FrostCon 3: Review of a Poorly Organized Convention

This January was the first time that I attended FrostCon. I attended as a media representative and a panelist.

In the interest of full disclosure, some of the comments I have are about mobility access and I do have a medical condition which limits my ability to walk unassisted. Basically, after a couple hours I have to either take medication or have a wheelchair handy, otherwise my feet can swell severely and it becomes painful (sometimes impossible) to walk. It’s a personal issue, so that’s about all I will say on that, but it does mean that mobility issues are something that I notice probably more than the average able-bodied convention attendee.

Also, keep in mind that I have attended a variety of conventions, of various sizes in Canada and the US. I have attended as a fan and as a media representative. I have run panels and A/V presentations multiple times at various events. I have even been on convention committee for a couple of events, and I have experience managing tradeshow booths (up to 10’ x 30’ size at national tradeshows) from my day job.

I’ll start off chronologically with what happened and then lead into a list of the problems I noticed and recommendations I have for the convention to improve.

Here’s the short review I posted on their Facebook page:


If you don’t want all the nitty gritty details, you can skip to my pictures and lists at the end.

Leading up to the event, I applied for a media pass and submit an inquiry to be a panelist to run a merchandise and media presentation (and I clearly noted I had A/V requirements). In December, I had not heard from the organizers, so I reached out repeatedly by e-mail and on their Facebook page to inquire about the panel request. I received dismissive responses via Facebook indicating that I would hear back later.

Typically, because I update my merchandise and media presentation with the latest details before I present it, it take me anywhere from 10-20 hours of preparation (depending on when it was last updated, if I have presented at that convention before, and the amount of media news available). This preparation time includes research, finding images, converting prices to local currency, and putting together a powerpoint compatible slideshow. It’s safe to say I need a good 2 weeks to put it together properly without having to rush. Especially considering that I do have a full time job plus I do freelance graphic design work for multiple clients in my spare time. I’m a really busy person — so I need some notice to prepare the Sailor Moon presentations that I do so that they are of the quality that I want to share with Sailor Moon fans.

On January 7th, I received an email stating that my media pass application was approved and that I would be emailed information about my ticket later. This was fine, but I still hadn’t heard about the presentation.

I received no direct confirmation at ANY time before the convention that my panel was approved. They had all of my contact information, but didn’t use it.

Instead, I had to find out that my panel was added to the schedule by reading about it on their Facebook page. On January 24th, one week before the event.

Incidentally, their Facebook page was also the only place they ever posted the schedule.

I was quite upset at this point because of the lack of notice, but I decided to go ahead and update the presentation in a rush so that I wouldn’t let down anyone who would be interested in seeing it at the convention. I also thought it would be worthwhile to test my presentation at a smaller event to gauge the interest level for it for smaller conventions.

I started reaching out to FrostCon organizers to complain that this was extremely short notice and that it was unacceptable. I would never again do a presentation  on such short notice due to the time and effort involved on my part.

Then things went from bad to worse and the organizers started to tell me that a laptop would NOT be provided.

Most conventions that have A/V presentations either give you the option to use a loaner laptop, or enforce the use of their laptops in order to minimize any technical issues. Also, if you can’t do that — it should be said with more notice than 2 days before the event. Realistically, you should be contacting panelists and guests a month in advance to detail what you can provide and confirm if they are still able to run their panels.

The laptop I have is from 2006. It’s about 7 lbs, I don’t know if it would be compatible with any projector equipment they might have (they never actually confirmed the technology that was going to be used — HDMI, DVI, or VGA). And also, I was unwilling to carry a laptop with me all day because a) I was concerned about possible theft and b) it would aggravate my medical condition.

I complained repeatedly through multiple outlets that the organizers were being unprofessional and inconsiderate. If they actually expected me to carry a laptop with me, on such short notice, I would need them to pay my taxi fare as I did not have a car at the time. I didn’t actually expect anyone to pay for that, I was just trying to stress my point that the notice was far too short.

I said that my alternative would be to do a panel instead of a presentation. And then I publicly stated on Twitter that because they would not provide me with proper equipment, I would do a panel instead:

Later that day they said that a laptop would be provided after all.

Backing up a little, on January 25th, I had yet to receive my ticket information and had to inquire about it so that I could be sure that registration would be processed correctly. I also made sure to notify the organizers that I have limited mobility and would require a chair to sit in for my presentation.

I received the ticket information on January 28th, printed it, and had everything ready to go.

