I’ve been to a dozen Worldcons beginning with Iguanacon II in 1978. I’ve never been to a bad Worldcon, but I thought Renovation was one of the better ones I’ve been to. It was well organized and ran without obvious major glitches. The RSCC was a large, clean venue well suited to the con’s needs. The room layout took a bit to figure out, but was actually pretty logical. I suppose the days are over when everything can be fit under one roof. The enclosed walkway between RCSS and the Atlantis made moving back and forth relatively easy, although it was still a bit of a hike. The shuttle busses to the Peppermill seemed to be frequent, and luckily there were not very many functions there during the day. I heard reports that the shuttle service had some breakdowns.
There were 20-25 programming items every hour during most of the daytime hours. There were few hours that I didn’t feel torn between at least two and usually three or four conflicting sessions. This is a phenomenal accomplishment for the organizers, especially considering everything was planned and implemented by volunteers. This was a great bargain considering advance registration was $140. Even at-the-door registration was only $220. Compare that to another non-profit organization’s convention that was going on the same weekend in Las Vegas, run by a paid staff. Their advance registration was $575 with at-the-door registration of $725, for a 3-1/4 day convention. They had a total of about 20 programming items during this time period.
The final total attendance was for Renovation was reported to be between 4000 and 4100, which is more than in Denver in 2008, but fewer than most North American Worldcons. There is a noticeable “graying” of the attendees, with a gradual decline in average attendance over the years. Some effort has been made to bring in more young people, but for a convention that is based on books, it’s a somewhat hard sell. Mega-cons such as San Diego Comic-Con and Dragon*Con draw the media savvy Generations X, Y, and Z.
U.S. Worldcons are traditionally held over Labor Day weekend, so Renovation was somewhat of an aberration. I suspect that getting low cost facilities in Reno during Labor Day would have been difficult. I didn’t mind going a couple of weeks early, but I don’t know if this affected others’ attendance. Reno is the smallest U.S. city to host a Worldcon in many years, so that undoubtedly played a part, too.
It’s often said that a Worldcon is a five-day party. I certainly had a ton of fun at this one, and hope to be able to attend many more in the years ahead.