To start, I want to say thank you to each and everyone of you for making Anime Expo 2014 the best event yet. Our employees, staff, and volunteers worked tirelessly for you to make this an exceptional year, rich with content and entertainment. We really stretched our wings to create something new and different for our fans.
As you know, we had more content than any previous year and more attendees than we anticipated.
Anime Expo’s 23rd year experienced an unprecedented 30% increase in attendance with over 80,000 unique attendees, and a turnstile attendance of over 220,000.
Our growth offered the opportunity to invest in exciting content for attendees to experience. The Kill La Kill special event, Sailor Moon panels, and AX Special Edition of rePlay: Symphony of Heroes were just a few of the amazing events offered at AX 2014. While these were complex to produce, we happily rose to the challenges they presented. Many of our programming options attracted interest beyond their peak capacity. The growth is a bit overwhelming, and we recognize the need to improve our logistics; there is a lot to learn as we move forward.
Our growing pains were evident in this year’s registration lines, panel seating, and autograph sessions. The entertainment we worked so hard to produce is limited by how many individuals fit into each event and how quickly we can seat you. We want everyone to experience every event, but the nature of these special events is that they are limited. Much like other shows, special events sell out quickly and simply do not have enough seats for every AX attendee. We’re sorry for this. I want to personally assure you that the SPJA and Anime Expo are not going to rest on their laurels and ignore the issues caused by our rapid growth.
We are committed to using these lessons to improve. We are launching a rigorous program to further develop Anime Expo by examining the complete experience from registration to programming. In 2015, we will be investing in streamlining and vastly improving your experience.
Our goal is for Anime Expo to be one of the easiest and most enjoyable conventions to participate in.
It is important to us that our fans and exhibitors have a clear idea of what is going to be offered in the show. We have created a lot of content and new areas for you to enjoy. Now we will be investing in improving customer service and access to our events.
I want you all to know that we are dedicated to making things better and we’re already hard at work doing just that.
Here’s a glimpse of our plans thus far:
- Premier fan badges will be mailed.
- Onsite badge pick-up areas will be increased to process significantly more badges per hour.
- (To put things into perspective, badge pick-ups were processed at a rate of about 2,000 people per hour in 2013, and about 4,000 people per hour in 2014.)
- Registration will open earlier and stay later:
- Attendee Registration will open on Day 0 at 12pm and stay open till 8pm on Day 1.
- (Yes, that means registration will be open for 36 hours straight!)
- Days 2 & 3, registration will open at 6am & continue accepting attendees till 8pm.
To accomplish everything above, we’ll be bringing in larger and faster equipment, but we understand that better equipment doesn’t necessarily make for a better experience. We are setting some serious goals and enacting plans to achieve them.
- Our goal is to make sure no one stands in line more than 90 minutes for registration, preferably less!
- Registration will open 3 hours before programming starts each day, so people have the ability to see the show and a better chance to get into the panels they are excited to see.
- To alleviate issues with the sun and heat, tents will be set up for outside lines before the show begins.
- Customer Service
- We’re increasing signage and we’re going to empower our staff to better assist attendees. This will help solve issues on the floor, in the lines, and in programming rooms.
- We’ll also be investigating new technologies that will make it better for you as we continuously try to develop the best attendee experience possible.
It’s an immense amount of work in the year ahead and we’re looking forward to it.
I want to personally apologize to all of you who had negative experience’s at this years event. I am looking forward to working with our community of fans on improving AX and continuing to find new ways to make an even better show for all of us. We have so many more plans than what’s listed above, but we wanted to give you an idea of our top priorities.
Thank you for your understanding, patience, and for being the best fans on the planet.
Chief Executive Officer
Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation