As we stood around our booth at our last convention, we were visiting with some of the other exhibitors. One of the first-time exhibitors was expressing his frustration over the manner in which some attendees can walk right in front of your booth and not even acknowledge your presence. With a laugh, the rest of us explained how it's not a reflection of the product or the individual booths; some attendees just have a different agenda and are very focused. That led to the discussion on the different varieties of convention goers and what they hope to get out of the experience.
The Collector: This attendee has been preparing for the convention for weeks in advance. They will usually be carrying a large backpack or even pulling a wheeled cart with their merchandise to sell or to carry home their new acquisitions. They only are interested in talking to you if you might have the rare variant cover or the discontinued action figure that they are seeking. They have usually mapped out the convention floor and have a very organized plan of attack. They rarely glance at the surrounding booths and leave immediately after acquiring their prize so they can go home and reorganize their collection to display the new item.
First timer: These come in at least 2 varieties. Those that are overwhelmed and look as if they might cry if you approach them. They tend to be overwhelmed by the experience and are just hoping to do a quick run through of the convention floor so that they can get acclimated and hope that some of the crowd thins out so they can see things a bit better. They tend to loosen up as the day progresses. The second variety tends to be a favorite among exhibitors. They have never been before and are completely excited because they feel as if they have finally come home and found "their tribe". These attendees have infectious enthusiasm and stop and want to learn everything about every booth. They are usually easily identifiable from a distance because they are draped in every free piece of propaganda that is available and are wearing their favorite superhero shirt with matching hat and socks. They love to talk to about all the products and activities that are available at the convention and are carrying massive bags that contain all the swag and collectibles they have purchased. These folks can often be found in the line for the ATM because they have already exhausted the funds they budgeted and brought with them but just has to have that print that they saw in artist alley. They are one of the reasons conventions are so successful and have sprung up in all parts of the country.
Too Cool Joe: You know who you are: you are only attending because your girlfriend/buddy/kids wanted to come and you don't have much interest in this geek and pop culture kind of stuff. These folks tend to to be found just wandering the exhibition floor, never stopping to investigate any particular booth. They will quickly look away if there is any opportunity to catch the eye of vendor. However, secretly on the inside they are dying to buy that Deadpool hoodie and next year they may cross over and embrace their inner geek. The first step is always the hardest.
The Family Plan: It usually looks like this: One parent dressed in their appropriate geek swag enthusiastically holding hands with their child in a superhero costume. The other parent is usually pushing a stroller and has on a token t-shirt of a superhero they potentially know nothing about. At least one of the children are usually carrying a balloon animal and at least one sword or other convention-acquired souvenir. The stroller is usually packed with a collection of purchases as well as a diaper bag. It is always best if they can get the most out of their experience before one of the kids loses interest and starts to melt down. Sometimes, the geeklings have developed their own passions and interests and it is great to see an entire family excited about all things to discover at a convention. It is always important to start the training of the next generation of geeks early! Today's padawan is tomorrow's Jedi!
The VIP Fan: These folks are also infectious with their excitement but their enthusiasm is very focused. They can be identified by their 3-day VIP pass around their neck. Their attire usually expresses their passion; they can be picked out with their Walking Dead hat, Team Darryl t-shirt, and crossbow slung across their back. They will often be carrying their autographed picture that still needs to dry. These attendees love chatting with you and searching the exhibition floor for some new collectibles but will often disappear at a moments notice to catch their favorite star's Q & A session or the start of their exclusive meet-and-greet. Their passion for their celebrities and their media has fueled the expansion of focused fan-experience conventions such as Walker Stalker Cons and the like.
Cosplayers: It is hard to say enough good things about the cosplayers who attend conventions. Their dedication to their craft is often overwhelming. They bring joy to both the exhibitors and attendees alike. Often exhibitors themselves with ask for a picture with the cosplayers that are wandering the convention floor. The cosplayers are usually a huge hit with the children and the family attendees and highlight their convention experience.
The reality for most exhibitors at conventions is that all types of attendees have something to offer. Most vendors are not there for the hard-sell but are looking to share their particular piece of geek and pop culture with fans. It takes every all types of fans to make a convention great and one of the best things is feeling like you are surrounded by old friends which you walk through the door to the exhibit hall. These are just a few of the common types of comic and pop culture convention attendees; which kind are you?