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"The Cost of Conventions" Topic

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robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 11:25 a.m. PST

OK, those of you who attend a major convention--SALUTE, LITTLE WARS, COLD WARS, FALL IN, HISTORICON or anything else in the 500+ attendee range, how much money are you out? And I need three figures
1. Money paid to the organization hosting the con.
2. Money paid to vendors and flea marketeers, or to play games if they're not included in the base price.
3. The inherent cost of the trip--transportation, meals and lodging.

You might specify the con, since I suspect SALUTE lowers the average on 3, while GenCon and Origins raise the average on 1.

Me? HMGS-East's big three. 1) $50 USD 2) $200 USD 3) $700 USD plus wear and tear on the car.

Redcurrant12 Feb 2020 11:44 a.m. PST

UK, York (Vapnartak) 1-5, 2-60, 3-50

DeRuyter12 Feb 2020 11:47 a.m. PST

Isn't #2 optional? Strictly speaking of course.

So for me:

HMGS Big 3:

#1 $0 USD (GM)
#2 $0 USD-50
#3 $80 USD

rick3212 Feb 2020 11:54 a.m. PST

I'm local for the HMGS CW, Historicon and FI

1) $100 USD, membership, flea market, weekend attendance and yes, the membership fee is once a year
2) $300 USD between vendors and flea markets
3) $120 USD because I bring my sons and they eat throughout the day and a big dinner afterwards…

This CWs would cost me 12-24 hrs of vacation time, so the day trip at $35 USD, plus the vacation time necessary may mean skipping CW this go around… save everything for Historicon but I am still mulling things over

Corporal Fagen12 Feb 2020 11:55 a.m. PST

Little Wars
1 – $40 USD
2 – <$100
3 – <$20

USAFpilot12 Feb 2020 12:14 p.m. PST

If I were to go to Cold Wars (haven't decided yet):
1). $35 USD for one day, or ($55 for weekend)
2) $20 USD $200 USD on vendors depending on what I see
3). $0 USD if I don't go to gaming con I'll go somewhere else, still have to eat and drive no matter where I am so that is not an added cost. No lodging required for day trip.

Personal logo Saber6 Supporting Member of TMP Fezian12 Feb 2020 12:34 p.m. PST

1. Money paid to the organization hosting the con: minimal 50-75 for the weekend
2. Money paid to vendors and flea marketeers, or to play games if they're not included in the base price: variable due to what is available (merchants)
3. The inherent cost of the trip--transportation, meals and lodging: The kicker, close to $500 USD+ as I have at least 500 miles to Drive or need round-trip airfare (which adds another $5 USD-600). Lodging at 100+ per night for the con and travel days.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 12:34 p.m. PST

Salute -

1. £10.00 GBP?
2. About a ton
3. £20.00 GBP

Rich Bliss Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 12:51 p.m. PST

Little Wars

1) $40 USD
2) $50 USD
3) $350 USD

historygamer12 Feb 2020 1:22 p.m. PST

1. $25 USD dollars membership dues (GMs get in free if a member)
2. $200 USD-$300
3. Conservatively – about $500 USD per weekend

HMS Exeter12 Feb 2020 1:50 p.m. PST

I'm not sure, does Little Wars get 500?

1. Cold Wars. – $25 USD
Historicon. – $50 USD (dues renewal)
Fall In. – $25 USD
I never buy t-shirts. I WB Sunday AM if at all.

2, CW. – $200 USD – $300 USD
HCon. – $150 USD – $300 USD
FI. – $200 USD – $300 USD
All are averages. I usually make a point of throwing
$100 USD at one or another vendor I like, or who seems to be
hurting, at all the cons I attend, including the smaller
ones. Support your local vendor…WB gets little coin

3. CW. – $300 USD
HCon. – $500 USD
FI. – $300 USD
All are primarily lodging. I'm 90 mins from 1 and 2,
and 2hrs from 3, so gas ain't bad. I usually bring
"travel rations" (sandwiches) from home that is most of
what I eat…and munchies.

Why do you ask?

