Dragonmeet From a Business P.o.V.

Dragonmeet is London’s premier (only?) gaming convention. It attracts some 700+ people to the Kensington Town Hall in central London for one day of gaming and shopping in equal measure. The large trade hall contained about twenty different traders, from familiar names such as Mongoose and Pelgrane Press to smaller publishers such as Arion Games and 6d6.

There was also a fair amount of space given over to gaming. There were over forty tables and two gaming sessions available. The morning games were well attended though the afternoon games less so. Unfortunately, the nature of one-day cons is that sign-up for these games turns into a bit of a scrum as everyone rush to the boards once the doors are opened.

Dragonmeet had kindly supplied us with two demo tables for our games. One just in-front of our trade stand which we used for our RPG demonstrations and one in the outer-hall for 6d6 Shootouts. To run the demos and help man the trade table I had the 6d6 Crew with me in the shape of Ben ‘X-Humed’ Jackson, Phay Valentine, Kieran Kowalski and Sonny Johol.

What Did It Cost?

London is expensive so our costs were always going to high for this con. Having investigated rail fares, the cheapest way to get me and several other people down was in a car. This meant hiring a suitable sized car and paying exorbitant car-parking fees but is was still cheaper than the train (which says a lot about the UK rail network). Luckily Sonny has access to free rail travel so he could come down in addition to the already full car.

Item

Cost
Table £100
Additional Trade Badges £12
Hire Car £71.96
Fuel £40
Parking £40
Food etc £5
Tube Fare £6.60
Donation to Charity Auction £10
£284.96

What Did We Sell?

One-day conventions have the upsides and downsides. The big plus about them is that people come to send money. About 50% of the people at the con have come to shop and are not planning to play any games so there is a lot of potential revenue walking around the trade hall. The downside for companies like 6d6 is that you have a lot less time to make the sale.

With multi-day cons, you can work on people over the entire weekend. A quick conversation here, a demo there, a chat in the bar and so on all help convert people into customers. At a one-day con, this is not an option. You have to make the sale in the first few minutes of talking to someone because there will be no second chance. This is less of a problem for big traders selling well known brands but for small publishers who have to start from scratch with each person, the lack of time can be a killer.

This is where having the 6d6 Crew really helped because they allowed 6d6 to reach far more people. At a small, weekend convention like Oddcon it is possible for a trader to chat to most of the members at some point. For Dragonmeet, you need multiple people spreading your message.

Item

No. Sold
Mince Pies Hard Copy 3
Library Cards 3
6d6 Core 1
28mm Binder Rings 3

Total value: £149.50

Making Money (or Not)

You do not need to be a mathematical genius to see that we spent a lot more than we made, even before factoring in the cost of the goods sold. But could I have made a profit at Dragonmeet?

Assuming I have an average 30% profit margin on my goods the maths for Dragonmeet would be.

  • £149.50 sold = product costs of £104.65 and £44.85 profit
  • To pay for the convention’s costs of £284.96 I would need to sell 6.2 times more goods (£278.96 / £44.85).
  • This equates to total sales of £929.86. Effectively £1000 of sales to put £70 in my pocket.
  • My average sale from the last four events has been £24.97 (£449.5/18)
  • Which means I need to make 40 sales, five an hour, to make that £70.

For a publisher of my size, who (effectively) no one has heard of, with only a handful of products in our range, this number of sales is impossible.

What I and every other publisher has to ask about conventions is how much are the other benefits of cons worth paying for? Things such as marketing, advertising, connecting with writers, networking with con-organisers and fellow traders, reinforcing and supporting your existing fan base. It is impossible to put a price on these.

The flip side, is that unless these non-financial benefits turn into increased sales and financial gain at some point, there simply isn’t enough cash in hand to pay for the next convention. This makes deciding whether a particular convention is worth doing a complicated question and each publisher has to make their own call about each con.

Bottom Line

Was it worth it? Dragonmeet’s central London location attracts a whole bunch of gamers that we will not encounter at others cons. Plus, as a one-day con, there is no accommodation costs which keeps costs down. It is also a pre-Christmas con so customers are more willing to spend money. So over all, I would say yes even if it cost us money.