So You Want To Participate In a Comic Con Abroad: Part II
By Sonise Lumbaca
Last issue, we covered the things you might want to consider when traveling abroad to a Comic Con; everything from getting a passport, to booking a flight. This issue we will go over some more important steps to consider as you prepare to travel abroad. As mentioned in last month’s article, these considerations aren’t the end all be all answers, nor are written in stone, they can be quite insightful and provide some great planning options. Like the previous article, the information we impart in this issue on Comic Con participation abroad, will continue to occur in a series of subsequent articles, and is targeted towards Artist Alley participants; but there is plenty to pull from here for cosplayers, vendors and other types of participants who wish to pursue their adventures at Comic Cons abroad.
So now that you know which Comic Con you intend on going to, and you have your flight locked in. What’s next? We had previously touched slightly on transportation once in country and would like to address it a little more along with lodging, since besides your flight, these portions of your travel tends to be a big part of your budget. Remember, there are opportunities where you can bundle your flight, hotel and rental car for a discounted price, but sometimes that option is not available. Hotels can be quite pricey, especially depending on the country you are traveling to. The good news is that there are a variety of places to lay your head at night. You can either choose from a regular hotel (perhaps a franchise you are familiar with), Airbnb lodging (which can be inexpensive and where you can get more space for less money), or stay at a hostel. Some people are squeamish about hostel communal living, but if you research in detail, you may find one that is very accommodating to your lifestyle; and then there are the concerns of theft. Well, speaking from experience, many hostels have changed over the years and provide various means for storage and securing your personal items. Plus, they continue to be the most economically feasible means compared to hotels and Airbnbs. So, if you are not concerned with where you are sleeping since most of your time will be at the convention and exploring the city, a hostel may just be the right place for you. The choice is yours!
Transportation is important depending on where you intend to sleep. Sometimes based on the city that is hosting the event, public transportation may not be easily accessible, this is why conducting a reconnaissance of the locale is important. You need to know just how far you will be away from the venue. You also need to consider the logistics of transporting your convention merchandise, artwork, and or costume (especially if it is elaborate); but we will touch on that a bit later. The more items you have and the closer to the venue and city center you are, chances are, the more costly it will be. Lodging, regardless of the type you use, tends to be less expensive the further away you are. Taxi service can add up over time and unexpectedly exhaust your budget quickly. This is why putting consideration into hiring a rental car may be in your best interest. You may be fortunate enough to find inexpensive lodging in walking distance or a few bus and or train stops away. If this is the case, then great; if not consider the options I mentioned. Regardless, you should look at your budget, things you have to transport daily to and from the convention, and then determine what works best for you. Which brings us to what convention related items you might want to consider bringing when traveling abroad.
You may want to bring everything in your arsenal of artistry, merchandise and costumes; especially because you think this is a great opportunity to test out these items in the foreign market in one swooping event. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring everything all at once and see what your new audience likes and then adjust from there for your next con-travel abroad? Well, going this route can become quite costly. Considering how many airlines are becoming unreasonable with carry-on limitations and checked baggage pricing, you could spend hundreds, even thousands on baggage fees based on weight alone. Plus, for each additional suitcase, the cost to transport it is extra. Since this is your first Comic Con abroad and you may not fully understand what you are getting into (you may not end up liking the event) why not be a bit conservative in your approach? Then if you really enjoy the experience, next year you will already know what to expect and therefore can plan accordingly; even bring more items than previous.
Some items you may definitely want to consider bringing this first trip with regard to merchandise are the smaller and easily transportable ones like stickers, small posters, key chains and other like items. Or you may also want to limit your merchandise to your stateside bestselling items and see how well they sell abroad. If your bestselling items are large or weigh a lot, consider bringing only a few of them and see if they sellout abroad. Then you will have an idea of what to bring next time. And don’t forget, you can always just bring samples and take orders (building a subscriber list once at the Comic Con may be a good thing to do at this point- but keep in mind shipping merchandise abroad may be subject to taxes and tariffs, so do some homework).
The next set of items you want to plan on bringing are what we will call your creative producing items like your laptop and or artist pad, sketch books, and manual drawing devices like pencils and markers. These items being straight forward and simple enough may not be a challenge to bring. They are important to have on hand especially if you registered your participation at the Comic Con for Artist Alley (you may want to even consider packing these items in your carry-on baggage so that if your checked baggage gets lost, you will at least have these items on you). Similar to stateside Comic Cons, Artist Alley has rules, requirements and distinctions from participating as a vendor. Likewise, participation as an artist versus as a usually vendor costs more. Some even use exhibitor interchangeably with either artist or vendor. So, make sure that if you are participating as an artist, you follow the Artist Alley rules, and if you are there as a vendor to sell unrelated artist merchandise, you do the same. Each Comic Con in most cases make this distinction clear. If you are having problems determining what type of participant you are, contact the promoters to get clarification.
Finally, you should put deep consideration into the type of costume you intend on bringing with you. You of course don’t need to bring a costume, but if you are going to go big and venture abroad, why not go in cosplay? But in making this decision, ask yourself the following questions:
· Are you infamous for wearing a particular costume throughout the cosplay community? If this is the case, it is probably important that you maintain your brand abroad as well.
· Is your costume large and requires its own suitcase? If this is the case, chances are you will need to calculate transportation of it into your budget.
· Does it even matter what type of costume you are wearing since for this first trip abroad you are focusing on the experience? If this is the case, consider going for something small like a one-piece costume that folds up small enough to fit in a pocket of your carry-on (if your checked baggage get lost, at least you will have your costume with you).
· Is there a location in the convention center where you can comfortably change into your costume, or will you travel from your lodging there already dressed up? Just a few considerations to think of.
Tune in next month for the conclusion of this series where I will go over some considerations for selling merchandise abroad at Comic Cons like charging and payment devices, some last minutes details you shouldn’t overlook (like international plug adapters for your electronic devices or currency exchange considerations), and much more. See you next month and thanks for stopping by!
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