14Bore12 Feb 2020 1:52 p.m. PST

Price of admission mostly, Historicon in KoP I could ride a bike to it, Cold wars is a hour. Thinking the price for basically 1 long game is a lot but had lots of fun in the fall so planning to go again.

jdpintex12 Feb 2020 2:01 p.m. PST

1. Admission cost, usually around $25 USD
2. $50 USD – $250 USD for most cons, Historicon is usually $500 USD+
3. Lodging/Air Fare – free as I use points. Depending on the location I may have to rent a car so less than $200. USD

I eat cheap and I would have to eat anyway so why count it.

kcabai12 Feb 2020 2:17 p.m. PST

Starting the year:

Garycon- 3600 attendees
1. Free, because GMing over 16 hours
2. $50 USD
3. $500 USD

Adepticon 4000+ Attendees
1. Free, because GMing over 16 hours
2. $100 USD
3. $20 USD (Local do not spend the nights)

Little Wars 766 Attendees
1. $40 USD
2. $200 USD
3. $400 USD (Local but stay on site)

Gencon-50,000+ attendees
1. Free because GMing over 16 hours
2. $100 USD
3. Travel and meals only $200 USD, lodging is earned by GMing

RockCon 200+ Attendees
1. $10 USD Discount for GMing
2. $50 USD
3. $300 USD

Gamehole Con 4,000+ attendees
1. Free because GMing over 16 hours
2. $20 USD
3. $400 USD

1. Not included are the additional costs for my wife, she is a gamer, so there would be an additional badge cost. 2.+3. Purchases and food/travel are combined. We usually bring most food and eat in the room.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 2:19 p.m. PST

On average for booth costs, truck rentals, hotel rooms for staff, staff pay, food, gas, tolls -- aprox $ 8000.

Russ Dunaway

TodCreasey12 Feb 2020 2:25 p.m. PST

About $1,000 USD US for an HMGS con mostly because I spend so muach – I could swing it for closer to $300 USD

epturner Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 2:57 p.m. PST

I spend about $1,500 USD USD on average for Cold Wars, Historicon, and Fall-In in total.

That's not including the HMGS membership and I offset the cost, usually, by running multiple games during a Con.

It also depends on work, my Army part timer duties, Herself, re-enacting, band gigs, and anything else that crops up.

Fall In this year was a wash for me, expect for paying at the door and the Dealer's Area, because of The Army. I live a short distance away from the KoP area.

This coming Historicon, I'm already 400 in the hole to my mate who booked our hotel room. And all that is going into the dealer's area, because that's how my mate works.

It's never a simple question, Robert, unless you are retired with no other life or any other cares.


PJ ONeill12 Feb 2020 3:06 p.m. PST

To Cold Wars from NY
1) 35
2) 100-150
3) 500-600

Personal logo 7th Va Cavalry Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 3:36 p.m. PST

Depending on location I'll attend all three HMGS
Per Con.
1. $35 USD to get in.
2. $300 USD-500 at vendors.
3. $50 USD + – for gas and food.

mckrok Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 4:10 p.m. PST

1) $50 USD
2) ~$300-400
3) ~$400-500

Plan on checking out Little Wars this year
1) $40 USD, I think
2) ~$200
3) ~$500-600

Spending a long weekend with great friends…priceless


Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 4:33 p.m. PST

Seems to be a much more wallet-damaging experience in the US!

BTCTerrainman Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 4:34 p.m. PST

For a HMGS con we are in the hole for $2,500 USD to $3,500 USD depending on the show (and not including pay for the help).

epturner Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 5:04 p.m. PST

What are your average sales for the last three years?

What have you seen as your biggest selling items as a trend?

What are your indirect sales, as a result of someone buying your wares at a con?

Just saying.


Fitzovich12 Feb 2020 5:44 p.m. PST

Interesting as this was a topic at today's game session. I'm skipping Little Wars this year as cost is a factor. Hotel and travel (meals, gas, tips for housekeeping, etc) in the $300 USD-$600 range, badge cost wasn't bad and dealers room in the $100 USD-$200 range. So it can easily get to be a $1,000.00 USD weekend and I'm not in position to do that very often.

Personal logo Extra Crispy Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 6:20 p.m. PST

Little Wars, Chicago Area. USA

1) $450 USD (I'm a vendor)
2) $0 USD-50, I rarely make a purchase beyond a rule book or two
3) $350 USD (Trailer rental, gas, meals, incidentals)

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 6:56 p.m. PST

It's the distances, Cerdic, and population density. Hold SALUTE, and a decent fraction of the wargaming population is only out tube fare: most of the UK (by population) could do it as a day trip. Hold a convention in Lancaster, PA--and that may well be as good a location as we can get for making it a feasible trip for as many people as possible--and only Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington can make a day trip out of it. Even most of the east coast attendees are looking at a day's drive each way and motel bills. That gets you to $200 USD very quickly.

