Friday, 30 November 2007
|1233 - Reposting, since they seem to be disappearing...|
Reposting here, since posts in the midwest_furfest community that are in any way critical of con security seem to be disappearing...
MFF 2007 was my third furry con, and first MFF (after Anthrocon 2004, where I just felt lost, and RCFM 2007, where I had lots of fun and one major problem which I'm assured will be fixed). I had lots of fun, due in no small part to spending lots of time in either of two fursuits I had with me. I was afraid that my somewhat unconventional suits would draw negative reaction, but that wasn't the case at all.
It was well worth doing. I'll be back next year.
I do have to say that I was disappointed with the con security staff, though; their approach seemed more than a little unprofessional, at least on Sunday. The one time that one of them interacted with me personally, it was a legitimate concern, and I was impressed with how it was handled. OTOH, I saw lots of behavior on their part that brought the term "jackbooted thugs" to mind. One of the security staffers' badge names didn't help matters, either: She Who Must Be Obeyed. That's not at all professional, and I would strongly recommend that, should she be on security staff next year, that she be strongly encouraged to pick another badge name. Otherwise, she's just asking for confrontations.
I do believe that that was, in no small part, due to heavy pressure from the hotel. I got the distinct impression that, while they were happy to take our money, the hotel would just as soon not have to deal with furries, especially when we act like, well, furries and out of the societal mainstream. The level of pure chickenshit from the hotel was so high that I'm not likely to give any of my business to Hyatt Hotels anytime soon - and I speak as someone who travels for a living, and had 164 paid hotel room nights in my name last year. I didn't join in the cheering for the hotel at closing ceremonies, because I don't think they deserved it.
Those aside, it was a fun weekend, and I'll be back next year. How well the concerns are fixed will determine whether I'm back in 2009.
current mood: irritated
The very best Con Security folks I've dealt with are people who have worked as police officers, paramedics, or in the military. Or as bouncers. These people all understand that respect must be earned, and they have the chops to earn it.
The very worst Con Security folks I've dealt with have been power-hungry "civilians" who don't understand that authority does not flow from a badge, and respect often flees from one.
First off, Jay, if you have any questions about what happens on the Midwest FurFest Livejournal community, I would have appreciated it if you had taken the time to e-mail me (my e-mail address is posted plainly in the community information) rather than make vague accusations of wrongdoing. I have deleted a single post to the community since the convention ended, and it was a post that was to the effect of "Security was so mean! What instances do you have that Security was mean?" I did not view that as something constructive, but rather a nice way to stir up ill will against a group of people who collectively volunteered hundreds of hours of their time to ensure the safety and well-being of our attendees. Now, if the post had been about a specific issue that would have been different; I would have left the post in place, and the issue could have been addressed. Does that make sense?
As to the matter of Security: I had a three-hour meeting with our Security Director and Assistant Security Director yesterday to review the past year and make plans for the coming year. We had a bad combination of factors this year:
1.) Security was understaffed, leading to long shifts for everyone, which means that by the end of the weekend they were exhausted.
2.) We had a situation where we had too many people in too small a space. Midwest FurFest has clearly outgrown the Hyatt. Please keep in mind, though, that our new hotel contract was signed before MFF 2006. With normal growth rates we would have been OK, but last year's unprecedented 34% growth followed by this year's 19% growth meant that we were seriously overcrowded.
3.) As you noted, the hotel's attitude towards the convention was not the best. They knew it was our last year; they were content to take our money and be done with us. This meant that where in past years they were willing to let certain incidents slide, this year they were sticklers for obeying hotel policy. Security was their primary contact for such matters, and they were run ragged all weekend dealing with the hotel's complaints of things in the lobby atrium windows, messy tables in the lobby, people sleeping in the elevator lobbies, people blocking the main hallway, etc.
In the end, this led to the problems that you witnessed. We agreed that this was not acceptable, though. As an organization, we provide a service, and it is our duty to ensure that our attendees have the most pleasant convention possible. This includes providing the best possible customer service that we can. In order to do this, we are addressing the above factors in the following ways:
1.) We will be increasing the Security staff by 50%. This will involve some investment by the convention to make sure that the additional people have places to sleep, but I consider that investment worthwhile.
2.) As we move to the Westin, the function space that we have available will double in size. Additionally, we will have an as-yet-unnamed common social space (analogous to Anthrocon's Zoo) that will hopefully serve as a "safety valve" and take some of the pressure off the hallways.
3.) This is a bit of a wildcard, as we move into a new hotel. We are at least the second fannish convention that they have hosted so they're not completely new to the concept, but I'm sure you'll agree that a furry convention is a unique breed. We will work with them in the coming year to make sure they know what to expect and do everything we can to smooth the way.
I hope that this addresses some of your concerns. If you or anyone else has any questions, please feel free to e-mail me at chair.2008 [at] furfest (dot) org.
Tom Brady/Duncan da Husky
Chairman, Midwest FurFest 2008