The Orlando Manifesto is a document created by the Orlando in 2015 Worldcon Bid Committee and presented to the fannish community to showcase our ideas and what brought our committee together in the spirit and love of Worldcon. We hope you find our philosophy and ideas as exciting as we do! Read on…
The primary purpose of the Orlando in 2015 Bid Committee is to create a model for successfully integrating Worldcon with the new fandoms of the 21st century while remaining true to our fannish traditions.
To accomplish that goal, Worldcon must achieve four objectives:
- Reduce the Cost of Worldcon
- Attract New Members and Appeal to a Wider Audience
- Create an Easier Environment for Dealers and Vendors at Worldcon
- Retain Its Traditions in a Meaningful Manner for the Next Generation of Fandom
The single largest contributing factor to Worldcon’s overall lack of growth is the cost of attending Worldcon. Consider the membership costs of other large genre conventions about the size (or larger) of Worldcon, and compare with the membership cost of Worldcon:
- Dragon*con 2012 – $130 (4 days) – $32.50/day
- CONvergence 2012 – $100 (4 days) – $25/day
- PAX Prime/PAX East 2012 – $65 (3 days) – $21.67/day
- Megacon 2012 – $60 (3 days) – $20/day
- I-CON 2012 – $59 (3 days) – $19.67/day
- Gen Con 2012 – $78 (4 days) – $19.50/day
- Anime Expo 2012 – $75 (4 days) – $18.75/day
- Worldcon 2012 – $230 (5 days) – $44/day
Worldcon’s high price point, compared with other popular genre conventions, is the biggest barrier to potential new members who do not get past the cost of membership to better learn all that Worldcon offers and subsequently suffer “sticker shock”. As membership has generally stagnated, Worldcon increasingly finds itself in a catch-22 situation; it does not raise enough revenue to adequately market itself in ways that would spur growth, which in turn continues to contribute to general stagnation in membership. We know that Worldcon is the world’s Premier Annual Science Fiction event, and has been since 1939. We also know that the list of people who share that view is slowly beginning to dwindle as Worldcon finds it difficult to attract new members in sufficient quantity to replace an aging membership.
Worldcon must lower its membership cost to bring it better in line with its major competitors and more in tune with what the average potential Worldcon member pays when attending other genre conventions. Simply justifying the high cost through statements such as, “It’s high because it’s Worldcon,” or, “This is how Worldcon has always been,” is unsatisfactory. None of what Worldcon does to attract new members will make any significant difference if potential new members cannot get past the sticker shock of the price of attendance.
In addition, Worldcon is quickly becoming overshadowed by ‘media’ conventions to the point where some individuals who self-identify as fans have never heard of Worldcon or the Hugo Awards. An additional contributor to this problem is that a percentage of the core Worldcon fandom equate reaching out to a new audience with “turning Worldcon into a media con.” This is not the case. One of the main purposes of science fiction conventions has always been to reach out to new members who share our interests and turn them into us, namely fans – who would turn around and continue to pass on the traditions of Worldcon.
To accomplish our first objective, reduce the cost of Worldcon, we have chosen two methods – a general decrease in price across all membership types, and hosting Worldcon at a location that is inexpensive yet maintains the high quality of facilities Worldcon members have come to expect. Note that there are two components to reducing Worldcon cost. Lowering the membership cost but choosing facilties with high costs would cause major problems with cash flow for the Worldcon staff, while choosing inexpensive facilities but maintaining a very high membership cost recycles the sticker shock dilemma. If both costs are not contained and reduced, Worldcon attendance will continue to stagnate.
Our proposed location, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, offers plenty of space for all of the programming and activities associated with Worldcon, and allows the convention to be hosted at a self-contained location. This eliminates spanning numerous hotels with varying degrees of quality and using an expensive convention center that is too costly and too large for Worldcon to properly use.
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort:
- A Disney Property, within the grounds of Walt Disney World, and enjoys all of the amenities associated with a Disney-based vacation (free airport shuttle, free luggage service, free parking, first-class customer service, etc.)
- Has 1,920 rooms at a convention rate of $139/night for up to four people, including 43 party suites and 99 handicap-accessible rooms with amenities such as roll-in showers, closer-to-the-floor thermostats and touch light switches.
- Is built on 15 acres of landscaped grounds that incorporates several pools, a lake (with boating) and several restaurants.
- Function space with over 45 individual breakout rooms (some dedicated, others with air walls) and an 86,000 square foot (7,990 square meter) carpeted exhibit hall.
