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A progress report is a report sent out by convention organizers to members of the convention in advance of the convention dates. Most progress reports contain registration information, the location of the hotel and convention hotel room rates, a description of the programming, request for gophers, a list of attendees, award ballots, an FAQ, and other information. Often more than one progress report was sent. Originally, progress reports were mailed to the attendees. However, starting in the 2000s, conventions also began offering them via email; and, by the 2010s, most had switched entirely to email or website progress reports. (To see a sample of an electronic progress report, go here - Revelcon 12). Paper progress reports could be quite elaborate with artwork and cartoons.
Examples of Use
From The Halkan Council #10 (September 1975): "We've extended the change of price date for SeKWester*Con. Registration for attending members will go from $3 to #4 on December 1st. What a neat Christmas present for a fellow fan? First mailing should be out soon -- each progress report will publish a list of all attending members to that point. That way people will know if other fans they want to see are coming."
Progress reports could also reveal the personalities of the convention organizers. In the 1997 Zebracon progress report the organizers informed attendees: "Don't like pizza? Tough. Eat beforehand so you won't be hungry when everyone else is eating."
The reports also contained helpful tips and answered questions sent in by attendees. For example, in the 1974 Equicon progress report the organizers addressed the availability of food at the convention. Hotel policies against outside food were very strict in the 1970s. Even the maids were to be feared. Attendees asked: "Could you tell us if there are any drive-in places to eat near the hotel or perhaps a supermarket? My two friends and I are going to eat very cheaply the three days we're in Los Angeles. Money can be a problem sometimes! -Kim P." and and "How can a fan eat at a convention? I brought some strawberries into the hotel last year, they stopped me and said I couldn't take them to my room! -B.J.K."
"EQUICON 74 will have a guide of places to go for good but inexpensive meals. We don't want our attendees so hungry they faint from malnutrition--which has happened at cons! But play it cool: bringing food into a hotel and eating supermarket goods in your room is taking money away from them, and they rightfully resent that. When you bring something in, don't use an obvious supermarket shopping bag--there are many other things you can carry nibbles in! Don't just carry the strawberries out in the open. When in your room, be sure to clean up after yourself, and put all food away in a drawer; otherwise the maid will report it to management. Try to get food that won't go bad and smell up the room, or make a big mess; keep to high protein stuff instead of sugars, too! No, we cannot take on the job of handling everyone's dietary problems, sorry. Make your own arrangements with the hotel's restaurants AT THE TIME OF ORDERING: it is very inconsiderate to take up everyone's time fussing about it this early in the game: the restaurant can only do its best.)"
cover of 1989 Gambit (convention) Progress report #2 with geographic breakdown of attendees, click to read