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Dragonmeet: A Tale of Four Venues

Last year, we were looking at the possibility of having to move out of the Novotel as we’d outgrown its capacity, and that hasn’t changed. What we have found is that moving venues, particularly when you’re geographically restricted to certain areas, is really not the easiest thing in the world. The two venues we were looking at were Olympia and Excel, and we put bids in for both of them last year, same weekend, more space, but not losing any part of what Dragonmeet is as a convention. And what is Dragonmeet as a convention? It’s the largest one day games convention in the UK, and it caters for all the aspects of gaming, moving forwards, we want to ensure that this continues. So we went down as a team to Olympia and took a look around the National and Grand Halls with a view to seeing what we could do down there. Well, we could have a bigger trade hall, that’s for sure. Then we ask what we couldn’t do down there. And that’s where we started to have problems. Olympia as constructed doesn’t have breakout space, it’s got the massive main halls and a few smaller rooms on the mezzanine level where you could put smaller seminars, we could still have the bring and buy, but we’d be losing the RPG’s, almost in their entirety, because the mezzanine, even above the main hall, isn’t suitable for running games where the GM is trying to maintain an atmosphere. We’ve put questions in regarding what can be done going forwards with the rooms, and we’ll keep it under consideration. And then we went to Excel Excel is another purpose designed convention space, all the types of rooms that you need and in as great a quantity as you’re ever going to need them. Perfect… Except everyone else knows that too, and so finding a date, particularly when you’re the gaming worlds Christmas convention, is a problem as well. They had space available, but it was the week before Christmas, and for us, that seemed more than a little too late, the appeal of Dragonmeet is that it’s far enough away from Christmas that if you (somehow) can’t find what you’re after for your gaming festivities, you’ve still got time to look elsewhere. Moving the convention to the week before Christmas would take away that option, and with it, a lot of the reason that many people come to the convention. What to do…? Could we make more money if we just turned the convention into a trade hall with open gaming? Yes, no question about it. Is that what we want to do? No We remember where we started, we want to keep the convention for all types of gaming, and we want to keep it affordable where we can, we’re the cheapest of the major conventions and that’s accounting for the fact that we’re in central London, we do initiatives every year to bring people on low income to the con so they can enjoy it and we’re going to keep doing that, but we also have to acknowledge that we’re at the limits of where we can go with Novotel. But there’s nowhere else to go… People who don’t run cons often think that you can just pick up a convention and put it down somewhere else and it’ll just keep running, and that’s just not true. If you picked up Expo and dropped it into Excel, it’d attract a completely different crowd from the one that goes there now. Sure, you’d get the people who travel all the way from anywhere to go, but most people have a limit of how far they’re willing to travel for a convention, no matter how good it is. Dragonmeet is London, it’s always been London, and it’ll always be London. There is one last venue that we’re considering, and we hope to have a response by the end of the month on that, no details to be given out yet, but the tagline for the convention would become “Gamings Coming Home” given that particular venue’s previous history. More on that to follow. So we may be staying where we were for another year, but either way, it’ll be Saturday, December 2nd, largest trade hall we've ever had, massive RPG schedule, several tracks of seminars and podcasts and this year, awards. More to follow, but tickets are now available here and traders bookings will be opening on the 31st of March. Any questions, let us know.

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