Exclusive: Arizona Convention Directors Speak About Current State of Conventions Page 5

Question #5 – Attendees more and more want to have an experience. They want to share what they are doing with their friends and family on social media. What is the biggest advantage your con offers to an attendees experience?


Mike Olivares – Tucson Comic-Con: As a local and native to Tucson I feel our annual festivals and parades add a little something to our show during your time downtown or if you are staying in Tucson for the weekend. Our show also shares Tucson with the All Souls Procession,  one of the biggest parades associated with the Day Of The Dead (dia de los muertos) in the United States. It’s an experience I feel everyone should take part in at least once. We have a lot of attendees that have been coming to our show from out of town to take part in the procession for years now, they have really embraced it and have even shared it with family and friends, resulting in them attending the Tucson Comic Con. In a way I want people to not only come for the convention, but for the city. Attendees, Fans , Guests and Exhibitors alike. 

John Lester – Game On Expo: One big advantage is that the Game On Expo is very tech friendly when it comes to the overall attendee experience. It comes with being gaming focused.  Last year we had a live social media feed occurring and displayed all over the con. So attendees could see and share in real time their experiences.  One thing that we’d like to do is to eventually have Game On Expo be lived streamed as well when it comes to our gaming tournaments.  Last year we were not able to do this with the Mesa Convention Center’s Wi-Fi capabilities.  This year moving to the Phoenix Convention Center, it might be a possibility.

Matt Solberg – Phoenix Comicon: We feature the most guests, the most content, and the most opportunities to have those great fun experiences to have with family and friends.  It’s great being a part of something that you see your friends sharing and commenting on as well.  And we feature aspects of the convention, specifically our outdoor events, that are free and open to the public.  No other convention in Arizona offers that, to our knowledge.

Michael Spadafore – Taiyou Con: I believe we have an advantage with our social media experience via our social media contests that we have during the year as well as the Cosplay photo sets we offer at Taiyou Con.

Ha Astell – LepreCon43/Westercon70: Without a doubt, it’s the personal experience that we provide. All the small sci-fi cons, not just LepreCon but CopperCon, DarkCon and TusCon too, are run by fans through non-profits that exist to serve our community.

I love that I can sit and chat with a guest for a couple of hours at one con and find, when I meet them at another, that they remembered my name. I love Q&As where everyone in the audience can ask a question and panels that are conversations with the audience. I love booksellers who know my personal tastes and bring stock along just in case it’ll fill gaps. I love being able to pop into the con suite for free food. I love sitting down in the con suite and joining a conversation with people I don’t know who turn out to work at NASA or wrote books that I grew up reading. It’s a fan’s dream.

Bringing Westercon to town helps us enhance that. It’s a regional sci-fi con that’s hosted each year by a different non-profit around the western third of North America. It’s the same sci-fi con community but from wider afield, as many people travel to every Westercon, regardless which city or state it’s in.

Greg Fennell – Saboten Con: We focus on the Japanese Pop-Culture industry for 4 of our shows and the Furry industry for the other 2 shows.  We focus heavily on large events to excite our potential attendees and guests you would normally see at the very large events (AX or Otakon).  Every year we grow departments inside of our events to make them more attended and get more of the community involved.  For example, two years ago Saboten Con made a fundamental decision to shift some of our budget to build our concert series to give our music following base something to do over the entire weekend, not just one night.  

I’m happy to say that has been welcomed with open arms and in our recent trip to California, for another event, we heard several times from people that they are coming to Saboten Con for the bands we bring in.  One of our focuses this year is to build up our model/figure area by dedicating programming space over the entire weekend to promote that industry with panels, displays, and special vendors.  The goal of all Monkey Paw Entertainment events is to build up the community by giving each niche group in our industry a place to have fun and enjoy what they love.