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Next Year's Booth: Storm this Brain

Started by Luke, August 25, 2004, 12:55:14 AM

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Ron Edwards

Hiya,

For purposes of discussion, I'll define booth babes as women who are present in the booth with an explicit role of showing off their bodies/features and their attentive charm (at a personal level) to people who arrive there.

I've always wanted booth babes ... but from watching lots of other booths, I've decided that they have to know and like the games. When that's the case, the books literally fly off the shelves. When it's not, then the 'babes get ogled, but that's all.

But my definition needs revision. With no irony or joking involved, this is exactly the role that Jasper successfully took on during Saturday and Sunday. It makes it very clear to me that a male and female team would be ideal, probably just one of each. Again, though, the real payoff is that the person, once having attracted attention, then answers a question about the booth and/or the games in a way that demonstrates fully insider-gamer knowledge.

Elizabeth Miller played this role for Aphophis Consortium for several years; as a long-term playtester and part of the production staff, she knew all about the game and could rhapsodize about her character with the best of them. Given the one-two whammy of (a) cleavage + eyes + smile and (b) "gamer chick," she was unstoppable. I think they sold 200 copies their first year at GenCon.

Best,
Ron

smokewolf

Yeah, there was a gamer chick over at the VESI (Visionary Entertainment -The Everlasting Game) booth. While I was there talking she sold over $200 of material in about 20 minutes. She talked about what her character did, the successes she had and her cool exploits. She was able to 4 people to buy at least one pair of books and two of those people bought 1 of everything.

I believe they had each book @ 30 and if you bought one of them the core book was then 20 or something like that. She sold them out of hardbacks while I was there.
Keith Taylor
93 Games Studio
www.93gamesstudio.com

As Real As It Gets

Keith Senkowski

Hey,

The idea I had for next year was to maybe set a schedule for demos and advertise it (which would be the key).  Maybe set 2 tables aside for scheduled demos and two for ad hock demos.

About the payment issue with Ron taking the hit.  I think that is really unfair.  My solution would be pretty simple.  Ron charges the early registration fee and you only buy in if you are sure you are going to be there.  That way he can get the badges at that price point.  If you aren't sure you wait and pay the full late fee price.  If you don't show you eat the cost.  It may be harsh but I think it is the only fair way to do it.

Finally, about the booth expansion idea, I like it.  To take it a bit farther I was thinking we should contact other Indie/Small companies that might be interested in being in the same block of booths and try to open them all up.  Kind of a collective the size of White Wolf.

Keith
Conspiracy of Shadows: Revised Edition
Everything about the game, from the mechanics, to the artwork, to the layout just screams creepy, creepy, creepy at me. I love it.
~ Paul Tevis, Have Games, Will Travel

jrs

Keith, Ron,

I hope I can express what I want to say well  enough to be understood.  I have no doubt that sex sells.  But.  It saddens me that titillation is being expressed as a possible booth improvement.  It downplays the existing personal interactions at the booth between designers and gamers.  Explicitly resorting to eye candy undermines all the efforts to make the Forge booth different and unique.  

Julie

smokewolf

The only word of caution of I will through in regarding the larger booths, is the dilution of attention. The booth was crowded but that can be fixed using other methods. Getting a larger booth means either forking over more or getting more sponsors.

I like the idea of the large white wolfish style area, but how many vendors will we need to make this happen? Will this increase the booths bottom line? Probably. But would we all see greater numbers or would we see less profits per vendor?
Keith Taylor
93 Games Studio
www.93gamesstudio.com

As Real As It Gets

smokewolf

Quote from: jrsKeith, Ron,

I hope I can express what I want to say well  enough to be understood.  I have no doubt that sex sells.  But.  It saddens me that titillation is being expressed as a possible booth improvement.  It downplays the existing personal interactions at the booth between designers and gamers.  Explicitly resorting to eye candy undermines all the efforts to make the Forge booth different and unique.  

Julie

I used the words "booth babe" but in all reality its a concept not linked to female attributes. A costumed character or sign person or celebrity, etc. Any of these could work as well. We all saw what Jasper did for the booth. But then again, I think having Jonathan Tweed (Tweet?) come over and sit down was effective too.
Keith Taylor
93 Games Studio
www.93gamesstudio.com

As Real As It Gets

Luke

Quote from: jrsKeith, Ron,

I hope I can express what I want to say well  enough to be understood.  I have no doubt that sex sells.  But.  It saddens me that titillation is being expressed as a possible booth improvement.  It downplays the existing personal interactions at the booth between designers and gamers.  Explicitly resorting to eye candy undermines all the efforts to make the Forge booth different and unique.  

Julie

I am 100% utterly behind Julie in this one. I think we have consistently proven that we don't need to resort to the tactics of "other booths".

