Monday, March 30, 2015
Adepticon 2015: New Venue and Location Review!
In the previous coverage article, I mentioned that there was quite a few "firsts" for Adepticon and myself this year. Well, "quite a few" is a massive understatement actually. This year was a year of firsts for many aspects of Adepticon, both for the attendees as well as the event itself!
I wanted to dive into the event this time around and take a good look at the changes made for this year. The Good, the Bad and the Better. Yes, I know I left out the "Ugly", but that's really because I don't see anything ugly in this years offerings, organization or presentation of the event. Heck, I'm going to truly have to dig to find a "Bad" in there I think, and that's if I can find one at all.
I would change the "Bad" into the "Constructive Criticisms" in that phrasing, but it doesn't sound as catchy.
Let's start at the beginning, shall we?
The Registration and Cart System
I know everyone thinks the Venue is the biggest change, and everyone is most likely right. However, a new change felt even before the new location was experienced was the registration and cart experience. Let's be honest, and nice, and just admit that the previous online registration application was lacking these past few years. With the huge growth that Adepticon has been going through, the existing Cart software and servers just couldn't handle it. The registration for 2014 was the worst to date at that time. So what happened? Adepticon stepped up to the plate and changed things. Now the cart is handled through Cvent, a company that specializes in event planning, registration, etc. This time around, when we learned of the new system and tried it out, I couldn't have been happier. no hiccups in traffic, easy-to-use search functionality and some great "track" options to allow you to sign up for a large swath of events within one game system for a discount. All in all, they knocked it out of the park with this.
New Location and Venue
This will definitely be the largest of the review portions! The new venue is huge when compared to previous spaces Adepticon has been in. I remember thinking the exact same thing when it first moved into the Westin, actually. Then we began outgrowing it a few years back, culminating in last year basically overrunning every square inch of available space, including many suites for hobby seminars. This made navigating what was once a beautiful venue with so much space available into feeling like we were in the basement of the Doubletree in Rosemont again. Suffice it to say, this is no longer the case.
The Hotel was pretty nice actually. While I did like the rooms in the Westin better from a space-perspective, I was barely in the room long enough to sleep anyway, so I didn't mind this too much. It still had all the amenities I was looking for in a place to crash, and Adepticon was able to negotiate free WiFi for all guests staying in their designated block of rooms, so bonus there! They had a restaurant on site of course, but while I stayed away from it, I had reports saying that the pricing wasn't bad, and the food was good. The layout of the hotel was a bit of a head-scratcher though. The registration desk was tucked away in a corner that many found difficult to locate at first, and the only set of elevators were also tucked into that same corner. Personally, I'll chalk this up to just being in a new space as next year I'll know exactly where to go. Sure it has a bit of a funky layout, but whatever, that's not what I'm there for. The elevators were a bit inconvenient in their placement, but the availability of them, and the complete lack of congestion traveling them more than made up for that in my opinion. Also, there was plenty of parking, without having to worry about it, and Adepticon also stepped up and arranged Shuttle Service to and from the hotel for free, up til 10:30 at night I believe.
The Convention Center
The Convention Center itself was massive for Adepticon's needs, and perfect for it's future growth. The space allowed for all the different game systems to have plenty of room, and for the first time ever, I saw space allocated in between 40k tables for dice, measuring tapes, dead and incoming models, etc. I would have liked to have had this style of extra space in the Infinity room, but maybe we can lobby for that next year. Heck, I was thrilled Infinity had it's own room, that was awesome! The convention center food was better than I expected…for convention food. The prices weren't bad though, as I could eat lunch conveniently, quickly, and for under 10 bucks. Have I mentioned how much room there was? Adepticon broke attendance records again this year, and I'll be darned if you could tell. No, the place didn't seem empty, but we had so much more breathing room than what we were used to that no one felt cramped, and spirits were truly better and higher on the last day than you typically see I think.
The Geographic Location
The over-all location for the venue itself was something I was definitely dreading to some extent. Why? I loved Butterfield Road in Lombard with all the food and shopping options it had on it. It was so convenient with a Portillo's and the Juicy O's, Weber Grill, the Target within Walking distance of the hotel, as well as the Mall and the Movie Theater able to be walked to, the new location had a lot to live up to. Thankfully, the new location filled the boots of it's predecessor quite nicely. No, there wasn't really anything within walking distance, so the Target was sorely missed. However, all ViG's (and maybe everyone with a swag bag?) was given a weekend membership to the COSTCO that was a 2-minute drive away. Also, another Weber Grill location was about 2 miles down the road, and a Portillo's was about 3 miles from the venue as well. Then there is Woodfield Mall about 3 or 4 miles from the venue with all it's goodness…that I didn't partake in, but goodness all the same.
Wow. I was going to cover the new offerings from a gaming and hobby perspective as well in this post, but I think I'm going to have to cover that in another. This one got away from me a bit!
Ultimately, for those of you who may have taken a break from Adepticon for whatever reason, trust me, you have plenty of reasons to come back! This new location and venue are great!