Sausomecon ’18: The Personal Convention With Room For Growth

They often tell you that it is all about the small things in life. Those precious moments that we get to share with family and friends that make the difference. Sausomecon is a constant reminder of that fact. While it has a strong, personal vibe it also feels distant and complicated, boasting a heap of issues that range from small to rather large. That being said, this year’s Sausomecon is far from a total flop and it has me hungering to see what becomes of 2019’s convention. Before we jump into fanciful wondering, let me break down this year’s convention experience for you all.

To start off, Sausomecon is a delightful and very personal convention. Situated at the KCI Expo Center, just off the Kansas City Airport, this convention is in its third year of conception and it has impressed me. Because of its relative size the convention exudes a personal vibe that larger conventions often lack. That sense of personal touch, so to say, is what I enjoyed about attending this convention. The smaller space forces you to be more social and less running from one end of a convention center to another. The chances of running into your friend is quite high, in fact it is almost a given. That closeness if a gift, but it also is a nagging reminder of how small this convention really is. However one would be amiss to scoff this off as a dying convention, when in fact it is only three years old. This convention has grand plans, I can feel it, it just has to find its leg room first and then it can fully spread itself out.

The convention center itself,  KCI Expo Center still has some wiggle room and I feel that the convention could make better use of it. Take for instance the unused main event room A. While this years convention really didn’t need the extra space, it still felt unused to its fullest extent possible. Now I don’t know how the rental process for convention centers works, but I do believe that it could have made use of it in some fashion. Why not use it as a registration hall/convention advertisement room? I get having local conventions promoting within the vendor/main event hall, but to me it just feels like wasted and unused space. Registration was the first thing you walked into once you got to the convention. Not a bad thing per say, just a bit out of the ordinary.

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Still in the layout of it all the panel list wasn’t anything to hate. It was full of informative and fun panels, all without issue, save for the usual audio issues. The convention made use of three panel rooms, one large and two segmented ones. With the other two being used as anime showings and a manga library. Two more event rooms where located in the neighboring Holiday Inn which is where a game board game room and cafe event were being held. The final event room (outside of the larger, main event and vendor hall) was a small room dedicated to console gaming. Everything was easy to find and for the attendees it was far from crowded. I don’t recall having an issue with the three panels that I attended at the convention and the audible background chatter wasn’t unbearable while I watched these events.

What I did notice though was again, confusing layout and underutilized space. Going forward I would love to see the manga library moved into the neighboring Holiday Inn and keep the tabletop room there too. That would free up the cafe events to be held right there in the main convention center and easily accessible. You want those paid events to be right there at the actual center. Issue can be worked over quickly and the center even had a dedicated cafe so food addressal shouldn’t be much of an issue. Again also using the other large event hall would be ideal for space management and I could see them easily using it as a registration/convention promotion hall. Maybe even moving the game room into that section would be beneficial and you could combine both the board game and video game rooms into one, effectively using the space. I mean they had a VR gaming booth in the vendor/guest side of the only utilized hall. To me that makes sense and I hope this input it taken into account by anyone reading from Sausomecon.

One glaring issue I had with the convention was its seemingly lacking social media presence. The convention was not once active while the convention was in swing and it missed such a big chance. Promoting panels, or events on social media is helpful for some who might not have a schedule list handy. It pushes focus to key events and causes users to share this information socially. To also make matters a tad worse, per some convention attendees, the online and paper schedules were completely different. While I cannot confirm this as I have seen both online and paper schedule, there seemed to have been some initial confusion at least on the first day. Another issue that was brought to my attention was the lack of a complete VIP con package. At least one individual that I spoke with told me that some of the goodies (i.e. t-shirt) that each VIP was supposed to get had not been finished and thus they would not be receiving said item.

For me that is a bit of a red flag and I do hope that this was not the case. As an approach to mend the issue should have been addressed or at least a partial refund on the ticketed amount should have been issued. You don’t want to annoy big ticket purchases by forgetting to provide the complete packaged deal. That is essentially fraud, in a loose sense. Still this was the extent of the damage that I could see for myself and from what I heard from actual convention attendees. That all being said I still thoroughly believe that this year’s convention did impress me with how it was handled staff wise. While it wasn’t the best I have experienced, it was far from the worst. The staff was present for most events that I could see and the moved to fix panel issue with earnest prioritization.

Attendance itself seemed smaller than expected for the convention and their was hardly a moment of panic to get into a panel. There was always a good seat to be had and I feel that a VIP line cut ‘incentive’ was hardly a needed item. Then again not everyone can plan for actual attendance. I have a feeling that this year was a particularly slow one for the actual convention, but I have not had the chance to attend this convention until now so my input is limited.

Bottom line for me, this is a convention with so much more to give and it seriously has much more room for potential growth in the coming years. The items I would enjoy to see implemented for next years convention are as follows…

  1. Make the most out of the expo center’s space. Condense gaming rooms into one, large room. Move registration into a dedicated room with two exits, so as to not clog the first and primary gathering point.
  2. Move paid events INSIDE the center itself. Staff can easily dip in to check on things and makes it easier to locate for attendees.
  3. Ensure that VIPs are getting their paid treatment. No one wants to pay 105USD and only get 50USD worth out of it. These are your top pay attendees, WOW them don’t Un-WOW them.
  4. Ensure a social media presence is known and promoting panel and paid events. Makes it easy for those curious about events more interested. Also piques interest from some who might have been on the fence about coming.

Honestly using social media is just the big one for me personally as I cannot attest to the issues with VIP. Still being able to connect to local cosplayers especially Toukomana, thanks for chatting with me, was the highlight of the convention for me. While my pants were not blown off by how awesome it was, my interest was at least piqued and considerably more interested in what potential this newer convention has in store for us locals. I can only hope to provide future coverage of a 2019 Sausomecon and I can only hope to see it grow into something as spectacular as Naka-Kon.


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