Staff are super nice, friendly and helpful! Any issues you have will get resolved quickly and they all seem to know a little bit about everything. If they don't know they will find someone who does.
The Venue is amazing. Despite it being on the outskirts, it's closer to the airport for guests and there's a good chunk of decent hotels around the area. It also has tons of parking and the EY Centre is absolutely huge.
Attendance is decent for a 3 day convention, around 40k I would say. it fluctuates year after year depending on what kind of guests they get.
The cons of the con!
Layout is awful. With such a big convention they seem to mess up the layout and flow year after year. This year, 2016, they hand AA in it's own room with the guests. Which would've been okay IF they ahd ALL of AA in there. Some Artist alley tables were in with the Exhibitors and caused major issues for the artists not fortunate enough to be in the room with the majority of Artists. Customers would walk completely by the 20 or so tables in the exhibitors selling their artwork and there was no signs this year to suggest they were apart of AA. It was brutal.
The convention is getting just ridiculous with prices. Tables are now almost 400$ for Artists, 800$ for vendors and you have to pay for parking all weekend if you happen to drive. (around 30-40$ for parking on top of that not included in your table costs). Not only that but the space they provide you is getting smaller as they try and cram more and more in. Evident by them sticking 20 artists in with exhibitors instead of Artist Alley because they oversold.
ticket prices are also very expensive and reduces the amount people will spend. Not only that but Ottawa for any convention ends up being a hard place to sell any artwork. If you're new to selling, you might get that beginners/new artist luck where you sell lots. After that it becomes harder and harder and Ottawa has more of the vendor sales and guests buying autographs/photos instead of supporting Artists.
My personal experience:
Because i can stay with family and not have to pay for a hotel and it's only 2 hours to travel too I do it every year. I would say my best year for sales was 2015 and my worst year was 2014, the year after I started.
My product has switched from just prints/commissions to jewellery/clothing and that has seemed to help. My biggest seller still are commissions though and my worst seller is prints.
I love the venue and the staff so much. But the giant leaps in pricing is beginning to get ridiculous. 2013 - 250, 2014 - 250 - 2015 - 285 - 2016 - 285 - 2017 - 350. IF you re book every year. If you're new it's more money. (these are rough costs, as taxes are on top of it generally).
I do enjoy how easy it is to rebook your table and how they seem to value individuals who sell year after year. You pay at the end of the convention a small depost of generally 80 and get to be automatically in for next year.
Ottawa can be a hard market to sell for. I've done all the conventions in Ottawa and it's tough. I sell in Toronto, Alberta, Quebec, Belleville, Hamilton, etc and do just fine, but Ottawa can be a struggle. Due to my low costs of expenses though I continue to do it year after year.
I will still do this show again but if you've got to pay for a flight and/or hotel it might not be worth it, especially with rising table costs.
The Artist Alley section was in the North part of the convention centre which was connected to the rest of the convention centre by one big open doorway. I think that was a big part of it because you had to specifically look for Artist Alley to find it so there didn't seem to be as much traffic there as there was in the rest of the convention. Also my table was in the very last row at the back of the room so that cut down the traffic even further. I had Chasing Artwork, who does shows all over Canada and US, beside me and he also said that they traffic was way lower with the new layout than it was last year.
The staff was helpful and friendly and the con-goers in general were all super nice! But for a con with a $400 table it wasn't that great for me and I barely made back the cost of the trip. I heard the same from the artists around me.