Cons can suck, frankly. You’re out on your feet all day, there’s no way to get away from the crowd, and because the event is in the middle of summer, it’s hot as balls no matter where you go. One of the perks of our all-star treatment at Japan Expo was that we had access to the Premium VIP lounge.
The space is reserved for any of the guests and industry professionals attending the event, plus those who bought a Platinum Premium VIP package – which would normally cost 175 Euros ($215). Follow me after the jump, and hear about why this package was worth it if you could afford it.
The primary benefit of the room is that it gets you away from the crowd. You’ve got a chance to sit down with room to breathe. There isn’t the endless noise of people yammering away as you fight to keep your foot and a half square of floor. Also, the room is cold. Air conditioning kept the place chilly, which was sweet relief in the Paris summer. It frequently rained, meaning wet attendees made the hall filled with hot and humid air. Circulation could do nothing to assuage that, but the Premium VIP room made sure we didn’t have to deal with it for too long.
The layout of the room is nice: if you’re there early enough, you can nab one of the four sets of couches in the corners, which proved to be frequent meeting room tables for industry talk and impromptu interviews. Otherwise, bar stools and tables give you a chance to pick your feet off the ground and let your ass do some work for once.
The most dangerous part of the room: free drinks. During the day, they handed out free coffee, water, juice, and I believe some sodas. Snacks would randomly appear, either gummies or biscuits. Once it got past 6 – or whenever they felt like it – they would start handing out free booze. The most popular item was infused with green tea. They also had rum, vodka, shochu, and wine. All for free.
When you’re busy dealing with cosplayers stopping traffic dead in the middle of main shopping aisles in order to take pictures, or when the free huggers will start assaulting you, the drinks really help.
Now I know that in America, the “convention centers” get all uppity if they aren’t the ones providing the alcohol at exorbitant rates to the con, and there are all the matters of a liquor license.
Now, the biggest knock against this is the price. Yes, you are spending an exorbitant amount of money on the convention pass. There are a number of other benefits that come with it, including free checked bags, free restaurant tickets and breakfast passes, early access to the event, and gifts. But think about this: many people coming to the event are not getting a hotel. Instead, they're just taking the train in and out for the day. American convention goers are used to shelling out quite a bit of money for the hotel, and the cost of the VIP ticket largely balances out with the cost of a hotel, plus the relaxation you can get for somewhere to put up your feet.
This room really makes the whole weekend easier. It was never too crowded to sit because of the price and exclusivity of the tickets (only 100 went on sale), which is the whole idea behind the room. If you’re just at an event for a day or so, then there isn’t much point to a premium pass. But if you’re going every day, and can afford it, then you may as well spend the extra for a premium pass to get a break from everything.
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