Behind the Scenes at the SOE Fan Faire
With just over a month left until the big event we thought it would be fun to give you a behind the scenes look at Fan Faire! What goes into planning such a big event you may ask? When do we start? Just how many pallets of stuff are shipped to the event, and how many rolls of shrink wrap does it take to keep everything together? Look no further folks—we have all of the answers right here!
In our quest for insider information we looked to the experts, the Events Team! Three wonderful ladies make up this team: Jen Belfield (Manager, Marketing Services), Lauren Zeiger (Marketing Events Manager) and Dawn Wilson (Marketing Coordinator Services).
Question: How many pallets do we ship to Fan Faire?
Dawn: In general we ship around 25 from the SOE SD campus, however we send several from alternate locations. In total it is close to 50, depending on the size of the equipment that we need to get to Vegas.
Question: How many rolls of shrink wrap does it take to ship all of our items to Fan Faire?
Dawn: Last year we used 4 cases - that is 16 rolls of 1,000 ft shrink :) We did ship a castle though!
The Events Team attends more than 100 meetings throughout the year that involve planning for Fan Faire. These meetings include a weekly team meeting along with a monthly general Events meeting. As we approach Fan Faire that moves to a weekly meeting as well.
Let's not forget Live Quests and Tournament planning!! We caught up with Christie "Kiara" Renzetti and here is what she had to say. "I usually deal with live quests and tournaments, so my planning is limited. Planning a live quest has a lot of challenge to it. You need to plan it just right. It has to be fun and quick, but still have depth and tell a story. You also have to make sure that you don't have bottlenecks that hold people up and slow things down (a mistake I made last year). All in all, it's great to see people enjoy themselves!"
One thing you may not know is we do practice runs for the Live Quests and Tournaments. For Tournaments like the EverQuest Best of the Best, the Community Team logs into the pre-made characters and runs through the tournament. Then we will make changes to the characters based on ssues we may find. The same goes for the Live Quests. This year we've planned the quests so far in advance that we can hold a trial run with the actual quest actors. We will have a chance to practice the puzzles, put together crafts, and make sure the quests run smoothly and within the designated time-frame.
There are also behind-the-scenes aspects of the Phat Lewt Store (or the Station Store). Months in advance, the team is looking for new things to sell in this store. This year we even had a thread up on the Station Forums asking for customer feedback. As we get closer to Fan Faire we must do inventory; doesn't that sound exciting? Before everything is packed up on one of those 25 pallets, every item for the Store is tallied and accounted for. This makes set-up that much easier. Setting up the store at Fan Faire takes a few hours. Merchandise needs to be displayed around all of the tables, in a way that is inviting, and things must be securely stored away in their proper places. We also have to set up the computers and cash register. The last couple of years we've had members of the Accounting Department take care of the store. This obviously makes things much more efficient. After Fan Faire is over on Sunday morning, we have to take inventory again and then pack up. This ensures that all of our ducks are in row and that things tally up as they should on the computers.
Setting up registration and the info desk are just as fun! For registration there are computers to set up, so we can check in fans. We then have to sort through the badges and put them in order. At the Info Desk we set up an assembly line to fill up schwag bags! We also sort t-shirt sizes and arrange them so they can be passed out conveniently.
Don't forget the gaming room! Wow, that's a venture! Before we even get to the show, our IT department makes sure that there is an image to put on the 100-plus computers we will be setting up. In addition to computers in the game room, there are computers in almost every panel room. Each computer must have the proper programs and games installed on it. This process can be very time consuming. The IT department starts early in the day the Wednesday before Fan Faire starts and are usually hard at work right up until the doors of registration open.
We've asked a few folks some Fan Faire questions and here is what they had to say...
Question: What aspect of planning Fan Faire do you find to be the most challenging?
Dawn: For me, the most challenging is making sure that all of the little details are taken care of. Sometimes due to the nature of the event season, we are planning two to three events at the same time. Keeping everything straight is difficult at times. With Fan Faire it is harder because it is 100% our event so we have a hand in every detail. This makes for long nights and even longer weekends—all worth it in the end though.
Draakull: Getting all the moving pieces to go in the right directions. Who is doing what and when. Running the panels and live events. Making sure you don’t overlap events so you can attend them all.
Question: What is the one “behind the scenes” thing that you want attendees to know?
Amnerys: Please don’t be offended if you see one or more of us rush by you at Fan Faire, sternly focused and oblivious to those around us. We’re not trying to be rude, I promise! But we’re all so intricately involved in the execution of the event, that at any given time we might have been asked to run an errand, look for an employee or guest, pass a message, etc. Catch us when we’re standing around at a booth or event, or after a panel, and we’ll be very happy to meet you and assist in any way. :)
Draakull: That this takes planning and effort from offices all over the country. Many long hours with little sleep for days and days all in effort to make sure the fans enjoy their time at the event.
Gordo: We do it all for you.
Dawn: I would want the players to know that we really DO care about the things that matter to them. We always listen to the advice and suggestions and try and incorporate them into our planning for next year.
Greeblen: It literally takes an army of dedicated staff to pull this event off. Everyone works so hard to make sure that our attendees and their guests have a great experience and they do it because they love it.
Question: What do you love most about planning Fan Faire?
Dawn: Because this is 100% an SOE venture I most enjoy the pride we get when we see how happy everyone is with our hard work. We are a small department and at times it is hard to think how we will get everything done for the summer events. When we are there and it looks amazing and everyone is having a great time, it is the best feeling.
Draakull: Making the event as much fun as possible and seeing the excitement build.
That's your behind the scenes look at Fan Faire! We hope you've enjoyed it!
By the way, want to know who is coming to Fan Faire? Check out last week's feature "Who’s coming to Fan Faire?" Speaking of things that go on behind the scenes... We accidentally left a few names off that long list:
Paul "Virrago" Williams - Community
Nathan "Kaitheel" McCall - EQII
Tom "Ttobey" Tobey - EQII