In the con business, trust is one of the most important pieces of collateral that you have. People need to be able to believe that you will meet what you state you will do. This is the currency on which successful cons are built. Will every con live up to all their promises? No, that’s not likely to happen with a volunteer organization. The frequency of failure, though, is extremely important. If you miss something on a rare occasion, and then immediately make up for it, that’s okay. It’s when a pattern of failure takes shape that trust ends. When fans or pros feel like they can’t trust a con, that con is doomed to fail, because people will stop attending.
Gaining trust in the beginning is a lot easier than trying to repair it later. It takes a lot of work, both from an organizational stand point and through marketing, to regain people’s trust. If things are bad enough, it might even require a change in management. Fans, in particular, are more than willing to take to social media to vent their frustrations. More than one person has been forced out of running a con due to a lack of trust.
The converse is also true. When a fan or pro thinks you have a well-run convention, they can help drive people to your con. It will not happen with the frequency that negative comments will, but it does happen. Fans and pros tend to take partial, mental ownership of a con. Once they do that, they will want their friends at the con with them. That is the best advertising you can get, and it doesn’t cost you any money. If a person does things the right way, they might even find themselves in the enviable position of running a convention for many years, maybe even to the point where they start to reach a stage of burn out and get to pass the reigns of a successful convention to someone else.
One major blunder can wreck a convention, but so will several small mistakes as well. Small errors can add up. A few mistakes are bound to happen, but when the mistakes are so frequent that they outshine the positive, the con’s trust will have been lost, or a least seriously placed in serious jeopardy.