for helpers, walkers, catchers, pushers*.
- Check rooms and concom one last time for changes, especially time
- Make preliminary work schedule.*
- Make security badges.*
- Open registration for masquerade and photo sign-up.*
- Get list from concom of special seating for VIP's.
Six hours before staff time
- Close registration.*
- Put masquerade in order*; make running order*; number everything.
- Number tapes and put them in order.*
- Make many copies of running order.
- List all missing signatures, tapes, text etc. for check-in.*
Four hours before masquerade start:
- Give tech forms and tapes to Operations manager.*
- MC forms to MC if he/she wants them early.
- Discuss running order with Backstage manager. Determine number of dens
needed and break list accordingly. Assign den mothers.*
- Make 3 x 5 cards for check-in.
- Check all supplies.
MASQUERADE DIRECTOR AND KEY CREW GO EAT!!!!
Three hours to masquerade start:
- Assemble all tech supplies and equipment.
- Crew call for tech and front of house.*
- Set up lights, sound, video.*
- Tape stage*; set-up pipe and drape.
- Rope off special seating* Tell house manager who will be where.
- Post signs on entrance doors.*
- Set up judges deliberation room*.
Two hours to start:
- Backstage crew call.*
- Set up backstage* with chairs, tables, signs.
- Get water - lots of water.
- Brief crew on traffic pattern, photo, seating, etc.*
- Set up check-in*.
- Set up Polaroid area.*
- Set up Official Photo.
- Set up general Photo.
- Give photo sign-up sheets to ballroom check-in and general photo head.
- Set up repair and munchies tables*.
- Set up den areas backstage.*
- Set up Workmanship judging area.*
- Set up judges table* and get water.
- Check MC podium light and put out water, flashlight.*
One and one half hours to start:
- Start contestants check in.*
- Lighting, sound, video final check out.
- Contestants allowed on stage to rehearse, if not before.*
- Workmanship judges call*.
One hour to start:
- MC call to discuss entries with contestants.*
- Judges clerk's call, give judges forms, award certificates and judges
table equipment. Brief on location of Judges deliberation room*.
- Check that all stage and equipment set-up is done.
One half hour to start:
- Judges' call; judges briefed on masquerade entries, rules, scoring and
introduction procedure and who is sitting where. Certificates signed.*
- Ribbons and trophies located near podium.
- Confirm all contestants checked in and Polaroided. Note any changes to
order for tech, judges, MC.*
- MC given final list of announcements, and any changes to order. *
- Judges clerk collects polaroids.*
- Check traffic paths to both entrances for obstructions.
15 minutes to start:
- Contestants all off stage; given 15 minute warning.*
- Final backstage announcements, reminder of traffic flow, any stage
- House lights on full.
- All catchers, pushers and aisle people in place.*
- Special seating doors open, then open for general seating.
Five minutes to masquerade start:
- Give five minute warning.*
- Check MC has judges' intros in right order and all announcements.*
- Judges' clerk at table with Polaroids, certificates, judges forms and
- All tech staff in place. Backstage liaison on headset, ready to call
- First den of contestants lined up near staging area.
- Head pusher with final running order at main entrance.
- Lights down in house, Director at podium to introduce MC.
- MC makes announcements, intros judges who go sit at table.*
- "Entry number One...." and we're off.
At end of masquerade run-through:
- Judges leave for deliberation.
- Judges clerk takes forms, Polaroids, documentation etc .*
- During deliberation, clerk makes two copies of winners list.*
- Contestants finish general Photo. Reminded to stick around for awards.
- Intermission announcements.
- Intermission entertainment.
- Backstage - preliminary clean up and return of property to contestants.
- Contestants assembled backstage. Told traffic flow for awards. Reminded
when and where certificates will be available.
- Pushers, catchers and aisle walkers back at post.*
- Director collects certificates and one copy of winners list for
- Awards announced.* Ribbons and trophies handed out.
- All crew in place till final award handed out.
- Director thank yous to crew, contestants, judges, MC and audience
After Masquerade Awards:
- Strike equipment.
- Clean up backstage.
- Collect all lost property.
- Collect all judges and MC forms.*
- Collect Polaroids, documentation and tapes for return at post mortem.
Also Lost and Found.
- Thank all crew personally.
Art auction; Sunday brunch; dead dog party.
- See to calligraphing certificates.
- cleaning up and clearing out.
T + 1/Postconvention:
Return all rented equipment.
- Assemble all bills to submit to treasurer.
- Inventory repair kit for next time.
- Write thank yous to crew.
- Publish winners list as appropriate.
- Mail to winners who didn't pick up their certificates.
Collapse after a job well done.
T + 1.5/post mortem
(V-Con concoms have usually held a separate post-mortem meeting from
the con, a month or so after the event)
- Debrief key crew and ask them to attend postmortem.
T + 6 (at latest)
- final financial statement on con (mailed with next PR #1)
* samples or write-ups given for these steps (Masquerade Handbook)
(from the Masquerade Handbook:
"Dates assume a local or regional convention and allow for comfortable
planning schedules. See job descriptions for who is responsible for each
of these tasks.")
Return to conrunning page