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Answerman - Why Did Otakon's Attendance Shrink?


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Rusty_Angel



Joined: 26 Sep 2009
Posts: 8
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 8:36 pm Reply with quote
wmderemer wrote:

That is because AX is an industry-subsidized con (and if I am not mistaken, run as a for-profit event, much like ReedPop does with NYCC), with the SPJA/AX making up the difference on the 'cheaper' badges through sacrificing some of their control over the con to the corporate sponsors who can just as easily yank their funding...


The SPJA (and AX) are run as a 501c(6) non-profit.

The IRS definition of a c(6) is here: [url]http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Other-Non-Profits/Life-Cycle-of-a-Business-League-%28Trade-Association%29 [/url]
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curtisd88



Joined: 01 Jan 2015
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:14 pm Reply with quote
Let's be honest. While the death of Freddie Gray and riots earlier this year may have had an effect on its attendance, the raised price is probably the biggest factor. A lot of people don't want to pay upward to $100 just to get in the door. Returning attendees can pay $20 lower but even the returning prices were starting to become steep.

I remember seeing on Otakon's Facebook page a lot of people were disappointed with its steep price and lack of space. I will be returning in 2016 because I love Otakon but this move to D.C. was much needed for multiple reasons.
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wmderemer
It...it's not like I post for you or anything!It...it's not like I post for you or anything!


Joined: 20 Dec 2007
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Location: Easton, PA
PostPosted: Mon Aug 10, 2015 9:59 pm Reply with quote
Rusty_Angel wrote:
wmderemer wrote:

That is because AX is an industry-subsidized con (and if I am not mistaken, run as a for-profit event, much like ReedPop does with NYCC), with the SPJA/AX making up the difference on the 'cheaper' badges through sacrificing some of their control over the con to the corporate sponsors who can just as easily yank their funding...


The SPJA (and AX) are run as a 501c(6) non-profit.

The IRS definition of a c(6) is here: [url]http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Other-Non-Profits/Life-Cycle-of-a-Business-League-%28Trade-Association%29 [/url]


Thank you, I stand corrected on that point, then. However, my feelings on it being an industry-subsidized con (through companies sponsoring parts of it) still stands.
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zawa113
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Joined: 19 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 6:32 am Reply with quote
I live in Baltimore County (where things are fine), but I'm hesitant to go into the city. I like Atomic Books in Hamden, but haven't gone since April either. I know it's mostly west and east sides of the city, but I turn on the talk radio every day and just hear more and more problems going on in the city (like just hitting the 200th homicide mark). And while I work in the county and live in the county, there are people from the city who work at my workplace too, and they pretty much all say how terrible the city is. Even though the inner harbor is generally safe, I don't blame anyone who didn't want to take chances, especially combined with the higher badge prices.

I pre-ordered before the April riots though (as did my friends). I'm not sure if I'll be going when it moves to DC (I'm sure I'll go at least once, but no way can I go every year), because in Baltimore, I don't get a hotel, I take the light rail down, but for DC, I'd probably need a hotel.

But I personally loved the lower attendance this year. It was so much easier to move around! And panels were much easier to get in to (I remember in 2014, you'd have to be in line for most any panel 45-60 minutes beforehand where 15 minutes worked most of the time here, and half an hour was fine). Not counting the Romi Park 3 hour line, because that's special con guest stuff, but man, sky bridges were easier (even the one from the Hilton was at least "manageable" compared to past years, though there was some congestion at times, it wasn't all the time at least, and it wasn't as bad as compared to past years either, even at its worst). Dealer's Room and Artist Alley weren't as crowded, it was just so much better with fewer people. Reminds me of when I first attended in 2009.

