How intimidating it was, when I first announced that I was taking the plunge to go to GenCon. I did not know my head for my ass and was extremely nervous to do some of the bookings that I had to do for this trip. Even having started an account at GenCon, there was so much information on the web site that I did not know what to do with it. The only advantage I had in planning the trip was that I had a person of experience guiding me in the step by step process of being able to attend GenCon.
I was so excited when I finally booked my badge for this event, and right after, Derek booked our hotel room at the gorgeous Omni Severn hotel. This was the easy part.
The next part was choosing the events we had to schedule for these four days. If any of you have perused the website you will understand what I mean about selection problems. There are so many seminars, so many games, and so many events that you could attend, and choose from that the sheer possibilities were extremely overwhelming.
I will now take the time to give those who wish to go to GenCon 2013, 10 tips I thought were extremely helpful to me in my best four days of gaming.
1. Book Everything Early
GenCon is a series of deadlines. They are deadlines that you should follow. You may think, oh well, I’ll do it later, it doesn’t work this way. When you book your badge during your first GenCon deadline, the organizers then give you a promo code in order for you to book your hotel rooms. This code gives you special rates at certain select hotels. This is not the hard part. The hard part is getting a hotel in the downtown core when you wait too long. Hotels book extremely quickly and sometimes, if you wait too long, you’ll be staying a long ways away from downtown.
Two months later it is now time to book your events. A few weeks usually before the deadline, the GenCon will post all the events that are available at the time on the web site for all to view. I would highly recommend that you take the time to go through and write down all the events that you wish to attend. Once that is done, write yourself up a schedule. GenCon starts Thursday morning’s at about 8:00 AM and ends with the last seminars on Sundays around 2:00 PM. Once you’ve designed your scheduled, place all the events [even the ones that overlap] into the designated time slots on their schedule and eliminate the ones that you really do not want to attend. Once you have your selections made book them the minute registration opens.
One thing to note, if you think you will not be making a paid event (such as boardgame, or RPG event), you can actually get your tickets refunded if you bring them to the ticket counter approx. 2 hours before the event. They will either apply the credit to your account, or you can trade them in for generic tickets which you can use for something else you may want to do at some point.
3. Make Time For the Vendor Hall
From what I understand of some of the people I knew who went through the vendor hall, is that there were many deals to be had. Whether it be 2-for-1 packages, 40 to 50% off certain merchandise, or just plain items that you never normally see in the market, vendors were looking to sell their merchandise. No vendor ever wants to go home with all that merchandise they do bring the conventions, so making a deal is part of the convention atmosphere.
In order to maximize your visit to the vendor hall, make sure that before you go to GenCon you make yourself a list of what you want to buy, the prices you would be willing to pay for an item (you can check for rare items on eBay or any other auction site for that matter), and make sure you have the storage capacity to bring all those ends back to your hotel room.
4. Budget, Budget, Budget
Another way to control your budgeting is by traveling in groups. I ended up only going with one person this year to GenCon. Between Derek and I, we both paid approximately $600 per person for gas and hotel costs alone. You could see where I'm going with this; when you look at the cost of everything, $300 for fuel, $900 for the hotel room, $1200 shared between 2 people is $600 a person, shared between 3 people is $400 a person and shared between 4 people the cost goes down to $300 per person. You can see that when you travel in groups of 2,3,4 or more the cost of the hotel room and travel expenses are significantly reduced.
Stay tuned for Part 2.