-L

Valamir

Here's my thinking on a larger booth.

Part 1)  I would utter completely totally love it.

Part 2) I think its a completely bad idea and we shouldn't do it.

Why?  Lets face facts, bigger booth means bigger cost.  There are only 2 ways to meet those costs, pay more apiece or get more companies involved.

Getting more companies involved would defeat the purpose really, you'd wind up with pretty much the same overall density and with the extra display and shelf space required the actual # of demo tables per product ratio would actually go down.

Ok, so same number of companies, bigger booth...I would LOVE that.

I would love jacking the $100 buy in level to about $250 and the $200 up to about $500 to help cover the cost of the space.  But you know who'd win out.  The hand full of companies whose make enough sales to cover their costs.  The rest of the Forge Companies...the second tiers who sell maybe 20 copies the whole con, and the third tiers who sell maybe a dozen and the fourth tiers who sell less...would be completely and utterly screwed.

The bigger booth wouldn't generate them any additional sales, just additional cost.  The big sellers would have a couple of extra demo tables so they could run demos all the time and not have to share so if anyone is helped it would be the bigger sellers.

While my capitalist tendencies say "great" the idea behind the Forge I think suggest thats not really what the Forge booth is about.

When the companies selling 5-10 copies start selling 20-50 copies...then we can start thinking about a bigger booth I thinks.

Luke

Ok, based on Ralph's comments (a primary sponsor), I feel I need to chime in (as a primary sponsor).

1) BW does not have legs to run a booth on its own. I've seen the numbers, and I know that much of my sales come from just being a part of the booth. Adjunct to that, I don't want to be apart from the Forge booth. I love being there.

2) I want a bigger booth. I ran one or two BW demos a day this year. This wasn't due to lack of interest -- there simply wasn't enough room for me to run demos.

As many of you remember from last year, I can and will run demos ALL DAY straight back to back. This year, it wasn't much of a problem. I didn't really have stock to sell and the game was selling itself. Next year, when I have completely revised game, I am going to want to monopolize a table and pump my sales.


For that to happen, either we are going to have less companies present, stricter demo table policy, or more space.

A four booth end cap, which I think would be perfect for our operation, essentially doubles the cost of the booth.

Actual cost for booth expenditures this year were $2400 + 900 in furniture. $3300 would probably be doubled to $6600 unless we managed to bring our own furniture.

So the prices would have to go up. 4 primary sponsors would be paying $1250 each just to reserve the booth. Buy-ins would then be mitigating that cost and paying for furniture.

I can afford that cost for BW at GenCon at this point. It's the same as getting a solo booth, but the rewards for being part of the Forge are far greater than goin' it alone.

Quotehe bigger booth wouldn't generate them any additional sales, just additional cost. The big sellers would have a couple of extra demo tables so they could run demos all the time and not have to share so if anyone is helped it would be the bigger sellers.

Here's where I disagree with Ralph. I don't think our sales are a zero sum game. I think more room = more game play = more sales. Which generates more revenue all around. Most people who laid out money at our booth this year bought more than one item. That's telling.

Anyway, I like Ron's two booth idea, but I say we should keep all our energy focused at one point until we go freaking NOVA! (Also, if we do the "booths across the aisle" thing, there's no guarantee that our second booth would actually be across from us, is there? Don't we need priority points or something?)


Lastly, we need a new display solution. I love paul's rack, but it is like the Monolith from 2001. It is wonderful and terrifying to behold, but it is difficult to maneuver around.

keep brainstorming,
-L

PS I would love to add another company into our mix like NerdNYC or Key20 -- another entity to share a bigger space with, not a primary sponsor of the Forge, per se.

Ron Edwards

Hi there,

H'm, we may have to do a "babe" discussion in another thread sometime, maybe later. For now, I'll say that Jasper's perfect combination of attraction, game-savvy, and humor is what I have in mind, and that I don't think that it would be lowering ourselves to enjoy that combination. However, maybe we should just chalk it up to synchronicity of the moment and not strive for it.

I can say this, here for this thread: there is no freakin' way we can have a single bigger booth using the current model. And the current model is the only way that people can enter at the level we all want them to.

I like the idea of two separate booths, each with its own set of primary sponsors. That way all primary sponsors are hit no harder than they were this year, and we have twice the space. I'd like to increase, but not double the number of buy-ins from this year, which means that the net effect is more space for each.

Bear in mind as well that demo tables were artificially limited more than usual because the booth swung into action as a unit to promote one of the games disproportionately, in recognition of the difficult position that the Driftwood guys were in. The 2003 demo table situation was equally active (except on that messed-up Saturday) and not as stifled, as I recall.

