Mark here from AUSCON. Sorry, I've just stumbled onto this thread and am going to try and answer as many questions as I can.
Ok, site navigation...That's something we are working on. Most of the areas have links to our blog (which is updated regularly), and we are adding downloadable .pdf's and the like on a very regular basis, you have to bear with us, as AUSCON is not our full time jobs! We work on this every night and most weekends, as well as having full time jobs, wives, kids etc!
Now then, the costs for seminars. We are putting the finishing touches to an information pack for the seminar sessions. There will be a brief on each seminar, what you can expect to get out of it (toys etc), and a cost. It has taken a little longer then we anticipated as some of the presenters are still confirming their attendance and what they want to cover. Those that are "locked in" have been included in the pricing
$5 for a "free seminar" is in fact a booking cost. Free seminars are turn up and enjoy style of sessions (we are adding some more to this in the coming days). However, there will often be a restriction of between 20-30 places, $5 books you a seat. Effectively it reserves you a spot at the event, rather than turning up and hoping you can get in. (but the turn up and hope seats are free for everyone)
The free for all Q&A session caters for up to 80 people, so seats shouldn't be a problem. Again, $5 books you a chair for the event (Generally front row) Again, non reserved places are free!
$20 is usually a session where we are presenting an industry known identity, any in many cases they are not charging us to use their services. However, we are still having to cover the cost of an audio system, large screen, camera and operator, the RNA showground costs, electricity and material used by the presenter. These session are generally cappped at 15-20 people, sometimes smaller classes of 10people only
$40 is the next step up. Usually the presenter has costs involved in using their services, all of the above costs plus handouts, materials and the like. Many of these sessions are capped at 15 people!
Entry into the Wizards of Oz is indeed $5 an entry, capped (cost wise) after 10 entries. In order to make this event different and to keep a certain standard, we've booked a seperate room for the display and competition area. It allows us to display the entries in a more secure environment, plus a much quieter area (no hundreds of gamers creating major distractions and that general noise level). Our judges also get to view the miniatures without people leaning over their shoulders, the photographer (which we also have to pay for), can set up an area dedicated to professionally photographing each and every entry, and we can also set up another seminar area. Past Golden Demon winning figures will be on display, as well as unique pieces and limited edition minis in glass cabinets will be about the room. We are also creating unique medallions for all our winners, plus the People's Choice and Best in Show awards. This also means added costs, in fact, many thousands of dollars. We could compromise and create a run of the mill, Church Hall type of show, but that is not our intention. We are setting what we hope will be a benchmark, raising the professionalism and appearance of shows, as well as not going broke in the process. We want there to be a viable alternative to the Demons, allowing peole to enter any brand of miniature they like!
With the economic climate. we have had issues in getting actual $$$ sponsorship, therefore, the Wizards is almost an entirely self funded exercise this year.
Whilst I know many will not believe this, AUSCON is not a money making venture for Allan and I. In fact, we are have invested many thousands of dollars to create the Wizards of Oz and AUSCON. The RNA is not a cheap venue to hire, plus all the sundries you pay for as well, not to mention the hidden costs such as food and drink for our volunteers, prizes, trophies, catering, rental of display cabinets, trestles, chairs and the list goes on and on. Trade displays (Retailers and Vendors)are covering only the costs of the space, their booths, power and tables. (Why? Well, we want to see as many local retailers as possible attending this event, we are very passionate about supporting Australian business, so much so we have turned down sponsorship from a couple f overseas mail order companies). Most of the Tournaments are the same, and we have donated space to groups such as the WWII re-enactors who are bringing in some impressive hardware (Sdkfz222 for example).
I hope this has helped clear up some of the issues and de-fuse the potential anger I have read in this thread.
Allan and I are always open to hearing ideas, criticism (providing it's constructive) and postivity as well. Please feel free to contact us, or e-mail me directly firstname.lastname@example.org
Please help us get this event off the ground, it's a HUGE step for both of us to do this, but we want to see an event like Salute! And Adepticon here in Australia.
Hope to see you in April!