Anime Expo – known simply as “AX,” brings together people from all walks spanning in age from infant to retiree. Over the summer, we worked with the Society for the Promotion of Japanese Animation (SPJA) to execute its first in-person event since 2020. A bustling crowd awaited our experts, who ventured to Los Angeles to support the event.
Christine Hilgert, senior VP, Neil Hinkle, application support engineer, and Sabine Vante, senior conference manager, share their experiences after participating in one of the most significant celebrations of Japanese pop culture in North America:
Neil: How to Manage Large-Scale Events
An event like Anime Expo is an entirely different animal if you’re accustomed to staffing or attending B2B conferences. This event is open to the general public, so attendees’ ages range greatly, and the sheer numbers are much larger than the typical corporate or association event.
With this comes several considerations we kept in mind while working AX:
- Crowd Control – With a crowd of this size, the capacity of the Expo Hall of the Los Angeles Convention Center became a legitimate concern as the fire marshal requires a constant flow of traffic. To overcome this, our team worked closely with the exhibitors, vendors, and volunteer staff in the Expo Hall to ensure we addressed potential issues and monitored as closely as possible to guarantee everyone kept moving and none of the aisles became clogged.
- The Noise Levels – With 90,000 attendees, background noise is abundant! On top of that, vendors and exhibitors often play music at their booths to attract potential customers. This made using radios with earpieces and some form of text-based communication vital to ensure we could stay aware of events, call for assistance, and direct volunteer staff to critical areas when necessary.
- A Passionate Audience – The people that attend Anime Expo are genuinely dedicated fans. They show it through elaborate costuming, waking up hours before the convention opens to stand in line (and sometimes camp overnight) for the panels and events they want to attend, and a dedication to their favorite anime, manga, and video games that must be seen to be believed. The fact that they are this enthusiastic about their fandom presents unique challenges, though. For example, frequent reminders to not run in the Expo Hall and remaining vigilant of any attendees who did not exit the Expo Hall once closed were necessary.
There are many other differences between a public-facing consumer event and a corporate event, but I recommend attending something like Anime Expo at least once. Not only will you leave with a new perspective, but perhaps new ideas for your events – I know our team did!
Christine: Celebrate Community + Inclusion
As the world is under competing and controversial pressures, the four days at Anime Expo were a wonderful reminder of how powerful human connections can be to inspire a community and celebrate inclusion.
I loved the energy each morning as we waited for the rush of attendees to flood the Expo Hall floor when the ropes dropped, and the day began with thousands of people cheering, smiling, and warmly greeting one another – and not looking at a phone or a device.
By supporting the volunteers and the team, we ensured crowds moved safely in and through the doors, and even though we had to say, “stop running” continually, we empathetically added, “welcome, glad you’re here!” Attendees graciously thanked the volunteers and us – that’s a community, and we were thrilled to be a part of it.
Sabine: Bring the Show to Life
I will never forget when our SVP, Lisa Burton, ran through a list of my new programs and her asking me, “Do you know anime?”
Do I know anime?
As a baby, my youngest son had Vegeta hair – from one of the main characters in the Dragonball Z anime. My oldest used to worship the animated ground that Naruto walks on. So, from the beginning, I experienced how Meeting Expectations forges strong connections – in this case, by connecting the perfect meeting planner with the ideal client, SPJA.
AX is a fun-filled week of exhibits and incredible activations. Describing AX as a “big event” would be quite an understatement. Instead, this colossal show boasted approximately 90,000 attendees walking through convention doors…each day.
Working diligently, our team provided the support that SPJA needed to bring this fantastic show to life.
Our team fostered myriad connections between supporting exhibitors through event technology software, stealthily ushering live artists out and around an impossible line of trucks, or simply quizzing my children about specific exhibitors to identify their best booth location.
Finally, our role at AX speaks to our approach when managing any event. Meeting Expectations’ experts are skilled in corporate meetings, events, and consumer-facing shows like Anime Expo. No matter the audience, we can and will over-deliver for our client’s success.
The only way to understand the enormity of this show: you had to be there! I captured many of my favorite moments, so tap this link for more AX up close and personal.
Meeting Expectations – like all the Etherio Group companies – is not just any meeting management agency; it is a company that strategically leverages events to create personal, impactful connections. Contact us to learn more.