Hopefully the city can get its act together (you can bet the mayoral race should be interested. The old mayor is also running again, even though she was fired for taking gift money (and a lot of it) meant for needy and impoverished children). They still haven't properly replaced the police chief (they have a temporary one). Hopefully changes will be aggressive and frequent, once they get a new mayor.
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heliodorh



Joined: 31 Mar 2015
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 9:03 am Reply with quote
Is this article for real. I was just at another con in Bmore and everything went well. I grew up near this city. This comes off as fear-mongering BS. Pretty sure Otakon's ridiculous pre-reg fiasco and their stupid prices are what screwed their attendance. My other con's attendance rose +500 this year. Please stop shitting on Bmore okay, thanks.
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Shiggity



Joined: 21 Sep 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 10:31 am Reply with quote
classicalzawa wrote:

But I personally loved the lower attendance this year. It was so much easier to move around! And panels were much easier to get in to (I remember in 2014, you'd have to be in line for most any panel 45-60 minutes beforehand where 15 minutes worked most of the time here, and half an hour was fine). Not counting the Romi Park 3 hour line, because that's special con guest stuff, but man, sky bridges were easier (even the one from the Hilton was at least "manageable" compared to past years, though there was some congestion at times, it wasn't all the time at least, and it wasn't as bad as compared to past years either, even at its worst). Dealer's Room and Artist Alley weren't as crowded, it was just so much better with fewer people. Reminds me of when I first attended in 2009.


I also started attending in 2009, and I can totally relate to you in this sense. *proposes high 5* Yay for 7 years at Otakon! xD

heliodorh wrote:
Is this article for real. I was just at another con in Bmore and everything went well. I grew up near this city. This comes off as fear-mongering BS. Pretty sure Otakon's ridiculous pre-reg fiasco and their stupid prices are what screwed their attendance. My other con's attendance rose +500 this year. Please stop shitting on Bmore okay, thanks.


While I agree with the fear-mongering portion of your post, people have the right to not go if they don't want to. I can totally understand people not liking the $90-100 admission fee if they don't have the advantage of having had gone at least one year prior.
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Dessa



Joined: 14 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:41 am Reply with quote
A group of my friends attended Otakon, and they agree with this article. I know that before the convention, they were coordinating schedules. I can imagine this was, at least in part, so that people wouldn't be alone.

I attend Sakura-Con, in Seattle. I live near Seattle. I've worked in Seattle, doing deliveries, no less. I visit Seattle all the time. But during Sakura-Con? I'm afraid to be on the streets by myself, and Seattle doesn't even rank on any of this year's "Most Dangerous" lists that I could find.

For any large event, especially ones that bring in young, inexperienced-in-life, out-of-town attendees, it also will bring out a dangerous element. They don't attend the event, but they know that there will be potential victims, who are cut-off from their support system and out of their comfort zone, who also are likely carrying cash on them (now that many vendors use Square and other such services, this is going down, at least).

The larger the event, the more predators that are coming out. Even in the same city, a small event won't bring in as many out-of-towners, so it won't be impacted the same way as a large event, so that's really not an apt comparison.
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se37



Joined: 08 Dec 2007
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Location: Annapolis, Maryland
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 11:46 am Reply with quote
What I thought was really cool though is that the badge fee and the breakdown of cost of running the con, the badge fee makes sense and why it had to be raised up again. There was a panel that talked about what Otakon spends, what it brings in and how much is used just to rent out the areas. When seeing it, it makes perfect sense on everything and has justified reasons for the price being so high. If you read the forums there is a breakdown on what happened in the panel.

One big downfall for Otakon, for me at least, is that they never communicate well with the fans on breaking news. It reminds me of what happened last year during the badge pick-up. I waited in line with my sister for an hour getting the badge and we gave up. We did not find out about what was going until after the fact and third party news. From what I heard there was better communication this year but it was still the same with no news until it was way too late. I didn't follow what happened on Thursday since I had my badge mailed to me.
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heliodorh



Joined: 31 Mar 2015
Posts: 6
PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 12:16 pm Reply with quote
Shiggity wrote:
While I agree with the fear-mongering portion of your post, people have the right to not go if they don't want to. I can totally understand people not liking the $90-100 admission fee if they don't have the advantage of having had gone at least one year prior.


