Unique attendees number?
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Posted by dradama

So has anyone see how many unique attendees there were? I have looked in numerous places and the closest I got was them saying around 60,000.  Why wouldn't they announce how many there were?  I know they said a 4% increase but that's it. 

Just seems a little odd to me. 

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Posted by braewe

We were talking about this. The popular consensus in our group was that the fire marshal wants it called at sixty thousand...so they say that is what the target is. 

And since 60000 times four is less than the 200000 they have out for turnstile who can say any different?

Even if maybe Sunday was considerably less and Thursday considerably more.

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Posted by dradama

But in 2015 it was 61,400 and they had no problem calling it over 60k then. 

My guess is is that GenCon 50 did not have the highest attendance which would bring in the question of how did they sell out of badges then when they did not sell out in 2015?

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Posted by bobvilla

I kind of understood it to be, and I may be wrong, that they sold 60,000 badges but that's not how many badges there were. Exhibitors, GM badges, Volunteer badges, guests etc... might add up to another 10k attendees.

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Posted by helenbb

Someone posted that Frank Mentzer said in his tour that attendance was 75,000.

Even if the convention hall has a maximum capacity (as per the fire marshall) of 60,000, you have to add in the capacity at Lucas Oil, which would be significant, as well as the capacities of the hotel space that was being used at the Westin, Crowne Plaza, etc.

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Posted by bonham

I don't understand why someone would believe 60k was the cap when previous years have hit nearly 64k.  As it 'sold out' for the first time obviously it would be higher than the highest previous year.

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Posted by garhkal

Perhaps they are still counting it up?

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Posted by tdb bonham

bonham wrote:
I don't understand why someone would believe 60k was the cap when previous years have hit nearly 64k.  As it 'sold out' for the first time obviously it would be higher than the highest previous year.

The cap is whatever GenCon decides it is.  Their decision might be driven by some external limit, like the fire marshal, but it might not too.  It could just as easily be the case that GenCon decided that this year was going to be a sellout just for marketing purposes, and set a limit they felt confident would ensure that.

Management certainly hasn't been terribly transparent about the number of unique attendees.  It seems to me that if there was a record number of unique attendees, they would brag about it.  They certainly have bragged about setting unique attendee records in the past, but this year they didn't.  That leads me to think it wasn't a record.

Turnstile attendance (number of attendee-days) did go up, which, you'll note, they did brag about.  But you could do that without setting a unique attendee record simply by selling more 4-day badges and less 1-day badges, without selling more badges overall.  I suspect that's what happened.

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Posted by braewe

Your logic is sound except that they really did do a couple things that makes me suspect there were a lot more people than 60k.

They proactively refunded duplicate badges. I've been gming for many many years and NEVER have they done that. They did that before any announcements of sellouts. I always assumed the reason they didn't was because I'm sure there were always a few folks who forgot to get around to turning in said badge and boom instant chunk of profit.

Despite moving a good portion of people over to Lucas oil, the place still felt crowded. The aisles were wide so there was still traffic flow but there were lots of people. 

And also if they just wanted a sell out they could have continued to sell four day badges much longer than they actually did. I think it was June that got the first? Then after that they could just sell single day badges to even out days that have been traditionally lower.

Pity we can't just ask the fire marshal what the actual limit is, right? Anyone know him or her?

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Posted by elvinlord

I suspect they had a increase in four day badges vs one day badges.  As has been pointed out unique attendees is not as useful as turnstile.  50k single day spread out over four days with 10k four day has a lot less impact then 50k four day with 10k single day.  Hence the need to cap badges.

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Posted by matthias9 elvinlord

elvinlord wrote:
I suspect they had a increase in four day badges vs one day badges.  As has been pointed out unique attendees is not as useful as turnstile.  50k single day spread out over four days with 10k four day has a lot less impact then 50k four day with 10k single day.  Hence the need to cap badges.

Their media page says:  "ninth consecutive year of record turnstile attendance, reaching 207,979, an approximate 4% increase over 2016", which is where the 4% comes from (turnstile).  I don't remember them releasing a turnstile number in any previous year.

Also:
"“We made a decision early in planning Gen Con 50 to optimize the attendee experience while still continuing to grow the convention to new attendance levels,” “By adding the field level of Lucas Oil Stadium, improving space planning, and carefully restructuring attendance thresholds by badge type, we realized record gains, while maintaining a world-class experience for attendees.”  [my emphasis]

If you are right that they increased four day badges, how do we explain that the sell-out of 4-day badges happened so early?  There was not significant growth from 2015 to 2016 to imply that this would happen (uniques actually went down).  Because the sell out happened early, I was hearing some speculation that they were trying to cap 4-day to make more money on 1-day badges, which is the opposite of your theory.