- Meets (and exceeds) all requirements for ease of access, including extended golf cart shuttling around the single-level facility.
- Serviced by public transportation on Disney grounds that provides access to all Walt Disney World and the greater Orlando area.
- Has enormous overflow hotel capacity across the entire range of pricing (budget to luxury).
- Is filled with restaurants and entertainment activities of all kinds in the immediate vicinity and adequately serviced by public transportation and free Disney transportation.
- Is a facility in a ‘right-to-work state’: dealers will not have to use union help for loading, unloading, setup or electrical connections.
In addition, Orlando itself offers incentive to the regular (and prospective) Worldcon member:
- Lower than average roundtrip airfare (currently Boston – Orlando as low as $114; from Los Angeles $134; from London $541)
- Easy to fly in to both nationally and internationally (71 direct domestic flights and 19 direct international flights).
- Largest rental car market in the entire world
- The largest concentration of theme, water, and amusement parks in the entire world (Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld, Legoland Florida, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Discovery Cove, Gatorland, Wet ‘n Wild, Aquatica, Holy Land Experience, Adventure Island, Fun Spot USA, and more)
- Unique experiences (Kennedy Space Center, I-FLY Indoor Skydiving, Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens, Orlando Science Center, Cornell Fine Arts Museum, Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba, Blue Man Group, Ripley’s Believe it or Not Orlando Odditorium, The Richard Petty Driving Experience, Bok Tower Gardens, Titantic – The Experience, Orlando Wetlands Park, and much more)
As with any member-driven organization, Worldcon must continually reach out to potential new members to keep its lifeblood pumping. While lowering costs all around will be an incentive to new members, to better accomplish our second objective, attract new members and appeal to a wider audience, we have chosen several methods. First, we will work our Worldcon around the theme of Science Fiction is Bigger Than You Think!
The theme for Orlando’s Worldcon – Science Fiction is Bigger Than You Think! – was chosen because it reflects the true nature of today’s science fiction. Science fiction exists everywhere in today’s culture and is where many fans are found. Movies, television, video games, anime, comics, toys, etc., are all rife with prominent science fiction properties. Science fiction (and related) genres dominate the list of top grossing films. Several of the most popular televisions shows on today are science fiction related and the top selling video games are science fiction and fantasy based.
Worldcon is the perfect vehicle for traditional fandom to recapture the fannish market. Hugo Gernsback, the Father of Science Fiction, once described science fiction as ‘sugar coating for science’. Orlando will use Worldcon as ‘sugar coating for fandom.’ The basic formula is to popularize the convention when promoting it to potential new members by including programming, media and personalities that they are familiar with, while at the same time presenting those items in a fashion that stresses fannish tradition and the ways in which their interests are tied to, and have their roots in, traditional fandom.
Examples of that strategy in action include:
- Guests of Honor. In seeking our GoHs, we will search for authors who have ties to a wide variety of science fiction formats and a grounding in, and relationship with, traditional fandom, while retaining the tradition of long service to the field. This could be someone whose work has been reproduced as film, TV, games, comics, etc.
- Other Guests. “Ambassador Guests”, created as a new class of guest, that are chosen for their connections to both traditional fandom and newer media. Worthy individuals who have both a traditional fannish background and ties to new media will be advertised as “Ambassadors” to the convention and used as a draw within a variety of fannish communities (anime fandom, gaming fandom, comic fandom, etc.)
- Theme. Our theme - Science Fiction is Bigger Than You Think! - was chosen to show that the genre is big enough to encompass any and every expression of science fiction within our culture. The key to incorporating this theme is to ensure that program items incorporate three elements during the presentation: the historical connection to fandom, its ties to the traditions of fandom, and how it is representative of science fiction within our culture.
- Traditional Elements. The History of Science Fiction, Fan History, First Fandom, Filking, Costuming, WSFS, the Business Meeting and the Hugo Awards, as well as special exhibits, will be well-represented with both separate permanent function space and program items. Each of these items will have components that communicate their ties to history, fandom and science fiction in our culture.
- Targeted Program Items. A series of program track items will be scheduled that present science fiction, fandom and Worldcon in an introductory manner, while another series of programs will serve as introductions to a variety of different expressions of science fiction, such as Introduction and History of Science Fiction on Television; Introduction and History of Science Fiction in Video Gaming; Introduction and History of Science Fiction in Comics. Each item in this track will serve as both an introduction to science fiction’s impact on new media for traditional fans and its connection to fandom for new fans.
