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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

#SDCC Tips Risks - it's NOT too early to plan

Over the course of these posts, I’ll be harping on some points endlessly.  That’s part of the methodology.  Preparation is only worth what you put into it and what you get out of it. You can be grossly underprepared and you can be over prepared.  Both will cause you to your waste time and money.

Passes - The biggest risk is actually getting passes to ComicCon.  Over the years it’s been selling out faster and faster and in 2011 the 4 day preview night badges sold out before the end of the 2010 show. Ugh.
Mitigation – Information is power. Keep plugged in to when the tickets go on sale.
You can work with others to collectively pool your internet resources and work on buying passes when they go on sale.  Meaning that 4 of you are all trying to buy passes at the same time and when someone gets in you buy 4 passes. The best case scenario is all for buy 4 passes (16 sold). The negative is more passes are sold to people than they need and now more passes need to be returned and resold.  It’s a waste of time, energy, money for everyone.
You could work on getting a press pass or a panelist/special guest badge.  Both are hard to get and are becoming harder to get each year.
The last option is to go to SDCC and plan on dong the ancillary events outside of the convention itself. Each year more events are planned around SDCC that are open to the public.

Air flight - available seating - if you are traveling more than 300 miles, likely you are flying.  There are lots of flight options but the longer you wait those options disappear.
Mitigation - Is there any reason not to book a flight now?  It helps you manage your budget (it’s another expense paid before the event) and it also helps the airlines in their planning.
Also, by booking early you have more options for the day and time you arrive and depart.
Booking a flight into San Diego a day or two early helps mitigate the issue of a cancelled flight or an overbooked flight. You have more time to catch another flight.
If you wait too long you may need to fly into another airport and then drive or take the train to San Diego.
Air Flight – expense – prices vary or getting a good price.
Mitigation - set a goal or trigger for the cost and then book the flight if you hit the price, don’t end up missing out on a flight because you tried to save an extra $50 or $100.  Start looking now and do your research on flight costs for SDCC.

Hotel Room – vacancy – like the passes, the official hotel rooms sell out quicker every year and there is not enough rooms close enough to the convention center to satisfy everyone.
Mitigation – much like the passes – work with some friends.
Also have a backup hotel (not as of a convenient location) in case you don’t get a room.
Hotel Room - cost – the rooms are very expensive. Remember you are in California and at a special event.
Mitigation - plan to travel further to get a lower rate.
Get a roommate(s) to split the cost. (sub risk – possible additional costs from damage to the room or someone skipping out on the bill)

Budget – not having enough money.  You just might not be able to afford to go.  You might have to wait a year before committing to the expense. 
Mitigation – create a budget based on other people’s experiences. Ask several people about their trip and their expenses.   Average their experiences and make that a starting place for your budget.  Now divide that amount by 5 and add it to the budget. That is adding 20% to the budget.  This new higher number is your budget.  This new number factors in the unexpected.  Needing a taxi or replacing something that broke or eating out more than you thought.
Truly now – can you afford that?
How will you pay for that budget?  Putting money away each week?  Selling something? Borrowing it?  Think about the money before you start to commit.

Procrastination – lack of planning will cost you money and cause you heart burn. You may pay more than expected for a hotel room or air flight or supplies.
Mitigation – start thinking about the trip now. Make a list and start prioritizing items.

Prioritization of the Risks – Passes, Airfare, Hotel, Money, and planning.
I would say the budget is the highest priority. Unless you are local or have a friend to stay with locally you will be spending a lot of money.  Figure out your expected cost and then figure out how to save/pay for it.
The pass would be second highest on the list. Without them you most likely are not going to attend the convention.
Third on my list is air flight. I would book now. You can cancel the flight if something goes wrong. You do lose some of your money but you are not out all of it and you know you have a seat.
The hotel room is a 2 part process – book a backup room now. You can cancel anytime within 24 hours of your stay and not pay. Then book a room through the official agency with SDCC that hopefully will be closer and cheaper.
Lastly is planning.  You have more wiggle room with planning than the rest. A large enough budget can overcome most of the mistakes from the lack of planning although it would not make everything bright and shiny.

You need to come up with your own Risk Handling Plans for each of these risks. Preparing your Plans now prevents frustration and damage any of these risks might do to your trip.
And on the Positive Risk side you may really enjoy your SDCC and then you’d want o repeat the process of going again.
Good luck,

This isn’t a complete list of risks or mitigation but it’s something to think about and help you prepare.

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