Visitor Survey Evaluation

186 of you – nearly 15 % of all visitors – have taken part in our visitor survey and provided valuable information on how you have experienced GalaCon. Thank you so much for your support and your appreciative words!

Many of you also had some suggestions or criticism, which is also highly appreciated. As staff, we have a very different perspective from the average visitor, so your feedback is vital to learn what works and what doesn’t!

Of course we take all your answers to heart and see what we can do to make GalaCon even better! Some things are out of our control, but we give everything at least a closer look.

We have listed some of the most frequent answers below and would like to give you insight into what we will do, what we can’t do and what we are currently improving. We’ll also explain which issues we sadly cannot solve, and why.

Further below, you will also find the overall statistics from the survey.

If you are interested in some more basic data about GalaCon and its visitors, check out this article. 

Frequent Suggestions and Criticism

Choose another date, because the hotel prices are too high!

A popular request was changing the event’s dates due to steep hotel prices in August. Unfortunately the prices are actually so high because of GalaCon – so even a date change (which would be very problematic for different reasons) couldn’t help here.

We sadly cannot influence the hotel prices for the better. We definitely understand your pain – Since we have to pay for hotel rooms for our VIPs, we struggle with the prices too.

Additionally, changing the convention dates would make it harder for visitors to reliably plan their trips. We also do what we can to avoid conflict with other conventions and events. All in all, we found that August works best for GalaCon.

The food quality was worse than last year and the prices were too high!

Food and drinks are solely provided and sold by the venue’s caterer. We are not allowed to sell food or drinks on our own or hire a different, cheaper caterer, so we are bound to what the Kubus restaurant provides.

In fact, the owner of the venue restaurant changed last year, so there is a new caterer with – of course – new personnel and new recipes. Also, the kitchen is currently under construction, so the caterer had to handle several challenging factors at GalaCon 2019, which impacted the food quality.

We have passed your feedback on to the venue owners and are discussing how things could be improved with the caterer.

Why were some low-quality items accepted for the Charity Auction?

Many kind people donate items for the Charity Auction every year and we do our best to sell them all to support Bronies for Good and their cause. Of course, not all items can be sold, but we don’t want to be too strict on rating or rejecting specific items.

It is worth mentioning of course that the actual value of an item cannot really be objectively rated, an item appearing low-value to one could have a high (sentimental) value for others due to a special history or connection not clear to everyone.

We always do our best to use the auction to showcase the creativity, skill and generosity of this fandom! To us, that means featuring a variety of items that are all special in their respective ways. We’ll evaluate if the rules for items need any changing, but we want to avoid overly harsh decisions.

Please make the Charity Auction longer!

Funny you would say that … We have actually extended the duration of the auction already – Twice!

Because no other events can run during the Charity Auction as it is the “unofficial end” of GalaCon, a further extension of its duration would interfere with the rest of the event schedule.

We will do what we can to make the auction run more efficiently and smoothly. However, part of what makes the auction so special is audience participation, and that often takes forms we cannot easily plan for.

The guests should participate in the Charity Auction!

Participation in the Charity Auction is optional for special guests. We always invite our guests to participate, but please note that all guests are exhausted after a long flight and two convention days and might need some rest.

The games were great!

Many of you have told us that the Scavenger Hunt, the Gala Run and Buckball were great and should be continued. We are very happy you enjoyed these extra events, and we will continue them in 2020!

The program schedule was too tight!

Choosing and scheduling panels and other events is one of our most difficult tasks. Visitors come with all sorts of interests and we do our best to cater to them all. We also receive many interesting concepts for new panels every year that deserve consideration. On top of that, successful panels can warrant re-runs in future years. All that plus our side activities demand time in our schedule, and it ends up being pretty packed!

So all in all, there is a decision between having many panels – leading to an overly tight schedule for some – or having less panels – leading to a boring schedule for others. Catering to every interest is nearly impossible, but we believe that a diverse schedule is overall better than risking too much boredom due to a lack of activities.

