Overall I thought it was a fab event. The guests for the most part were incredibly lovely and people like Rik and Ben were just so genuine and thrilled that so many people wanted to see them and I'd love to have them back again. Ditto Paul Copeley and Liz May Brice. And kudos on keeping Kai a surprise - the scream when he appeared was amazing to hear. I also thought that Gareth was amazing - once again he stepped up to the plate despite other headliners falling by the wayside and it was wonderful to see him again. It wouldn't be a Hub event without him. Have to say Katy Wix seemed a bit bewildered and overwhelmed by it all but I guess these events aren't for everyone.
Pleased that the next event will be elsewhere. Although the problem with the Park Inn is that it has so few rooms and is pay in advance which just isn't practical in the current climate- you need a hotel you can take over that has enough rooms to accommodate everyone and that doesn't require you to pay up now! As far superior a hotel as the Hilton was I very much disliked the attitude of the staff there. To me it seemed very very clear that they didn't want the event there and someone (the manager? he had an American accent) was incredibly rude to my friends and I on the Saturday night. Also the housekeeping staff seemed to ignore the Do Not Disturb signs and barged in regardless. The bar staff were inattentive and took forever (and I'm not precious about these things) and the discount bar was still ludicrously expensive. Also some of the comments from the other patrons of the hotel were somewhat less than kind. The whole point of going to a convention is to have a great time with like minded people - not deal with hostile staff and rude jeers from other people at the hotel.
In terms of the convention I guess I had 2 suggestions - I do think that the intimate encounters should have a minimum bid of £10 as it just somehow seemed a bit disrespectful that a talk with Daniel Denby Ashe went for £5 and a talk with Paul Copeley £6 - £10 just seems somehow far more respectable a figure.
But my mine gripe was the cocktail party. I can't fault how well its put together or how attentive the crew were - everyone was going around topping up peoples drinks which was very impressive but you desperately need to circulate the guests better. It just didn't work at all and because you do everything else so well it was frustrating to see something so simple not working. I mean our group only saw the two guests we did because we made eye contact with one (Rik) who then came over and because I had to kick up a (polite) fuss and get Gareth bought over as the girls I was stood with desperately wanted to speak to him. We also saw Ben but that doesn't count as he was literally taken away from our group by his handler after being stood there for all of 15 seconds! I stood and watched as guests were bought to the same group twice, as guests stood with one group for 15 minutes and others for 30 seconds, as people followed the guest around the room, as people did the little trick of suddenly appearing in the circle whenever guests were chatting to one group. Somehow you need to define the groups in the room and the guests handlers need to steer them round the room in one clear direction and be assertive enough to encourage those who either try and follow the guest around or just magically appear at your side whenever one of the guests is there to go back to their groups and stay there. The guests should be coming to you - not the other way around.
Because it was the Saturday night and we'd already actually seen all the Saturday guests by that point I wasn't as annoyed as I might have been if it had been held on the Friday but the gold ticket holders do actually pay a fair bit of money for that cocktail party so it is important that its done right - noone should be coming out feeling that they didn't get to meet everyone they wanted to.
I totally agree with you RE: the hotel. I WAS NOT impressed with the level of service AT ALL, and I have stayed at a Hilton before for a convention and never had any problem there.
I found the staff to generally indifferent or outright rude from the moment I walked in the door and I often had problems getting served at the bar. And considering the prices they were charging, you would expect IMPECCABLE service. Also, I didn't like how isolated the hotel was, as you really had no option other than to eat in their LUDICROUSLY expensive restaurants/bars. So I'm glad The Hub 4 is back at The Park Inn. It is much more convenient.
I also totally agree about the Gold drinks party. I wasn't impressed with it and my group only got to see ONE guest (Gareth) because I also kicked up a polite fuss. And yeah, we got Ben for about 15 secs too, so I'm not counting him.
I also wasn't impressed with the selection of drinks available. I don't like wine so I had no option but to drink coke, and at one point even that ran out!! Now, I'm not expecting champagne and caviar but even a selection of different soft drinks would've been better than just wine or coke.
To be honest, I was so unimpressed with it that I have totally been put off buying a Gold ticket again.
Other than that it was fantastic. Rik & Ben were especially lovely, the Kai surprise was AMAZING, and Gareth was wonderful. I agree that The Hub wouldn't be the same without him and I sincerely hope we get him again for The Hub 4.