Dealing with Guests

Dealing with Guests
Dealing with Guests
Or, how to spot and identify
celebrities from quite a long way
Dealing with Guests
By Jim Vowles
Otakon Guest, Industry, and Press
Relations Chief
Number one
• The larch.
Number two
• The Scott McNeil
Number one
• The larch.
Why should I care
• Whether you love or hate the guest, or
couldn’t care less about them, your actions
reflect on the convention
• Guests who feel welcome and enjoy
themselves will sell us to other guests
• We set the example for our members
The Guest/Con Agreement
Guests bring the con….
Bump in membership
Positive Buzz
Press coverage
Goodwill among
• Programming content
(panels, events)
The Con brings the guest…
• Exposure for guest
• Exposure for
• Opportunity to interact
with fans
• Opportunity to network
within industry
• Unique opportunity to
visit US (for overseas
Guest Categories
• Guests
– Invited Guests: we invite, promote, schedule, and cover all costs;
industry often still part of this but we control.
– Industry Guests: industry invites and covers costs; we may
promote and schedule but not necessarily
• Non-Guests
– Featured Panelist
• Expert, Big Name Fan, etc. with a draw (via Programming)
– Featured Webcomic
• We promote on our website and in program book but do not cover
costs unless they’re organizing a panel (via Programming and/or
• Too many webcomics to support fairly, and most are not within our
Guest Types
Actors - seiyuu, dub actors, live action actors
Artists - animators, manga-ka
American Guests
• Predominantly voice actors, ADR directors, etc.
and others involved in the dubs
• Hugely popular among our membership
• Sometimes have fan clubs
• Autographs in high demand
• Largely independent
• Often here on their own (this is not paid time for
• Generally informal and friendly
Japanese/Overseas Guests
• Broad spectrum of production and creative
types and talents
• May be here on behalf of their company or
• May be first visit to the US
• Tend to be formal and polite by default
Cautions for Japanese Guests!
• Basic, simple formality - best behavior
– Politeness, but not necessarily stiffness
• Maintain distance - arm’s length
– Size difference can make them feel
– Most are not touchy-feely by default
• Don’t assume they don’t understand you
– Many understand at least a bit of English, even
if they rely on an interpreter
• Pay attention to their discomfort level!
More cautions
• Take extra care with hygiene. Steer away from
fanboy funk areas!
• Don’t blow your nose in public. (And especially
not at dinner!)
• Take your cue from the guest and handlers about
– Bow the same or slightly more than they do
– Don’t exaggerate the bow
• Don’t stress out over the bowing or Japanese
– They don’t expect us to get it perfect
Exchanging Business Cards
• Cards are exchanged at the start of the meeting, and
usually while standing.
• Exchange cards using both hands when possible; if
not, use the right hand.
• Review both sides of the card carefully. Confirm
pronunciation of names and positions at this time.
• Place the card carefully in your card holder, wallet,
or shirt pocket -- never in your pants pocket.
– If at a formal meeting, leave cards on the table as a
reference during the meeting; then put away carefully
• Don’t write on the card in the presence of the
person who gave it to you.
Speaking via Interpreter
• The interpreter is your go-between; ask for his or her
– “Would you mind introducing me to Maruyama-san?”
• Allow the interpreter to introduce you
• Address your questions and responses to the guest directly,
not the interpreter
– “I’m glad to meet you” vs “tell him I’m glad to meet him”
• Be as clear as you can -- have a good idea of what you’d
like to say before you start talking.
• Allow frequent pauses for the interpreter to catch up.
“I’m not sure that would translate
• This phrase is a signal that you may be putting your foot in
your mouth, or that you’re asking too much of the
• Some things you say may not translate well, or may be
difficult for the interpreter to convey properly. Some
interpreters are more fluent than others and some simply
lack vocabulary for certain concepts.
• Some things may even be offensive or considered very
poor taste, and it may not be obvious to westerners.
• The interpreter will try to prevent giving unintentional
offense, and is offering an easy way out. Take it unless
what you’re asking is very important!