You can be certain that we will see how we can improve the schedule, still. Your suggestions are very helpful! We will especially look into avoiding overlap of events with similiar topics and the schedule of events running during VIP panels.

Some rooms were too small!

The CCG, Karaoke and Games Room shrunk in comparison to 2015 or 2016. This decision was not mainly made to keep ticket prices low (as you can read here, venue rent is one of the most expensive parts of our budget), but to make room for workshops.

Workshop rooms need a different setup with tables instead of just chair rows, so we could not just use a panel room. Adding another panel room would also be quite more expensive and lead to a significant increase in ticket prices. Just letting our volunteers re-arrange the chairs and tables is also not an option, because we are dealing with occupational safety regulations which allow only qualified employees to do such setup work.

Therefore, we ultimately decided to use the rooms on the ground floor to create a dedicated workshop room, even though that sadly meant less space for other activities.

This is an area that will always require some compromise, and we will make it dependent on how many workshop offers we receive and what we can afford without increasing ticket prices.

The Gala Ball needs to be improved!

Many of you mentioned the audio quality, the lighting and the stage setup for the Gala Ball. We definitely get where all of you are coming from! Sadly we already know we cannot change the location of the stage due to fire safety regulations and the setup of the surroundings.

We will certainly give the audio quality another look and ask the sound engineers for possible improvements. The lighting is another thing we can try to improve – but due to necessary installation work and security checks, even small changes in the stage setup can be a heavy strain on our budget.

The autograph prices are too high!

Unfortunately, we cannot affect these prices as they are set in the appearance contracts by the guests and/or their agents. Also, we do not get any of the revenue from autograph sales as some of you suggested, all revenue goes to the guests themselves.

You can read more about autograph prices and overall costs in this article.  

We need more community guests!

To be honest, the number of community guests was a bit low during the last years. But we are already working on this issue and have sent out some requests to possible candidates, so look forward to more community guest appearances in the future!

Why are there strict rules on adult content?

GalaCon is and always has been a family-friendly convention, and every year we welcome visitors from all age groups and all walks of life. To keep things this way, we want to ensure a safe environment for everyone. Content for adult audiences only, even of the non-explicit kind, would impede on this goal.

Additionally, there are strict youth protection regulations in Germany which forbid selling or exhibiting mature content in public. There are strict circumstances under which it is allowed, but we cannot meet these standards – it would require a closed area with access and age control which simply is not available at the convention.

Last but not least, we have a productive working relationship with the venue host, local media and authorities. Many good things partaining to GalaCon are made possible by these relationships, even! We do our part in return by presenting ourselves with decency to avoid drawing negative attention, in the interest of all our visitors.

Please make GalaCon a three-days-event!

As much as we’d absolutely love to make this happen, it is nearly impossible for us.

First of all, the costs for the additional venue rent and other necessary expenses would be so high that we would have to increase the ticket prices by at least 50 %.

Some of you suggested to let the evening events happen on friday, but this also would not work out. The venue can only be rented in blocks of eight hours, so only doing evening events on Friday for four or five hours would mean wasting three to four paid hours (the venue costs over 3.500 € per hour).

Then the human capacities come in as well. All of GalaCon is carried by volunteer work, and a lot of the people sacrificing their time for us cannot take days off from their normal lives. That means that most of our volunteers cannot arrive at GalaCon before Friday evening. Earlier arrivals would also have to pay for an additional hotel stay, which can get expensive.

The main GalaCon staff starts working from Wednesday onwards before the event. Extending the convention to three days would require some heavy shifting of tasks that might not be feasible, not to mention also adding the costs of time off and hotel stays.

So unfortunately, extending GalaCon to three days will not be possible without a significant increase of ticket prices as well as many more staff members and volunteers.

The Sunday is too short!

This is an issue we noticed as well – Having less time to plan fun events on Sunday is definitely not ideal. Sadly, this is something we cannot change on our own. Due to regulations in Germany, GalaCon has to remain closed until 11:00 AM on Sunday. This was explicitly stated by the local authorities in our exceptional permission in 2018.

