We’re getting ready to go to the AATE (American Association of Theatre Educators) Conference next week. I went for the first time last year.
The first year at a conference is always interesting. You don’t know the people, they don’t know you. You don’t know if they’re buyers or browsers. You don’t know if the year has been great and thus turned browsers into buyers or vice versa.
A change of venue can change a conference’s mood – one group held their conference one year at a very posh resort, which should have been a good thing but everyone was in a foul mood. The next year it was in a high school lobby and every attendee was giddy as a schoolgirl.
You don’t know if you’ve brought enough product or too much. You want to have enough on the table so you look legitimate but not be too crowded that people can’t tell one from the other.
And how do you display the product? On a rack? A spinning rack or some other kind? In piles? In a box? Are some conferences attracted to the rack while others aren’t?
And sometimes you can’t tell if a conference has been successful for six months or more. We went to one where it was incredibly slow and we were determined not to return. But the orders started steadily coming in and we’re already making plans to go back.
It’s all a crap shoot. But a fun one!