Tuesday 11 August 2015

Nine Worlds - My thoughts and experiences of 2015

So another Nine Worlds is over and done and I've had a day to decompress, reflect and think things through.

Over all my thoughts on this year's con were good. As ever the thing that makes Nine Worlds so great for me were the people. I'm always a bit shy when it comes to meeting new people (those of you who know me at work will laugh at that, but in uncertain terrains it's true) and I tend to just talk to those I know, this year I was determined to overcome my natural defense mechanisms and actually talk to people I hadn't met before. And I did, I met loads of fantastic new people, I stuck up conversations with randoms,  I met new friends, I spoke to one of my all time favourite authors, I even attended the newbie meet up and helped talk to those who were feeling a little overwhelmed by their first con. Go me! The Sunday night was the best night of the con for me as it was great fun just sitting in the bar chatting to friends I knew and friends I'd met over the weekend.

I also made the effort to Cosplay this year, and it was great, the whole atmosphere was very welcoming and relaxed for cos players,  there was none of the pressure you sometimes get, and I really enjoyed it. I went as Catherine Rhoeas-Papaver from Emma Newman's Split Worlds books, and that seemed to go down really well, which was awesome. I even had one lovely lady ask me to sign her books as Cathy which totally made my day. :) 

The photo to the left is me and Emma Newman (Isn't she fab? If you haven't checked our her books you need too! Go on, I'll wait right here...) http://www.splitworlds.com/ 

All the panels I attended were great,  really interesting and varied, at least the ones I could get into were (see niggle 1 below), although a couple did seem a little disorganised this year, they were all really fun. 

There were however 3 main niggles this year for me.

1: Overcrowding, I don't know how ever one else felt,  but to me it felt like a few too many tickets had been sold. Everywhere was busy, 90% of the panels I went too were not just full, but turning people away. There was a lot more queuing this year for things, and those queues were long.

2. Hotel service: (now this one isn't the event's fault, but it was still really annoying) In terms of customer service in the bar and main restaurant there really was none.  Now I will say that on the first night we ate at the Indian restaurant in the Radish on,  and the service there was great, but in the Bijou bar, and the Steak and Lobster bar all I heard about (and experienced) was the terrible service. At one point on the Sunday afternoon we went to the Bijou bar so I could grab some chips. There was no one waiting to order, there was staff at the bar and yet it still took me 15 mins to get served.  I kept getting told they'd be right with me but no apology or reason was given for them taking so long to serve me. I honestly think they were just hoping I'd give up and go away. There were people in the queue behind me equally frustrated.After I got served it then took 45 mins to actually get my chips. After 30 mins I chased them up. After 40 mins a waiter came to ask me for my receipt and admitted they'd forgotten my order. No apology was given. It was frankly astounding. I did hear form others that they had found they got better service if they took their lanyards off, not cool! 

3. And this one us a weird one. The badges: Now I'm a big fan of the 'idea' behind the badges, and last year I felt they were used really well. This year I saw another side to that when I had a bit of a negative experience with someone wearing one.

Let me explain, for those who don't know, that I have Dyspraxia.  As with all things it differs for each a bit, but for me it means my short term memory can be shocking and I can get lost very easily. The Radisson for me is a maze, and several times I ended up sat in the wrong panel. No big deal, usually most people are happy to point me in the right direction (and I will say a very lovely purple vest man walked me all the way to the quiet room on the Thursday when I got a bit lost). But on the Sunday I tried to go to the Historical cocktails panel and got a bit turned around. When I did find the room it was full of people talking, not what I expected from a panel, so I wasn't sure I was in the right room. After standing a bit uncertainly for a few minutes I worked up the courage to ask the lady sat closest to the door if I was in the right place and so I very politely approached her and asked if she could help me and tell me if she was there for the panel. She turned around and glared at me (honestly glared) and then grabbed her lanyard and held her badge up so it was right in my eye line (A red badge obviously) and then turned her back on me.  I  apologised and backed right up but it really upset me.

Now I don't have a "disabled badge,  nor should I need one, at a con like this everyone is usually very friendly. I would never approach someone with a red badge intentionally, but there was no way I could tell from behind that she had one; nor was I trying to strike up a conversation with her, all I was trying to do was ask for a bit of help. I don't know how you solve this one, but for me the badges don't work if you can't see them, even from the front they are too small and easily missed, so maybe we should have coloured lanyards instead, that way they can be seen more easily?

All in all I'd say it was 90% of a great con.

Will we back next year? Not sure yet. I'd definitely like too, but as we are attending Star Wars Celebration in London at the end of July 2016, we will have to see. I've offered to run the Musicals track next year, and if that goes ahead then we'll definitely attend, but if not, I'm currently 50/50, if the venue changes that would make a huge difference (and all the rumours suggest it will) but we will wait and see.

For those interested in attending, here's the link to the Nine Worlds site here. I would definitely recommend it! 

1 comment:

  1. You can call the event organisers to task for the poor food service at the Radisson. The last two Eastercons held there dealt with this by having entirely separate meal arrangements for congoers and this worked well. IMO Nine Worlds don't do enough in this area.