Running a modern convention takes a lot of effort, skills, people, and tools. Here we provide a list of the recommended equipment you'll need to run your convention.
It shouldn't need to be said, but sometimes we all forget the simplest things. You should have at least 2 computers at your convention (in case one goes down). You'll use the computers for checking in pre-registered guests, creating badges for walk-up guests, collecting attendee info, managing event schedule changes, and more. They don't need to be fancy. Just something capable of running a modern web browser and connecting to a printer. In some cases you can even use tablet computers like an iPad.
Whatever you have, test it before you get to the con. Simulate the registration process completely, right down to printing a badge on the custom perforated card stock.
Your registration desk should have it's own private network, or at least be hard-wired into the network of your venue's internet. The reason for this is that the venue's wifi is almost always installed by people who don't know how to set up wifi to work for thousands of people at once, so it becomes cluttered and unreliable as more of your attendees show up.
- We recommend having your own independent connection to the internet.
- If you can't have that, then get a wired connection to the venue's internet, and set up your own wifi router.
- If you can't have that, then see if the venue has a private wifi network for their own administration and get access to that.
- If you can't get any of the above, then maybe look for another venue.
Regardless of what connectivity you have, we recommend that someone on your team have a smartphone with a wireless hotspot. This allows you to have a backup connection to the internet in case something bad happens to the main connection.
We recommend one printer per computer that you have on site. You may think this is overkill, and it may be, but in our experience printers are far more finicky than computers and as such are more likely to go down. Here are attributes you should look for in a printer:
- Ink jets are better than laser, because lasers tend to heat the card stock causing it to curl and jam. That said, some lasers work great, you'd just want to test it in advance of the con.
- You want as straight of paper path as possible. A straight line is best, followed by an L shape, followed by a C shape. Printers with a Z or S shaped paper path will definitely not work.
- Printers with both USB and wifi connectivity give you far more flexible options. For example, you should connect each printer via USB to its primary computer so that network lag won't affect print speed. Buy you should also share the printer over wifi so that any other computer can print to it in case the printer connected to that computer goes down for any reason.
An example of a good printer is the Canon TS9020. It has an L shaped paper path and is an ink jet so you won't get any jams. It has USB, Wifi, and Ethernet connectivity making it very flexible and responsive. Plus, since it's a photo printer, it has very sharp and crisp printing capabilities. The only downside it has is that it will only reliably hold about 20 sheets of cardstock, so you'll be refilling it often. But that's a quick and painless process.
Along with your printer, make sure you have plenty of ink/toner.
You can print event tickets and library inventory stickers using thermal printers from Dymo and Brother. You can use any model you like of either as long as they support these labels:
Pre-printed Badges - Whether you buy them from us (Convention Tools > Registration > Printing) or go elsewhere, you should have as many badges printed in advance of the con as you possibly can. This dramatically speeds up the guest check-in process.
Badge Paper - Our custom perforated badge card stock will allow you to print both tickets and badges on-site at the con. If you're going to print on-site then you should get some of this paper. More importantly, you should get more than you think you'll need. There might be an occasional mistake in printing, reprint requests from attendees wanting to change their badge name, or paper jams. All of these factors could cause you to need a few more sheets here or there. You can always use the extra next year. You can buy this paper from your convention site under Convention Tools > Registration > Printing.
Badge Holders and Lanyards - Every attendee will need a badge holder and a lanyard to hold their badge. You can buy these all over, but we also sell them under Convention Tools > Registration > Printing on your convention site. Get more than you need, because it's really embarrassing to run out and your local stores will likely not carry them. You can always use the extras next year. Also make sure your badge holders will hold industry standard 4x3 inch badges.
Credit Card Reader - If you'll be selling anything at your con, including walk up badges, tickets, or merch, then you should invest in some USB credit card scanners. These integrate with our point of sale system, dramatically speeding up checkout times and decreasing lines.
USB 2D Hand Scanner - If you'll be selling tickets, collecting tickets, running a game library, or selling merch at your convention, then you should invest in a couple of 2 dimensional USB hand scanners. These will allow you to scan tickets and badges to look things up dramatically faster.
There are lots of other great things that you may not need, but will be frantic if you do need them and don't have them. Here's a general list.
- Box of black sharpies.
- Box of pens.
- A roll or 2 of gaffers tape (not the same as duct tape).
- Box cutters.
- Post-it notes.
- Blank paper and notepads.
- A couple heavy duty extension cords.
- A few 6-port surge protectors.
- An ethernet cable.
- Maps of your venue.