Read this open letter to attendees to Rainfurrest
Dear RainFurrest attendees,
We need to talk. This isn’t going to be easy or pleasant, but it’s very important for the convention and for the community. We’re entering a critical phase in RainFurrest’s history. This is our tenth year, a major milestone for any event, and while we’d love to say right here and now that we’re ready to bring the convention to you for another ten years, we need to talk about where we are right now.
By every count, 2015 should have been our best RainFurrest ever. We raised over ten thousand dollars for charity. We hosted eight book launches for members of the fandom. Our registration line never exceeded fifteen minutes during the entire convention. We had so many panel suggestions that we couldn’t fill them all. We had another year of record attendance, bringing together 2,704 attendees to Seattle, almost all of whom who had a wonderful time and had no trouble following the rules.
However, it’s that “almost” that concerns us. We had to pull five badges this year. That’s more than we’ve ever had to pull in any other year of RF’s history, possibly more than every other year. We try everything we can to manage incidents without resorting to ejecting people, but we were forced into our last-resort option five times this year, and that’s not counting the attendees evicted by the Hilton itself.
This alone would be bad news for RainFurrest, but there’s even more.
For the last few years, the Hilton sustained more damage during RainFurrest than it did from every other event at the Hilton the entire rest of the year. This doesn’t even include damage to guest rooms or other incidental wear and tear like the elevators.
This year’s incidents include two plumber calls, a flooded bathroom that soaked the offices underneath, towels stuffed into a hot tub pump, and multiple petty vandalisms and thefts. A final damage report is still being compiled.
We had to send three people to the hospital and call the police twice.
By Sunday morning of con this year, the hotel was so exasperated that they were threatening to evict attendees for single noise complaints.
RainFurrest is a large event. A few incidents are inevitable, and most of those are no big deal; the Hilton understands conventions and they’ve been willing to work with us. Most of the above, however, were completely avoidable, and they’re beyond the scope of “a good time.”
Right now, we’re in trouble. There’s no sugar coating it. Our ability to hold this event is in jeopardy. The Hilton is not happy with us. Next year’s contract is already signed and the convention will happen, but 2017 and beyond hinges on what happens in 2016. We’re doing what we can to keep the worst from happening, but the convention is going to have to grow, and we’re going to need your help to do it.
We can’t make these changes without you. We can’t be everywhere and we can’t see everything. We’re asking you, all of you, to step forward and help make RainFurrest a better convention. We understand that the problems are coming from less than two-tenths of a percent of the attendees, but they impact everyone who attends, and that’s why we’re asking for your help. If you see damage or vandalism, please tell a staffer and the hotel. If you’re not sure if something’s out of the ordinary, please come ask us. If you’re uncomfortable talking to us directly, you can contact us anonymously. Your voice is important. Con staff and the hotel will listen to you, just as your fellow attendees should.
We know that people come to conventions to have a good time, and we want to facilitate that, but a few people’s fun has gotten way out of hand. On behalf of everyone who comes to RainFurrest, we’re asking you to please help us raise the standards of the convention. Speak up and be a voice for better behavior. If we don’t start taking better care of our hotel, we’ll lose access to it, and then nobody gets to have fun at RainFurrest any more.
— Rex Wolf, RainFurrest 2015 Chair