How to run a fan-suite

Pick a Theme

The most important part about running a fansuite is picking a fandom to theme around. It binds everything else you do together.

Create Decor

Whatever your theme, you need to be able to decorate your room around it. This can easily get expensive if you need to buy props so its typically better to make them yourself.

  • Shop the day after Halloween, everything is on sale.
  • If you plan to do this for multiple years decide if you are going to repeat the same them; or plan ahead for what props you may be able to re-use the following year.
  • Cover your walls. The less like a hotel room your room looks the better. Sadly hotel restrictions make this difficult, but with enough tape those Halloween wall clings will stay up.
  • Cover your floors. Patterned contact paper found at any hardware store or even Walmart will lay down nicely over the plastic that the hotel puts down to protect their carpets.
  • You will need a bar. The dresser that comes with the room is a good one if you don't have the money to buy or build your own. The drawers are a convenient place to store cups etc. Put a table cloth over it to hide that its a dresser, and to protect it from spills.
  • Youtube is full of how to videos and tutorials for building props. A quick and cheap material for sculpting lightweight props is Expando Foam. We even built a throne out of it.

Drinks / Food

You have to serve food and drinks, but you don't have to spend a boat load of money doing it. That said, good drinks and food can be a major attraction. So it comes down to your priorities.

Should I serve booze?

People enjoy booze, especially free booze, but buying an entire con a round or six of drinks is a big expense. Plan ahead, keep an eye out for discounts throughout the year. Costco's brand is a perfectly valid option, and it's pretty cheap. Mixers are what kill your budget, this is why most rooms serve fruity drinks.

All that aside, serving alcohol has its downsides. You will need to card your guests. Every time and everyone. The convention will send in people to secretly test you, and your room can be shut down if you fail to card them. The person carding, will also need to stay sober. Though, in general it is usually a good idea to be mostly sober while running a room.

Dealing with drunks

Even if you don't serve booze, you will need to deal with drunks. Keep the number for security on hand, and remember you have the right not to serve. 99% of the time this won't be a problem, but drunks are unpredictable so just be aware


If you can go all out and seriously decor your room just to be impressive on it's own, like some kind of fandom museum, that is great. The rest of us will need themed games, so people have a reason to stay in the room and remember it fondly.

Games can also be a nice way to get some of your cash back. You can charge $1 to play for a chance to win some kind of prize like a carnival, or you can rely on the kidness of con-goers. If you can amuse them, they will tip.

If the game fits the theme of your room it will make the experience even more immersive. So get creative.


We have found that drawings at the end of the night can be the best way to give out cool stuff, keep people engaged, and earn some tips. You can use the drawing tickets to add value to the things you want people to do simply by offering up more draw tickets for doing them.

Tickets are cheap, but quality prizes can be expensive. So its a really nice way to balance that out, while everyone continues to have fun.

Where can I find prizes?

There are a ton of subscription boxes that ship out crates of loot every month. Keep the stuff you want, toss the rest into a 'prize bucket'. You'll end up with some really high quality prizes for the people who want them and all that extra stuff isn't going to waste.

Another option is finding some crafts online that you can do yourself. Little trinkets that you can give out go a long way, especially if they are themed around your room. Unique badge ribbons are another idea, they work like achievements during the con. So they make total sense as prizes for completing challenges.

You can also splurge and get one or two really nice things in the hopes that it will drive up participation.

Getting Votes

Winning isn't all important, but it sure is fun. The hardest part really is just remembering to ask for votes. Keep the voting area near the bar, and fully stocked with pens. It gives people a thing to do while waiting for their drink, and it serves as a reminder for you while serving.

People are going to vote for whichever room best fits their own fandom, so don't let the lack of votes get you down.

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