If you've been in the fandom long enough, you may recall the glory days of 2007 when Kage went on a tirade about convention "ghosts" at Anthrocon, people who stay in the convention hotel and hang around in public spaces without paying for membership to the convention itself. His concern over such matters seems to have dropped off over the years, possibly because the convention is growing every year and getting all sorts of good press.
While Kage may no longer make a big deal about it, another convention has decided to pick up where he left off, in an attempt to scapegoat their own shortcomings.
This past weekend, Furry Weekend Atlanta made the outrageous claims that the convention "lost" $42,000 of income this year thanks to convention ghosts. Their reasoning is simple (yet terribly flawed): They were able to increase their hotel room block 27% this year, and only saw attendance increase 179 people from 2015's 3,252 to 3,431, suggesting that over 800 people "ghosted" the convention. This doesn't take into account the possibility that in the past, a shortage of rooms led people to cram more than the "authorized" number of guests into a room, or that attendees were forced to find accommodations at other nearby hotels, or that they just rented a room outside of the con block (which does happen as the hotel has 1500 rooms and only a part of those go to FWA).
These claims come one year after the convention suffered seriously bad PR in the form of dozens and dozens of reports of theft (search "fwa robbed" or "fwa theft" on Twitter and scroll back to 2015), whether from attendee's vehicles (in some cases, the vehicle itself was stolen), or hold-ups in areas outside the hotel like the skywalk. Another low point in 2015 was the poorly run, yet highly attended dance competition, which started an hour late only to suffer from massive technical meltdowns
, leading attendees to chant "You fucked up!".
While there are no doubt people in the hotel "ghosting" the convention, FWA seems to be using this opportunity to distract people from the real problems that the convention is experiencing. The robbery problem seems to have decreased this year, however there were reports this ye ar of the Atlanta Police showing up dressed like they were entering a combat zone
due to "vandalism and drugs
", which certainly won't do much to encourage attendance. While the technical meltdowns that took place during the 2015 dance competition seemed to have been resolved this year, it comes at the expense of having to hire outside staff after the convention chased off much of their free labor by forcing out key players on their AV team prior to 2015 (leading to the issues). That also hurts their bottom line, as professionals are going to want to be paid as such. I have heard the words "triple overtime" come up when hearing about other conventions that are held in hotels requiring union operators.
FWA is trying to get all the hotel rooms
put into their room block next year, which means we probably haven't heard the end of the "ghosting" thing.