Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Thoughts On Triples...

Okay, I did say I'd say more on the conversations I've had with gamers, traders and members of the public regarding Triples and the reasons for it's decline and eventual demise. So here's a brief overview of some salient points which have cropped up...

The one thing that I have heard over the last few years and again in the last week, is the belief that the show organisers didn't listen.

That's perhaps a little over simplistic, but to a degree, I would concur. I think the 'deafness' is a byproduct of still envisioning a world where nothing has changed since the heyday of the show and that we still live in a world where 'build it and they will come' is a valid business plan.

It isn't

The show going public do still enjoy all of the classic 'features' of a show, but they are also a lot more aware that they are paying to be entertained, not merely to fill the hosts coffers with a somewhat random hotchpotch of traders, based on who hands over the money first.

In recent years there has been a decrease in the number of 'big name' companies attending the show, and a spate of somewhat scrappy 'Mom & Pop' operations selling second hand tat or frankly, piss poor terrain and scenics.

Attendees want to be able to get the best, and if a show does not attract the best, they will in all likelihood, not want to pay to get into a glorified flea market.

Bring & buy stalls are a constant favourite - when they are done properly. When they are run by a collective of second hand dealers seeking to use the stall as a way to offload tat whilst being perceived (rightly or wrongly) by the public to be skimming the best for sale on eBay and at other more lucrative shows, it is bund to engender some ill feeling. In fact, when you have a trader getting a LARGE area for a fraction of the cost of the same space booked in the main halls as a de facto trader, you are going to have some pissed off traders at your show, and rightly so when 60% of the stuff on sale is 'stock' and not items being sold by the public. I've had this discussion many times in the last 5 years or so, and I wholeheartedly agree.

The bring and buy should exist to allow those who have paid to get into the show, to sell unwanted stuff and ideally spend the money they have made at the show. When the b&b fails in that basic function it becomes an irrelevance.

'Traders are idiots.' - This was said to me directly a few years ago, and then and now, it pisses me off no end, as it does those I've talked it over with.

Traders are not idiots. If they are moaning or constantly checking up on something, then they will probably have a good reason. It may not seem to be a good reason to you the organiser, but frankly if they are giving you money and you are accepting it, then you should try as hard as possible to give them a positive impression and experience, and no matter how they might get under your skin, you should be business like.

'It's not a business' - This is another phrase I have heard a couple of times. Au fucking contraire! If you are running a commercial venture as large and as expensive as a major wargames show, then like it or not, you have to treat it exactly like a business, because the majority of those people paying for stands are themselves businesses, and those paying to get in expect a professional approach. Listen to the people who raise points and complaints because the chances are they are at more shows than the one you run, and the shows which look after them and treat them as valued are the shows which will succeed. Odd coincidence isn't it?

Staffing... Well, simply put, a club should have a guaranteed 'workforce' there to assist at the start and end of the show. I recall in 2013 on Sunday at 17:30 the organisers had largely all left, leaving traders to pack down and manage egress unassisted. Back to the 'business' quote again...


P.R and media savvy shows thrive. Those which don't look further than a magazine advert and/or flyers at other shows are heading for trouble. Local and national media if approached and handled properly are tremendous sources of footfall. Similarly if you make newcomers feel welcome and at ease, you can get some good press. Just because you are too fucking hung over from a piss up the night before, doesn't mean you should ignore the 'charm offensive'. Likewise, if you have club members willing to do the whole 'meet, great and smile sweet', don't for fuck's sake deride their efforts and then later in the year at your AGM, have the audacity to take the credit for something you played no part in. That is poor form and moreover disingenuous.

Aim to showcase the best games possible.

Unless you are a show catering for a specific sub group of gamers, embrace the best of everything, be it fantasy, sci-fi or historical. Don't sneer about 'Space Goblins' or make comments about your show being a 'proper wargames show'. If you advertise a s a 'historical wargames show', fair enough, but if not - SHUT UP! At the end of the day the content of the show exists for the enjoyment of the paying attendees, not your club. If you do this right and people have a great experience, then your club will get lots of money to spend in whatever way it chooses, but for those two days, you are there to serve the customer, not yourself. 

If you cover your costs and make a profit to the point that you could for instance, run a show for 3 years without going into the red, perhaps promote the show, by charging £1 entry for a year. Word will get around and you will get a loyal following and some seriously good press.

Britcon is a brilliant example of how and whom to charge for what.

If you have a trader, who is going to take a large stand area, but whom asks if they could have their display game close to the stand, don't tell them that you can't oblige them and then allow a company you think of as 'mates' to do just that. This has happened and the trader in question has never been back to the show in question since.

Don't stifle internal criticism. There are people in any club who can see things that perhaps those 'in charge' cannot, or who perhaps, keep eyes and ears open, or simply give a damn about their club or show. Making them outcasts for speaking out is counter productive and churlish, doubly so when the sam people doing castigating refer to attendees and traders of the show in far from polite terms.

When someone does say something, don't wait five or ten years to act on it and then start pointing fingers when your procrastination and general half assed attitude screws the pooch. It's no good waiting ten years to return to 'your' show date, expecting it not to have been taken over by other shows who can see an opportunity for growth and success.

'The show will cost the same for two days as one' should no longer be seen as a reason to actually have a two day show. In recent years traders at Triples have repeatedly remarked that the costs of attending a two day show are prohibitive and in several cases they have voted with their feet. Again, those traders rely on their business acumen every day, not just 2 days in every year. Listen to them, because as sure as hell, they would most certainly attend a two day show if they made money. Point in case, Vapnartak is a one day show and it's rammed with trade and public, and this makes for a truly vibrant show with lots of smiles and money flowing.

Then there's advance ticketing, online/electronic payment, fast and professional communications and engagement. I could probably go into these in great detail, but you may gather that these have all been sadly lacking with regards to Triples, and this has got right up the nose of some folk.

I'll not even go into the subject of members getting involved in public and abusive rants at people who make valid comments. There have been a couple of very notable exchanges on a couple of wargames forum type sites. 

Anyway, it's getting late, and I need to do a few more chores here at the Dark Tower before bed.

Suffice to say, it appears that the time for Triples to fade into the West, was indeed right.


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