*VENUE AND STAFF*
I'm local (10-min walk to Metro Toronto Convention Center), so I didn't have any hotel, travel, or food costs (just meal-prepped at home before the con, as well as packing a lot of water and snacks). It was fairly easy to pick up our badges, set up our table, and even though my interactions with staff were minimal, they were friendly and willing to help if I had any questions. We set up the base of our table on Wednesday night since we saw others doing the same. Apparently, the staff didn't mind and no one kicked us out. Finished up setting up the rest of the details on Thursday afternoon, so it wasn't too troublesome at all, since all my table set up and merch could fit in 2 suitcases. We just used the escalator to bring it down every time, since lineups for the elevators were really crowded during move-in and restock hours. (This was especially true during move-out hours, where there were hundreds of people waiting in line for the escalators to leave.) During the con itself, the aisles were usually packed in waves, and there was always a few people browsing our booth.
*LAYOUT AND ATTENDANCE*
It was more spacious than I expected while reading the other comments on this thread. We had a lot of room in the back, because the table behind us didn't have a backdrop/huge banner. Even if they did, I still feel like there would have been enough room for me to lean back and store my merch behind me otherwise. Again, I don't really have a point of reference, but it wasn't a big deal to me and I didn't feel "packed in like sardines," as others might put it. Talking to other AA artists, they said attendance was not as good as other cons such as Anime North or Otakuthon, but I found it really quite good. I was always busy, but had a few chances to sit down and rest during slower times.
My only complaint about the layout would be that it's really hard to see where table numbers are. There are no signs at all telling you where you are, and the only way to find other tables was to guess based on the tables who didn't have a tablecloth and whose little 'A123' number was visible on the corner of the table. From there, you basically just guess as to where you are. This made it hard for people who knew I was there to find me, but also for me to find other artists there.
*AFFORDABILITY AND PROFIT*
I turned a really good profit in my opinion. We were able to make back the cost of the table within the first 2 hours of the con on Thursday. Thursday was much busier than I was led to believe it was, and profit got progressively better on both Friday and Saturday. I actually made more on Sunday than I did on Friday, which I'm assuming is because everyone comes back and decides they actually want to purchase.
Overall, it was an amazing (first) con and I would definitely do it again. I would really recommend it if you're a local artist and want to try it out.
Traffic? There are lots
Buying Traffic? not as much.
my profit was ok, and i might consider next year. Mainly i enjoyed the con because it was a chance to see some old friends again, but otherwise, there was a lot of downsides:
#1 if you lose a table badge- they will charge you 60 or 90$ for a replacement. I was tabling by myself- but on Saturday- to avoid traffic, I took public transport and lost one of my badges. Registrations tried to charge me 90$ for a replacement until I made enough of my displeasure known that they'd haggle it down to 60$. The staff tried to send me on a goose chase when I wanted to return the replacement badge ( as the table comes with two badges- the other I never even got the chance to use). I'll admit, this could have been avoided if a kept both badges on hand each day, or just not misplaced the 1st one on Saturday, but counter-factual thinking helps no one. TLDR: DO NOT LOOSE EITHER OF YOUR TWO BADGES, the staff will charge you an exorbitant amount for a cheap laser printed name tag/badge replacement.
#2 Location and getting there- even though I am local-ish- commuting to Toronto and then trying to get out of the convention at the last day is a huge hassle. The first weekday is always particularly bad, as traffic to toronto gets notoriously congested regulairly. I was late for the first-day b/c of that reason, and while I don't think I missed many sales, the stress of driving/busing in each day added up quickly. Public transport is also difficult to predict- my Saturday Bus back was particularly long and uncomfortable as someone puked 3 times in succession on the bus because they were completely smashed. The best option would be if you could hotel (which is more expensive) or stay at a local friend's house.