When I got to the convention on January 31st, I made my way downstairs around 10am after asking a convention staff member where to go for media registration. I went straight to the table sitting in the middle of the hall before the event rooms and asked again where I should go for media registration. This person directed me to the wrong place, telling me there was a table farther down the hall near the dealers’ room. No such table existed, so I went back and said there’s nothing down there and that I’d asked a couple people now where media registration is but nobody seems to know. I asked her to find me someone else who could help. All staff should have proper information about registration in my opinion, I’ve never had to ask 3 or more people at any other event to find the correct registration desk.

That’s when I met Jax, the only staff member who seemed to want to do a good job and was very conscientious. Someone else at the registration table finally gave me my badge (how does anyone working at the table not know that the badges for media are also right there?). I spoke with Jax and said that I wanted to confirm that everything was okay for my presentation and that I was promised a laptop to loan for the presentation to use with a projector. She confirmed that there would be a laptop and that everything would be fine, I’d just need to go pick up the laptop from the staff lounge/coat check before my presentation.

I requested a map, and oddly enough they did not have any maps or programs of any kind printed for convention attendees (I’ve NEVER seen this before, even at events smaller than this). She brought me to the dealers’ room and found a chair for me to sit and wait, because she remembered my mobility issue (I was surprised she remembered) and went to get me a map that I could reference for the event.

After I got the map, I had to consult the schedule on my smartphone in order to know when any of the events were happening. The only scheduling information available at the event were small print lists outside of each event room. This is not particularly helpful if there’s no general program available to be referenced. For anyone who didn’t have a smartphone, it would be difficult to decide which events to attend because you’d have to go and read the list outside each room!

I started attending panels and found that the content was pretty good, but the rooms were oddly shaped (very deep, bigger than needed for the panels in general). There were no microphones. There were no projectors.

Not a good sign.

Shortly before my presentation was scheduled, I checked the room where I would be presenting and no A/V equipment was in there. So I walked into the coat check and asked where I would be getting the laptop to loan and why there was no projector set up in the room.

This is when I overheard a particularly unprofessional staff member (whom I suspect was actually the con chair, Antonio) say that there were no projectors and it would take them 2 hours to go and rent one so it wasn’t going to happen.

Then he comes over and talks to me, and he must have assumed I didn’t hear his previous comment. He said that their original plan to borrow projectors from someone and pick them up the day before fell through. So they were going to borrow projectors from someone else the morning of. But that also fell through. They knew at 9am that they had no projectors. They didn’t have them for panelists and they didn’t have them for guests. He was quite condescending at this point, trying to insinuate that I was significantly less important than a guest. Now, I know that I am not the same level as a guest, but as a media representative, I am reviewing the event and deciding if I should recommend it. My experience at the convention affects my review.

At this point I objected, stating that I arrived at around 10am and asked if things were ready for my presentation and I was told they were. Why was I not told about a lack of projectors? He irritatedly asked who told me things were okay, and I pointed out Jax. He complained at her in front of me saying that there were no projectors. (Poor management, if you ask me — don’t chew out your staff in public like that, especially when you’re covering for your own mistakes)

Nobody took responsibility for failing to notify me earlier.

Also, note how it would have taken them two hours to rent projectors and they were aware at 9am but decided to do nothing. My panel was scheduled for 1pm.

I complained and said I can’t do my presentation if I don’t have a way to show it. Jax offered to loan me her laptop, which she said had a bigger screen and hoped it would make do as a backup option. Grumpy guy (Antonio) just looked irritated and did nothing remotely useful.

I returned to the panel room, set up as well as I could, and started talking to the room about some of the sample merchandise I had brought with me. Once I got the computer from Jax, we set it up and I was able to run through my presentation in PDF format (thankfully I had saved in multiple formats!). I had a very small audience so they were able to hear me well enough, but I’m sure it was difficult to see the images on the screen at times. I did mention that they could also check out the pictures later, here on Moon Chase, because I would make the presentation publicly viewable.

The fans who attended my panel seemed to enjoy it and find it interesting, so that was good. I was glad that at least some fans were able to enjoy the presentation, even though it wasn’t shown in the best format. That part of it worked out for me in a way, but it did not work out for others who needed A/V for their panels.

After that, I took the laptop back over to the coat check room and returned it to Jax.

Note that by this time I had walked into the coat check room at least three times without ever being stopped. I say this because there were serious security issues with the coat check exposed later. I’m not going to steal someone’s stuff from the coat check, but I should have never — not even once — been able to walk all the way to the back of the room without even being questioned. That is unacceptable. Things seemed to be neatly organized on tables at the beginning of the day, but I found out later via their Facebook page that the coat check was in extreme disarray later on and a young girl was crying because somebody stole her coat. IN THE MIDDLE OF WINTER, SOME JERK STOLE A GIRL’S COAT AT THIS CONVENTION.