I spent a little time in the UK, and that was one of the things that struck me: a tendency to hold a convention every weekend--but only one, because no matter where you place them, they'd be competing for many of the same day-trippers. In the US, a convention in Lancaster PA and one in Chicago would compete just a little, but you could hold conventions that same day in New Orleans, Los Angeles and Denver with effectively no overlap of population.

Put a scaled UK map on a US one, and you can see the problem. Then remember we don't just have a lower population density, but the average Brit is about three times as likely to be a miniature wargamer as the average American, and you can see the problem our convention organizers have to deal with--and why travel costs are frequently worse than admission and purchases put together.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 7:12 p.m. PST

P.S. I just checked the numbers, and it's slightly worse than I thought. The "lower 48"--the contiguous states--have something over 30 times the area of the UK with perhaps four or five times as many people, but probably no more miniature wargamers.

It makes for transportation problems other people don't quite grasp. Early in my military days, the wife and I needed to drive from Fort Wayne Indiana to Fort Huachuca Arizona for my training--1,800 miles, which is pretty much London to Moscow. It was a stiff drive, but no one thought there was anything extraordinary about it.

Striker12 Feb 2020 7:50 p.m. PST

For Little Wars Chicago.
1. $35 USD
2. $500 USD
3. $800 USDish. I would stay 4 nights double occupancy room and meals on site.

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 8:41 p.m. PST

For many years I would drive twice a year to my moms house in Western Iowa twice a year --1200 miles --non stop !!

KSmyth12 Feb 2020 8:50 p.m. PST

Enfilade in the PNW

1. $30 USD
2. Strictly optional. Let's say $50. USD
3. $250 USD

I budget 300 bucks for the weekend (two nights, three days) and often don't spend that much.

Oberlindes Sol LIC Supporting Member of TMP12 Feb 2020 10:04 p.m. PST

"500+ attendee range":
KublaCon, San Francisco Bay Area, about 2,000 attendees (I think).

The other major local conventions, Dundracon and Pacificon, may each have over 500 attendees per year, but they are smaller than Kublacon. The answers below are for KublaCon. My expenses for the other two are similar, except that they are each about 35 miles away, so there is a little more fuel and wear-and-tear on the car. This year we're staying one night at Dundracon for $100 USD for two people.

1. If I run an official convention game, I get free admission; $80 USD if I don't.

2. Games are included in the admission price. Vendors and flea market: depends on what I see; probably $0 USD to $25. USD

3. Transportation: Essentially free; about 8 miles each way, and I'll take the hybrid. Meals: Maybe $50 USD-$80 over the weekend. Lodging: No cost; I commute from home.

Lascaris12 Feb 2020 11:01 p.m. PST

For my yearly trip to historicon
1. $60 USD or so for weekend pass
2. Probably $4 USD-500 for vendors
3. Something over $1,000 USD for airfare from CA, rental car, hotel and food

RudyNelson12 Feb 2020 11:57 p.m. PST

Being a vendor at American shows since 1983, the cost of attending shows has gone up dramatically. Especially the local and regional shows. There the costs of transportation and lodging plus vendor table cost has risen from 15% in the 1980s to 25%+ currently.
When you calculate the restock stock which is 50-60% if you do not make your own products.
Major shows eat up a higher you have to really think about going to them or not.

HMS Exeter13 Feb 2020 4:17 a.m. PST

#Old Glory

1200 miles non-stop? At 65mph, that's 18 hours.


Oh, you're aching bladder!?!

JimDuncanUK13 Feb 2020 4:30 a.m. PST

I do about 9 shows a year and they are basically free as I would probably spend as much doing something else other than going to a show.

HMS Exeter13 Feb 2020 5:55 a.m. PST

Him:. Honey, I'm gonna take $1,200 USD out of the bank and go to a convention next weekend.

Her:. That is such a waste of money. You haven't painted half of what you got at the last show.

2 minute pause

Him:. There's a classified ad in this month's Field and Stream for a used bass boat. They only want $11,000. USD It's a really good price.

Her:. Have a nice time at the show, dear.

Cerdic Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 7:25 a.m. PST

RobertP… Yeah, I think it's fairly obvious that number 3 is going to be more costly in the US.

I was quite surprised by some of the figures quoted for number 1, though! Even factoring in that US cons are generally multi-day events, the entry fees seem high. Judging by some of the comments, do I deduce that there are sometimes fees to play in a game?