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Posted by elvinlord

1) They have release turnsile info every year as far back as I can remember, its not new.
2) The early sell out can be easily explained by the fact the it was the 50th and people wanted to make sure they had there badges and hotels lined up and wanted the stay the whole 4 days
3) Gencon clearly wants you to buy a four day badge, the idea that they artificially limited the badges so they could milk more money out of procrastinators makes no sense.  

No event organizers want large numbers of  last minute ticket buyer's it makes it hard to calculate cash flow, how much promo materials to buy etc.  Of they wanted to rake in more money they could have just eliminated all one day badges and raised the cost of the four day.  Late purchasing single day just makes it hard the plan out resources.

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Posted by matthias9

I don't really disagree with that.  There has to be more 4-day.  It is the only way you maintain uniques flat while increasing turnstile, which is apparently what happened.  I never bought the theory that they were trying to push you into buying multiple 1-day badges, but, yes, I had heard a few people saying it.

I'm still a bit surprised at the early sellout, considering the previous year was flat.  It's especially early when you consider they probably sold a lot at the door last year.  Personally, I don't find the 50th anniversary an adequate explanation. If that was it, you'd expect more people at the history of Gen Con seminars, which were not exactly overrun.  On the other hand, there was explosive attendance growth in the years leading into last year, so maybe last year was just the outlier.

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Posted by elvinlord

Human nature to want to be a part of milestones look at how the 50th branded merchandise sold out.    The tours of the D&D musuem sold out, apparently seminars are not that exciting

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Posted by andrewj.rager

I am actually very interested to see how Gen Con 2018 attendance goes. Did everyone come this year because it was Gen Con 50, or just that many people wanted to be at Gen Con? I would expect a dip in attendance next year. Also it seems like people really came to buy everything this year. Companies were selling way more than expected or history projected. I would expect that desire to buy to drop next year as well.

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Posted by garhkal

IMO yes.  Everyone came for the big 50.  I expect a dip next year..

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Posted by matthias9

But the number of different attendees was right about 60,000 each of the last 3 years.  Unless the economy tanks, there's no reason to expect a dip next year.  If anything, the perceived scarcity (fear of sell out) will only encourage people to sign up earlier.

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Posted by brooks tdb

tdb wrote:
bonham wrote:
I don't understand why someone would believe 60k was the cap when previous years have hit nearly 64k.  As it 'sold out' for the first time obviously it would be higher than the highest previous year.

The cap is whatever GenCon decides it is.  Their decision might be driven by some external limit, like the fire marshal, but it might not too.  It could just as easily be the case that GenCon decided that this year was going to be a sellout just for marketing purposes, and set a limit they felt confident would ensure that.Management certainly hasn't been terribly transparent about the number of unique attendees.  It seems to me that if there was a record number of unique attendees, they would brag about it.  They certainly have bragged about setting unique attendee records in the past, but this year they didn't.  That leads me to think it wasn't a record.
Turnstile attendance (number of attendee-days) did go up, which, you'll note, they did brag about.  But you could do that without setting a unique attendee record simply by selling more 4-day badges and less 1-day badges, without selling more badges overall.  I suspect that's what happened.

During the Running GenCon panel on Sunday afternoon Adrian Swartout specifically said the badge cap was due to a risk on being shut down by the fire marshal. She also said attendee experience was extremely important so that the corridors and rooms didn't feel claustrophobic. 

However it was also her, or perhaps Peter Adkinson, who said they were taking a close look at traffic flow patterns through the convention center and coming up with some new ideas for the future. Peter Adkinson also brought up the fact that downtown Indianapolis was able to handle 150,000 for the Super Bowl in 2012. 

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Posted by andrewj.rager

I would not want to see Indy with 150K people downtown. Holy crap. 60K is fine. We had no issues with getting food or getting to our hotel. I am overall really happy with how this year went, but I won't complain if less come next year and the housing portal goes back to "normal" This year was Loco!

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Posted by matthias9

Interesting.  I had heard speculation about fire marshall, but hadn't heard anything "official" until now.

I agree with Adkinson -- downtown itself can handle more people.  For example, it's not hard at all to get food once you get only 2 blocks or more away from the ICC.

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