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#329594 - 08/12/19 01:39 PM Review and Thoughts on the Event
SamIam Offline
Elf Manager

Registered: 07/20/05
Posts: 866
Loc: Manchester, NH
I was going to wait a few more days before writing this but I have some time and thought I should do it while it is fresh in my mind.

We arrived on Wednesday a whole day earlier than in past years and stayed another night on Saturday because dinner and the auction were included in the event and we didn't want to miss that. However, for some, including us that is the cost of two more nights of a hotel room which is more than $200 a night.

Hallmark went above and beyond on some aspects of this convention and then missed the mark completely on others.

They had registration pick up in both hotels which was great and it went smoothly and quickly. The product shop line was long but went relatively quickly.

My first signing time on Thursday was at 1:20 and I did not leave the hall until after 8pm. There were suppose to be 15 minute intervals for 5 groups of artist, in theory I would have been done in about an hour and a half, anyone who has ever been to any signing venue all new this was NEVER going to happen. I believe I heard that they scheduled 60 people in each 15 minutes, which is 120 items o be signed by 5 people. So some quick math tells us someone did their calculations way way wrong. When the artist returned from lunch ,they made an announcement to just get in line no matter what time you had it was all out chaos.

There were lots of fun little things around the signing room. A map/flowchart of sorts to answer questions which gave you an answer as to what ornament you were and you could get a sticker to which one you were. On the back of this giant board it told you a little bit about which ornament personalities you were..I was a Mischievous Kitten.

There was also a map the shape of the US and you could use a push pin and place it where your were from. There was voting by way of salt water taffy containers to tell them which ornament you like best this year and some designs for 2020.

I think they did a Hallmark movie for two of the nights. And although I love my Hallmark movies and I am sure some people enjoyed going to do that, I for one did not fly to KC to watch a repeat Hallmark movie that I can see anytime back in NH. If it was a sneak peek of a new movie, I may have been tempted, but no, I went room hoping. I feel like there were more rooms both in the Westin and Sheraton than there were in the past. I really love this part of the conventions, it is nice to meet people while doing this.

Friday morning the opening presentation was nothing less than SPECTACULAR!! There was a great many hours invested into that presentation that made you laugh and get energized.

There was a place called World of Miniatures which was simply a room with three tiny trees that would be at the auction, that took all of 25 seconds to look at and walk out. There was a session where they talked about making a mini wreath and you could do that, there was extra room in the Trivia session so I switched it on the app and went there instead. I came to an ornament convention not an arts and craft convention so that is where I wanted to be.

I went to a sneak peek session that was great, I went to another that was artist interviews, and another that was called license to create which was about obtaining the copyrights and such which was great. The only thing I didn't like was what they were doing with giveaways. If you submitted a question for the artists in advance your name was put in a box and if your question was picked you won an ornament. But... some got a special colorway convention ornament, while others got ones that were on the 90% off racks. I found this to be outrageous!! There were plenty of those special ornaments left I saw volunteers carrying boxes of them. There was another session with the Home and Family people with Ken Crow building a house, which was cute but went on for far too long, and each person left with a potholder that said Hallmark Home and family.

My friend questioned a Hallmark person why there were no drawings because that was the super fun part of the convention .. her answer " Well, we are giving you the other things that we are handed out?? You know the candy canes this morning" That was true there was a person handing out tiny candy canes, which at first I thought was a cute touch, but not in exchange for the special giveaways. There were also 9 button pins that were handed out to each person at the sessions, just like the ones we receive during premiere the last few years. Again, I know some people love these I could take it or leave it. This was an ornament convention so I would have rather got an ornament rather than candy canes, potholders, and buttons, but that is my humble opinion.

The games...

I am so thankful that the workers of the games did not let the same people come up to participate in the games twice. Well how you ask, was that even possible?? Because the secondary dealers had their workers with stacks of name tags, and they would call say "Linda Smith" and some guy would take a few minutes and look through 50 name badges and say oh I am right here. The Hallmark person said"I am not judging if you are really a Linda, but I am telling you right now you are not coming up here again"

The same thing happened in Trivia as well.

I was selected in trivia, I did not answer the question correctly I did not get an ornament, I got a pack of skittles..oh well..you don't always win. However, the next group of people that went up, she left everyone help each other and she helped too and everyone got an ornament. I don't like it one they change the rules in the middle of the game.

Spin it to Win it, the guy was a bit obnoxious although he thought he was funny, he was not. I got picked and I won the elf.

I was in the last session of Bingo and there were over 200 people in the room and they only had 10 specials ornaments the rest were left over KOC membership ornaments. Did anyone even consider that an entire group of KOC members probably purchased these already or in all probability at least the craziest of us who are willing to take vacation to go to a KOC convention are the ones who most likely did. I went back to the end of Spin it to win to ask if I could watch and they had cases and cases of the special ornaments with 70 people in the room an the guy was giving out 10 to some people. I heard one woman come in the room from Bingo after me and she told the Hallmark person that some of those ornaments should have been distributed more equally among the games. I completely agreed with her.

