by Lawrence Brenner
Recently The Hollywood Reporter posted an article about how stars can make a lot of money at conventions from bookings and signings. This is a part of the changing economy of conventions and the growth of the profits and business opportunities surrounding it. Another large growth market is the afterparty market.
Most conventions in one form or another have an afterparty, the largest shows such as NYCC have multiple afterparties official and unofficial. There a few types of course, but let’s talk about the public ticketed events. Some of the monetary figures will be simplified because each part depends on the individual contracts with venues, hosts, etc.
Many of the public afterparties are a venue that can hold a few hundred people. In a crowded area with options like a city, during a convention, getting people to attend is always the question. Days/nights without people are essentially lost income. Having an afterparty at your venue means people coming in and buying drinks, sometimes food, and if you are a lucky enough venue having companies sponsor and paying for the use of the space.
So how do you get people to come to afterparty? Most afterparties have things like cosplay guest headliners (usually well-known cosplayers with large followings), DJs (sometimes live entertinamnet), and of course drink specials. These are all ticketed events usually starting at $15 but can easily be much more such as $25, $30, or even more in the case of special VIP packages (which are sometimes given away as prizes or just given out). With a large pre-sale and attendance turnout these parties can have a significant monetary generation. 200 tickets at $25 can easily become $5000.
Cosplay headliner guests are a newer concept in afterparties and have only started to be more prominent in the last few years, corresponding with the rise of the afterparty. People are always looking for ways to connect with their favorite cosplayers who in some cases have larger followings on social media than some actors and the artists and writers who are also at the show. In addition, these cosplayers are usually also working booths selling prints, working promo, are convention guests, etc.
There’s also the possibility of being booked to work more than one afterparty by different companies, and even friends can be booked at different afterparties so they would not have the chance to see each other. So instead of using their mutual fanbases, which usually have an overlap in fans, to advertise to same party, they split the promotion raising the competition level for the event.
Added value for an event includes photobooths, dancing, DJs, cosplay contents, prizes from sponsors and, at gaming events, the chance to demo new games. There’s also more formal networking (which most people do afterparties) and speed dating.
Different offerings at afterparties keep the market competitive and open new opportunities, leading to more options such as the recent rice in afterparty cruises.
Profit for venues comes in the form the bar and food tabs. 200 people buying $10 drinks can be at least $2000, and some tickets include a two drink minimum, althought this is less common at convention events. Some venues hold multiple events, with something going on each day. This can lead to competition for top talent, a benefit in negotiation.
Afterparties can help in brand recognition that can be more difficult to obtain on the crowded show floor. In the case of sponsors and products can include sales and pre-sales. Hosting or sponsoring an afterparty can all be part of the entire marketing plan.
So where will the afterparty market go and will it keep growing?
As with the convention market, some of the actor guests may also be interested in hosting their own afterparties. The use of burlesque and live music may increase or recome a regular feature. Afterparties might also be a place for exclusives such as coveted Funko figures. I can see afterparties as a new venue for exclusive sales as booths are. I can also see an increase in party packages with one purchase for multiple party admission.
With the rise of Patreon I can see certain rewards such as afterparty VIP meetups being added because of how ticketing systems work with codes–cosplayers are increasingly using Patreon and popular cosplayers can team up for their own parties.
In addition we’ll see more companies getting involved with parties–something that’s more prevalent at San Diego Comic-Con – as brands try to connect with the growing and acive comic con culture, and they’re are always looking for new ways to connect to customers in an increasingly crowded media space where people watch advertising less and less.
Although it isn’t usually mentioned when talking about “con economics,” the con afterparty market is also growing and changing, and it will be very interesting to see what develops.