2012 BPA Survey Results—Location
Jan. 12, 2013

76% of our respondents drive to WBC, a figure that increases to 84% if you add the 8% carpool option. 14% fly and only 2% take trains as their primary method of transportation. Among those who fly, 48% go to Philadelphia, 28% to BWI and 8% to Harrisburg. Once there, 55% rent a car, 18% carpool, and 24% use the train to reach Lancaster leaving only 3% using direct commuter airlines or other means to reach the con.

Drivers claimed to be making the trip in a range from under one hour up to 60 which means a few folks are driving farther than others are flying. However, 78% of them claim to be making the trip in six hours or less which puts them inside a 350 mile radius of Lancaster. Although most indicated a willingness to drive further to a new location, 66% would not attend if the move was beyond their driving “comfort zone"; meaning only 34% would opt to fly instead in order to attend.

What You’d Like to See… What You Want Not to Change How I See It…
Closer to a Major Airport 23: That is the reason I haven’t been back. It’s too hard to get there from here./ Car rentals add greatly to the overall cost. / Having to fly cross country to get to WBC, it would be nice to have it near a major airport. I realize that raises costs quite a bit, but if it were close enough to be accessible via metro transit options, that would be nice. I will admit that the Amtrak to Lancaster from Philadelphia works reasonably well, but closer to a metro area would make the travel easier. / The last year at Hunt Valley was the last year I attended (2004). This was due to the birth of my son, but the greater hassle of the Host, mainly the need to rent a car, has helped put me off returning. Now that my kid is getting into games, I plan to bring him to WBC at some point. A more accessible location would improve the chances. Airport Connections 1: I do like the location. The Host is obviously an ageing facility, but it does have a lot of gaming space available together with a range of nearby hotels at a variety of quality and price points. … Lancaster is also a reasonably attractive location for me as someone who flies in from outside the US; it is a straightforward drive from BWI, Dulles and Newark, taking no more than 3 hours from these airports and allowing me to look for better fares, and for those who do not drive (or do not wish to pay for car rental for a week when the vehicle’s only going to sit in the parking lot for most of that time) it is also easy to get to by public transportation from these airports. I followed the discussion about the Host’s failings on Consimworld after this year’s convention and just about every alternative location suggested would be a less attractive option for me. I won’t downplay the convenience factor of proximity to a major airport as a major factor in our considerations. I consider it more important than many other variables. However, I do take exception to the frequently expressed notion that a car rental is necessary to get to the Host. Convenient yes, necessary no. Rail connections, especially for those flying into Philadelphia, are quite reasonable.
Change/Rotate Region 11: I understand the Atlantic Coast bias (and I mean that in the mathematical, not social, sense) to the BPA market, but it does seem a bit unfair to me that everyone has to travel but NYC to DC corridor. (No, driving less than 4 hours is NOT travel. … So given the opportunity, I’d like to see us move. Toward NYC or toward WDC makes the most sense to me as that increases the amount of stuff that families can do either before or after. … Surely the Midwest has enough gamers. The loss of east coast people should be balanced by more midwesterners. / It would also be nice if at least on occasion it changed locations, making it easier for those of us who don’t live on the East Coast to make the trip. Mid-Atlantic Region 45: Proximity to where I live is the most important factor determining my attendance. / I really like the Mid-Atlantic location, partly because it’s close to me, but also because there isn’t a large convention around here that draws people. I would really hate to see the con move to the Midwest, to settle in alongside Origins & GenCon.

The concept of rotating convention sites is commonly thought to be a non-starter. The Origins convention which I founded 40 years ago rotated annually for years and never grew until it settled in one location. Unless an event is a media attraction such as the Super Bowl, changing regions is a real detriment to growth since it takes time to be noticed and accepted as an annual regional attraction on people’s calendars. The notion that people from a different region will replace those from the departed region in the same proportion is simply false—it takes years to sink roots in a region and develope a loyal following.

Secondly, if WBC were to move to a new region, it would do so without many of its core GMs so those who did attend would not be experiencing the real WBC with its full cadre of experienced GMs anyway. And given its unique status as a tournament convention, many attendees from a new region would either be intimidated or not attracted in the first place since they are used to large trade show vendor halls and/or Open Gaming and shorter duration conventions.

Lastly, there is the matter of turf wars. Not only would established conventions in a region be unhappy to see us move into their area, the same would hold true for many of their attendees who grow to like the local attraction and become territorial in their loyalties. While WBC claims to be a national and even international event with some justification, it cannot be denied that the lion’s share of its attendance is regional and any venture outside the mid-Atlantic would be accompanied by a considerable loss of its core base.

There is no doubt that better, larger and less expensive facilities are available in other regions, but for all of the above reasons we believe we must remain in the mid-Atlantic area.

Move to a major City or Area with more Vacation opportunities for non-gamers 9: Move out of Lancaster PA… to a nicer site to visit. / The most expensive part of WBC is the time I take away from work—if I am going to take two days of vacation, I want it to feel like a vacation. / If the location were near a spot I would take my family for a summer vacation I would be more likely to come. The location is great for former Avaloncon crowd (which is your core constituent) but not so good for those of us that have to fly. Vacation Opportunities 4: I have a young family and a limited budget so we use the convention as a family vacation. The current location is excellent for this as there is a lot to do close by. I also like that there are alternative lodging locations within walking distance (though the daily Frogger slog is a challenge). / Having Hershey Park and the outlet malls nearby is a rather nice thing to have. The counter-arguement to remaining in one fixed location is the tourist element and its a valid point for those looking to entertain significant others while they are gaming. If you stay in one location year after year, sooner or later you exhaust the local attractions. I recall when we left Maryland that people welcomed the move because of all the new things to do in Amish country. They had grown tired of what Baltimore had to offer. Now, that applies to Lancaster for some. Lancaster County is not the big city but it does have its share of nearby sites including Hershey Park, Dutch Wonderland, Gettysburg and numerous Amish attractions. Further afield you can make daytrips to Baltimore, Philadelphia and Washington. But whereever we go, one will eventually exhaust the new tourist experiences. And as for the mega-attractions like Vegas or Orlando, the lure of such nearby distractions could do more harm than good.

Move it closer to me: 7 It’s all about me and my convenience!

Return to MD 8: I want Open Gaming with windows. / I miss the days of the Hunt Valley Inn when all it took was a trip on the Baltimore light rail system to get from BWI to the event location.

HVI Comparisons 4: Overall a huge improvement over Hunt Valley. / I like the amenities of Lancaster—good restaurants close by (much better than Hunt Valley), nice walking/running track on site, good food at the Host / I attended one WBC in Baltimore and did not love the location (although I like Baltimore as a travel destination). / The current venue, while older, works fairly well. I prefer it to the Hunt Valley location—the food is better and the atmosphere is more casual vs. the Marriott Whenever a convention moves there are those who prefer the old site to the new one—even besides the people who live a block away and tend to be a tad biased. I find fond memories of Hunt Valley Inn now rather amusing given all the complaints that were voiced about the place while we were there. But subjective opinions aside, it is a moot point. It was too small for us when we moved, and we’ve since gotten bigger while it has gotten smaller—eliminating some of its meeting space during its latest renovation.
Previous   Next
Boardgame Players Association Last updated 1/12/13 by kae.
© Copyright 2013 by the Boardgame Players Association.
Trademarks are property of their respective holders.