Program participant is the clunky term for people appearing on the program of a convention. Mostly these are panellists, but they might be giving a solo talk or demo, a reading, a concert or something else.
Participants may be fans or pros — it doesn't matter — fans are often the best speakers and most knowledge in the field, and some pros can only talk about themselves. Concoms choose based on ability, draw and willingness.
It is common but not at all universal for program participants to get their membership fee reimbursed. Some cons provide a gratis membership in advance, but most refund after the con if the budget allows it, and some don't refund program participant memberships at all. It depends on the state of the con's finances and local custom. The practice does not occur in the UK.
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