The dinner on Friday night could not be described as anything less than fabulous..there were chefs and craving stations what else can you say. The dinner on Saturday night ( and I know some disagree with me)was disgusting.. I could not swallow what can only be described as turkey loaf, my ham was completely dried out, the cheese was not melted in my potatoes au guartin and they were ice cold in the middle. I ate the rolls, green beans, and salad. I was told the desserts were good as well. I just passed on them. The costumes were amazing!! I mean so much fun and amazing, I just think they need a kids category so they do not have to compete with an elaborate adult costume and vice versa; the adults who spent hundreds of hours and dollars on theirs don't have to compete with an adorable baby. The auction was really fun, the woman Hallmark brought in was fabulous and the nutcrackers were stunning, I did squeeze in a few bids on them, but alas I did not get them. The Ken Crow tree without any colorways or special ornaments did go for over 30K and Ken was so overwhelmed by emotion everyone got choked up. Lots of money was raised for the Boys and Girls Club.

The only other thing I need to say is how unscrupulous and I am afraid to say retail fraudulent practices happened when the product shop opened for additional product. There were several people deliberately distracting workers so they did not see people changing badges and cutting to circumvent the control of 5 ornaments per person. Why they did not do two at first and make people get back in line I will never know. My fellow club members just wanted to buy pieces to give to those who could not get there, not sell for 10x the price. I understand there is a purpose for these secondary markets, and a great node to capitalism if they can afford to buy them and make a living selling them, but when you are deliberately trying to maneuver around the rules put in place, it is just plain wrong.

Overall, I enjoyed myself. Hallmark needs to tweak a few things including staggering times the sessions let out. It was actually dangerous at times in the halls at the Westin. The fire marshal would have closed the place down.

#329604 - 08/12/19 09:50 PM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: SamIam]
elfin365 Offline
Elf Engineer - Toy Design

Registered: 04/21/09
Posts: 240
Loc: Naperville IL
I agree with most of your statements. All the presentation were fun and informative ...and well done. However, my time for spin to win was the last time on Saturday. They let anyone in regardless if it was their second or third time, greatly reducing my chances and the chances of a woman sitting close to me from Canada who had won only one ornament the entire time. The spin to win guy gave a whole lines of people 4,5,6, and 8 ornaments. Everyone around me had been there at least twice. And the last person won 64 ornaments. People brought in their children again knowing that all children would get ornaments. Having people come in more than once when some of us had not been given a fair chance of winning is unfair. I don't blame the people … I blame the person from Hallmark that made that decision. It was clear that the host was trying to give away the inventory. A more fair way at the end would have been to ask first timers who had not won to come up for the left overs instead of giving one person 64 ornaments. There was three full boxes left when I left. I landed up buying Frosty Friends for $80 from a woman who won 8 of them.
All that being said I met some great new friends and had a blast until the last Spin to Win game when someone decided to change the rules.

#329608 - 08/12/19 10:29 PM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: SamIam]
beachboots Offline
Elf Engineer - Toy Design

Registered: 01/19/03
Posts: 306
Loc: Virginia Beach, VA, USA
Hey SamIAm. I assume the person with 50 badges is a slight exaggeration but how many do you think he really had? Since it was one membership per person, I can see where a family of 6 may have 6 badges. If he had lots more, then I assume he purchased badges from event attendees or attendees leased their badges. Either way, I feel okay with that as long as that person can only play one time per session. Lastly, changing rules to spin it was a slap in the face to all except a few fortunate ones called to play and win multiple ornaments. Hallmark should let every attendee spin the wheel and you get what you get.

#329642 - 08/14/19 12:47 AM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: beachboots]
SamIam Offline
Elf Manager

Registered: 07/20/05
Posts: 866
Loc: Manchester, NH
He had a stack of badges and I do mean a stack, which took him some time to fan through. The secondary dealers have all their employees register and keep a few in each game session to win the special ornaments. I chuckled a bit when you mentioned a family, because some guys name was called for Trivia and one girl said “ Oh, thar’s my Dad he had to check the car, but I have his name badge” Later a guy did come in the room and sit next to her. However, that night during room hoping all three in the group were in the secondary dealers room, working wearing their matching T-shirt’s. The girl called the guy by his first name, and I said” oh I thought he was your Dad, and she smiled and said no.

