My thoughts and feedback to SM/ME:
Guests: all were absolutely fantastic, I can't particularly say I have a bad word about any of them. They were so enthusiastic when ever I came anywhere near them, patient with me in the photo shoots as I had to reverse my chair and chatty in the autograph area too.
Staff: whilst there were a few oddballs, 98% of those I came across had boundless energy and really helpful whenever I need them to be. Almost every time my extra help form took me to the front of the queues as needed. However I must point out there were some visitors with extra help forms without wheelchairs (i.e. hidden disabilities) who were not given such preferential treatment when they should've been. All SM/ME staff should have sufficient disability awareness training to know anyone with one of those forms need to be treated exactly the same as anyone else with this pass, to do so differently is unfair discrimination. By all means be stringent with your vetting process for who gets these forms in the first place, so staff know anyone carrying one at the event absolutely deserves the extra help they need.
Talks: this time around I paid for the TNG and DS9 talks, both of which were utterly fantastic and excellent value. I was pleased to see that you have learned from the previous event and reduced the prices on these, it entices more people to think about buying them and thinking they are good value for a sneak of exclusivity and not just yet another money making exercise. The free talks were a little more haphazard if I'm being honest. In 2014 there was a greater consistency to them across the whole weekend, this time I really enjoyed the Two Daxes and Next 50 years sessions on the Voyager stage.
Photo shoots: a great improvement on last time in my opinion. There was some disorganisation initially in the queueing areas, but once everyone got into a rhythm, from what I could see they ran much better. The process of going through felt better as well. I appreciated this time round staff taking photos off the printers were quality checking them to make sure we as the paying customers were happy with them. If they were not sure they were asking each of us to double-check and/or suggesting we go back round for a reshoot. The quality of all of my prints was far better, no missing edges on the backgrounds, poor lighting or anything else that affected shots in 2014.
The Not So Good
Dealer Stalls/Museum: For the size of the hall available, the Ferengi Zone was tiny. It was easy to walk around in 10 minutes, and if you were there for all three days you would very quickly become bored of it. There was room for double the amount, I see no reason why there couldn't have been more in attendance, unless there was something going on behind the scenes we are not aware of.
Lack of Seating: Whilst this wasn't an issue for me with my wheelchair, it's obviously something I'm acutely aware of. My poor PA had to run around all weekend after me, so can certainly sympathise with anyone else on here complaining there was insufficient seating around the hall for general use. This seriously needs to be planned for at future events, you are inviting people of all ages to attend these. Old and young may need somewhere to rest briefly, or those with families.
Chillout Zone: Blink and you missed it. When I went past this on the first day I thought "4 beanbags and a TV maketh not a chillout zone". Even by Saturday they were only double the number of beanbags, woefully insufficient for the number of visitors. No I am not expecting 10,000, but a similar size chillout zone to the one in 2014 would have been more than acceptable.
Event Planning/Build Up: it seems the organisation of this event was very much last minute. Many of us were left in the dark for weeks or months on end with no updates or communications from SM/ME. This has all been said before on here and I'm not going to go on about it in detail again. But for each event there has to be a dedicated contact and a strategic plan for releasing information leading up to event on a far more regular basis so that general excitement levels can be maintained and built on leading up to the event and fewer people disappointed or even not bothering attending at all.
No Gaming Zone: This was advertised on the website as being there, but when we arrived there was nothing, not even an explanation. The rumour quickly went around no-one was willing to pay the high fee for a stall. If that is anywhere near true then SM/ME seriously need to think about why they are doing this and whether they really have the fans interest at heart, particularly on the 50th birthday of such an iconic series.
Sales Desk: On the busiest day of the weekend, this was an absolute joke. There was only one card machine for 10,000 potential customers and it took you until the following day to get two more card readers. There were still queues with three current machines but at least they were moving far quicker. I had to spend 90 minutes on the Saturday waiting to get autograph vouchers as I had been informed beforehand the card payments would be accepted at the autograph tables when in fact it turned out that they would not and we'd need vouchers first or cash. Please make this information transparent on your website well in advance next time please.
Goody Bags: If you know how many package tickets you have sold, it is an absolute crime not to have sufficient numbers of bags there on the very first day. Making people wait even for a day is not on, saying things either were not ready or fell out is unacceptable and should be prepared in advance for the numbers you are expecting to turn up at the beginning of the event.
Borg Chamber/Klingon Sets: Their positioning made it look as though they had been stuck there as the biggest afterthought in the history of afterthoughts. The Borg chamber might as well have been stuck right next to a urinal it looked that out of place. For such a celebration of the series you could've at least try to dress up the surrounding area and included some external lighting around them to give it more of an atmospheric effect irrespective of whether SM/ME have tasked another company to provide the sets or not.
Admiral Packages: I didn't realise this but apparently the Admiral packages, despite already paying £3000 each, STILL have to pay for any special photo combos they want on top of that - how can that be right? Even adding up all of the individual items within an Admiral package, I cannot understand the business case made behind charging in addition to what is ordered already an extremely high fee. If SM/ME are treating them like royalty, treat them like royalty - don't milk them even further at the same time.
If you had a package deal or knew exactly what you were going in for like I did with a plan for the whole weekend, the event was a success. I have been planning for ages, I knew exactly which talks I wanted to go to, which autographs and photos I wanted to get, which guests I wanted to meet etc. I got all of that I am thoroughly happy with my experience and the amount I paid for it.
However, I don't feel I would've got my value for money from the event if I was just there for either one day or a general three day admission without paying for extras. For all of the reasons above SM/ME seriously need to look at anything after the good points and improve on them dramatically.
There was a hell of a lot of good at this event, but also a lot of not so good which is why I can understand why some people have some serious complaints they are making, particularly if you look a SM/ME's business accounts and query behind-the-scenes practices. This can often lead many individuals we are well aware of to wonder if these events really are FOR the fans or not. I won't detail as it's not my place and I don't want to get in trouble.
But it is an issue of perception. If SM/ME are willing to take on board all feedback (recognising I have acknowledged much good about the event too) and improve where needed, there will be far more people willing to pay the prices charged, and fewer will complain about it if everyone really is getting true value for money.
My thanks to everyone who has put their efforts into the event.
Here endeth my sermon.
Edited by robmoriarty, 12 October 2016 - 06:29 PM.
Have met: William Shatner, George Takei, Walter Koenig, Marina Sirtis, Gates McFadden, Levar Burton, Wil Wheaton, Terry Farrell, Alexander Siddig, Armin Shimmerman, Nicole de Boer, Kate Mulgrew, Jeri Ryan, Roxann Dawson, Tim Russ, Robert Duncan McNeill, Ethan Phillips, Robert Picardo, Garrett Wang, Connor Trinneer, Dominic Keating, Chase Masterson, Vaughn Armstrong, Alice Krige, Richard Arnold, Keegan de Lancie, Daniel Stewart.