Musical Acts & Manga-ka
(and other high-profile guests)
• Access control often key to the agreement that
brings them here
• Neither likely to be unaccompanied; if found,
return to relations/green room
• Musicians typically tightly controlled by label
– However sometimes band members escape (TMR’s
bandmates decided to sneak out and look for food in
the wee hours)
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
• Manga-ka are sometimes notoriously shy
General Rules for All Guests
• Be polite and courteous
• Try not to go all fanboy - use restraint!
• Don't take advantage of your staff position to ask
for anything
• Don’t monopolize the guest’s time - others are
• Respect their privacy
• When in doubt, check with the assigned interpreter
or relations staffer
Avoid Foot-In-Mouth Disease
• For goodness sake, avoid the whole dub/sub thing!
• Don’t talk about the anime you just downloaded or
bring up fansubs…
• The guest almost certainly knows more than you
do about “the industry”
• Don’t talk negatively about shows, companies,
events, or people around guests, press, or industry
– Word gets around quickly
– Project may have involved them or a friend
– Could sour their whole experience (this has
happened before!)
• When asked for honest feedback:
“Ordinarily I am partial to
– Do your best to answer truthfully, but TACTFULLY fights between enslaved mutant
– It’s okay to deflect! (Especially if you really hate
animals. Perhaps I was not the
their work!)
target audience for the second
Pokemon movie.”
When Guests Wander
• Some guests want to explore on their own
– Maruyama-san, for example, usually sneaks off to
wander the exhibit halls when he has time
• Some guests, however, simply get lost or waylaid
– Signs of being lost for real:
• Wandering around in docks (without a cigarette)
• Panicky or dazed look
– Signs of being waylaid
• Surrounded by horde of fangirls
• Panicky or nervous glances
Lost Guest Syndrome
• Most often happens when guest decides to “meet us”
someplace -- most often en route to or from autographs or
• If a guest is obviously lost:
Look for a nearby escort
Ask if you can help them get where they’re going
See if they want you to call for help
Contact green room or relations ASAP
• If lost guest doesn’t speak English
First ask the guest, in English, if he needs help
Contact green room/relations ASAP
Consult pocket schedule if you can
Bring guest to a safe staff area such as Ops or Green Room
Social Interaction
• American guests often join us for staff downtime, and are
more apt to spend time with fans, in the nearest bar, or in
lobby areas
• Japanese guests tend to prefer smaller gatherings and rely
on Relations staff to act as a buffer
• Plenty of exceptions in each case
• Always let the guest set the tone for what they expect
• Be careful about drinking with guests!
– Avoid excessive drinking yourself
– Try to ensure the guest doesn’t get too drunk
Be aware of the guest’s moods!
Having a great
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Having fun!
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
QuickTime™ and a
TIFF (Uncompressed) decompressor
are needed to see this picture.
Tired and would
rather be cuddled
with wife
• Treating our guests well is probably second only
to treating our members well.
– Building good will is critical to ensure future
– We may be their only glimpse of USA fans
• Japanese and American guests have different
expectations and different needs
• Be careful what you say in front of guests!
• If you encounter a guest in an unexpected place,
switch off your inner fanboy and re-connect the
guest with Relations staff
Summary (continued)
• For Japanese guests
Be especially polite
Pay extra attention to hygiene
Give “arm’s length” personal space
Be prepared to respond to card exchanges
When speaking via interpreter, speak to the guest and
allow time for the interpreter to translate
– Don’t assume Japanese guests don’t speak English
Summary (continued)
• Be on your best behavior and set a good
example for our membership
• Let the guest set the tone for your
• Be sensitive to guest’s moods
– If guest is surrounded by fans, keep a sharp eye
on the crowd
BONUS: Wil Wheaton’s
Rules for Conventions
• Rule One: Conventions would not
exist without fans.
• Rule Two: Conventions can not
function without volunteers.
• Rule Three: Respect your fellow
• Rule Four: A memo to celebrity
guests who sign autographs….it’s
never about the autograph, it’s
about the interaction.
• Rule Five: Don’t be a dick.
Wil demonstrates how to
cast spells like Doctor
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