We have extended the opening times from 06:00 PM to 08:00 PM to compensate for the later opening, already heavily interfering with our plans – we have to get the venue cleaned until 09:00 PM!

A further extension of opening times would simply unduly burden everyone involved with running the event and is therefore not possible.

The check-in is taking too long!

Many of you mentioned that the check-in took too long and that the fast lane entry was pretty ineffective. We have been working on this issue for quite some time. It is definitely true, however, that the check-in still takes longer than we’d like!

We are currently working on a faster solution using functionalities of the shop system we introduced in 2018 and faster, widely automatized systems. Please understand that the overall process of handing out badges and goodies will still take some time, but we are optimistic about being able to fill the venue much faster next year.

I couldn't find any elevators!

All areas of the venue are accessible. Elevator locations are always indicated on the venue map inside the convention guide and also by signs around the venue.

As many of you had problems finding elevators, we will try to improve the number and locations of signs as well as instructions inside the convention guide.

Someone was unfriendly or impolite towards me!

Some of you mentioned certain instances of this kind. Although we really want to, we cannot respond to such comments due to following reasons:

Most importantly, this survey is anonymous, so there is no proper way for us to ask for details on the described incidents. We also can’t just blame someone for their behavior without granting them a chance to respond and explain the situation – we have to hear both sides and mediate in such cases.

Another factor is that these events happened months ago. This makes it very difficult for us to retrace what exactly happened to make a fair call.

GalaCon absolutely takes your issues seriously and does not tolerate unkind behaviour of any sort. If you feel mistreated or harassed in any way at the convention, please get in touch with a staff member immediately! We gladly help you to clear up whatever problem arose.

If you didn’t see your specific suggestion listed here, don’t fret! We have forwarded all of your thoughts to the respective staff members for review and consideration.

General Numbers

First off, let’s check out what we’ve learned about our attendees through this survey. Knowing who comes to GalaCon and what they like helps us make the convention better, now and in the future! More information on numbers and countries of origin is given here. 

Survey participation went up significantly in comparison to 2018, so we have much more reliable input to work with.

Just as in 2018, the majority of our visitors was still in the 17-35 age bracket, but we have visitors from all age groups!

Many of you are GalaCon veterans and visit us every year – but there is also a significant number of first-timers. It is great to see that GalaCon still attracts more and more people and is not just an old hat at this point!

Indeed, we have been around for quite a while now. Most of you have been a part of the Brony community since day one, but we are still seeing newcomers – and we are also visited by those who already liked ponies before it was cool!

Fans of Generation 1 to 3.5 are the ones who have been there before MLP:FIM – and there are quite a few! Seeing Generation 1 still being appreciated after more than 30 years allows us to be quite optimistic about our community. Maybe you’d enjoy a bit more retrospective on generations past?

Another reason to be optimistic is this result. Most of you are still an active part of the community and visit events frequently.

Rating of GalaCon

The written feedback is most valuable to us, but seeing general trends is also quite helpful

It is nice to see that GalaCon is still rated pretty well – also, most of you think that GalaCon 2019 was the same as or even better than GalaCon 2018 and want to re-visit. There is a slight negative shift, but this might also be a cause of the higher number of participants. We will definitely keep an eye on that considering the given feedback and count it as a call for improvement.

The outcomes pretty much resemble what we can conclude from your feedback above. We will absolutely take the ratings for catering and the schedule as an important sign. We’ll make sure the appropriate parties do what they can to improve things!

More insight into the schedule. We can definitely tell it can be too hard to decide which events you’d like to attend, and that the schedule could still cover more interests. We’re glad to see that overall, the event lineup still caters to a good range of interests, and will see that we can further improve on that!

Musical Events

On average, the rating for the line-up has improved a bit, but some of you still found certain musicians or group unfitting for one or the other event or would still wish for more fitting, danceable music.

