Virtual consuite

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A traditional Consuite is a social hub that attracts people with food and soft drinks. It does not exists in UK conventions where the focus is the Bar.

A virtual version cannot offer nibbles, but needs to provide the alternative in physical cons to chance meetings in corridors and rolling conversations round groups of comfy chairs. It also can provide space for parties and informal programme items, though probably not things like kaffeeklatsches which would not welcome interruptions.

For something with a key function, it has proved surprisingly unpopular. People drop in early on, find nothing is happening and never return. Desultory conversations occur in the lobby, but the staff on duty there feel an obligation to stay low-key and the atmosphere fades.

video chat seems the best approach, ConFusion (Eastercon)'s use of Gathertown proved very unpopular.

The core hours for a consuite should match those for the hosting country, 10am - 10pm, but for events with an international flavour they should be extended. 24hr cover is too much, but 7am - 1am for an East Coast US event would open it up for European and West Coast participants. Australian and NZ fans tend to accept they need to adjust to meet up with others.

The consuite needs a host to greet people at the lobby, rename breakout rooms, enable screen sharing and the like.

Hybrid conventions need to use the consuite to connect remote and on-site participants, but it proves hard. One thing that works is a physical attendee doing a walkthrough of the hotel, perhaps at a quieter time of day when wifi is less stressed. This could be extended to have someone wandering with a consuite hat on for other attendees to wave to, though the interaction would be shallow. Docent tours of the Art Show would reduce reduce the disconnect between the groups, but the No Photography rule would need to be waived.

Party spaces can have virtual bartenders who can recommend drinks. DisCon III tried employing professionals who would ask you what you had in your cupboards and suggest cocktails.

Virtual food and beer tastings can work with attendees advised what to buy in advance.

Watchathons for outside events like TV shows or contentious programme items are good, allowing more informal audio snarking.