Shortly before VampCon was meant to go ahead at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare, Rosemont, IL, on September 20–22, Brent J. Warren, VampCon Operations, issued a press release on September 10, saying the event would be rescheduled.
In order to determine why the plug was pulled so close to the event’s date, I contacted the event’s founder, Christopher A. Davis, for comment.
Anthony Hogg: Thanks for taking time out to do this interview. I know things are a little raw—for you and the ticketholders. But let’s start with the most obvious question: with just under two weeks to go till the event was supposed to happen, the plug got pulled citing “recent circumstances that will prevent several key personnel from being available to their full abilities at this time” in the VampCon press release. What were these specific circumstances?
Christopher A. Davis: There were a number of contributing factors and many of the specifics are personal to the people involved. What we can say is that these circumstances lead to a break down of communication, both internally and externally, and that then resulted in key information with programming and panels, hotel, guests, etc, not being shared with the parties that needed it.
AH: Considering that updates about events at VampCon were still being posted in the lead up to the rescheduling—one even the day before—when, exactly, did it become apparent the event was not going to be happening on September 20–22? Can you describe the lead up to your decision to pull the plug?
CAD: The exact moment we realized that the event would not be happening as scheduled was a few hours before the announcement was made. In the days leading up to the decision several changes and additions were made with staffing in an attempt to fix the now apparent problems that we had come across. It was over the course of many conversations and meetings with this new team that we felt that, while given no other choice we could put on the event as listed, we would not be able to put on a convention we would be proud of and that would be enjoyable for our attendees.
AH: Will the artists and attendees be reimbursed for non-refundable travel and accommodations due to the cancellation?
CAD: We are currently working with all parties to see what can and cannot be reimbursed. Our first priority was to get the notice out as quickly as possible to mitigate as many cancelation fees for everyone as is possible. For now anyone that has any concerns or requests should continue to reach out to us at email@example.com. There we can answer individual concerns as they come in. We will be announcing things like the new date and answers to the more frequently asked questions in another large formal post in the coming days.
AH: Although the press release says “All previously purchased badges for VampCon will be valid for the new date,” if anyone wants to cancel their tickets, will they be refunded? If so, how soon would their refund arrive?
CAD: For anyone wishing to have their badge purchase refunded we ask that they reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with their full name, the email address they used to purchase the badge, and the website they bought the badge at. Refunds should be available within 7 days of contacting us.
We will also be announcing a bonus for all attendees that have already purchased their badges, something that will only be offered to ticket purchases made before the date change.
For those on the fence, they will have 30 days after the new date is announced to request a refund.
AH: The press release mentioned that the event would be postponed at [sic; to] a later time. Any idea when that will be? Will it be at the same venue?
CAD: We do not have a date yet, but it will be at the same venue. We are currently working with the venue for available days in the spring. We should have a decision made by the end of the week.
AH: If the event is still going ahead, will VampCon still be featuring the same line-up? Have all guests agreed to appear at proposed rescheduled event?
CAD: At this time we cannot say. We are hoping to have many, if not all, of our current guest stay on for the new date, but until we confirm what that new date is we cannot be sure of their availability. As soon as we solidify our new weekend we will relay that to the guests.
AH: If all goes well, what do you envision for the rescheduled event? Will there be any changes to the original program? I can’t see anything on the website; the content’s gone except for copyright line, a “Contact Us” link, social media icons and a newsletter subscription pop up.5
CAD: The vision for VampCon is and always was to be a place for those in the vampire fandom to meet and share that love. We will be revamping the website to better provide information.
We are already working on a schedule of panels that will have something for everyone to enjoy. We will be keeping the majority of the previous programing, but there are a lot of ideas that previously did not come to fruition that we will now have the opportunity to explore. As we continue to build that list we will also be making sure to reach out to the community as a whole for suggestions on what they would like to see and for fans that want to participate as panelists to have the chance to volunteer. The best thing about convention programming is that it gives everyone a chance to be part of the show. Our staff are fans and we all know that what truly makes a convention great are the fans that attend. This show is about them, so their participation is crucial.
AH: In light of this unfortunate setback, why should prospective attendees and ticketholders trust you to pull off the rescheduled event? What fail safes have you put in place to make sure it doesn’t get cancelled again?
CAD: Our biggest asset to making sure the reschedule not only happens, but is worth it is our team. We have an amazing staff, with decades of experience with locale conventions, that are truly invested in the success of VampCon. As we have mentioned, communication turned out to be one of our biggest downfalls, so transparency is going to be a huge part of our internal policy going forward. This will help us ensure that information is being disseminated properly and that there is always at least one other person that can help out in case of an emergency. We are also going to be using some of that transparency to help build a better relationship with the attendees. We are so confident in our team that we want everyone to meet them. Expect to see updates that include introductions to our staff.
- I contacted the event’s founder: Questions emailed to Davis on
September 11, 2019. Answers received September 12, 2019.
- “recent circumstances will prevent several key personnel”: VampConChicago, VampCon 2019 to Be Reschedule, 2019, https://www.facebook.com/vampconchicago/photos/a.245721299574969/511304846349945/?type=3&theater.
- one even the day before: VampConChicago, “We’re thrilled to screen The Foal at #VampConChicago!,” September 10, 2019 at 3:15am AEST, https://www.facebook.com/vampconchicago/photos/a.245721299574969/510611846419245/?type=3&theater.
- “All previously purchased badges”: VampConChicago, VampCon 2019 to Be Reschedule.
- postponed at [sic; to] a later time: VampConChicago, VampCon 2019 to Be Reschedule.
- I can’t see anything on the website: VampCon Chicago, https://www.vampconchicago.com/, accessed September 11, 2019. Wayback Machine: https://web.archive.org/web/20190911001311/https://www.vampconchicago.com/.
Stay up to date with VampCon developments by visiting their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/vampconchicago.
A special shout-out to vendors affected by the rescheduling, who I regretfully neglected to mention in my questions.
VampCon has since updated their website, https://www.vampconchicago.com/, to include the press release issued on Facebook and a link to a list of vendors originally planned to appear: https://www.vampconchicago.com/vendors/.
In the meantime, we at Vamped sincerely hope all goes well for the ticketholders, the vendors, the guests, Christopher and his team.