That post has since been hidden from the FrostCon Facebook page, I can only assume because they were embarrassed and wanted to cover it up. But here’s the picture of what the coat check looked like by the end of the end of the day (picture by an attendee who chose to remain anonymous on the forum I linked above):


Back to where I was in the afternoon of FrostCon…

I thanked Jax for her efforts and spent the rest of the day trying to find food nearby (a map of places to eat nearby would have been nice), attending panels, checking out the artists and dealers, and chatting with representatives of a few other conventions. The selection of artists and dealers were pretty good for an event of this size, although I was surprised to see no dealers selling manga. For a small dealers’ room, it was a good variety and the items were good quality.

By mid afternoon, the crowd had grown and the Sheraton had decided to disable the down escalator. They turned it off, blocked it, and had an irritable Sheraton staff member standing in front of it barking at people to use the stairs. I used the elevator instead. Thankfully nobody tried to stop me from doing so.

I encountered multiple problems trying to take the elevator back up to street level when I needed to because convention attendees kept blocking the path leading to the elevator doors. This is NOT acceptable. There should always be access to elevators, with a clear path for wheelchair users, strollers, and anyone else with mobility issues. Convention staff and Sheraton staff were both very negligent about this. This alone makes this convention difficult to attend for anyone with mobility issues. I noticed at least one attendee using a walker and it must have been a nightmare for her to navigate around.

Also, in a decision apparently made by the Sheraton, all FrostCon attendees were corralled onto the lower floor, which led to overcrowding issues. Again, this could have been managed better by convention staff as well as Sheraton staff. Crowd control is very important when you have large numbers of people in an area like that. There should have been people ensuring clear access to elevators and stairs at all times and there should have been people ensuring that doors were not blocked and that lines to go into the main room were not blocking the tables of people there trying to either sell goods or promote events. Also, there should have been better communication in advance that people would need to leave the convention floor for photoshoots and the like, in order to limit the overcrowding on the convention floor.

I know that was long, so if you don’t want to read through all that and you’d like to get to the short of it…

Here are a few pictures I took of the crowds. I didn’t manage to get better pictures of the elevator in picture 2 being blocked or any pictures of the women’s bathroom door being blocked on the lower level.

Here are the problems in a nutshell:

  • Extremely poor organization shown by convention organizers, with programming decided shortly before the convention.
  • No advance notice given to panelists that their panels were approved — contacting panelists DIRECTLY is essential. Posting a schedule on your Facebook page is an extremely unprofessional way to share an unconfirmed schedule and you can’t rely on panelists actually seeing that.
  • Programming posted only a week before the convention.
  • Programming not posted on their website, only on their Facebook page.
  • Programming not available in a printed format that attendees could carry with them at the event.
  • Maps not available at the event — not even digitally.
  • No crowd control.
  • Poor security at the paid coat check.
  • No badge check in any rooms.
  • Unprofessional staff making offhand, condescending remarks about the lack of equipment that was promised in advance.
  • Poor mobility access.
  • Poor coordination with the venue to ensure safety measures were in place (including disabling escalators as needed) and that convention attendees would not accidentally wander into an area dedicated to another event running the same day.
  • Lack of signage — no signs for registration, no wayfinding signs directing people to the convention floor.


Acknowledgements byFrostCon staff of some of the issues (emphasis mine):

We would like to thank all our attendees, artists, vendors, guests and volunteers for making this our BEST YEAR EVER! We are so glad you were able to come out and celebrate geeks and cosplay with us at FrostCon 3.0. We hope to continue to gain your trust and support as we grow.

We would like to take this time to address two areas that we need to improve on. We want to assure you that we hear you and we take providing you with the best possible experience very seriously.

FrostCon would like to assure you that moving forward we will take steps to ensure we provide you with a professional and organized coat check, we realize we bit off more than we could chew, and we are very sorry for the long wait some of you endured while your gear was located.

Also we would like to apologize again for the tech mix up, we are taking steps to ensure that moving forward FrostCon has an onsite tech crew and a head technician to deal with making sure all our needs are met and on a timely course.

Again we want to thank you for coming out and geeking it up with us!

