How to Become a Convention CON “Artist” 

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How to Become a Convention CON “Artist” 

By: Amy Bean Napier

As association management professionals, participating in conferences for us are setting up registration desks, reviewing the breakfast to ensure there is enough coffee and troubleshooting audio visual issues for a speaker to stream a live colleague from Spain … that he forgot to mention beforehand.  All in hopes that industry professionals and our members find the event exciting enough to participate hopefully with their fellow employees in tow.  And for trade and professional associations, sometimes creating that “excitement” is quite hard.

But during a recent personal vacation, something clicked.  Why not treat our trade association’s conference like a CON event?  Everyone has most likely heard of Comic-Con, the everything comic book convention with events held throughout the world that attracts comic book aficionados and collectors.  There are CON events for gaming enthusiasts (GamiCon), anime fans (AnimeCon), hallmark movie fanatics (ChristmasCon) and even romance book lovers (Steamy Lit Con and BookeryCon) plus many more.  And the best one of all (in my opinion) BravoCon!

I’ve attended all three BravoCon events held during the last five years (thanks COVID for the 2-year hiatus).  As defined by Bravo, BravoCon is an annual fan event celebrating everything Bravo, the cable network focused primarily on reality tv. Any type of reality show you can imagine along with more drama than you can dream of has probably been aired on Bravo. And I love it all!

BravoCon is a must attend for me each year.  I want to participate in as many breakout sessions as possible, learn about and purchase the latest greatest products in the Bravo marketplace, pick up all the materials and freebies offered, meet and interact with the Bravolebrities and maybe most important be around others who understand and embrace everything Bravo like me.

BravoCon, and all Cons I’m assuming, are exciting and fun and something to look forward to all year long.  Our association conferences should be the same for their industry professionals and supporters.  How can we make them more similar?

Build Excitement – excitement comes from all areas of conference planning including theme, venue, onsite swag and even association leaders which we sometimes fail to acknowledge properly.  Andy Cohen is known to all of us fans as the “Daddy of Bravo.”  He’s kind of like our association president and always seems uber-excited to have the Daddy role and title.  I’m not sure if my President (or yours) would want to be called the “Daddy” (or Mommy) of their industry but we could all probably do a much better job at highlighting our board of directors and everything else exciting at our conferences.

Location – BravoCon was held in New York City for the first two events then moved to Las Vegas this past year.  Both awesome places to visit.  Location has always been important in conference planning.  Attendees should look forward to being not only at the conference venue but also staying extra days to explore the city and surrounding area.  Hopefully at the conference hotel with their family and significant others in tow!

Content – During BravoCon, there are many breakout sessions going on all at the same time where I have to decide:

  • Do I want to hear Adrianna drag on Tom Sandoval even more?
  • Should I listen to the cast of Southern Charm rehash whether Taylor and Austin really hooked up?
  • Or should I go and meet the new Real Housewives of New York.

As a Bravo super fan, all these seminars are must-sees and it’s almost impossible to choose (Southern Charm for the win).  Create seminars with content and speakers that your attendees can’t resist.

Camaraderie – My favorite line from all Bravo shows was from Caroline Manzo on Real Housewives of New Jersey saying “We’re as thick as thieves” when talking about her family and friends.  Cons and conferences are the perfect place to be around people with similar interests, careers and knowledge.  Build in time for your attendees and participants to network and create lifelong friendships with those of like mind, jobs and interests.

Fun – BravoCon is three full days of non-stop fun for this Bravo geek.  Make sure your conference is not only educational but also has fun spread throughout the event. This can be in the form of extra events like golf, fishing, tours of local attractions and even happy hours (free drinks!). Participants and attendees should all have some fun while attending your conference.

Andy Cohen says something like this at the beginning of every BravoCon:
You are among your people here.  They live and breathe everything Bravo just like you do. We are all here for each other.  So let’s make new friends and enjoy BravoCon!
Even as an introvert, it speaks to me each and every time Andy says it.  Our conference attendees are among their people during our event and we should help ensure they make lifelong friends and enjoy every minute of it!

And lastly when it all comes together for that perfect CONference, be sure to tell your staff, board and members…..Bravo for a job well done!

Amy Bean – Vice President

Amy has over twenty-five years’ experience in all areas of association management from member services to information technology, office management, human resources, operations and executive leadership. Fun Fact:  Amy quite likely invented snark and is well-versed in its usage in her personal and professional lives.  She also has 2 basset hounds that are working hard to be the new spokeshounds for Hushpuppies!


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