Saturday, November 6, 2010

UPAME Track 10 Convention Review

UPAME Track 10 turned out ok at the start, although they were late around 20 minutes. Entrance was slow due to the ticketing being just one line. Most of the people who were already inside were there because they bought advance selling tickets. The line snaked all the way almost to the other end of the convention, and was forced to fold the line four to five times to avoid crowding the other already ongoing events such as the World Robotics Olympiad and the Canon Photography Marathon. That was just for those who got inside SMX.

Outside SMX was weirder. UPAME did not have direct control on the decision on how the entrance should be done, instead the security of SMX were the ones who controlled the number of people going inside.

Why so slow?

It seems they decided to increase security due to some security issues at the mall proper (bomb scares perhaps, it is that time of the year). Another was that they didn't want people (especially cosplayers) to linger around outside the event hall proper because we have this nasty habit of hanging around halls instead of inside the event proper, clogging up walkways, and eventually bothering the other events held on that same day. SMX Security wanted to keep it plain, simple and orderly:

1) Enter the SMX building and line up ASAP for tickets.
2) Stay in line and don't linger in the hall bothering other tenants or visitors of other tenants.
3) After buying tickets, enter the event ASAP and stay there.
4) If event ends, leave the premises ASAP.

Its unfortunate that many people would find this kind of system very uncomfortable and UPAME seemed to have the bad luck of being employed of this system by SMX security. And the security would only let the people outside the SMX building (whether they paid for the ticket or not) enter the premises if they see that the number of people inside the hallway would lessen (hehe good luck to that, with a lot of cosplayers hanging outside the event proper having their photoshoots).

Lots of lingering people inside hallway = no entrance for people outside building

A friend of mine who was suppose to help out our booth was stuck outside for two hours (as in outside the SMX building). I was just amazed at his patience that he didn't bother to text me rants when one hour went by. It was only we realized he was stuck for two hours is when WE got impatient and worried that he hasn't gone inside the convention two hours after his last text/call. I had to ask help with UPAME organizers to convince SMX security to get him inside.

Although it isn't without any problems towards UPAME con organizing as a whole.

1) The floor-plan layout prevented accommodating the number people who wanted to attend. Three huge areas ate up most of the compound: The butler cafe, the sumo wrestling area and the Speed dating. They should have anticipated the large number of attendees and would have considered just combining the Speed Dating concept with the Butler Cafe.

2) The Speed Dating area force some people to clog the immediate entrance area. Most people had to be funneled to the right side, only to be met at a bottleneck where the Speed Dating area and the booths meet.

3) The path for cosplayers to enter the cosplayer area had to pass through the right side booth path crammed with buyers. This led the buyers asking photographs from cosplayers going towards the cosplayer area, with the said cosplayers stopping to pose, thus adding to the bottleneck.

4) The Dart and Ring Toss Game should have been done on the inner ring of the booth area instead of the other ring in direct contact to the path where cosplayers where suppose to go towards the cosplayer area. When a lot of people were crowding to try out the rather easy to win games, they clogged the path as well. All the other booths beyond the Dart and Ring Toss Game leading towards the Cosplayer Area was nearly devoid of potential buyers.

5) The Tech booth was in the middle of the area, supplementing the already large area eaten up by the Butler Cafe. I understand the need for direct line of sight for the technical director and staff, but that would have been easily done the same by putting the tech booth on the side or at least make it smaller.

6) Quite understandable, UPAME did not foresee the situation that happened outside the SMX building and did not give proper communication and on the spot damage control. In retrospect (and for future planning) the following could have been done in response to the situation if it happens again:

- have the marshals at the entrance area ask the people to go in the middle of the con to accommodate those lingering outside the con (i am sure if given the proper information, cosplayers and con-goers alike are MATURE enough to understand the situation and comply).

- then have the marshals ask those outside the immediate entrance of the con to enter the convention (again, i am sure if given the proper information, cosplayers and con-goers alike are MATURE enough to understand the situation and comply).

- doing so, they can now ask those outside the SMX halls WITH TICKETS and STAMPS to enter the SMX building and enter the con. They can now politely inform the people WITHOUT TICKETS that the convention can no longer accommodate visitors due to the huge amount of attendees.

Now i know this is a HUGE UNDERTAKING given the situation presented to them by SMX security, and i highly doubt the maturity levels of some easily irate cosplayers, but this is my suggested plan of action in case the same situation happens again. At least the worst you can get is they would rant for lining up for two hours for nothing, instead of i've paid for my entrance but got nothing.

But like always there is a silver lining to all of this.

UPAME organizers and volunteers, despite the huge odds against them, were able to do so without losing their tempers. They were polite and understanding and very helpful.

The activities onstage went quite smoothly, although there was a delay on the cosplay group and individual portion.

Sounds were very good, not like last year where the band's music was choppy and the bass was a bit off (basag).

I enjoyed most of the bands, and it was a good idea to put a lot of them since it is centered as a mostly musical theme (Track 10).

Booths were varied and mostly toys but I got good deals with some of them.

The food booths (although i wish they compounded all food related booths in one place) were affordable and served quite a lot (hehe daming rice).

The aircon units of SMX made sure nobody felt overheated even in thick cloth, armor or mecha costumes.

Overall its a mix of both highs and lows depending on which side of the fence you ended up.

As one who successfully entered the event and stayed there the whole day, it was a great convention, full of surprises and met quite a lot of familiar faces and made new friends.

As a booth supervisor, our booth was poorly situated which gave us dismal sales and awareness, but it didn't prevent some of us to actively promote our wares via friends (thanks to everyone who visited and supported the booth).

As a representative of my other work/company, thank you for your very kind and accommodating staff members and organizers who made sure our dance troupe and mascot were comfortable from start to finish.

UPDATE: I know this is a very late update, but UPAME released an official statement explaining the incident. It was released last November 30, 2010. Just in case you guys haven't checked on it lately. Click on the link to go directly to their website and click on the statement link:

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