It’s going to be an interesting year for offsites, ladies and gentlemen. For years, San Diego Comic Con attendees with badges that were fewer than the full four days, locals, and those crazy enough to head to San Diego without a badge at all have been told, “Come anyway! There’s so much to do outside of the convention center!”
And while that’s still going to be true for 2017, there has already been a number of offsites that have confirmed they will not be in attendance this year. Some may only have made an appearance last year (like EW’s Con X), but some have a five or more years of attendance under their belts (like Nerd HQ), which means that there is going to be a lot of space for new events to inhabit their spaces.
With all of that being said, we’ve got a few suggestions to make the offsite experience a little bit better for everyone.
Most offsite experiences are open during the same hours panels are running inside the convention center and the Exhibit Hall floor is open.
If offsites extended their hours later into the evening, more people – those with and without badges – could experience the events. Also, people love to get up early to line up for things during Comic Con. If the offsites opened before SDCC, it could potentially take some of those people out of the lines for SDCC and get them through offsite experiences quicker, with time still left in their day. Raise your hand if you’ve spent an entire day waiting for the Game of Thrones experience and would be stoked to see it open a few hours early.
Extending hours goes beyond opening earlier and staying later, but also having everything open and ready on Wednesday. That is traditionally the day that most offsite experiences are setting up, but being open on Wednesday gives those who didn’t score a Preview Night badge the ability to see some of the offsites before they get sucked into the convention center.
Granted, all of these opportunities mean more time and money on behalf of the offsite experience. Later hours especially may not be feasible for certain experiences (like the Assassin’s Creed obstacle course), but for those that can manage it, that’s more eyes on whatever is being promoted. For networks and larger companies, this is definitely something to consider – if the money is already being spent on the space, might as well make the most of it.
Create “Fast Passes”
Before everyone tunes out the suggestion of another lottery at SDCC, think about what an assigned time or a fast pass would do for you while scheduling out your day. Instead of blocking out six hours to wait for the Game of Thrones experience, you could show up at your assigned time and wait maybe an hour from line to finished.
Whether it is a first-come, first-served sign up system through email or website or a lottery for tickets or times, it would significantly cut down on the wait time like the Fast Pass at Disney does. Ultra-planners would still be able to schedule that time for their chosen offsite experience, but the ability to know when and where to show up would cut down on wait time and hopefully allow for even more experiences.
The problem with offering the fast passes before the convention would be that people simply might not show up at their assigned time or plans change. Two ways to combat that would be to have specific walk-up times for people to enjoy the experience or to give out some kind of wristband the day of.
If I had been able to fast pass that Gotham zip line a few years back, you know I would’ve opted to do that instead of sitting in the direct San Diego sunshine for three hours getting sunburnt (still worth it).
Hear me out. I can tell you that I got Elder Scrolls ice cream one year, Scream Queens ice cream another, and free pizza from a Fox Animation food truck while some guy dressed as Axe Cop wandered around yelling. Food isn’t required for an offsite experience, but it sure is nice and arguably less space in the crucial Gaslamp landscape. It’s also a guaranteed way for me to remember whatever is being promoted because I love to tell people about free food.
One year, I got picked up in the free Uber in conjunction with USA promoting Colony and not only did I get a free ride, but I got a free branded bottle of water as well. These are easy things to throw on social media and fast ways to make a lasting impact without tying people up for too long. The promotion is far reaching and the buzz of food would hopefully serve to draw others in as well.
A water bottle in line, slap a sticker on a Clif or a Kind bar, last year FX gave out collapsible cups and filled them with water at their fake It’s Always Sunny bar. Anywhere outside in the Gaslamp where I’m likely to get free food draws me in pretty easily. Seriously, please just feed me. The convention food is so expensive and lame.
Granted, we know these suggestions work primarily for larger, network-sponsored offsites that are an actual experience and not fan organized get-togethers or evening show-type events. Many of the smaller events (like SherlockeDCC, Nerd HQ, and Wayward Cocktails) just seem to have been priced-out of their events this year. Whether they’ll be back when and if the convention bubble ever bursts, we’ll wait and see.
And there are still plenty of staples in attendance, like Hop-Con, Conan tapings, Wootstock, and (the sold out) Funko Fundays, and new experiences that have been announced like Game of Thrones: The Musical!, the Rickmobile, and plenty of podcast tapings.
Until a PR firm reads our suggestions for offsite events at SDCC and decides to feed us all, keep an eye on Outside Comic Con for a full schedule of outside events and be prepared to spend a good amount of time waiting in lines!