2016 is gone and several people bid it adieu in style by hanging out with a few of their favorite celebrities at the Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve in Dallas, Texas with special guest star Stan Lee.
Several fans were delighted because the crowds were easy to navigate and the lines were short, but for anyone that knows conventions, this isn’t a good sign.
Unfortunately, this New Year’s Eve was a bust for many.
This was Rewind Con all over again, a lot of flash, but no bang. Like Rewind Con, there were warning signs:
- It was a first-year convention
- They had over 40 guests
- It was on a weekend with a LOT of competition (It was New Year’s)
Most of us ignored the warning signs. After all, they had some well-known, current names on the convention circuit such as Stan Lee and Michael Rooker and they had long-time convention circuit runners such as Jason Mewes, Nichelle Nichols, and Kevin Sorbo. We all assumed that this combination of names along with their representatives would have a pretty good handle on good and bad conventions. They even reportedly sold out their vendor spaces. All of this is usually a pretty good sign that the convention will at least do okay.
Initial planned attendance for this convention was around 8,000 but reality pegs attendance at about half of that, which means that most (if not all) of the celebrities did not make their guarantees.
According to reports, this also meant that the hotel did not make their guaranteed amount of room bookings. The hotel, then supposedly tried to adjust prices to try to recoup their losses.
Per one volunteer:
One last casualty with fifteen minutes left in 2016, the hotel demanded huge sums of money or they would reset everyone’s key or default the rooms to the card left for incidentals.”
Apparently things were at least temporarily settled with the hotel prior to midnight, however reports have a last-minute, cost-saving measure the midnight champagne was not distributed.
Communication and scheduling are always problems at conventions and this one was no exception. There are several reports of poor organization and lack of communication, however most of those reports are coming from fans, not volunteers.
The volunteers I have heard from have agreed that communication was poor. The volunteers were frequently left with no idea what was going on and a few have admitted to ‘winging’ it when it came to telling guests what was going on.
From the fans, I am hearing about pre-paid signings and photo ops that never occurred and some shady happenings, but there is limited verification.
After signing only a few items (less than 10) Stan left. We were told by the staff that it was because he needed to rest a bit. After a little while the staff started speaking quietly to the few people left with the cash vouchers and led them away. Some came back later with Stan’s signature. The rest of us with the Stan Lee package vouchers (some of whom had paid $400 to $600 for) were left in the dark with no information. Whenever we asked about what was going on we were told they could not say when Stan would be back. After about 2 hours all the staff members went behind a curtain, we assumed to discuss what to do. We later discovered all of them had slipped out the back and that Stan had left the hotel already.
Talking to vendors and artists, it doesn’t sound like anyone actually made money; a few broke even, but that was few and far between. Speaking to several people it also seems like the location of the vendors and artists was poorly handled. Not many knew where they were so out of the limited attendees they only got a small portion.
Overall, the Sheraton Dallas hotel did not help matters when it came to people enjoying the New Year’s event. There are numerous reports of rude staff, unclean rooms and overbookings. There are even reports of staff giving room keys to already occupied rooms.
Hindsight is 20/20 and looking up this hotel, this should have the biggest warning sign that the convention would fail. Before the event, there were numerous reports of smelly rooms, bad heating /air conditioning and poor service.
Not so Marvelous New Year’s Eve
Marvelous Nerd Year’s Eve seems to have been a casualty of poor marketing and bad timing.
New Year’s Eve is not the time to plan a party of this magnitude without some seriously HEAVY marketing and when ticket sales didn’t meet initial expectations, they probably would have been better off just cancelling. It’s reported that the organizers, Geek Expos, have already announced that they are going out of business due to a six figure loss on the show (editors note: There has been no verification.)
That all being said, there were some apparently great parts of the convention as stated perfectly by one volunteer:
Wolf Studios Photography was present, and did their best to keep shooting ops and getting celebrities paid, they are always incredibly professional and made the most of a show with far fewer attendees than anticipated. Photo ops were one of the few areas where guests were paid fully but the show owes a lot of people a lot of money.
All this said, there were some outstanding aspects of the show – especially the Roast of Stan Lee Friday night hosted by Mark Walters and Devin Pike. There were some issues with the fire marshall, and many people had to stand in the back for the Roast – but seeing the likes of Michael Rooker and Ming Na Wen roasting Stan Lee – and Stan Lee heckling back with an incredibly sharp wit – it was a lot of fun.
Mark and Devin put on an amazing Roast Show, my face hurt from laughing so hard.
Despite everything, there were still a lot of people that had fun as the photos prove.