August 15, 2006

News for Otakon 2006:

Otakon attendance falls below cap

by PatrickD, Webmaster

Otakon has published statistics for this year's convention on their web site. With paid attendance reaching 22,302, the convention was 2,698 people shy of reaching its attendance cap.

Otakon 2006's attendance was just a 1% increase over Otakon 2005 when the convention reached their attendance cap of 22,000 on Saturday morning. This is the slowest attendance growth in the convention's 13 year history.

Otakon's pre-registration totals could have been considered an early indicator of slow growth. While Otakon 2005 had 19,900 pre-registered attendees, 2006's pre-registration was 17,500 attendees. (These numbers were calculated based on the number of memberships remaining at the door each year.)

When asked why the convention may not have grown as much this year, nearly every attendee interviewed cited the increased expense of registration and hotel rates. A web comic artist who declined to be identified suggested that dealers had raised their prices in order to offset the increased dealers' room rates, which had gone up from $450 to $750 per space this year.

An industry attendee remarked, "In terms of how the convention procedures work, they were a little more... involved than other conventions I've attended. In the end everything got sorted out very courteously, mind you, but I admit it's tempting to just switch to a less 'complicated' convention."

Erin, host of the Ninja Consultant Podcast, suggested that the attendance cap itself may have been why growth was slow. "Plus people who felt too crowded last year, or who got turned away because it sold out probably didn't show up this year." The elimination of the less expensive one-day memberships could have also been a factor. "Some people who might've attended Otakon for only one day in the past probably just skip the con entirely."

When asked if they would return for Otakon 2007, reaction was mixed. "[Because] so many people go, it's great to promote," remarked one web comic artist.

Another artist reported, "Unless there is another guest that I really, really need to see (like L'arc en Ciel again or someone like them), I won't be going back to Otakon."

One anime fan stated, "People don't go to Otakon to go to Otakon, people go to Otakon to see people going to Otakon." This statement seemed to echo the thoughts of many who were only going because their friends were going.

Would the podcast host return? "I probably will. I've heard the theory that, like Star Trek movies, many cons are only good every other year."