A few issues I had during Gary Con X

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Reidzilla, Mar 16, 2018.

  1. Reidzilla

    Reidzilla Level 0 Character

    First, let me start be saying I had a fun time at Gary Con this year, both as a gamer and a publisher. Unfortunately, I did have a few things come up that made my con less fun then previous years. :(

    The quality of the food at the resort: In the previous two years, I found the food and service at the restaurants and table side to be great. This year it seemed like most of the serving and cooking staff were new. On Thursday, I ate at the lobby restaurant for both breakfast and dinner. Both times the service was slow and each meal was brought out incorrect not once but twice! While the staff apologized and I did not pay for either meal, it quashed my faith in the facility to get my orders right and with a food allergy that is not a good thing.

    Also, all of the my games were in the Forum area and the table service there was not good. The food was sub par, slowly delivered, and I was told several folks had a gratuity added to their bills on top of the item prices, which were supposed to include the gratuity in the listed price.

    Gaming in the Forum: Due to the increase in size, there were a slew of events hosted in the Forum area. I spent most of the con there running events. It was quite difficult to locate the tables where my events were as there was no map or listing of which table numbers were in which curtained off areas. Also, the table number signs had the actual table numbers printed so small, I could not read them from more than 10-15 feet away, which kind of defeats the purpose of even having table number signs. I observed that most of the folks looking for specific tables were having similar problems reading the table numbers.

    No con staff were present in the Forum: During Saturday, I had an issue where another organization's GM had taken the table where my event was scheduled and they were unwilling to move. I ended up eventually connecting up with someone in charge of the that organization and getting a table to run my event (20 minutes late). I was very unhappy that there was not a single con staff member posted in the Forum area to deal with an issue like this. I should not have had to deal with the problem myself. The Forum is simply much to far away from the con HQ for there not to be a con staff member on site in the Forum building at all times during normal event hours. This would have also solved the problem of trying to turn in my collected event tickets as there should have been a deposit box for them in the Forum, by where the con staff should have been stationed.

    As I mentioned at the start, I did have an good time but, not a great time. I truly hope these issues can be thoroughly addressed for Gary Con XI.
  2. Buttmonkey

    Buttmonkey Troubadour

    I had a different experience regarding food in the Forum, but it sounds like I wasn't there more than a fraction of the amount of time you spent. I played in the Forum on Saturday morning. Both the food and the service was excellent while I was there. Much better than in the main playing areas. Service was very good in the main areas, but I was disappointed with the food I received outside the Forum. I got a pizza on Thursday afternoon that was mostly hot with a creepily cold patch (I assume they precooked the pizza and tried to flash heat somehow at the time of service). I got slightly-over-room temperature wings on Friday night in one of the ballrooms.

    Maps for the tables in each section of the Forums would be greatly appreciated. I spent a good amount of time trying to hunt down my game Saturday morning.

    I had a wonderful time this year despite the food hiccups, maybe my favorite Gary Con yet (I've been to 7). Can't wait for next year.
  3. Jarlaxle

    Jarlaxle Troubadour

    I could not shake the feeling that the people in the Forum were basically afterthoughts. Food service was OK (the servers were good, but they seemed understaffed), buit it felt...I don't know, forgotten. Also, I talked to several other people (in multiple areas), and it was unanimous: the pizza sucked. They were thin, and usually overcooked. Mine was flat-out BURNED.

    I already said this on Facebook, but I will repeat it here: for the third year in a row, the hotel ran out of potato chips. Instead of the "homemade kettle chips" they advertised and charged for, by Saturday, they had turned into 59 cent bags of Lays. Absolutely unacceptable, especially considering the prices.
    Navar and Scott308 like this.
  4. Wooly

    Wooly Level 0 Character

    This was my first GaryCon it was great but I was unimpressed with the food that by all accounts has been good in the past.

    I had two pizzas both in the Linwood area on two different days; Friday afternoon and Saturday Night. I thought they both sucked. They were using Either frozen pizzas or frozen shells instead of fresh dough (which can easily be made from a mix). Both were very under cooked with no browning on the bottoms and skimpy on toppings (compared to a standard American fast food pizza. i.e. Pizza Hut, dominos, etc). Perhaps the hotel should partner with local fast food pizza place?

    The only other meal I ate at the resort was at the grand cafe at 700 am Thursday morning. The restaurant was understaffed with 1 bus boy, 2 servers and a hostess that arrived after we were seated. Took us 45 minutes to get our food and I almost missed my 8am game. More and more hungry gamers (and we all know this is a group that loves to eat) were arriving with no reinforcements in sight for the beleaguered severing staff. Tim Kask also mentioned the poor Thursday morning service this on his video blog Curmudgeon in the Cellar.

    Service was understaffed everywhere I went. I will pay a little more for higher quality food served table side which is a nice perk. I was unimpressed with the offerings I saw other players eating. Let’s hope the resort can take the constructive criticism and turn around for next year.
    Jarlaxle and Navar like this.
  5. Jarlaxle

    Jarlaxle Troubadour

    My pizza was the opposite: they burned it! I do agree with you: the pizzas were thin, toppings were skimpy, and basically tasteless. Honestly...I would rate them below a $5 pizza from 7-11.
  6. gizmomathboy

    gizmomathboy Spellbinder

    I think I ordered 2 pizzas. The first was Thursday night before my 6pm game back where legends of wargaming and HGMS were set up. It came out ok. My second pizza was Saturday night before my event in the Forum at 7pm. It came out really quick. It came out quick because it was undercooked.

    I'm a pizza snob and I have a style and type I consider the platonic ideal (Punch Pizza in Minneapolis/St. Paul...at least until I visit Naples, Italy ;-)

    However, I like all kinds of pizza, I just want them done well. The table side service pizza is ok for what it is. I do not expect them to start with fresh dough or anything. It's not their schtick. It can be cooked into a serviceable pizza. I had 2 of the 3 pizzas I ate (someone else ordered one but I can't recall where/when) that were acceptably cooked.

    I think that the hotel was just overwhelmed. Which is really shocking since this is the 3rd year there.

    They only had 1 person at the bar by the checkin on Wednesday night. He probably made at like a bandit on tips but it took a bit longer than I would have liked for drinks to come out. The other time I stopped by the bar they had 2 bartenders and a third person (manager maybe?) slinging drinks and seemed to be handling the crowd well (this was either Friday or Saturday night).

    If I had to choose one shortcoming of the con this year I would say lack of staff: hotel and volunteer.

    Adding the Forums really necessitated having some volunteer staff there the whole time. Even the hotel took a bit to get enough staff and other resources down there.
  7. Reidzilla

    Reidzilla Level 0 Character

    I'm bumping this in hopes of an official response to these complaints.
    Wooly and sir jon like this.
  8. Bront

    Bront Level 0 Character

    I had very similar issues. I had almost every game at the Forum, and it was hard to find out which table was which, the food service was mixed, long, and often food arrived cold and I was regularly charged additional gratuity after they took my card. The Pizza was particularly troubling as it was rarely evenly heated, but nothing like a cold burger washed down with a warm coke. Not to mention I had one game where the wait staff never came even with the flag, and if it was after 8 PM, they were never to be seen again. One waiter had my credit card for almost an hour and I had to wait after my game to get it back. That is not acceptable.

    The lack of GM facilities there was a problem as well. Needing to drop off event tickets when there was no play on that side of the hotel was an issue. And the lack of staff made it hard to deal with the occasional issues that cropped up. Table usage seemed irregular, as I found one evening there were 4 events all adjacent, when there were 30 tables available late one night.

    I had one game run way up in Galewood, late at night. I had a waiter stop at our table 4 times over a 4 hour event even without the flag, making sure we were OK, and that game ran from 7-11 PM. The food was actually properly cooked, can came warm and on time. I ran another game in Lynnwood, and I think the waiter checked in the room a few times, but that was it (It was sunday and no one wanted anything).

    I ultimately had fun, but the experience of the Forums vs anywhere else was night and day. The forums were loud, out of the way, cramped, with poor service and no access to con staff. Anywhere else had a great noise level, easy con staff access, plenty of room, and good wait service. I don't want to never be in the forums again, but I'd love to make the Forum experience better for everyone.
    Jarlaxle, DTaylor and Reidzilla like this.
  9. DTaylor

    DTaylor Level 0 Character

    Me and my group had most of our events in the Forums as well, and our experience was similar to what else has been written. Unlike in the 'main' area of the Con, the wait staff seemed way overwhelmed, and it almost became a joke for us: a flag up must have been a signal to them to 'stay away from that table!' One time I literally waited two and a half hours with a flag up, and no wait staff ever showed up.

