How Awesome Con Became a
National Fandom Phenomenon

Celebrating all aspects of geekdom including comic books, movies, anime, fantasy, and more, Awesome Con is Washington D.C.’s premiere comic and pop culture convention. Awesome Con brings together cosplayers, gamers, and today’s hottest celebrities while welcoming tens of thousands of fans for three action-packed days of pure fandom awesomeness. Fans can expect to check out authentic movie props, explore pride alley celebrating the LGBTQ community, and explore Awesome Con’s newest attraction, Future Con, where science meets science fiction.

With a strong passion for comics — especially Batman — Ben Penrod, Awesome Con’s Co-Founder and COO, got his start in the comic book trade in the mid-2000s. He built his collection by buying and selling rare comic books on eBay. By 2008, Penrod turned this hobby into a full-time job with the creation of Ninja Pirate Gear, an online comic book store. Soon after, he saw the opportunity to share his passion in the form of a live event, and he opened his first two conventions: Annapolis Comic-Con and the Southern Maryland Comic-Con. After an impressively positive reaction to his events and a fanbase that demanded more, Penrod launched the first Awesome Con in Washington D.C. in 2013.

As a result of Awesome Con's amazing growth over its first few years, Penrod struck up a partnership with LeftField Media, a boutique events company focused on developing face-to-face events. This partnership helped Awesome Con grow into one of the largest fandom conventions on the East Coast. “We’ve grown from being a local comic event to being a national player in the comic con place,” said Penrod. “The enthusiastic support from fans has consistently exceeded even our wildest hopes for Awesome Con.”

Not-So-Awesome Challenges Arise

After partnering with LeftField Media, Awesome Con rapidly grew from a modest local convention into a major annual event, drawing fans from all over the world. As this expansion continued, the team couldn’t help but take note of certain obstacles that became more and more apparent. Their primary obstacle was that their previous ticketing partner was unable or unwilling to adequately address these challenges. “Our ticketing provider had no willingness to be flexible with us, which, as time progressed, became more and more of a hindrance to our success,” Penrod said.

“ShowClix is a strong platform. The entire ShowClix team is reliable, hands-on, and willing to do whatever possible to make our event a success.”

- Ben Penrod, Co-Founder and COO of Awesome Con

Underwhelming Merch Sales

As Awesome Con grew in size, the team expected to see a proportionate increase in merchandise sales. This, however, was not the case. Their previous ticketing partner did not offer the addition of products like apparel and souvenirs to their online checkout. Limiting this merchandise to exclusively on-site sales restricted the volume that they could sell, resulting in lost revenue. “We knew the fans wanted event merch,” Penrod said, “but we also knew we needed a more convenient way for them to purchase it.”

Lack of Showday Support

With its roots as a smaller local convention, the thousands of new attendees Awesome Con was attracting led to on-site challenges, and the growing event needed showday support that they simply were not receiving from their previous ticketing partner. With long admission queues, crowded exhibitor areas, and a less-than-ideal crowd flow, Awesome Con needed a partner capable of working on-site at their event to address possible technical issues on the fly and to provide event operations advice.

Need for Fan Support

As Awesome Con’s fan base continued to expand, the event’s need for increased attendee support became clear. With a relatively lean staff, it was difficult for the Awesome Con team to manage the growing number of fans who were seeking assistance with purchasing tickets and asking general event questions. “We needed to offer a seamless support experience for our attendees,” Penrod said. “If we were going to have outside help, we wanted to make sure that the people assisting our attendees were just as knowledgeable about Awesome Con as us.” Unfortunately for the Awesome Con team, they just were not getting this from their previous ticketing partner.

A New Event Technology Partner Swoops In

To better serve their devoted fans, Awesome Con needed a ticketing partner that could provide a seamless attendee experience from the moment they purchase their ticket to the moment they exit the convention center. After experiencing great success partnering with ShowClix for several other fandom conventions, the LeftField Media team suggested that Awesome Con do the same. “ShowClix is a strong platform,” Penrod said. “The entire ShowClix team is reliable, hands-on, and willing to do whatever possible to make our event a success.”

“It’s great to have somebody with so much live event experience there, who also understands how the system works best with our type of event.”

- Ben Penrod, Co-Founder and COO of Awesome Con

Merch Upsells

To address their need for more merchandise sales, Awesome Con utilized the Upsell feature in their ShowClix online checkout. As each customer was presented a pop-up window with a range of merchandise to add to their ticket order from lanyards to t-shirts, the power of suggestion succeeded in significantly increasing their sales. “Because we had so many pre-event merch sales in 2017, we ended up having to put in an extra merch order to be sure we would have inventory left for on-site sales,” Penrod said. “The positioning of these upsells as a pop-up in our online checkout has had a great effect.”

On-site Support

ShowClix provided an Event Operations team to help on-site before and during the event. The team traveled to the venue to support and train volunteers on badge fulfillment, admission procedures, and box office sales. “If our staff were to run into any technical challenges or unique situations, it’s a huge relief knowing there’s somebody with us on-site at the event,” Penrod said. The ShowClix team was also able to advise Awesome Con on event day procedures, from check-in to crowd control tactics. “It’s great to have somebody with so much live event experience there, who also understands how the system works best with our type of event,” Penrod explained. “Being able to run ideas past them or ask for suggestions about on-site operations is a true asset.”

Expert Call Center

In order to support the thousands of new fans the event continued to generate without diverting their own focus from planning the event, Awesome Con employed the fully-staffed call center and email support team provided by ShowClix. Equipped to handle over-the-phone ticket sales, specific event questions, ticket exchange requests, and more, ShowClix’s support served as a trustworthy extension of the Awesome Con team. “With our rapid growth, we were thrilled to be able to count on ShowClix’s all-inclusive call center to represent our brand to our attendees so we could focus on other tasks,” said LeftField Media President, Kelly Comboni. “For our fans, the experience is seamless, and they get the support they need.”

“Their customizable system and personalized support continues to be a great resource for us. They listen to what we need and they make it happen. We love that.”

- Ben Penrod, Co-Founder and COO of Awesome Con

ShowClix Delivers Results


Increase in ticket revenue
since switching to ShowClix


Hours of on-site training
and support in 2017


YoY increase in
online merchandise sales


Total phone and email
requests resolved in 2017

ShowClix is the Trusted Event Technology Partner

As Awesome Con celebrates new fandoms and expands their following, they’ll continue to look to ShowClix for event expertise. Their advanced system and friendly support team will provide Awesome Con with the personalized support they need to help facilitate their continued growth and showcase their product add-ons, from merchandise to advanced ticket sales. Together, ShowClix and Awesome Con will provide attendees with a superheroic fan experience.

Created by fans of live events, ShowClix listens and anticipates their partners’ needs to better fulfill the role of trusted event technology partner. The robust functionality and service offerings will continue to add value to each phase of Awesome Con’s lifecycle. “Their customizable system and personalized support continues to be a great resource for us,” Penrod said. “They listen to what we need and they make it happen. We love that.”

“ShowClix is always willing to go above and beyond for us. Any time something comes up, or we have questions, we know they’ll always be there. We can rely on them to make sure our event runs smoothly and our fans receive the ultimate event day experience.”

- Ben Penrod, Co-Founder and COO of Awesome Con

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