How to Take Salt Lake Comic Con to the Next Level

20140907 Salt Lake Comic Con130,000 people! Wow! That’s impressive and proves that Salt Lake City can support a major Comic Con. Now we know that, it’s time for the organizers of Salt Lake Comic Con to stop pushing for viability and start focusing on the experience for attendees.

While it was fun to have so many pop culture fans in one place, being in the trenches trying to make it from one part of the Salt Palace to another was an absolute nightmare. There were just too many people inside that building at once. My wife, who had a blast this year, is seriously considering not attending next year because there were just too many people, and it’s no longer fun.

I understand the profit motive. The organizers, whom I genuinely like and think have done a brilliant job, need to make money to make sure they can hold the event next year. But, we are past the point of ensuring survival. Now, Salt Lake Comic Con needs to look at quality over quantity.

There’s a term doctors use with new babies when they have trouble gaining weight – “failure to thrive.” Salt Lake Comic Con is way past that stage. The event is clearly thriving. It’s established.

So, in my humble opinion, here are a few things that should change before the next Comic Con rolls into town.

Limit the number of tickets

130,000 people is impressive, but having that many people dampens the experience for everybody. We’ve already established that people want to attend this thing. If you limit ticket sales and raise ticket prices, you create a premium experience. Right now, it feels like survival trying to navigate the crowds on the convention floor. You don’t have time to check out a vendor’s booth because something caught your eye. You are simply focused on the crowd directly in front of you, trying to make sure you don’t get separated from your group and you get to where you want to go.

In this case, more is no longer better.

Clear out part of the panel rooms between guests

I was extremely lucky that I got in to see Stan Lee on Saturday. The line to get into that ballroom for the program was crazy. But, there were so many people who basically camped out in that room to make sure they got to see Lee, I would venture to guess less than 150 people found open seats for that panel.

Organizers should make it clear that only one or two sections of the ballroom will be able to stay between guests. That way, everybody gets an equal shot at getting seats to see the more popular guests.

Crack down on the hugs, handshakes, pictures and nonsense during the celebrity Q&A’s

It’s not cute. It’s not endearing. It’s annoying.

Every single time someone got up during a celebrity Q&A to ask for a hug before they asked their question, a huge groan erupted from the audience.

They finally started limiting that on Saturday, but it should have been made a policy from the get go.

When people ask for a hug or whatever nonsense, it takes extra time away from the other people in line who want to askĀ a question.

The celebrities have a booth and photo ops for a reason. They’re here to make some money as well as interact with fans. People who try to weasel a picture during the Q&A are simply being cheap.

Stop it.

Limit the number of questions people can ask at celebrity Q&A’s

During the Patrick Warburton panel, a pair of cute kids came up to the mic to ask a question. One of them asked a question, then they stayed so the other could ask a question. That basically screwed someone further back in line who wanted to get their question answered.

Maybe organizers should carry out a “take a number” system, which would keep people from hogging the microphone, and might stop people from getting in line during multiple panels.

There was one young man who asked the same question (and got a fist bump) during three straight celebrity Q&A’s. That shouldn’t happen.

Don’t let attendees who want to be selfish game the system and make it more fair for everyone.

Salt Lake has established itself as one of the best Comic Con’s in the country. People want to come. People want to spend money.

Now it’s time to make it one of the best experiences in the country as well.