We have designed several other programs that will serve to attract new members and appeal to a wider audience, enhance the convention experience for veteran Worldcon members, and also serve as marketing draws and/or steps in the direction of ‘modernizing’ Worldcon. They include two new membership types (Virtual Membership and First Time Attending Membership), and a greater electronic presence at Worldcon.
We will offer a “Virtual Membership” to Worldcon which will greatly expand the level of participation in Worldcon. One example of how this type of membership would increase Worldcon participation is the Hugo Awards. As most are aware, a Supporting Membership to Worldcon includes the right to nominate and vote for the Hugo Awards. In order to grow the community that cares about the award (and everything else fannish), we need to entice fans to participate. Fandom equals participation. Fans participate because they care, and they will vote for awards they care about. However, many who identify as fans don’t know about the Hugos and their storied history, and we will give them a chance to appreciate these awards and care about participation in them.
One way to “make people care” is to give them a taste – while barring them from the actual activity. Virtually everyone can afford a nose-bleed seat at a baseball stadium; however, they can also see the box seats that afford a better view of the game. Every fan always wants to be in the box seats; in the case of Worldcon, striving to participate in Worldcon and the Hugo Awards voting and always wishing that they could, even if they can’t always afford it. The Virtual Membership is designed with that goal in mind. For a small fee added onto the Supporting Membership price, a member will be able to view portions of the convention online in real time via streaming video feeds. This will also include programming items such as interactive interviews with guests of honor, pre-Hugo and post-Hugo ceremony shows, and a post-Masquerade show among other ideas. We will also set up online chat rooms tied to the various video feeds of the programming rooms to allow Virtual Members a greater opportunity to participate both amongst themselves and in the at-convention discussion.
First Time Attending Membership
As stated earlier, the biggest hurdle to overcome for growing Worldcon membership is the initial sticker shock of the price of Attending Membership. Another method we will use to help reach new members is the First Time Attending Membership. If a person has never attended Worldcon in the past, they will be able to attend at a reduced rate from the regular Attending Membership. Applicants would be evaluated against not only a list of members created from Worldcon attendance lists available as an electronic database, but also vetted through a group of long-time Worldcon members to ensure the applicants have never attended Worldcon before. Attending members receiving this benefit would be expected to prepare a report (similar to that prepared by TAFF & DUFF winners) and would also be expected to attend a minimum number of events at the convention such as opening ceremonies, select panels, the Hugo Awards Ceremony and other items deemed by the community to be important to the overall Worldcon experience.
A Greater Electronic Presence
As the World Science Fiction Convention, we need to be constantly on the cutting edge of technology, utilizing it to its fullest extent for the benefit of our membership. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort is equipped with a state-of-the-art mixing and editing studio and has a very robust on-site free wi-fi network, both of which we will use to the fullest extent. One way to do that is to expand the Worldcon at-con newsletter department into what we call the ‘Worldcon News Network’. With a small amount of effort, the department can not only publish a newsletter at-con and on the web (as it already does), but provide live webcast news through concepts previously mentioned like a pre and post Hugo Awards show, specials interviews with the Guests of Honor and other individuals, post-Masquerade show, and others.
Another way to increase the electronic presence at Worldcon is through the Information Desk. With nearly every single member nowadays owning a mobile phone, and more and more owning laptops, netbooks, and tablets, Worldcon needs to make use of that to the fullest extent. We will wire-in the Information Desk to allow anyone the opportunity to inquire about any Worldcon information they need to know, whether by phone call, text, or online chat. In addition, we will encourage all Worldcon members to follow our Worldcon via Twitter, and use Twitter as one means of many to update membership in real time about any at-con information, such as panel cancellations or Guest of Honor signings.
QR codes will be used on-site on all physical room signs, allowing members to use their mobile devices to scan and quickly view specific details of any individual room or panel, or automatically create an alert to remind them later about the panel they were interested in. QR codes will also be used on Orlando’s Worldcon website for both information purposes and for virtual storefronts of Worldcon merchandise.
Augmented reality applications such as Layar (www.layar.com) will be used for printed publications like the Worldcon Souvenir Guide and the at-convention newsletter to expand the level of interactivity and provide even more information that the printed page can give.
Second screen technology will be used during major Worldcon events, such as the Hugo Awards ceremony and the Masquerade, to provide additional real-time information during the event in question while also increasing interactivity between audience and event through live social networking.
Apps such as Guidebook (www.guidebook.com) will be used with tablets and smart phones to coordinate all these efforts with information dissemination such as interactive and personalized program schedules, mapping, geolocating, and other alerts, as well as utilizing programs such as Twitter and GroupMe (www.groupme.com) for at-con real time information updates.
With the rise of the Internet, the traditional Worldcon Dealers Room is no longer the only place to find rare fannish items. This has had the effect of diminishing returns for those who come to Worldcon as dealers. To further our goal of bringing a wider potential audience to the Worldcon, we have decided to provide the Dealers Room, Art Exhibit, Worldcon Exhibits, Tabletop Gaming and a few other activities on an Open to the Public, Free Admission basis. This will attract persons with perhaps only a casual interest in the Worldcon to the commercial and display areas of the convention. This will increase foot traffic and exposure to the dealers, artists, and publishers whose participation in Worldcon depends on their commercial success. Our layout provides excellent traffic flow and security control with a single choke point for internal access to the rest of the convention with a Worldcon badge.
Day passes will be offered on-site near the Dealers Room as a secondary registration area for those persons who were drawn to Worldcon via the free admission and wish to see the rest of the convention. Our goal here is to allow the largest possible traffic flow to commercial interests, while at the same time using them as a draw for day passes and as an additional method for exposing new fans to Worldcon. The Orlando Convention & Visitor’s Bureau will be contacted and utilized to assist in publicizing the free admission nature of the trade show, art show and exhibits at the convention. Disney has also offered to provide assistance in this area.
One particular area that would be accessible to all attendees would be a special small press area within the Dealer’s Room. We will show our support by acknowledging how the science fiction community – both readers and authors – have come to rely more and more on small press over the years by arranging a ‘small press area’ within the Dealers Room. We are still formulating the details on how this will be implemented, but currently our ideas include: additional display areas for their wares, grouping to reduce direct competition and program items that draw attention to them.
Elements of the program have been mentioned previously. In addition to the ‘special tracks’ already detailed, the Committee plans to offer comprehensive programming similar to previous Worldcons with sections devoted to:
- Theme-based (Military SF/Space Opera/New/Weird)
- Special Interest Groups
- Kaffeeklatsches/walks/beer & other beverage tastings
- Space Programs
- Disney & Imagineering
- Hugos & Other Awards
Additionally, other traditional items will be scheduled appropriately including:
- Opening Ceremonies
- The Masquerade
- Award Nominees Reception/Dinner
- Award Ceremony
- Guest of Honor related items
- Fan Guest of Honor related items
- Con Suite activities
- Children’s & Youth Programming
- First Fandom Programming/Special Events
- Fanzine Fandom & Special Events
Traditional methods of marketing will be used to promote the convention within traditional fannish circles. These include such items as advertising in program books, fan tables at conventions, parties at Worldcons pre-2015.
It will also use available social networks (Facebook, Livejournal, Linkedin) for additional no-cost/low-cost reach.
Promotion of the event will rely heavily on the desirability and convenience of the facility and on the relatively low cost (when compared to other Worldcons). The Committee also hopes to be able to provide discounted entertainment packages not only in conjunction with Disney, but with other locations such as Universal Orlando and Sea World as an additional benefit. The Committee also plans to leverage free and or low-cost marketing programs to reach out to newer communities, particularly in those regions most likely to travel to Worldcon.
For example, Florida and Texas both have large and robust genre conventions circuits and both regions are within reasonable drive-time of Orlando (as well as, in the case of Texas, having numerous, relatively inexpensive flights from Dallas/Ft Worth, Austin, San Antonio and Houston into Orlando).
These locations will be marketed to aggressively – particularly Texas during the roll-up to LoneStarCon3 in 2013 – through their conventions, their websites and their publications, with tables, ads and fact items designed to present Worldcon as the kind of event they ought to be attending.
The Bid Committee, as of March 31st, 2013, consists of the following individuals:
Bid Chair Adam Beaton
Colette H. Fozard
Bettina M. Kurkoski
The Chairman for the Convention will be Adam Beaton. Full bios for the committee members can be found here: http://www.orlandoin2015.org/about-our-bid/bid-committee-2/
Maps and facts of the facility can be located here: http://www.orlandoin2015.org/facilities/#quickfacts
To contact the committee: email@example.com
Thank you for your time in reading our Manifesto. We hope this document helps to underscore our love of Worldcon, demonstrate our competency in convention running, and showcase our overall plan for running Worldcon for you, the fabulous members who make Worldcon the premier event of the fannish calendar.