Bungled Harry Potter event organizer says he didn't make any money

Dec 6 2019, 6:05 pm

The Vancouver-based organizer of a wizard-themed party in Montreal that has angry attendees accusing him of scamming them says he’s using some of his own money to make a promised $2,000 donation to J.K. Rowling’s charity.

In an interview with Daily Hive, Dylan Vanas, owner of LOL Event Group, claimed his expenses and costs associated with issuing refunds exceed the revenue from the party.

“In the video I said profit, because I didn’t want people to feel bad. But, really, it’s money we’re sharing out of goodwill,” Vanas said.

On November 15, LOL Event Group threw a wizard-themed party at Montreal’s Rialto Theatre. But the special drinks, food, magic wands, and entertainment described in the event’s listing didn’t materialize.

Disgruntled attendees shared photos of what was promised as a “Cobblestone Alley” to choose your own wand. But the wands, it turned out, were chopsticks.

magic wand

Facebook / Sarah Chamaillard

Vanas released a video earlier this week apologizing for the event’s poor execution. He said  he would not be issuing refunds for the $50 tickets, but instead would be making a $2,000 donation to Lumos Foundation, a charity founded by J.K. Rowling that helps orphaned children.

Vanas said he feels “deeply discouraged at the situation,” and he sees it as “a really big growing opportunity for me.”

He told Daily Hive he sold about 600 tickets. At $50 each, that translates to about $30,000 in revenue.

Vanas said that money was eaten up quickly. He claimed he spent $18,000 on renting the venue, including alcohol. However, according to the Rialto Theatre’s website, renting the entire space costs $12,750.

Vanas also claimed he spent $6,000 on decor. Many guests, however, were far from impressed by the decorations.

Decor

Yelp / Crystina S.

The rest, he said, went to food and entertainment such as a live band.

“Given a larger budget, I think we could have executed an event people would have enjoyed,” Vanas said.

He also said his lack of of understanding about liquor laws in Quebec meant the specialty drinks advertised in the event description weren’t available at the bar.

“I totally see [the guests’] concerns…I wish we could have had a more positive response.”

Hosting a themed event for 600 people on a $30,000 budget is a tight squeeze no matter how you look at it, according to one Vancouver event planner.

“To me, if you’re going to have a Harry Potter event you need to have actors there, and amazing set design, and cocktails that tie into the theme,” said Genève McNally with Dream Group Events.

“There’s so much you can do, but that comes at a cost.”

If McNally were to host a themed event in Vancouver, she estimates she’d need to charge $150 to $200 per ticket.

“I would work backwards,” she explained.

First, she’d calculate how much it would cost to produce an event that met her standards, see what her break-even point is, and then price her tickets based on how much money she wanted to make.

“You have to spend the money to create the environment,” she said.