Oh no, I agree completely. I don't like the admission fee at all and I think that's a factor in why the attendance dropped, as well as the clusterfck that was the prereg line(s) last year. My only issue here is with the ridiculous fear-mongering. A pool of blood outside the con center? Lol please that would have been plastered all over the news. I was just there for 3 days at Bronycon where there were tons of little kids there with their parents. Somehow, Bronycon's attendance rose from 9600 to 10110 from last year to this year. It's not Baltimore. It's Otakon.
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Agent355



Joined: 12 Dec 2008
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 11, 2015 8:35 pm Reply with quote
I'm gonna miss Otakon in Baltimore! After living in Baltimore (in a neighborhood around the city/county border), I'd be just as nervous about having to deal with the police as the crime rate itself. I had a hard time dealing with Baltimore City cops and don't hold a high opinion of them. (The libraries in both Baltimore City and Baltimore County are pretty great, with a decent amount of anime and manga (although the city's selection is older, last I checked), and one card gives you access to every library in the state!) When's that mayoral election? The city really needs some positive change.
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 12:45 pm Reply with quote
razisgosu wrote:
I dunno if the riots and violence were even the main turn offs. If anything I'd say Otakons crappy handling of 2014 and price increase of 2015 are to blame. Otakon 2014 was linecon everywhere. It was ridiculous.


That same year, Anime Expo had the very same problem (and, in fact, used the very same company as Otakon to handle badge-printing and admissions), and AX's attendance went up in 2015.

Lactobacillus yogurti wrote:
And for those who say they can't go to Otakon because they're too far away... I live in spoiler[South America] and I went anyway, with my own money. If I could, you can Smile.


I would like to visit Otakon someday, but my boss at work does not believe in requested days off for non-emergency and non-religious reasons. Until I find another job or another boss, I can't.

Raine Dragon wrote:
People have been complaining about the price and the crowds for years. Last year people waited in PREREG lines for hours only to be told to go home because badge pickup was closed for the night.

The Baltiomore riots had nothing to do with it, save for maybe keeping out a couple kids who's parents had issues with it (but somehow never knew Baltimore has a crazy high crime rate).


Yikes, that's a bad move, to turn people down. Then again, AX's 3-mile line had its own problems too, as AX chose to keep the line going 24/7 until everyone got their badges (as I mentioned above, Anime Expo used the same pre-registration and badges service as Otakon and encountered the exact same problems), which resulted in extremely tired staff and volunteers who couldn't function anywhere close to 100% for the rest of the convention. I'd guess that Otakon's staff and volunteers were at least not quite as cranky or slow.

As for kids and concerned parents, from what I've seen, parents tend to fall into extremes: Either they let their kids go wherever they want and trust them to stay safe, or they don't let their kids go anywhere because they think abductors and murderers are around every corner. I've never met a parent who selectively chooses which cities to allow their kids to travel to (besides the parent's own preferences).

se37 wrote:
What I thought was really cool though is that the badge fee and the breakdown of cost of running the con, the badge fee makes sense and why it had to be raised up again. There was a panel that talked about what Otakon spends, what it brings in and how much is used just to rent out the areas. When seeing it, it makes perfect sense on everything and has justified reasons for the price being so high. If you read the forums there is a breakdown on what happened in the panel.


The problem is that only a comparative few will see that and understand the breakdown, and even then, not everyone is going to accept the badge prices even after watching that panel. It'll be the same with taxes: People will complain that they're paying for things they're not going to use (if they're not going to Masquerade or any concerts, for instance). They'll say that they'll put up with a lower-quality experience if it means badges are cheaper (which is a valid statement, though it means they're edging out of Otakon's target audience). They might not believe what they're hearing and think they're all lies and excuses (in a way, that panel IS a series of excuses, but as a Dilbert comic strip pointed out, there is no real difference between an excuse and a good reason besides connotation and who's saying it).

