10 Details to Include When Inviting a Specific Person to Your Convention or Event

19 August 2019 | 4 Comments

Okay, this is going to be a super niche post. It’s geared towards convention/event coordinators, which is already a small group, and it’s about special attendees and guests of honor, an even smaller group. If you don’t fall into either of those categories, hopefully there’s still a useful takeaway below.

There was a time when I received a steady flow of invitations from game conventions to be a guest of honor, to the point that I wrote about the topic 3 years ago. Since then it’s tapered off quite a bit, but I still get the occasional invitation.

While I don’t attend many conventions (pretty much just Geekway to the West on an annual basis) and convention presence isn’t part of our marketing strategy (instead we contribute games to play-and-win), I still appreciate whenever someone reaches out with a special invitation. I don’t take it for granted.

If you run a convention or event and you want to invite a specific person to attend, I have a few thoughts about how you can most effectively do this. I recommend contacting the person via e-mail and including the following information:

  1. Who you are and your connection to both the convention and to the invitee.
  2. The name of the convention and the core experience it offers (e.g., open play, event system, panels and speakers, tournament play, vendor hall, cosplay, etc)
  3. Location (both the city and the specific building/facility where the convention is located)
  4. Number of attendees (actual last year and expected this year)
  5. The dates for the convention (this year and every known date for the future, in case this year doesn’t work)
  6. Your top 3 favorite things to do/eat in the location where the convention is held (if someone travels from afar, they might want to know some of the other highlights of the area). If I’m going to travel, I want to make a trip of it, as it may be the only time I’m able to visit that location.
  7. What you’re willing to do to get them to attend (and if you do pay for their travel/hotel/etc, what you expect of them in return). My personal preference is that I don’t want special treatment or compensation, partially because I don’t think I’m the type of person to draw in extra attendees and partially because if I just want to act like any other attendee and play a bunch of games with random people.
  8. If the guest is allowed to bring a friend/partner at your expense.
  9. How the invitee can subscribe to information about the convention so they can be organically reminded to make a decision.
  10. A photo or two of last year’s event so the person can get a feeling for the environment and other attendees.

Looking at that list, I think quite a few of those details are crucial for any type of invitation (1-6, 9, 10). Am I missing anything?

If you’re a convention considering your budget for guests of honor, I would highly recommend also reading this post (particularly the poll at the end): Guests of Honor at Conventions

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4 Comments on “10 Details to Include When Inviting a Specific Person to Your Convention or Event

  1. I am not familiar with game conventions, so this may be more relevant for conventions in other industries. In addition to the thoughts you shared above, I have found it useful when you share the end goal, e.g.

    – The topic of this session is ‘X.’ Your talk could contribute to this area by providing ‘Y.’
    – By the end of your talk, we hope the audience would learn ‘Z.’
    – Etc.

    It is helpful to tie an objective to why your presence is desired. The invitee can then decide if he/she would like to share in the delivery of this end goal.

    This might be an extension to Derian’s above suggestion for providing a reason why the invitation is being extended in the first place.

  2. I would add why you are extending the invitation. You hint at it in #7, but it feels important enough to be an explicit point.

  3. Every once in a while I think about guests of honor for Geekway, but it just feels wrong. We aren’t a panel/speakers/keynote kind of con, and I don’t really want to become one.

    We always get a few people asking us to do industry panels and speakers, but I’m pretty happy letting the board game world come to our con and just vend/play games and let them schedule their time however they want.

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