One of Salt Lake’s biggest parties was in town recently. Salt Lake Comic Con filled the Salt Palace with over 120,000 excited fans September 24-26. We talked with Dan Farr, one of the co-founders of the event, to get his take on how things are going the third time around.
How successful do you feel this comic con was?
Dan Farr: “From a smile factor and customer satisfaction this was our best. We had a great event. We were able to use refinements from January’s Fan-X and execute our best show in keeping the fans happy. Financial success doesn’t have staying power but smile success keeps it going forward.”
What lessons have you learned with three years of experience?
Farr: “A lot of operational efficiencies were improved on. GrowTix developed technology to manage a show the size of ours. The RFID (Radio Frequency IDentification) wristbands were critical and they cured the bottleneck. Floor layout improved, we tweaked a few things here and there to make it flow better. There were more people than last September, but we didn’t hear about the fire marshall keeping people out. It was more open. And that had to do with spreading out some of the attractions to other parts of the building.”
What about economic success?
Farr: “It was more successful than the past – the most successful. Going into this event we’d been pretty much close to a break-even business, but this one (though the final numbers are not in) is looking to be profitable. There are Lots of costs in putting on an event of this size. It looks good when you see the revenue and then you start paying the bills and say oh man where did the money go?”
Do you feel Salt Lake Comic Con is becoming a community-defining event?
Farr: “We hope so. It is our goal for it to be a destination convention where people plan to go to it every year and that it brings in visitors from other states.”
When you first started did you have any idea it would be so successful?
Farr: “I did think it had potential, but I didn’t think it would happen so fast. But I felt it had potential to be a leading comic con.”
What about fan feedback?
Farr: “It was so much more than ever before – really positive. People were happy with how much smoother everything ran. I see admission and line control as obstacles to getting in and having a good time. If we’re able to get people in without a hurdle people are happy. It keeps that excitement up high. If they have to wait in line too long the energy and happiness go down.”
Are you still trying to attract the major comic book publishers like DC and Marvel?
Farr: “We’re still working on comic publishers. Not an event goes by that we don’t reach out to them. They are still waiting to see if the success is ongoing. Even though we had great attendance they want to see visitors from other states. -This event had 25% of visitors from out of state. The publishers look at the market size and even though ours is a big show, reaching out of state visitors will help them decide to attend. They are looking for a destination comic con. Mile High Comics, from Denver, and Funko both had great success here. They will talk to others and tell them how great it was and hopefully, we’ll get more in.”
The next event, Fan X, is planned for the end of March. Dan says they are looking towards getting some more Walking Dead guests.