Why are anime conventions on Holiday weekends?

Posted in: Ryan Kopf's Blog

A friend recently asked why our anime conventions were often on holidays. Holidays can be tough for people to get the time off work if they work in a retail job, so it’s an important question to answer.

The biggest reason is because it’s generally not up to us, the convention organizers. Instead, it’s up to the hotel property.

Think of how a hotel generally survives and makes a profit – there are two ways: holding events and getting people to book hotel rooms.

Among events, the most profitable events for a hotel are usually weddings. They are relatively quick, taking up only a day or sometimes even just one evening, and there is a lot of money spent on catering and food.

But nobody wants to have their wedding on a holiday, so other events are stuck with the remaining weekends, including holiday weekends. Hotels would rather book a wedding when they can because they make more money (weddings have to order catering plus room rental – some weddings can be cheap, but to hold a wedding at a hotel is like $100,000. I have no idea how people can afford it.)

Weddings are not the only big money maker when it comes to events for a hotel; next tends to be corporate type business. People in suits funded by their companies come together for a business conference; hotel rooms, food, etc, are all on the corporation’s dime, and so these events have even more money.

And so anime conventions usually have the pick of whatever is leftover. Sometimes our anime conventions are not on holidays when we’re lucky, such as during “slow season” at the hotel. For example, in the Midwest, January and February are cold and most hotels have a lot more openings. But to hold an event mid-summer, there are fewer options. CAD as another example is held very close to Christmas because very few other events are likely to happen that weekend.

There’s a lot more in the meeting planning process, when it comes to planning an anime convention, than meets the eye, because you have to know a lot more about other industries. For example, if you choose a date for a convention before speaking with a venue, you may find yourself in a tough situation.

Imagine announcing your convention will be held September 20th, and then you start to contact venues about possibly holding your event on September 20th. A few venues don’t reply or tell you that they don’t have any space for you. You feel like you’re getting nowhere. Not until the fourth venue you speak to tells you that there is a massive city-wide conference happening that weekend, and stockholders from the city’s largest companies have already booked nearly every hotel room in the city. Suddenly it all makes sense, and you have to choose different dates after spending a bunch of time and money promoting the dates you originally chose.

So for anime fans wanting to attend an anime convention that isn’t on a holiday weekend, it certainly IS very possible. Many anime conventions are held on regular weekends; but often they worked up to that point or are so large that hotels are willing to give up wedding/corporate business because they know they will make up the money by renting out all their hotel rooms. For smaller/medium size events, it’s much harder.

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