|What Was It Like, Not Having a Booth at Origins This Year?
|Kristin's Report on Big Experiment #6 - July 9th, 2005
We decided six months ago that we were not going to run sales booths at the big conventions this year. We decided to focus our energy on our convention support for smaller conventions at which our Mad Lab Rabbit's are running smaller events, and on building better relationships with vendors who sell games at conventions... while we pack, move our business office out of our basement, and get ready to move our family (and the creative office of Looney Labs) to Hamilton, Ontario.
For starters, let me just say that it was just really awesome not to be running a cash register. For the past 8 years, we've been so busy running a little store in the Exhibit Hall that it's been hard to really enjoy the cool gaming space (The Lab) we've also been creating (see Andy's Origins Report for details on what went on in The Big Experiment Lab this year). So it was awesome to be able to hang out there all day, instead of needing to savor the few minutes or hours we could grab in the evenings or when we could sneak away from our booth to play in a tournament.
So where last year, we had an 800 square foot booth dead center to the entrance of the exhibit hall - with a giant pyramid arena, 4 demo tables, an information Kiosk staffed with booth babes talking about our games, and a little store that moved $12,000 worth of games that weekend... this year, there was no official Looney Labs booth presence at all. Wow.
On top of this, the location of The Lab - which had been in the same spot for the last 3 or 4 years, was moved by GAMA, down the hall and upstairs, to a pretty out of the way place. This was perfectly reasonable, since we were not paying big sponsorship dollars this year (the only thing we bought from them was a full page ad in the program book for our schedule) but it meant all the more that we needed to get the word out to our fans about where to find us this year. (For the record, we loved the new location, and hope GAMA can let us stay at this location for years to come.)
Our solution: The Lab Report and The Promo Card Scavenger Hunt
The Lab Report was a little 4 page booklet newsletter talking all about all the various things Looney Labs was doing at Origins this year. I'm sure we will continue to use this format for many years to come, as it is sized just perfectly to fit into a Mad Lab Rabbit's lab coat pocket - to have handy to give out to anyone who asks them why they are wearing a lab coat and rabbit ears - or to hand out aggressively in front of any of the five booths that were selling our games in the exhibit hall.
Did I mention there were 5 booths selling our games? A big thank you to: Troll and Toad, Titan Games, Source Comics, Crazy Egor, and Wizard's Wagon. We don't have any numbers back from any of them, and likely won't ever get them from some of them - but there were lots of copies of all of our games for sale in the exhibit hall at Origins this year, and from what I've heard so far, they sold very well. Was it enough? Hard to say... I don't have enough data to run the numbers yet- but what is enough? All five of these wonderful vendors will be selling our games again at GenCon next month - and at least one of them is doing Comic Con in-between. And a big part of this whole experiment was to work on building relationships with convention vendors, so we can get good representation of our games at conventions that we ourselves don't even go to... so from that standpoint it was an overwhelming success.
The Promo Card Hunt Rocked!
Since we needed a way to distribute our promo cards anyway, and we were looking for ways to drive traffic to the booths selling our games... we decided to send our fans on a scavenger hunt for promo cards! We made a series of 5 new cards (a Fluxx goal called Composting, the redesigned Basic Rules card, an overview card about Homeworlds, a card with notes on Werewolf Etiquette, and a reference card for Martian Hold'em) and gave a box of one type of card to each of our 5 official vendors. Then we told our fans that they needed to go round to all these vendors and ask for these 5 cards and that if they brought the set back to the Lab and showed them to the Top Rabbit, they'd get as a prize a sixth card, arguably the coolest of the set, a Fluxx action called Jackpot.
This proved to be great fun. Unlike last year, when the task we set forth to earn the Star card was just way too hard (playing a round of each of our 9 main games), these tasks were fun and satisfyingly rewarding. It was particularly enjoyable when someone would arrive upstairs to claim the Jackpot card and everyone in the room would cheer for them, yelling "Jackpot!"
And in some cases, they deserved some cheering. Our vendors, who are all fun, creative people in their own right, got into the scavenger hunt thing by creating extra little challenges to throw down in the paths of people who sought the cards. Those who got the cards they asked for often had to perform minor stunts, like singing "I'm a Little Teapot" or dancing the Macarena or the Chicken Dance.
Posted in The Lab was another list of promo cards, which lead
to a second, lesser noticed but perhaps even more popular promo
card scavenger hunt. The list of Vintage Promo Cards was a list
of 17 older (or more obscure) promo cards along with 17 Rabbits
at the con, each of whom had a box of the specified type of promo
card in their pocket of their lab coats. All they had to do was
find the rabbit in question and ask, and they could add that
card to their collection as well. Of course, many people already
had some of the cards available on the Vintage Promo Card List,
but a couple of these cards were new or special. For example,
Kristin was giving out a new card called "I Have a Perfume
Allergy" (a vastly superior replacement for "Too Much
Perfume Causes Migraines"), Alison was drawing custom pictures
for people on NanoBlanxx, and Andy was giving out his personally
autographed Andy Looney Keeper cards.
Next Time: We need at least an Information Kiosk
What will we do next year? First off, I know we need to keep Andy down in The Lab playing his games with his fans. Our events were better than ever this year - in part because we were there to participate in them ourselves full time this year. It was awesome. It is a waste to have Andy working a full time retail job down in the exhibit hall. But I also know that I want some sort of an official presence in the exhibit hall next year. Maybe in association with one vendor whom we partner with to run our cash register? Or maybe just on it's own nearby several vendors who are selling our games like they did this year? I don't know. I need to think on it some more. But I definitely missed having a central location labeled as Looney Labs, where anyone who was looking for us could easily find us.
Thank you everyone for playing and buying and selling our games at Origins this year!