DragonCon 2017 – By the Numbers

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Hello, SurveyMonkey.  When I don’t know what I thought about this year’s Labor Day geek fest known as DragonCon, I now have objective data.  Granted that this may be only a 5% sample of registrants, but… let’s see how this supports my view as the Con unfolded.

This was the 9th DragonCon for my wife and me, a span that has seen the crowd increase from an estimated 30,000 to 80,000+.  As the Con is conducted primarily in host hotels, something has to give.  And it has.  Three host hotels expanded to four, then five, and now also includes the AmericasMart, all within a reasonable walk.   I’m not sure what may have changed this year, but I think more panels filled up (and sooner), and there was a general improvement in movement through hotel lobbies, the chokepoints of the Con.

Well, Survey Monkey, tell us about these 80,000+ people?

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So, a quarter of those are essentially newcomers, over half are regulars, and after 10 Cons, it appears people start to lose interest.   Sadly, there is no demographics included, but I’ll just say that observationally, it’s gotten younger in the last few years, and not just because I’m getting older.

That begs the question, are we prime candidates for the attendance drop off?  Well, not next year, as the early registration price is too appealing, but the idea of skipping the next one did enter our mind, whereas usually we leave somewhat tired but somewhat aggrieved that we have to wait a full year to the next one.

We also changed things a bit this year as we chose to stay in a hotel rather than commuting daily.  Due to the four night minimum stay, we arrived Thursday, the day before the Con kicks off, to find a large, already in costumed regalia, on the streets, in the lobbies and in the bars, party started.  Seeing which day of the week that the Con began for respondents verified this, though I had no idea it would shape this way.

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For one, regardless of how they advertise, DragonCon is a three day convention, Fri-Sun.  Thursday night there are a number of gatherings for like-minded people, but very little programming from a presenter standpoint.  And while Monday morning and early afternoon have a fair number of panels, sorry.  People are packing and getting out of their hotels for the close of the holiday weekend.  A peek into a near empty Battlestar Galactica ballroom confirmed this.  While factually true that the Con touches five days, it’s still a lie.

Also, these stats surprisingly uphold my Saturday observation that while the streets were full, the lines and press of people was not particularly worse than Friday.  One day passes, I think, had limited availability this year, particularly pre-Con, so either more people chose to attend the whole thing or skipped coming at all.  That’s a win.

And then there’s the overall opinion about DragonCon 2017.

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I don’t know that I have an opinion on these statistics, as there are so many things that attendees may seek in the Con that I don’t share.  For me, it was “Good.”  For being a volunteer event that the industry doesn’t really support like, say, Comic-Con, there remains a lot of untapped potential to draw interest, and the SurveyMonkey asked for suggestions. 

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