I'm sure you all recall my MarsCon 15 report - with annoyance at, but sympathy for, the managerial problems over the course of the weekend. However, a great deal of that was the hotel's fault, as was proven at this year's MarsCon, now at the beautiful Holiday Inn down the street from the Outback. It had its bad, but vastly outweighed by the good. Let's review:
VIDEO ROOMS: These were cleared-out hotel rooms. No, I mean, they really did get rid of the beds, no fear. But they were up on the second floor, next to some LARPing rooms and whatnot. The idea made me a bit queasy at first; but after running the Doctor Who panel in one on Friday night, I really saw no issue with them.
DEALERS' ROOM: One thing I've never been fond of at MarsCon is the ambience of the dealers' room. It's always seemed very stark and unorganised ... tables sticking out without really being 'grounded' anywhere, which is really more of an aesthetic thing than an actual problem. But it was actually set up very nicely this year. A good selection of dealers, as always, and (at least when I was in there) no movement issues in the aisles.
PANELS: The panel rooms were nice, and also nigh impossible to miss. A universal problem with cons seems to be the inability to make all the appropriate rooms as accessible as they need to be. But for my part, I saw no instances of lost congoers being ten minutes late to a panel because they couldn't find the room. There weren't many places to get lost in, which helped - the layout of the hotel is very straightforward.
MAIN PROGRAMMING: Large, pretty, well-lit, but God do the acoustics suck in there. Not the con's fault, obviously. From a performance standpoint, and there were a couple groups there, it did make things a bit difficult. But the movement and audience space really made up for it. I'm not sure about using the off-side area for autograph tables, unless you do it, as they did briefly, during something quiet, like miniature painting.
THE GAME ROOM: I am speaking as a highly biased individual here, but something really needs to be done about this. The game room was stuck right against main programming (MP's backstage was a curtained bit of the game room), and they had sound leaking into our side, and we had sound leaking into their side. Not beneficial for anyone, but also a hell of a thing during the Saturday night show, when we couldn't hear anything from backstage because of the gaming. Also, they shouldn't be allowed to use smoke machines anymore.
Overall? Very pleased. Much better. A couple little issues with placement, but as a whole a much better con. Also, I like to brag that MarsCon has the nicest attendees and the best con suite of any I've ever been to. Always.
For your troubles, here are some photos, courtesy of Gecko.