#3 The early bird table price is basically bullshit. It's literally only 20$ cheaper if i forked over 500$ for a table next year before the last day of the con. I would have lost a good chunk of my profits. Unless you did fantastically at Fanexpo, rebooking is not a particularly attractive prospect.
Bottom line- though Fanexpo has a lot of traffic, and some of it is honestly good. The amount of traffic makes getting to their and staying there quite stressful. The administrative and register staff are not very helpful, the organization over charges considering how many artists are crammed into artist alley, and table prices are steep. Go only if local, and be prepared for stress even then. Your profit should be ok- it may even be great (as the table 2 down from mine on the otherside). But for me this year, even though i made a decent amount, the stress almost made it not worth it.
I was more stressed actually for Fanexpo than Fanime- and famine I had to fly in for, yet I absolutely loved tabling there.
The staff is entirely unhelpful and the runners of the show make no secret that they charge as much as they do and do as little as they do because they're all about the money. My friend sold a couple years ago and months after the con was over Fanexpo sent her a letter in the mail because she still had an outstanding balance of 50 cents. On a 500$ table.
On the subject of snail mail, this seems to be the only con around that demands you send a cheque in the mail with full payment before you're even approved, rather than do it online like everywhere else. This is really troublesome because there's no telling when they're going to cash it and not everyone can guarantee they have that kind of money in the bank at any given moment. It also means that you have to trust Fanexpo NOT to cash your cheque before you sign a contract. Staff is also pretty much impossible to reach by phone or email which again is frustrating given the amount of money you're forking over as an artist.
Parking is expensive and the venue is in the basement of the convention centre so be prepared to lug your stuff for what feels like forever.
The good is the attendance, at 100k+ it's the biggest con in Canada and though many people come for the A-list guests, many also come prepared to spend a lot of money on artists. Or at least, the ones with a clear enough aisle to walk down. I do okay at this con but I'm local so I only have the table cost to worry about. People flying in or using hotels will probably not see a good return on their investment unless they're a super popular artist.
Set up and parking was actually really easy because you can drive down to the loading dock and walk straight on to the sales floor. Plus if you book your parking tickets in advance (they send out emails to exhibitors and artists with the info) it's only $18 a day with in-and-out privileges and you're in the closest parking garage the convention centre has.
They have artist alley divided into sections based on what you say your main genre is. Mine is video games so I end up in the last few rows at the back of the hall. I think the front area closest to the food is the anime section. The convention is pretty well set up considering it spans two big buildings though there's a long walk if you want to go from one building to the other.
I didn't really deal with any staff too much. The main interaction was rebooking for next year and they were late getting set up so it was a good thing I had a second person to help run my table. I didn't get back until a half hour after the show had opened.
It's a expensive show. I think it was $475 for a table and $425 if you prebook for the next year. That's pricey but it's the largest convention in Canada and I've made the money back both times I've gone.
Attendance was really good. It seems to grow every year which is great. The only issues this year was that they moved around some of celebrity events and that caused some issues. I brought this up to the exhibitor relations coordinatior when rebooking and he said they were trying something new. The problem was that it didn't leave any downtime for con goers in between celebrity panels so they didn't have as much time to shop. I didn't do as well this year as I did last year but overall it was still a really good show.
Profit: I made decent profit, but considering the number of attendees there are, it's only average. Buying interest isn't too high since people are mostly interested in the guests/autographs.
Venue: Held at Metro Convention Centre, it's a big event hall but I'm quite tired of it. You have to walk really far to get to it from the subway and there aren't really any food options around except the overpriced foodcourt. The dealer hall is super packed and it can feel claustrophobic
Staff: Terrible organization. Got my contract wrong like 3 times. They are after your money and don't seem to care about the artists since they pack us in like sardines.
Overall, it's not a good con to make a profit at but if you're local and want to try it out, it's alright.
The organizers do their job efficiently, but I do have a complaint about one of the staff who was extremely racist to one of my friends. Complaints were filed but no word was received on what was done about it.