As for whether the two booths can be close or not close ... well, Adept Press currently has big-ass priority points, for a small-press company. If another company who had their own booth for the last couple of years wants to join in, then they can be point man for the other booth, and we will therefore have a pretty good chance of getting what we want. I can think of a couple of candidates right now.

Best,
Ron

Valamir

I'm not following.  What essential difference is there having one bigger booth vs two smaller booths?  If the number of companies are the same the total costs are the same either way (unless there is a declining per booth cost the larger you go, then the single big one is actually cheaper).

Logistically it would be a nightmare.  Two top dogs, each trying to control their own personal booth space...each "in charge"...each having to cooperate with the other...each passing off the undesired stuff to the other...in the hectic crazyness of exhibit hall traffic...

...no freakin way...especially if the other booth head is currently a non Forge participant who just happens to have booth points to spend.

Big time bad idea IMO.

There needs to be 1 booth, 1 booth identity, 1 brand.  Not another booth run by someone who's primary interest is to capitalize on our brand recognition and energy, and which almost certainly will be viewed by forge booth people who are assigned there as being relegated to the secondary booth.

Can you expand on what you see as the advantage of a two booth system, because alls I'm seeing currently is headache and brand dilution?

If its primarily logistic then what's needed is just to appoint a deputy to share the logistical burden with.  Not another top dog to share the creative vision with.  The creative vision should be discussed and tossed around among booth members as in this thread, but if there isn't 1 single top person with final authority then nightmare city I'm thinking.

Ron Edwards

Gee Ralph, I guess we disagree. Good thing this is just a brainstorming session ...

To clarify, I think that primary sponsorship should be reserved for people who have a strong track record with the booth already, and that there would indeed be a single leader for the whole endeavor. Anyone who can't get behind that would forfeit their $$ and be asked to leave, no matter what.

Regarding the cost, the point is that two booths mean more primary sponsors - eight instead of four, for example. But two different people would actually be managing the money of each one, hence not expanding the headache.

Anyway, it's all still brainstorming, not policy. I'm merely musin'.

Best,
Ron

Luke

So I took a look at booth furniture for a bigger booth. We actually get 4 long tables (and a paltry amount of chairs). 1 of those table could house the register and "stuff".

The three others could be used to run demos, add another $900 worth of booth furniture (same as this year), and we have nearly fully kitted out booth for a reasonable price ($4750 is the current price, plus $900 comes to 5650.)



Let's assume that we have 16 companies again next year.
$5650 divided evenly is about $353 per company. Not bad!

However, only seven companies made significanlty more than that at the booth (enough to be considered booth-profitable). Five of those 7 made $1000 or more. 2 of them made between $500-$1000. The other nine sponsors at the booth made $360 or less.

Now I want all tiers in on the booth. I really believe that you never know what's going to sell, and that all levels drive sales and promote good game.

We had 4 primary buy-ins at $600 this year. Jumping that to $1000 would knock 4 of the 5 big earners out of profitability (based on this year's numbers). So that number needs to be tamed a bit.

4 $200 buy-ins this year. All but one of them earned a hefty profit, and even the last didn't lose money on the buy-in.

7 $100 buy-ins this year. According to Ralph's numbers, none of them lost money on the buy-in bargain. But there were two companies who just squeaked by with a profit at this level, so I think it's important to have a $100 level buy-in available.


I think, for a bigger booth next year, we could add tiers.

$750 primary sponsorship. 4 sponsors raises $3000 right there.

$400 buy-in for those powerhouses like Lumpley, Paul, Matt S, Ralph, and BTRC. 5 $400 buy-ins nets $2000. Yes, this fee would be assessed based on previous year's earnings.

But, just with those 9, we've covered the big booth costs. And there is enough energy in those 9 to seriously drive a booth.

$100 and $200 buy-ins -- $100 base for a single game/book/product, $200 for your second book/product, plus +$50 per additional product on the shelves.

If we get another 6-10 at this level, we cover furniture and incidental/hidden costs like flyers.

We have more space, more tables by default and plenty of room to accomodate all companies, without spending an egregious amount of money.

am I crazy?
-L

Ron Edwards

Hey,

H'm, that looks good at first glance, Luke.

We'll have to consider a few other things, like whether the long tables are really functional for our purposes, and similar. And bigger space means more little tables and more chairs (expensive little suckers). But it's a good start.

What was the shape/size of the booth you were looking at?

Best,
Ron

Valamir

Yeah, I would definitely be in favor of linking booth buy in to previous years sales.  I'd also be in favor of more closely and formally aligning booth perks to buy in levels (i.e. how much wall space, how much shelf space, how many hours of table time, who gets the good display area, etc).  We all worked it out amongst ourselves ok, but if tier prices are going up, that should probably be more organized.