Finding fitting musicians for the Gala Ball can be difficult. The fan community features a great array of performers, but not many of them play music for Gala Ball dances. However, we are optimistic that we can bring back some past favorites and offer a hopefully more appealing lineup for 2020!

The dress code is always an issue of dispute and has gone through a lot of change. For some of you it is way too strict – why even bother enforcing a dress code, making it mandatory for people to bring or even buy expensive clothing? For some of you it is way too lax – how can it be a proper ball with all those summer dresses and business casual outfits around?

The Gala Ball is a bit of a “historic mainstay”, having been the main event of GalaCon since 2012. It is also the namesake of the convention, tying it to the Grand Galloping Gala all the way back from season 1! It’s an event that’s near and dear to our heart and we’d like to keep it going in a befitting manner. Replacing the Gala Ball with a general open music event is a neat idea, but it isn’t an option for GalaCon, especially since the Ball still does get a lot of positive attention.

Part of a ball is also a certain dress code which suggests a sophisticated vibe, so we can’t really go without it. It would simply destroy the special atmosphere of the event which so many visitors appreciate and make it one of many music events. And even small details count – Very obvious, colorful sneakers, trousers or other unfitting clothing can stick out negatively in a ball environment.

Of course not all of you can afford an evening dress or a tuxedo and many more of you just can’t find any more extra space to bring ball wardrobe to GalaCon. We respect that and have lowered the dress code to what we consider an accessible level that makes it possible to attend the ball on a small budget.

We also still try to find ways to make it possible for everyone to at least listen to the music, but we have to account for fire safety and security issues, which sadly limits our options.

We are absolutely aware that having an event with a dress code requires compromise for everyone involved, ourselves included. Perfecting the ball could be impossible, but just combining the music events or replacing the Ball altogether is not an option either. We do our best to make the Ball the best it can be, however, and hope you enjoy it as well! We hope you try to think of our music event lineup as something that includes a bigger variety of tastes rather than excludes anyone!

Usage of Facilities and Attendance of Events

We are always curious to find out if what we offer sees enough interest or rather might not be worth the effort.

What we can definitely see is that activities like Buckball, Gala Run and the Scavenger Hunt are well received, so we will absolutely bring them back in the future! Also, your answers show that the Fursuit Room, the Cosplay Walk and the Fursuit Walk are quite popular and should become a permanent feature.

Ticket Sales & Support

Contrary to what we expected, most of you are not actually opposed to the Early Bird system. We are especially happy about the positive feedback on it! If you want to read more about the need for such a system and the overall prices, please visit our ticket site or read our recent article on convention costs. 

The majority of you rated our ticket support positively. Still, we have improved our organization behind the scenes to provide faster support and more info. You can find more information on that as well as FAQ or support forms on our ticket site and on our ticket support site. 

End of Generation 4

Of course, we have had some fears and negative thoughts about how the end of Generation 4 could affect GalaCon. We are still facing an uncertain future and are at quite the crossroads – should we include Generation 5, should we stick to Generation 4 or isn’t there a need for GalaCon at all in the future?

To plan for the future, we have added some questions about your thoughts and predictions. At this point in time, the results are quite encouraging – barely anyone thinks that the end of Generation 4 will affect GalaCon at all and most of you are open towards Generation 5. We have also experienced an increased visitor count, so at least we should be safe for the upcoming years.

Most of you would even visit GalaCon regardless of which Generation we will include or focus on.

But still, most of you want a focus on Generation 4 in the future and this is exactly what we want to achieve. If Generation 5 is as great as we expect, we will of course give it a try, but our beloved pony friends will still play a central role.

As said before – most of you are open towards Generation 5 and think that the community is here to stay, although it might decrease in the future. But don’t worry – we already have plans B to D ready to let GalaCon survive even a significant decrease in visitor numbers. If you are here to stay, so are we!

Do you want to read more about the outcomes of our survey? Then feel free to download the whole summary here!