How Anime Expo thrilled fans by cutting line-time by 83%

How Anime Expo thrilled fans by cutting line-time by 83%

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Anime Expo is the largest anime convention in North America. For four days each July, over 90,000 passionate fans fill the Los Angeles Convention Center to celebrate Japanese animation and manga. In 2015, Anime Expo showcased 300 exhibitors, 60 entertainment guests, and the biggest artist alley in the nation. It’s a jam-packed experience for the whole community — so much so that the city of Los Angeles declared July 3 Anime Expo day.

The event brings together a tight knit community of staff and volunteers as well as fans. Hosted by the non-profit Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation, the event’s success relies on a small workforce and more than 1,600 volunteers. As the Division Manager of Registration and Exhibits, it is Amy Miyamoto’s job to deliver excellent customer service to anyone that comes through the door. With the number of eager attendees increasing by 12% last year alone, we sat down with Amy to find out how her small team tackled checking-in a growing crowd.

Challenge: Never-ending lines

Anime Expo by the numbers

In 2014, Anime Expo’s ticketing system couldn’t scale to the size of the event. Fans were stuck in 6-hour con lines to get in. Some of the anime enthusiasts who had camped out all night didn’t even make it inside before closing. The situation was so dire that #linecon started trending on Twitter, which prompted the CEO of SPJA to write an open letter to fans promising a better experience next year.

To live up to their promise and get fans in the door, Anime Expo wanted to:

  • Partner with experts in entry management
  • Upgrade to technology developed for big crowds
  • Make the experience more enjoyable for volunteers
  • Track their progress on-the-go to eliminate the guesswork

4 ways Anime Expo streamlined entry

1. Entry management experts on-site

SPJA chose to partner with Eventbrite’s team of Field Ops experts, who used their previous experience working with more than 2,000 world class events to predict when fans would arrive. For cons, they knew that about 10% of fans show up before the gates even open, and an additional 40-60% tend to show up within the first three hours. By estimating the number of fans a volunteer could scan in a minute, they created a sitemap to prevent bottlenecks. Preparations went so smoothly, the team was able to open doors two hours early — though with three Eventbrite experts on-site, the team knew they would have been supported if something had gone wrong.

Last year, fans had to wait in 2 or 3-hour lines even on the fastest day. This year, it took only thirty minutes for all the fans that camped out overnight to get through the door. The rest of the time, there were no lines at all, which shocked repeat attendees.

Anime Expo Quote

2. State of the art badge technology

In 2014, the badge process was a disaster. It was responsible for both a 3 hour delay opening the doors, and printing errors that made staff run out mid-day to restock. With Eventbrite’s secondary code assignment technology, all fans had to do was scan the ticket then scan the unique barcode on the badges. The technology allowed fans to be quickly identified later if necessary, and supported exhibitor, press, guest and VIP badges as well.

The process was so fast that volunteers could scan in four people per minute. And since the devices are all mobile, the team had the flexibility to do distributed badge pickup at an auxiliary location. With the tech to eliminate onsite badge printing and with double the amount of counters staffed, check-in was seamless.

3. A stress-free volunteer experience

Most volunteers are students who come back year after year to reconnect with friends. Amy, the division manager, first got involved as a volunteer herself. With 1,600 people donating their time, creating an enjoyable experience for volunteers is vital.

With Eventbrite’s intuitive technology, volunteers’ jobs got a lot easier. They used Eventbrite’s free Organizer app to check fans in, and Eventbrite apps on iPads for customer service and on-site sales. This meant there were far fewer complaints, and any fan requests were dealt with quickly and wirelessly.

4. Easy access reporting

Managers kept track of their check-in progress using the Eventbrite Organizer app. Using the reports, they could see how many people had checked in each hour — and could breathe a sigh of relief when most fans were inside. They could check to make sure all premier fans had been helped and keep track of volunteers by viewing sales reports of individual devices.

The reports continued to be helpful post-event. The SPJA team used the information to learn new information about their fans, like if single-day pass holders tend to arrive earlier than multi-day attendees, to continue to improve for next year.

After last year’s #linecon debacle, Anime Expo knew they needed to deliver a seamless entry process to fans. With Eventbrite, they had the expert support and intuitive technology to manage volunteers, get people in the door, and — most importantly — live up to their promise to fans.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can partner with Eventbrite to shorten con lines and create a better experience for your attendees, fill out the form on the right or call us at 1-800-993-7308.



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