Animeland Wasabi 2014 Interview
With Animeland Wasabi 2014 starting this Friday I managed to get some time with Greg Richardson, the new Director of Operations for Animeland, to ask him a few questions about what to expect this year.
There were quite a few issues last year with a few things like scheduling and registration, what steps have you taken this year to prevent these issues from happening again?
Greg: Going into this year’s Animeland Wasabi if we brought in trained money handlers and customer service reps to handle registration. We know that all our attendees want to experience the show as fast as possible so having experience hands was the best course of action. We are also implementing a Zero Day which will allow pre-reg attendees to pick up their badges a day early to avoid long lines
The Doubletree Hotel staff last year were clearly not prepared for what an anime convention entails in regards to the people and the costumes. I know that Animeland Wasabi has been held at the Crown Plaza Hotel previously, but I assume that this hotel thoroughly understands what they should be expecting?
Greg: Since the beginning of the planning for ALW 2014 we have made it a point to talk actively with the hotel to let them know the magnitude of this convention. The hotel itself host a variety of conventions that are large in size so the staff of the hotel is well verse in conventions itself. We are very confident that the hotel will be ready for us.
Animeland Wasabi has been at a different hotel almost every year, if this year goes well is there any talk of staying at this hotel or will it possibly be moving again?
Greg: I hope and desire is to be able to stay at this hotel for long period of time but that could change if the turnout that we get for the show is bigger than what we expect. If we have to move to a new location we hope its because the hotel and the convention center is packed to such a degree that we have the ability to move to another convention center. We will see though
I know there were some issues with the dealers room last year involving some bootleg merchandise, are there going to be any preventative measures this year to prevent this from happening again?
Greg: We will be enforcing the bootleg rule tirelessly this year with staff patrolling the area for possible bootleg items. It is hard to identify who is providing bootleg products or not but overall if any is caught providing bootleg products they will get one warning before being asked to leave the convention
With you stepping into a staff role this year what are you trying to bring to Animeland, what are your personal goals for the convention?
Greg: I’ve been with the show for over 6 years and have seen the show grow in size and in character. Becoming the Director of Operations bring some new challenge to the show that I was happy to take on. Overall, I have a variety of goals for the show. My 1st goall is to bring a new marketing approach to the show with more social media, more print advertising such as billboards and bus ads and simply more word of mouth to everyone involved. My 2nd goal is bring more creative programming to the show with more of the staples that ALW is known (carnival games, video gaming, fan panels and more) for but to bring a new experience to new and old anime con goers.My 3rd goal is to re-define how ALW showcases an anime convention. Lastly my goal is to put Animeland Wasabi on the map as one of the premier anime conventions in the nation. I’ve travelled and worked with many anime conventions and frankly there is not that many around. I believe this is a unique opportunity to bring anime convention back into the limelight in a big way. There is many ideas of what an anime convention is. I feel this year this show will show how anime has influenced a variety of pop culture outlets such as video games, comic book, sci-fi, fantasy and more. This is Animeland Wasabi so its a land where you explore the roots of anime and how they have grown to other areas of pop culture.
With you running Colorado Cutthroat as well, what will be its involvement with Animeland Wasabi going forward?
Greg: C3 has become a primary partner for Animeland Wasabi by leading the charge on all video development, gaming, operations and marketing for the show. C3 has played a big part in the development the rebranding of Animeland Wasabi. We hope to continue to bring this level of excitement and professionalism to other shows related to Animeland.
Some people have voiced concerns that they feel like Animeland Wasabi might be moving away from being a convention about Anime, what would you say to them?
Greg: There is many ideas of what an anime convention is. I feel this year this show will show how anime has influenced a variety of pop culture outlets such as video games, comic book, sci-fi, fantasy and more. We made it point to pick a variety of guest that have some anime background rather it be voice acting, development or more. We also made it a point this year to take the staples of what makes an anime convention and do a complete rehaul on how they are implemented. Events such as the maid cafe and the Technosabi have been transformed to provide an even more immersive experience for everyone. With cartoons making such a big splash in America society bringing on the biggest cartoon right with Adventure Time guest as the guest of honors gives (anime/cartoon) a front and center stage at the show. We know that everyone who loves anime likes more than just anime so we also provide some influence in comic book, sci-fi and other pop culture items to round the interest of everyone but still providing the anime core. Animeland Wasabi is where you explore the roots of anime and how they have grown to other areas of pop culture.
Is there anything new in store for everyone this year that you can share?
Greg: The approach that we are taking with ALW this year is a new one for the industry overall. We believe that this show will provide an immersive experience for everyone who has an interest in anything pop culture. Whether you are 5 or 50 Animeland Wasabi is a show that everyone can find their niche. We hope to see everyone in Colorado at this show!!