    Combine that with things like the loud LARP group in the same area, or the Gary Con gal that showed up and blew out everybody's ears with her obnoxious yelling into a megaphone (completely disrupting games that were right in the middle of their session), and the Forums experience left much to be desired.

    I've been to Gary Con four times and have loved it every time. But this last one had quite a number of bad experiences for each member of my party (there were five of us). Each of us had multiple bad sessions (some were even Featured Events), and combining that with the many problems of the Forums (where most of our games were) made GCX most assuredly a step backwards as far as enjoyment of the Con goes.
    Reidzilla likes this.
  10. Kubo

    Kubo Level 0 Character

    I've found that a Featured Event doesn't necessarily mean quality event at Gary Con. Furthermore, I've had Featured Events that had the DM/GM fail to show up or show up 30 minutes late.
  11. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon Level 0 Character

    Emphasis mine.
    The wait staff were all really nice people and pleasant to deal with but definitely too few of them during the day.

    I'd almost forgotten about megaphone lady. I agree it was disruptive, even inconsiderate. The screaming 2-3 yr olds at a nearby table during a session were also a disruption. Hopefully there will be no repeats this year.
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2019
  12. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon Level 0 Character

    Emphasis mine.
    I played in a featured event with a DM who provided no pre-gens, spent 2 of the 4 hours character creation and general BSing, and the last 2 hours running the party through 3 rooms. I enjoyed meeting the DM. Admittedly, he was cool to chat with... but I wanted to actually play in the adventure so was disappointed in that regard.

    On the other hand, I've also played in Featured Events that totally rawked. Ask around before signing up, if possible. Perhaps you'll discover something about a DM's style of game you like / dislike which can help with scheduling. Good luck!
    dndgeek and SoulCatcher78 like this.
  13. dndgeek

    dndgeek Troubadour

    That sounds exactly like one of my games except that one wasn't featured. If that was me, my apologies. I totally blew that one and the rest of my events also suffered from trying to do too much, which is why I've cut way back this year.
    Poindexter likes this.
  14. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon Level 0 Character

    Without knowing your real name it's impossible for me to say. But no worries because its all in the past.
  15. Handy Haversack

    Handy Haversack Chevalier

    You'd recognize him, Ancalagon: Seven tails, eyes of flame, blond . . .
  16. dndgeek

    dndgeek Troubadour

    Lol, Jason Cook, aka dndgeek, the event I was thinking of was Beowulf.
  17. Ancalagon

    Ancalagon Level 0 Character

    It was not one of your events. ;)
  18. Khasimir

    Khasimir Footpad

    A couple of years ago, I had pretty much the same experience with a featured event. IIRC, we didn't even make it past the first room (if we did, it wasn't any further than the second room), and I believe we got in about 45 minutes of actual game playing. Oh well. Like your experience, the DM was a great guy to chat with, just got completely carried away with the chatting part of it.
  19. dndgeek

    dndgeek Troubadour

    Hooray! :D
  20. Melf

    Melf Administrator Staff Member

    Hey Guys,

    The food issues in the Forums was noted and a major point of discussion with the Grand last year. They were not prepared for the 500 person increase and the additional demands it put on their staffing to operate the Forums side of things. This was a lesson learned and I have been assured that they will be better prepared. I think one of the issues causing delays is running credit cards, we are working on some possible solutions, but so far I am not happy with what they proposed (it looked like a way to increase prices more so than resolve the delays!) In regards to food prices, we negotiated very good prices for the Grand Geneva Resort. The prices they charge for their services at banquets and the like are significantly higher and well out if the zone for a gaming convention. With that said we deserve to have accurate food orders delivered at the correct temperature and in a reasonable time.

    As to the con staffing in the Forums, we will have an offshoot of the con HQ in the Forums lobby area to help provide better service to you. And no megaphones! Thanks for the feedback on table number sizes. I'll see if I can increase the font size this time. We also added some more pipe and drape to help noise levels. No one likes to have to shout to be heard. Its a bit of a double edged sword growing each year. I hate to turn people away, but at some point that may be necessary since we only have so much space and the Grand is the biggest venue in Lake Geneva. I'd also argue that having Gary Con in a beautiful resort setting is pretty damn cool too. But I am definitely biased in my opinions.

    Thanks for sharing the things that didn't go right so we can work to get them fixed.


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