Personal logo rampantlion Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 7:53 a.m. PST

I live in Indiana so travel expenses and hotel are more than the admission and purchases…(usually)
Cold Wars: Several of us go so we share in gas and split a hotel usually 3 ways, sometimes 2 ways.

Hotel 3 nights: $350 USD (split between us)
Gas out and back: $150 USD (split between us)
Food & beer: $300 USD
Con admission and purchases: $300 USD

Historicon add another night's hotel and another day of food

pzivh43 Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 9:36 a.m. PST

Good one, Exeter. Compared to some hobbies, minis are cheap!

Cedric---no fees to play games at HMGS conventions, but Gencon and Origins do charge, IIRC.

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 9:43 a.m. PST

Cerdic, I think the eye-popping ones are prices for a vendor's booth. (I did not include my fee for a flea market table: that's money I expect to make back, and have.) There's also some iffy ground on membership fees. Rick and I pay the same HMGS membership, but it pro-rates out better if you attend all three cons than if you attend one.

I hear rumors of event charges at RPG-oriented conventions, but I've never run into them at a miniatures con.

Exeter, I still feel indebted to a sister in law's husband, who saved more than $1,000 USD off a set of golf clubs. When my wife heard about that, my Adler castings seemed a lot more reasonable.

Old Wolfman13 Feb 2020 10:28 a.m. PST

Another reason I 've been avoiding GenCon the last few years. Too expensive for my budget.

jfleisher Supporting Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 10:35 a.m. PST

@HMS Exeter…

I am so using that!

Old Glory Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 2:13 p.m. PST

Ok, we stopped for gas, etc -- no overnight ??? If that must be explained ??????

Personal logo BrigadeGames Sponsoring Member of TMP13 Feb 2020 4:00 p.m. PST

isn't # 2 purchases made at vendors/manufacturers?

Anyway, for Brigade Games, the cost on average for booth costs, hotel and food, staff, gas, tolls, is $4,000 USD-6000.

Double G Supporting Member of TMP15 Feb 2020 11:03 a.m. PST

For Minutemen Toy Soldiers, the cost on average for booth costs, hotel, meals, gas and tolls is about 1,600.00, so on a 40% profit margin, I need to generate four grand in sales.

Just to break even.

At Cold Wars, my entire gross sales number for Friday covers my nut, so my sales on Saturday is where the actual convention profit comes from and with day trippers becoming less and less of a factor due to the rising cost of a day pass, that number is dropping.

Oh and let's not forget about my Sunday sales……….(insert your laugh track here)……………….I used to attend all three conventions as previously stated, am down to one.

As long as it stays at the Host.

If it moves, depending on where it lands, that may be all she wrote…………, Hershey PA; no, no and no…………

RudyNelson17 Feb 2020 11:16 p.m. PST

Double G use of four dollars in sales for every one dollar in expenses is one that we have used since 1983.

We have also used the restaurant management guideline to determine if a convention was cost effective to attend. That tool was the red tag if you did not make enough in sales to cover basic expenses (minus restock). The gray tag was when your sales were enough to cover expenses but not enough to cover restock. A black tag was when you had enough sales to cover expenses and restock, so you had a profit.

One of the last Historicons that I attended after 19 straight years of attending as a dealer, I was in the black but it was $72. USD So for six long days of work and driving I made $12 USD a day.

Daribuck Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2020 9:51 a.m. PST

1. Money paid to the organization hosting the con.
As a dealer a the three HMGS-East conventions, I pay from $300 USD-$500 to attend each with a booth.

2. Money paid to vendors and flea marketeers, or to play games if they're not included in the base price.
Don't play any games, but I usually buy about $500 USD worth of new or used stuff at each con from fleas or other dealers

3. The inherent cost of the trip--transportation, meals and lodging.
I live north of Baltimore, and I either stay with friends or drive back 75 miles each night. I'll get breakfast on the way up, and I usually bring lunch and snacks, so basically less than $50 USD a weekend

Interestingly, I will sell about $1,000 USD worth of stuff at each show, so I generally break even exactly. Wouldn't have it any other way!


TRUgamer19 Feb 2020 10:31 a.m. PST

1. $25 USD
2. $1,200 USD +/-
3. $250 USD

I usually recoup from $500 USD-1000 selling in the FM.


corzin20 Feb 2020 6:07 a.m. PST

i live near fall-in

so for the big 3 HMGS cons
$0 USD to get in as i always run a game
the goal is usually $100 USD for dealers
transportation and such to lancaster probably $200 USD
at KoP $20 USD a day for food

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