With Phoenix Fan Fusion kicking off badge sales tomorrow (more on that later), I thought it would be a good time to reach out to see if Matt Solberg had a few minutes for Legion of Sand. Matt is the founder and CEO of Phoenix Fan Fusion whose convention returns for 18th annual show May 21 – 24, 2020. The convention has had its ups and downs over the past couple of years which Matt points out in this interview but I thought last year was a return to its former self when the convention was hitting on cylinders. Matt was kind enough to carve out a few minutes to answer a few interview questions so a big thanks for that.
As a reminder, tomorrow (Wednesday, October 2nd), Phoenix Fan Fusion badges go on sale and kick with a 24 hour flash sale. From 10AM on October 2nd to 10AM October 3rd, you can purchase a full event badge for $50 + tax & fees. This is keeping to the price point of full event badges from 2017. For the amount of programming offered over the four days of Fan Fusion, I still say it is one of the best values in the convention scene.
With Phoenix Fan Fusion 2019 in the rear view mirror, what was your most meaningful accomplishment, personally or professionally, with that iteration of the con?
I’m quite proud that we put on a show at which our attendees had a fantastic and safe time. We’ve known we could organize a safe and fun event for everyone and in 2019 it just felt like we got it right in a lot of that ways that really matter to our attendees. It’s no secret that we had a rough patch during and after our 2017 show and in 2019 I felt we all got our mojo back. It was incredibly satisfying to read comments from attendees in the week following our show that they are already excited for 2020.
With being the Founder and CEO, does that afford you the time to attend any programming over the four days of the convention? Is there one thing that no matter how busy you are, you make time for?
During the event itself I keep my schedule open and fluid to allow me to attend to whatever requires my attention, especially any unexpected situations that may arise. I don’t usually have the time or ability to attend specific programming events, though once every couple of years I do manage to make it to a panel (Leonard Nimoy and Dick Van Dyke being two highlights from the past ten years).
I typically make rounds when I first arrive in the morning: I check in with Operations and Security, and swing by Redemption before heading to the Exhibitor halls to check in with our Exhibit Management teams. From there, it’s on to the talent areas throughout the convention while by popping into various programming rooms along the way. I make these rounds multiple times each day in between handling other various responsibilities.
How soon after Memorial Day Weekend does you and your staff start working on the next year’s con?
We begin planning future shows prior to the current year. From hotel and convention center availability to talking with agents and publishers about which talent may be available for a future show, to testing new ideas that we may implement, planning for the next event is an on-going pursuit. Once the event starts, we all are making notes on areas to improve for the next year. We all want to make this show the best it can be each year, so the work doesn’t really ever stop.
If you could give a first time attendee of Fan Fusion a piece of advice, what would it be?
Do some research on the website and the app before you come and pick up a program guide when you first arrive to learn what there is to do and see. It’s easy to miss cool things at our show because there is a lot to take in and we use the full facility. And of course: wear comfortable shoes and make sure to drink plenty of water throughout the day to stay hydrated. It’s easy to get caught up in the fun and forget to drink water regularly.