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CPAC 2015: How to Convention on a Budget (Panel Review)

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Do you want to go to more cons? Are there tumbleweeds rolling through your bank account? Author of the up and coming ebook, "ConCraze: How to Convention on a Budget" will teach you how to get more bang for your buck at conventions!

I will present a sample of how much an average person spends on cons, then break down the major costs (Food, Hotel, Travel, Cosplay, etc.) And show ways to reduce these costs, ending with an edited budget of how much a person could save using the tips.

At this year's Castle Point Anime Convention, I checked out Katherine Russell's "How to Convention on a Budget" panel. I was very interested to see what kind of tips and tricks I can learn to save money when going to cons. Instead, I left disappointed and wishing I could take back the 30 minutes of my life I just wasted.

I came in 5 minutes late and the small room was far from being full. As I took a seat, it became clear to me that the Speaker wasn't Katherine Russell but someone else. I don't know what went on the first 5 minutes but apparently Katherine Russell couldn't make it. This might have been the reason why the audience was scarce. Nevertheless, I stayed to see what kind of money saving tips the proxy speaker (didn't get her name) had to share.

First of all, there was no PowerPoint presentation. It was all verbal with no real breakdown or sample figures of costs and savings. All she did was share her personal experiences and what she did to save money. There was no actual statistics derived from collected surveys or studies. In all honesty, most of the ideas she suggested or advised were something that anyone with a common sense would already know. Truthfully, some of it was even potentially dangerous (which she hesitantly acknowledged). Here are some of the tips she covered.

Travel - if it's close, drive. If it's moderately far, take the bus or train. If it's really far, book a flight way in advance to get the best, cheapest deals. She also suggested carpooling with friends or family or fellow con-goers that you don't know, at your discretion (potentially dangerous).

Food - bring your own food. Lots and lots of it to save money, as concessions at cons are very expensive.

Cosplay - try to make your own instead of buying the whole costume to save money and feel the satisfaction of DIY.

Hotel - Reserve way in advance and if possible, with hotels that are affiliated with the con you're going to. She also suggested to share the room with friends or family or fellow con-goers that you don't know, at your discretion to split the bill (potentially dangerous).

Like I said, these tips are fairly obvious if you have common sense. In addition, during the presentation the proxy speaker looked rather uncomfortable and slightly fidgety, possibly for the lack of material to cover a 30 minute session. It seemed like she couldn't wait for the session to end. Even the Q&A part could only garner couple of questions. The audience did cheer her on, gave her props and even added some more tips of their own.

Personally, it was a disappointing panel. I was thinking that maybe there was some kind of program exclusively for con-goers that can help save money. Perhaps a rewards program, coupons or some other secret ways that only they knew about that they were willing to share. This was the shortest panel I attended but felt longer and more uneventful than the rest.

BY: Jovanni Febrero
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