A con tradition, ReedPOP schedules a final panel at New York Comic Con where the main staff gathers to listen to concerns from attendees. This year, the panel consisted of Lance Fensterman (Senior Global Vice President), Mike Armstrong (Event Director), MK Goodwin (Content Manager), Jackie Williams (Marketing Director), and Kristina Rogers (Event Manager). (Shown, right to left, above.)
What were the main themes this year? Ticketing and scalping, wristbands and panel maintenance, miscommunication.
While perusing my Facebook feed this weekend, I didn’t see anything go viral. I’ll have my recollections later this week. There was one incident Sunday morning in the autographing area, which is being investigated further. I wasn’t there, so I can’t report further.
Scalping remains a cat-and-mouse game. ReedPOP had signs posted outside informing the public of New York state law.
Mike Armstrong noted that they cancelled thousands of tickets, and Lance mentioned that RP staff does cull through the registration data searching for duplicates in a variety of fields.
Scalping/bulk sales was also the reason why the final sale at Midtown Comics Downtown was announced only a few days before the Sunday sale, to thwart resellers. Thousands of tickets were offered, and what didn’t sell that Sunday were sold at Midtown’s stores on Monday.
Because of this, it is difficult for fan groups (or groups of fans) to organize attendance at the show.
There were suggestions for an official ReedPOP reselling site, where people could offer their unused passes in a legal environment. This has been considered, but it would be expensive for RP to implement.
This year, ReedPOP did not “tier” the sale of passes. In years past, sales were staggered, usually monthly, so that first VIP tickets were sold, then multi-day, then single day. This year, RP tried selling everything at once. There was some malicious online activity experienced by RP that day.
VIP tickets in the past were sold mostly to previous VIP attendees. This year, it was more open, to give new attendees a chance.
Programming and Crowd Control
AMC organized a large Walking Dead premiere at Madison Square Garden. There were complaints about announcing the release of the tickets. with some fans shut out. There were multiple sweepstakes and promotions offered, and 15,000+ attendees managed to attend.
The queue hall was less well managed than last year. Mike Armstrong noted that this year, it was run by staff members and security, not by the volunteer crew members. Less manpower meant less control. Some lines did not allow attendees to leave, due to large amounts of traffic entering the hall in the morning. One audience member had “gauntlets” of multiple wristbands!
[My experience: I checked the notice board in the middle of the day to see what Main Stage panels were available. I quickly got a wristband for the 7 PM panel, returned to the show floor, and came back at 6 PM to stand in line. It was orderly, the crowd was polite, I got a decent seat, and the DJ and emcees did a great job of keeping the crowd occupied until the panel began.]
Could wristbands be offered for other panels? No, as there is not space for people to line up for multiple panels. [Each panel room had an adjacent room or space for people to queue before each panel.]
Could attendees reserve [panels in advance, online? Not really, as the Con and content providers want a full house. RP did allow people into panels as other people left. [This was my experience at the DC Super Hero Girls panel.]
The room did laud RP staff for the excellent programming and scheduling. Each room did have an event manager (although a few covered two at the same time) and crew members.
Attendees criticized that exhibitors were in line at booths before attendees. [The same thing happened at San Diego…exhibitors get in line early to buy exclusives.]
As with every show, traffic jams occurred in the aisles due to cosplay photos and general chitchat. This was a particular problem for people in wheelchairs and crutches. Lance reiterated that they do try to remind people to “be nice” to each other. Mike noted that many attendees were ejected from the show, including volunteers.
There was criticism over the “Blue Entrance” for VIPs, press, pros. The times allowed for entrance in the morning were not properly maintained. Those attendees could have used the normal “Green Entrance”, and RP will work to better communicate that in the future.
The Hammerstein Ballroom was used as an adjunct programming space for larger panels. There were two criticisms: line management for the Masashi Kishimoto signing where conflicting information was given, and the general food and drink policy.
One attendee complained that the event for Mr. Robot had many empty “reserved” seats. Lance explained that those seats are reserved by the IP holder (USA Network) for studio execs, staff, etc.
Miscellaneous and Sundry
The general consensus of the crowd was that “the app sucks”. [I don’t use it, ReedPOP doesn’t like Gingerbread.] One member criticized the numerous messages pushed to his phone. However, a request was made that bathrooms and drinking fountains be added to the map.
One attendee asked if the New York Anime Festival might return. Lance noted that with the need for the show to expand outside the Javits Center (as seen with the Hammerstein Ballroom events), that future shows might anchor certain fandoms or programming tracks at a local hotel.
One member of the press noted the lack of water in the press room. Lance mentioned that they had a similar problem in the Con offices. The same attendee also cited the lack of PR notices from exhibitors, but that is the responsibility of the companies attending.
I was not the only one nervous about Hurricane Joaquin, which was originally forecast to sweep over the New York metropolitan area. One attendee asked about RP’s contingency planning. Lance stated that they would do what was in the best interest of everyone’s safety. Reed Exhibitions, the global parent company of ReedPOP, has experience with inclement weather, having once hosted a show in Philadelphia during a blizzard. [It should be noted that the City did cancel both the Halloween Parade and the New York City Marathon in the wake of Hurricane Sandy in 2012. I was snowed in at Chicago last February, during the American Library Association conference. The buses were running, the streets were plowed, so the conference continued while the airport was closed.]
…and, when one commenter noted that he had attended all ten New York Comic Cons, the panel asked for a show of hands how many others had done the same. I was one of ten, in that room!
Got any comments, complaints, critiques, concerns? You’re always welcome to contact ReedPOP, or you can tell us below. What was your experience?