As you may already know, HOWL CON 2017 cancelled. I have already withdrawn my attendance and support for future HOWL CON events. HOWL CON posted an official statement on January 22, 2017, regarding the convention’s cancellation. This is HOWL CON’s fourth cancellation, 2013, 2014, 2016, and 2017. Only HOWL CON 2012 and 2015 were successful events.
HOWL CON chairman Steve Couchman’s statement seems to place the blame for the convention cancellation on the supporters. In some way, he is right. It may be that his supporters were left in the dark and had a sense of abandonment since there was no updates from HOWL CON in the month and a half leading up to the convention and bailed.
I personally believe the poor or lack of communication killed the convention. HOWL CON did not have a dedicate website until sometime after January 12, 2017, which then only provided the dates, registration and application links, and contact. HOWL CON solely relied on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter, which not everybody subscribes to. For supporters who had made contributions to the Indiegogo crowdfundng campaign received updates from the campaign.
HOWL CON’s Facebook and Twitter were updated until mid-December when it went silent. The last Indiegogo campaign update was at the end of November.
I attempted to follow up on the convention status via email to chairman Stephen Couchman on January 12, 2017, and again on January 18, 2017. No response. After not hearing back from On January 19, I contacted Ramada Inn Portland Airport for the HOWL CON status. Ramada Inn told me the convention was cancelled due to no payment of deposit. The hotel also told me they were unsuccessful contacting the convention organizer. At that point, I posted on PDXWerewolf that I’m withdrawing my attendance at and support of HOWL CON.
After no email responses, I emailed Stephen on January 20, explaining Ramada Inn had cancelled the contract. On January 21, I finally received a response from Stephen in regards to my email about the cancellation. He said he’s been telling people as of Thursday that the con was still on. I’m not sure who Stephen has been telling, because I have not been told. I emailed back for a clarification on where he had been announcing the convention was still on, but had no response. The website has not been updated. Social media is silent.
The lesson here is to stay in communication when organizing or running a convention. I believe HOWL CON would have success had they kept the howlcon.com website. The site contained event information, programming, registration and application links, social media links, contact, and a blog to keep everyone informed. Another point is stay engaged and “ping” on social media, so the audience does not have a sense of abandonment.
The website is the best public relations for any organization or event. It does not take more than a few minutes to post an update on a website. I’ve been doing that for HOWL CON here on PDX Werewolf when I receive new information or updates. My friend over at Werewolf-News.com, A.Q., has been doing the same, signal boosting HOWL CON. Neither Werewolf-News and I are official spokespersons for the convention. We just share what we know.
If you want to run a successful convention, you need to have a primary website for communications. There are free or affordable web hosting available, such as WordPress.com (preferrably spend about $36 to keep it ad free). Domain names are relatively cheap. Email lists like Mail Chimp are free or cheap. The site and outreach needs to be done right away and soon, not up to two weeks before the event. Social media and crowdfunding sites like Facebook, Twitter and Indiegogo or Kickstarter are secondary, but is is good to check in, so viewers know you’re still alive. If this is so much work, make the website your priority. At least people can visit the website for updates.
Now, as for my purchase for Patron level purchase carried over from 2016 and the Indiegogo campaign contribution, it sounds like a refund will be an extreme challenge based on Couchman’s statement about refunds. I am calling this a significant loss and will not pursue a refund.
I am done.