I recently attended New York Comic Con (NYCC) to observe what brings 116,000 attendees to a show with 200 exhibit booths. The obvious answer is that the individual who attends New York Comic Con wouldn’t miss it for the world. NYCC fans have a passion for the subject matter. Sessions like “I want to cosplay but don’t own a sewing machine” have stanchions outside to control the crowd as they line up outside the room. It’s truly unbelievable.
So, other than the obvious, what else makes New York Comic Con successful? What can the trade show industry learn from a show that seems to be “the show” to attend?
- The comic industry could have died years ago. They reinvented themselves, retained their audience and stayed relevant. This is a huge lesson learned for other industries who are facing major competition in today’s world.
- The show treats people like people. Not only are there exhibits about the gaming industry, there are also large sponsorship presences like Arizona Tea and Chevrolet. Why wouldn’t ANY brand want to be in the same building as thousands of onsite and millions of online potential consumers? Talk about exposure…and a diverse sponsorship prospect pool.
- The atmosphere is FUN. I have attended a lot of trade shows. Most pride themselves on being professional, and…well..stiff and formal. The message that attendees usually get – “Please don’t anyone act like a human being, we have business to do”. In contrast, New York Comic Con is a place where people can be themselves, and many grab the opportunity to be someone they are not.
I’m not saying that every event should encourage attendees to wear fantastic costumes on the show floor. But throwing in a little bit more of the human element can definitely go a long way. This can be accomplished by something as simple as having flash cards at your breakfast tables asking people to share with the table what their most embarrassing moment was, or what their favorite vacation was. If you appeal to the more personal side, people will feel connected to your event, other attendees and the subject matter.