FrostCon Team

Posted by FrostCon on Tuesday, February 3, 2015


  • Staff lounge should be a separate room not easily accessible by the average attendee.
  • Coat check needs better security in place. NOBODY should be able to wander around in there without being escorted. (and I’m not the only one who thinks so)
  • Crowd control is important. Multiple times I saw staff members standing around looking bored and doing nothing about the crowds around them. Even when those crowds were blocking elevators or bathroom doors. (overcrowding and/or blocking halls, rooms, and stairwells is against their policies — elevators and escalators should be added in here too — but nothing was ever done by staff to control it)
  • For a convention heavily focused on cosplay, there should be dedicated areas for cosplay photography. It is bad for traffic flow when people take pictures of cosplayers in the middle of crowded areas, especially the dealers’ room and hallways.
  • Printed programs, maps of the venue, and maps of places to eat nearby would be extremely helpful. These can be done cheaply — even a single letter sized sheet, double-sided and photocopied would suffice, at a minimum including scheduling, hours, and a map of the venue. You know what else would be great? QR codes that people could scan to save this stuff on their phones. It’s really easy to make QR codes. Or use a Guidebook app like other conventions. My point is that it should be easier for attendees to get information in print as well as digitally. Panel attendance was low, partly because people didn’t know what events were going on.
  • Mobility access may seem to affect a minority, but it is important to make your event accessible to a wide range of people. Paths to elevators should be taped off and staff should ensure that nobody blocks elevators (for persons with mobility issues) and that nobody blocks stairways (for safety reasons).
  • Staff needs to maintain a professional attitude with the public. Condescending remarks are not conducive to a positive convention environment. Every attendee, media rep, and guest should be treated with respect (also, fellow staff members and volunteers should be treated with respect).
  • Never, ever attempt to run A/V panels and presentations if you are unwilling to actually rent the equipment in advance. It is extremely inconsiderate to panelists and guests when you do this. I actually saw one of the guests was so upset that she couldn’t do her presentation on a projector that she cut her panel time to 20 minutes (when it was originally going to be an hour), suggested people take a look at the presentation at her booth, and spent most of the time at her table looking really disappointed. The organizers should be EMBARRASSED that they handled this so poorly for the guests. at the very least they should have rented a projector for the guests.
  • Cross-post content and update your website! The schedule should have been on the website, how did that slip through?
  • Constantly be available to people making inquiries. If you have a problem with your email client, get it fixed as soon as possible. Not responding is not okay. I had to send out inquires THREE WAYS before I even reached a person to talk to about concerns for equipment for my presentation. That should never happen.
  • If something goes wrong, tell people. When the decision was made to not have A/V equipment, everyone who wanted to have an A/V panel should have been notified immediately. No excuses. You have contact information for all panelists and guests, you should notify them. This is exactly where an email using the BCC field would have been appropriate.
  • Choose a different venue, or at least a different floor. Being on a floor below street level is not good for large crowds. This can potentially become hazardous if there is a fire or some other accident when crowds are not being managed. Give yourself more options for a safe environment for staff and attendees. If that is the only option at that venue with the space you need, consider a different venue.
  • Signs need to be posted! There should be signs directing people to registration and weapons check. The registration/info desk should also be clearly marked with a sign.
  • ALL STAFF AND VOLUNTEERS should be aware of key information such as where to register for specific kinds of passes. It shouldn’t take asking more than two people to find the right desk. Everyone at the info/registration desk should know who has what information and exactly which passes are available and what restrictions may apply to any passes.

All in all, I would NOT recommend attending FrostCon for most people. If you want to cosplay and hang out with your friends, or if you want to take photos of cosplayers, those are about the only good things going for it — but those strengths are from the attendees, not the organizers. the artists and dealers were fairly good, for the small selection of them, but again — those strengths are not from the organizers.

Until they address and fix some serious issues, I will be skipping this one in future.

And I’m not the only one with complaints (note that complaints have been removed from their Facebook page unless they are reviews — which cannot be hidden):

Check out more complaints in this thread on Warosu. Note that there is some NSFW language and it turns into trolling and personal attacks by the end. Also note that Antonio jumps in and complains about the personal comments but largely ignores the comments about the convention being poorly organized or deflects them and tries to blame others. I don’t agree with personal attacks, but seriously — all of the comments about the convention being poorly run are true, and that’s a problem. Most of the issues are on the onus of FrostCon, so trying to blame all the problems on the Sheraton is dishonest. And gee, thanks for making it so the Sheraton will never want to have an anime convention there ever again because you’ve been publicly making negative comments about their venue.

Here are some of the more specific complaints, in case you don’t want to read the whole thread:

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