Guest Liaison

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Contents

Overview

The Swancon Guest Liaison is responsible for:

  • inviting the guests selected by the concom (although the convenor may do this);
  • keeping in touch with the guests throughout the year, updating them on events as needed;
  • working with the treasurer to arrange the guests' travel to and from Swancon;
  • communicating with the guests to find out information required by the concom, such as dietary preferences for the GoH dinner, programme topic and time preferences for the programme, t-shirt size, etc;
  • communicating with the guests to provide them their itinerary, programme information, travel information, etc;
  • being, or arranging others to be, a point of contact at the convention for the guests;

More details will be added about each of these.

Inviting Guests

The general process for inviting guests is as follows:

  1. With the convenor / treasurer, work out how many Guests the convention wishes to invite. Eg One International Guest of Honour (GoH), one Australian GoH and one Fan GoH.
  2. For each type of GoH, brainstorm a list of three or four potential GoHs. This should take into account the convention theme, guest's genre[s], genders, previous invitations, etc. You want to try and bring a balance of fresh guests that appeal to a wide audience, within the theme of the convention.
  3. Run your desired list by the WASFF CSC. They may know reasons certain guests may not be ideal or suitable (recent appearances, health, the desired guest does not attend conventions, etc).
  4. Invite the first guest on each list. This may be via a contact form on the guest's website, via email, phone call, a publisher, etc.

Here's a template you can use for inviting an International Guest of Honour who's an author:

Subject: Swancon <year> Guest of Honour Invitation

Dear <Guest's Name>,
As <Committee Position> <of/for> the <Year> Swancon Committee I would like to extend an invitation to you to be an International Guest of Honour.
Swancon, based in Perth, Western Australia, is Australia's longest running Science Fiction, Fantasy and Writers' convention. The <Swancon Number>th/st/nd/rd Swancon is due to be held over the Easter long weekend in <Year> (Thu <Month Day> - Mon <Month Day> <Year>).
With a usual attendance of approximately <350 for non Natcon or 400 for a Natcon>, it's often described as a 'cozy' or 'laid back' convention, without the rigidity required by most larger conventions. Recent international guests at Swancons include <List Three or Four recent International Guests>.
<Possible paragraph about the theme of the convention if relevant, and how it may tie into the guest's specific work>
As an invited guest of honour, we would cover your economy airfare, accommodation and provide a per diem to cover basic daily costs. In return, we would expect you to give a guest of honour speech (or equivalent activity), attend a guest of honour dinner, participate on panels of varying topics throughout the convention, and attend one or more book signings. There may also be one or two smaller publicity or marketing related events (eg radio interview or book store appearance) in the lead-up to the convention.
If you are interested and/or have any questions regarding the convention or being an International Guest of Honour, please don't hesitate to ask.
We would also ask you to please keep this invitation confidential until any official announcements are made.
Thank you for considering our invitation and we hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely
<Name>
<Committee Position>
Swancon <Year> Committee


This can easily be modified for an Australian Guest (drop International, make sure you specify domestic airfare if applicable). Eg:

Subject: Swancon <year> Guest of Honour Invitation

Dear <Guest's Name>,
As <Committee Position> <of/for> the <Year> Swancon Committee I would like to extend an invitation to you to be a Guest of Honour.
Swancon, based in Perth, Western Australia, is Australia's longest running Science Fiction, Fantasy and Writers' convention. The <Swancon Number>th/st/nd/rd Swancon is due to be held over the Easter long weekend in <Year> (Thu <Month Day> - Mon <Month Day> <Year>).
With a usual attendance of approximately <350 for non Natcon or 400 for a Natcon>, it's often described as a 'cozy' or 'laid back' convention, without the rigidity required by most larger conventions. Recent international guests at Swancons include <List Three or Four recent National Guests>.
<Possible paragraph about the theme of the convention if relevant, and how it may tie into the guest's specific work>
As an invited guest of honour, we would cover your domestic economy airfare, accommodation and provide a per diem to cover basic daily costs. In return, we would expect you to give a guest of honour speech (or equivalent activity), attend a guest of honour dinner, participate on panels of varying topics throughout the convention, and attend one or more book signings. There may also be one or two smaller publicity or marketing related events (eg radio interview or book store appearance) in the lead-up to the convention.
If you are interested and/or have any questions regarding the convention or being a Guest of Honour, please don't hesitate to ask.
We would also ask you to please keep this invitation confidential until any official announcements are made.
Thank you for considering our invitation and we hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely
<Name>
<Committee Position>
Swancon <Year> Committee

Likewise for a Fan Guest, drop the mention of International, cut back the information about Swancon if they're familiar with it (just leave the dates), drop the airfare, marketing bits and signatures. Eg:

Subject: Swancon <year> Guest of Honour Invitation

Dear <Guest's Name>,
As <Committee Position> <of/for> the <Year> Swancon Committee I would like to extend an invitation to you to be our Fan Guest of Honour at Swancon <Year> to be held over the Easter long weekend (Thu <Month Day> - Mon <Month Day> <Year>).
As an invited guest of honour, we would cover your accommodation and provide a per diem to cover basic daily costs. In return, we would expect you to give a guest of honour speech (or equivalent activity), attend a guest of honour dinner and participate on panels of varying topics throughout the convention.
If you are interested and/or have any questions regarding the convention or being a Guest of Honour, please don't hesitate to ask.
We would also ask you to please keep this invitation confidential until any official announcements are made.
Thank you for considering our invitation and we hope to hear from you soon.
Sincerely
<Name>
<Committee Position>
Swancon <Year> Committee


Flights

Approximately four months before the convention, you'll want to start organising the flights for those guests who need them.

