I also had an absolute blast of a weekend and want to thank everyone involved for doing such a fantastic job!! Especially the volunteers deserve a big hand, they always go underappreciated even though they make so much of the event possible in the first place. Big props to y'all, if any of you are reading this.
I'll list my pros and cons as well. Sorry if some of this gets nitpicky, I cannot stress enough that I had an awesome time, I just also like putting down as much of my thoughts as possible just in case it helps stuff being even better next time.
Disclaimer/context if need be, my husband and I both had Lieutenant packages.
Registration - Quick and painless! My husband and I were in the big rush on Friday right as registration opened, and even with a massive queue it took max. 20-30 minutes from entering the queue to getting our badges and everything sorted. Having a seperate area for registration was a fantastic idea, considering the amount of people coming in, so props for that.
Hall & Layout - I was worried that finding stuff would be tough, but it really wasn't. The layout was largely very intuitive and really quite attendee-friendly. Tiny quibble: Only some of the photoshoot sets were on the map, some were not (like Klingon Bridge and Quark's Bar). You'd think they'd be easy to find considering they are close to the hall entrance, but with how big everything is and how full of people, it was really easy not to see the forest for the trees. I might just be really blind though. That aside, everything was easy to find, from the stages to the bathrooms, and there was enough room overall! Also, not as cold as I had feared. It might be simply a giant cargo hall, but heating + all the people ended up making it quite cozy in terms of temperature.
Panels & Activities - I really like the variety of panels on offer and was sad I couldn't possibly make them all. That's a good sign, because it means the schedule had a lot of fun stuff avaible! We sampled a bit of everything; some talks, some fan-run panels, some retro gaming, some stalls. It really seemed like a good variety to me, there was something to do for everyone.
Guests - The VIPs were all absolutely lovely to see, and nobody was unfriendly or unapproachable. Of course they're all different personalities, and they are still there as a job first and foremost, but if you don't expect everyone to leap out of their chairs in joy, you get positively surprised. There was more chatting at the autographs than I expected, and everyone was an absolute pleasure to say hello to. It's very nice when you're not made to feel like you are merely a customer, and that was clearly communicated all weekend. Special shoutouts to Aron Eisenberg, Fred Haise, Rene Auberjonois, Andrew Robinson, Armin Shimmerman, Nana Visitor and Jeffrey Combs for going above and beyond what we expected, and for being absolute sweethearts, but I was really delighted with everyone I saw.
Autographs & Virtual Queue - This went way more smoothly and intuitively than I expected. Virtual queueing is extremely handy and really saves a lot of trouble and foot pain, and the volunteers at the queues and tables were all very helpful at all times. It took the edge off of the nerves I was feeling when meeting some of the special guests, thank you very much for that.
Volunteers - I know I mentioned them already but they deserve an extra shoutout! Big bonus thanks to the people at the photoshoot queues and the audio/panel tech in particular, they had some of the toughest jobs this weekend and were under constant pressure from everything going on. They generally handled themselves like pros and did what they could, and it helped so much.
ESA - Having the European Space Agency at the convention as much as this was wonderful. Super educational booth and panels. I hope to see them again in the future, they added a lot to the event and made it more than "just" about the shows. Please consider inviting more guests from the science and space exploration fields, I personally feel they really elevate the event and the message of Star Trek.
What We Left Behind Premiere - Last but most certainly not least was the premiere of the DS9 documentary. An amazing film and a fantastic experience of having it at the convention, it became easily one of my highlights of the whole weekend. I appreciate that was made possible.
Hall acoustics - This was easily one of my biggest gripes. I understand a giant cargo hall isn't favorable for acoustics whatsoever, and all things considered the staff did what they could, but I really hope there's still room for improvements. The Enterprise stage was largely good, the Voyager stage was a mixed bag but mostly okay, but I couldn't attend any panels at the Excelsior stage at all because it was borderline impossible to understand anything. The lack of curtains around the latter two stages was a big issue, especially on the Excelsior stage, since that one was also close to all the food stalls and some vendors. I'm not a native speaker, so that likely adds to the problem, but I only understood every second or third word at the Excelsior stage. It was just simply stressful to listen after a while, and thus I had to skip out on later panels. Doubly disappointing since both the makeup artist panel and some ESA panels were held there. I really hope this can be improved.
What We Left Behind Premiere - As others have said, this was a fantastic event, but very rough on the edges. Seat cushions would have been very appreciated; the seats were fully okay for a 45 minute panel, but not for a 2 hour film. Queueing was very confusing and hall staff very visibly confused by it all. Figuring out where to sit was a bit of a mess. I understand this event was an extra thing to handle, but I hope this sorta thing can become smoother in the future.
Paid talk prices - Entirely just my impression, but I feel the paid talks were a bit steeply priced, considering they were about the same length as the non-paid ones and didn't really do anything different besides the special guests. Seeing them is always marvelous, but I still felt some of the pricing was prohibitive.
Food court prices - Not a massive deal since the NEC had a lot of food options avaible (my personal tip: The pasty shop, very tasty and filling for a bargain price), but the food court in the hall was really overpriced, sorry to say. 8£ for a small portion of fish and chips without any sides was just kinda out there. I expect higher prices for the convenience of eating on site, but even with that it wasn't worth it I feel. I imagine the stall owners determine the prices, not DST, but it's still a bummer.
I fully understand if these aren't doable, but I figured I might as well bring them up. It's a great event already, in any case.
More options for packages - I overall really enjoyed the value of my Lieutenant package, but I doubt I would upgrade it to anything higher with the current package deals. I think they'd be tons better with just a tad more options to choose from. I'd love having some photos included for autographs, for instance - The queue at the official autograph photo table was ridiculous, so if you'd get a certain amount of photos allocated and you could pick which guests you want in advance, that'd be fantastic for a package deal. Same with having some say in whose autographs/talks you get allocated, I personally didn't wanna spring for a bigger package because I was worried I'd be assigned things I really didn't wanna see. I understand there is only so much leeway in how the packages can be done, but any sort of further compromise would be fantastic. Especially getting some photos for autographs in advance would be really sweet.
More options for online payment - Paypal or other such options would be very appreciated, credit cards can be tough for people outside the country.
Thank you so much again for putting on a great weekend, I look forward to whenever I can make it again!