Thinking about that, how people blame Otakon's high badge price but no-extra-charge attraction, it now makes me wonder how Disneyland switched from the letter-ticket system to the current admissions system and became more popular for it. (Disneyland, during the first few years it opened, allowed people to enter for free but sold tickets, lettered A through E with different prices. Admission to rides and attractions, except the fireworks show, required one or more tickets of a particular letter. Disneyland then switched to a single admissions fee at the front and allowed people to go on as many rides and attractions as they wished through the day, and it wound up being much more successful.)
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SailorTralfamadore



Joined: 25 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 8:30 pm Reply with quote
I was a naïve 18-year-old from the Detroit suburbs (which are very different from Detroit itself) when I started at the Peabody Conservatory, a music school in downtown Baltimore that's part of Johns Hopkins. I was really scared by what I'd heard, but I don't know that there was any more crime there than on my graduate school's campus in a much safer city, Boston. I do think Baltimore isn't as unsafe as people say as long as you keep your wits about you. But that's way easier to say for college students in an artsier part of the city, than it is a bunch of teenagers who might be away from home for the first time in the city's tourist hub.

I tend to be defensive of Baltimore because I've explored a lot of the city and I do believe there's a lot more fun to it, and a lot less danger, than its reputation gives it. But I've been lucky to have people guiding me who knew where to go (my stepdad grew up there and now works in the city's tourism). If all you've heard about the city is from The Wire and these dangerous riots, it perfectly makes sense to stay away--especially if you're a parent and worrying about a kid going to his/her first big con.

I mean, I was scared for my parents and former classmates in the city during the riots, even though I knew my family lived nowhere near where they were happening. I read on Facebook about restaurants I used to frequent being looted. It was very scary. I really hope that things get better for the city soon, but until then, I'm not surprised if people who don't know the area aren't exactly eager to get to know it until it does.

I'm sure the badge prices might have contributed too, though, but since those prices go up every year I can't imagine it was a huge part of it. Whatever the reason was, I personally was glad for less congestion and shorter lines. I could actually get into the dealer's room on Sunday without waiting in a line! Very Happy
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Maidenoftheredhand



Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 12, 2015 9:14 pm Reply with quote
Just a note I don't know how it is with AX but Otakon is not allowed to stay open all night to process badges. I am pretty sure they were contractually obligated to close at a certain time on Thursday. They did open early on Friday and from what I heard (I got my badge mailed) the Friday line was quick this year.
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leafy sea dragon



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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 1:27 am Reply with quote
Ah, that's why they were turned down? That makes sense then. (Yes, the Los Angeles Convention Center allows Anime Expo to go on continuously without closing, though events end at 3 AM.)

Does Otakon have badge pickup one or two days before the event itself?
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Psycho 101
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 13, 2015 2:05 am Reply with quote
Shiggity wrote:
classicalzawa wrote:

But I personally loved the lower attendance this year. It was so much easier to move around! And panels were much easier to get in to (I remember in 2014, you'd have to be in line for most any panel 45-60 minutes beforehand where 15 minutes worked most of the time here, and half an hour was fine). Not counting the Romi Park 3 hour line, because that's special con guest stuff, but man, sky bridges were easier (even the one from the Hilton was at least "manageable" compared to past years, though there was some congestion at times, it wasn't all the time at least, and it wasn't as bad as compared to past years either, even at its worst). Dealer's Room and Artist Alley weren't as crowded, it was just so much better with fewer people. Reminds me of when I first attended in 2009.


I also started attending in 2009, and I can totally relate to you in this sense. *proposes high 5* Yay for 7 years at Otakon! xD

That's cute. Let me know when you guys hit double digits. Wink Just teasing. Been going since 2004 myself. I took this year off but will go next year just to say goodbye. I live outside B-more so I get both sides of the argument. Sad fact is the city has a lot of great places to go for beer and food, and a lot of fun places to check out. Just learn to duck lol. I think the only real thing I'll miss from the actual convention center is the one little black guy with his megaphone who always is there right by the main doors selling those ice cold waters for only 1 dollar. I hear him in my dreams for days after the con with that damn jingle.
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