#329650 - 08/14/19 02:30 PM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: SamIam]
erika20_98 Offline
YuleLoggers Club Treasurer
Elf VP

Registered: 01/08/10
Posts: 1214
Loc: Idaho
Originally Posted By: SamIam
He had a stack of badges and I do mean a stack, which took him some time to fan through. The secondary dealers have all their employees register and keep a few in each game session to win the special ornaments. I chuckled a bit when you mentioned a family, because some guys name was called for Trivia and one girl said “ Oh, thar’s my Dad he had to check the car, but I have his name badge” Later a guy did come in the room and sit next to her. However, that night during room hoping all three in the group were in the secondary dealers room, working wearing their matching T-shirt’s. The girl called the guy by his first name, and I said” oh I thought he was your Dad, and she smiled and said no.

Wonder if the "dad's" name was Mark. I believe his son's name was Steve and the girls name was Kirsten. I know a "mark" was buying game prizes from people and paying $200 an ornament and he even went an exchanged several beer stines for frosty friends at the end of last spin it to win it.

#329651 - 08/14/19 02:42 PM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: SamIam]
homemadebycarol Offline
Santa's Helper

Registered: 05/04/99
Posts: 3937
Loc: Reno, NV
I've read this and posts on Facebook about the event and it always strikes me how similar the issues are with each event. When I used to go to them, there were always delays and issues with the long artist signing lines, there were always people game playing the games. This isn't Hallmark's first rodeo so I'm surprised they haven't come up with better ways to handle it, especially as I'm sure they get lots of suggestions and feedback from the attendees each time. I wonder if they ever get the same people who manage or run the conventions and pass along the lessons learned from them?

I was a bit nostalgic during the convention, reading about people's positive (and not so positive) experiences. From my personal point of view, the KOC conventions were where I saw both the best and worst aspects of collecting and collectors. Fortunately, most of my memories are of the positive ones but I will admit the negative ones were a factor in deciding not to go to them in recent years.

#329656 - 08/14/19 09:13 PM Re: Review and Thoughts on the Event [Re: SamIam]
susan in florida Offline
YuleLoggers Vice President
Santa's Helper

Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 7854
Loc: Clearwater, Florida
Ok here Goes: Thursday-
Six of us flew in on the same plane and took a shuttle to the Sheraton. We arrived at the Sheraton at noon. I Got my room, dropped off the suitcase and went to registration.
There was nobody there except me and about 8 Hallmark volunteers. They were so happy to see somebody. They checked my ID and handed me the bag. I liked the burlap event bag. It seems to be bigger.

Then off to the product shop to pick up my ornaments. Again there was nobody in line I just walked right up. Everything was already in the bag except for the mystery bag. It was behind a black curtain. I joked that I hoped it had a fairy. He said they were all random. I was thrilled when I opened the bag and there she was!!

YIPPEE thigs were going smooth.

Back upstairs to the room to drop off the bag. I took out the ornaments I wanted to get signed by the artists and headed downstairs to the signing. I had back to back signing starting at 1:20 starting with Memory Making. I was supposed to be done at 2:55 ending with the POP group.
I was 20 minutes early.. I was ready!! UNTIL....

Imagine my surprise when I walked into the room. It was packed- utterly PACKED with people. It was overwhelming. I walked one time around the room to find out my line was the BIGGEST one in the WHOLE room.
It was 1:05, my signing time was 1:20. The volunteer was still calling for people with 11:00 signing time tickets. . What to do????
My next signing was the Magic line- with Ken Crow at 2:00- turns out it was just as long and was just as far behind.
At 3:00 I was still in the first line- All the artists took off to take a break and late lunch. By then you knew everyone in line around you.
I told them I would be back and took the time to write out a card and drop it in the mailbox for Hallmark to mail. Also dropped off a card for Ken's retirement . Also one for Debbie for her husband's passing.
Back to the line. Hallmark had given up on set times. You could just get in any line. Finally made it- 1 group done and 4 to go. Over 2 and 1/2 hours later.
I looked over and the Retired line was short. I made a beeline to it. 2 groups done now 3 to go.

I checked out the other 3 groups. Magic and Favorite Characters were REALLY long. I decided on the POP Line.
I was supposed to be at the Yuleloggers get together in the lobby of the Sheraton at 5:45. I just finished the POP line at 6:10. I was in the signing room from 1:15 until 6:10= 5 HOURS and I only got 3 of the 5 groups done.
We were told that the artists said they would come back at 7:00 and sign until 8:30 at night.

I hurried upstairs to the Yuleloggers Get together. We had a good turn out and everyone got an ornament and a goodie bag. We did not get a chance to get a group picture this time. I enjoyed our club time. We got a few new members too.

Back downstairs to the artist signing. I picked Favorites characters. Magic- with Ken Crow was even longer than before. Another hour and 1/2. 6 and 1/2 hours and I had only 4 of the 5 lines done.

There was still plenty of people trying to get in line when they started closing it down at 8:15 so that they could be done by 8:30.
I went upstairs to open my room for Room Hopping . Not many people out as we were all worn out from standing in lines all day.

Grumpy , tired and hungry. I never got dinner at all. It was NOT a good start for the event.


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