The first thing to find out is their closest airport, suggested travel dates, and whether they have any preferences on airlines.

We usually fly an International guest in on the Tuesday, so they have an extra day for jet lag recovery, and national guests fly in on the Wednesday. All guests usually fly out on the Tuesday after Swancon.

Sometimes guests wish to tack on a budiness trip or holiday, which they're welcome to do - we offer it as an option.

Here is an example email to a National guest:

Subject: Swancon Flights

Hi <Guest's Name>,
With Swancon rapidly approaching, it's time for us to book flights!
Swancon itself starts on the afternoon of Thursday <month> <day> and goes through to the evening of Monday <month> <day>, and there's usually a Guest of Honour dinner on the Wednesday night (<month> <day>).
We'd be looking at flying you in on the Wednesday afternoon (<month> <day>) and departing on the Tuesday morning (<month> <day>). Does this work for you?
Sometimes we've had guests want to arrive early or leave later as they combine the Guest of Honour with other business or a holiday in Western Australia. If you'd like to do something similar, please let us know your preferred arrival and departure dates.
Also, could you let us know your departure airport (I think it's <city>?) whether you have a preferred airline for travel within Australia (no promises, but we'll see what we can do!), and any other travel requirements if you have them.
Cheers and see you soon!
<Name>


Once you have destination city, travel dates, and preferred airlines, look up some flight options, and check in with the treasurer to make sure they're as budgeted.

Then send the guest an email with a suggested flight and possibly other options. In the below example, the Guest is flying from Brisbane to Perth, and prefers Qantas:

Subject: Swancon Flights

Hi <Guest's Name>,
How do the following look:
Wed <month> <day>, QF651 Brisbane to Perth. Dept <time>, arrive <time>.
Tue <month> <day>, QF650 Perth to Briabane. Dept <time>, arrive <time>.
There's also a later departure option on the 7th if you prefer:
Tue <month> <day>, QF598 Perth to Brisbane. Dept <time>, arrive <time>.
Please let me know your preference.
To make the booking, I'll also need the full name that matches your ID, your Qantas Frequent Flier number if you have one, and the mobile phone number for Qantas to send you any flight changes.
Cheers,
<Name>

If you're talking to an International guest, they'll also need to provide their passport information.

Once you have the required information, you should be able to book the flights through the airline, or using a travel agent for international flights, if desired. Make sure you send them a copy of the booking reference and any other details. Eg:

Subject: Swancon Flights

Hi <Guest's Name>,
Your flights have been booked, and should show up on your Qantas Frequent Flier login to choose seats and meals, etc.
I've also attached a copy of the booking reservation for your records.
See you soon!
<Name>

Guest of Honour Programming

You'll want to touch base with your guests, in coordination with the programmer, and find out any topics they're interested in, not interested in and any other scheduling information.

Here's a template you can use:

Dear <Guest's Name>,
With Swancon rapidly approaching, we have a few generic questions about programming topics:
  • What format would you like your Guest of Honour presentation to be?
It can be a speech, a Q&A sessions (with questions vetted by you prior to the day) or an interactive presentation of your choosing, or something else.
  • Are there any topics or areas of interest that you would like to participate in panels for?
  • Are there any topics that you do not want to participate in programming items for?
  • What are your preferred hours for panels?
  • How many hours of programming do you wish to participate in each day?
Cheers,
<Name>

Guest of Honour Dinner

If you're going to do a Guest of Honour Dinner, you'll need to find out what food preferences the guests have, to know if a restaurant will be suitable (you might not want to take a vegan guest to a steak house).

Here's a template you can use for inviting an International Guest of Honour who's an author:

Subject: Swancon Guest of Honour Dinner Preferences

Dear <Guest's Name>,
Swancon hosts a Guest of Honour dinner on the Wednesday night (<Month Day>) before the convention.
As Perth is a multicultural city, we have a wide variety of restaurants to choose from, including Western, European, Italian and Asian (Chinese, Japanese, etc).
To assist us in choosing a suitable restaurant and selection of meals, could you please let us know if you have any allergies (eg shellfish / nuts), dislikes (eg not seafood) or other dietary requirements (vegetarian, vegan / gluten free / etc) that would be relevant in choosing a restaurant and/or menu?
Much appreciated,
<Name>


Guest of Honour Gifts

Guest of Honour Follow-up

I like to send an email to the Guests a week or two after Swancon has finished, thanking them again for being a guest, checking that they had a good time, and asking for any feedback that could improve the guest experience or convention. Example:

Subject: Thank You, from Swancon

Dear <Guest's Name>,
I wanted to thank you for attending Swancon as a Guest of Honour, and making it such a fantastic convention.
If you have any feedback on your Guest experience at Swancon, or any other aspects of the convention that we could use to make future Swancons even better, we'd love to hear it.
Thanks once more, and I hope to see you again at future conventions.
Cheers,
<Name>
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