Since their inaugural convention in 2006, New York Comic Con (NYCC), brought to life by the global live events powerhouse ReedPOP, has become the largest comic book convention in North America. NYCC now welcomes over 250,000 excited fans into the halls of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center each year. With such a massive fanbase, running a successful event from start to finish is no easy feat. From managing high-traffic on-sales, to creating a roster of celebrity guests and panelists, to ensuring every attendee has a memorable experience, the NYCC team has vast event technology needs that grow each year.
In the historical event technology landscape, NYCC would have to enlist a slew of disparate technology vendors to fulfill each event technology need. One vendor for ticketing. Another for mobile app development. Yet another for event operations. Today, New York Comic Con partners with Patron Technology, who has methodically curated the industry’s leading event technology products into a single, integrated solution. The partnership provides NYCC with the tools and expert support needed to manage their entire event lifecycle.
Increase in event attendance
Attendees in recent years
Mobile app sessions
Preparation for such a massive event is a year-round endeavor, and as New York Comic Con’s dedicated technology partner, Patron Technology is by their side every step of the way. Five months prior to event day, NYCC opens applications for Patron Technology’s first-of-its-kind fan verification tool, which virtually eliminates the unauthorized resale of tickets by requiring each ticket holder to create a fan profile. This ensures only those who plan to attend the event are able to purchase tickets. “Our convention is at its best when it’s filled with deeply passionate and excited attendees,” said Kristina Rogers, Event Director of ReedPOP. “So we take every precaution to ensure that our ticket inventory is secured for our loyal fans.” In 2019 alone, nearly 400,000 people were eligible for fan verification credentials.
Once ticket buyers secure their fan verification profiles, they’re eligible to participate in the pre-sale and general on-sale. They then enter a virtual queue that manages the flow of traffic to NYCC’s event listing, streamlines the purchase process, and provides updates on ticket levels and remaining quantities. “With tens of thousands of eager fans all trying to get their tickets at the same time, we really rely on Patron Technology’s ticketing product to help manage the massive demand and keep us in the loop on what’s happening,” said Rogers. Patron Technology also provides a superhero team of account managers, engineers, and product managers in constant contact with the NYCC team throughout the entire on-sale.
As part of their integrated product offering, Patron Technology provides New York Comic Con with a fully-branded mobile app. Hosting more than 2 million total sessions in 2019, the official New York Comic Con app includes an interactive floor map that allows attendees to easily locate the panels, vendors, and exhibitor booths they want to visit.
Fans can also create personalized schedules and receive custom push notification updates by favoriting the activities they’re most excited to see. To help reduce lines at these panels and sessions, Patron Technology’s pre-event reservation system gives fans a chance to reserve preferred time slots for popular events. This system lets attendees plan their perfect event experience in advance, and gives those who are unable to make reservations the opportunity to explore more of the show instead of spending hours in line. “By using Patron Technology’s app and reservation system, we’re starting the show for fans weeks prior to event day so they can plan their experience,” Rogers said. “The happier and more informed they are, the better experience they have onsite.”
Exhibitors, panelists, and sponsors are able to manage their information displayed in the app and publish updates at any time through a web form created in Patron Technology’s event operations product. The product syncs all information to NYCC’s mobile app in real time, which means fans are always up-to-date. Over 50% of all 2019 exhibitors used the NYCC app to include their website link, company description, and information about pricing specials and exhibitor exclusives. With such ease of information sharing, New York Comic Con empowers their exhibitors and sponsors to better connect with interested fans, which creates a more engaging onsite experience and fosters a more profitable relationship. NYCC also gains insight into which content fans are interacting with before the event even starts, which helps them tailor their content leading up to the show.
Once convention weekend arrives, it’s four days of nonstop fandom celebration. “Welcoming hundreds of thousands of attendees over just a few days is no small undertaking,” said Rogers, “so we needed an airtight admissions strategy that got people through the gate quickly and securely.” NYCC attendance has increased to over 250,000, so getting fans into the convention as quickly and safely as possible is paramount. Thanks to Patron Technology’s RFID admissions technology and expertise, NYCC was able to overhaul their admissions processes in 2016 and has continued to expand upon them ever since. With a single tap of an attendee’s RFID badge, fans are not only admitted inside instantly, but their registered info, panel attendance, and exhibitor scans around the event also live on their badge, adding convenience and reducing time spent in lines. With Patron Technology’s integrated event operations product, NYCC staff is able to approve, manage, and fulfill credentials onsite like exhibitor and press passes – with the same RFID badge technology used for fans. With dedicated gate managers at each entrance, and a suite of sophisticated admissions hardware, tens of thousands of attendees were seamlessly scanned in during peak hours in 2019.
To give fans a more interactive event experience, NYCC offers dozens of experiential marketing activations throughout the convention. Attendees can participate in a scavenger hunt by receiving clues on the mobile app and tapping their badges at physical locations around the convention center, take branded photos and videos at several sponsored stations, and play sponsored scan-to-win games where they might instantly win amazing prizes. For sponsors and exhibitors, the attendee data received from each badge tap can be used to keep the conversation going long after the event. For NYCC, the data helps create content and experiences tailored to their fans’ interests. “The information we receive is invaluable,” said Rogers. “We use it not only to learn what our fans are into, but to increase the value of our sponsorship packages and secure more relevant sponsors.” With this data, NYCC is able to curate future event experiences with the panels, vendors, and special guests fans have historically shown the most interest in, ensuring they come back year after year, and helping both NYCC and their sponsors increase their ROI.
New York Comic Con and Patron Technology are always working on new ways to enhance the attendee experience. In 2019, NYCC offered a number of attendees the opportunity to go cashless. Their RFID badges doubled as their payment credentials, offering a seamless purchase experience at over 60 participating vendors and exhibitor booths. Self-serve kiosks placed throughout the convention center made it easy for attendees to add money to their badges at any time. On average, customers added $90 onto their wristband, and spent over 50% of their available balance on merch and concessions. “This was a great glimpse into just how beneficial cashless payments can be for our event,” said Rogers. “It streamlined the purchase process for attendees and vendors alike, and truly created a frictionless environment. I’m excited to see it in action on a large scale in years to come.”
Kristina Rogers, Event Director of ReedPOP
Since working with Patron Technology, New York Comic Con has increased total event attendance by 90%, reaching over 250,000 attendees. Patron Technology overhauled NYCC’s admissions process with robust RFID technology, where tens of thousands of attendees can be admitted securely in under an hour. They’ve implemented experiential marketing activations that provide NYCC with valuable data on more than 170,000 participating attendees. They developed a fully branded mobile app that hosts over 2 million sessions each year. Patron Technology even began to usher in a new era of cashless payments with NYCC, where attendees spent an average of $45 on merch and concessions using their RFID badges. In the years to come, New York Comic Con will continue to partner and grow with Patron Technology’s integrated suite of products to receive valuable insights, grow attendee engagement, and increase ROI. “I love working with the Patron Technology team because we never hear a ‘no,’” Rogers said. “Instead, there’s always a new solution."