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blueotter @ 11:33 am: Oklacon 2011 Survey Results: Part 1
Greetings all! All of us on the Oklacon Street Team have been gearing up for our big 10th year anniversary this October -- and critical to our planning is input we receive from the OST members as well as general feedback from the entire attendance. Your opinion is critical to the way we design, schedule, and execute events, and so thanks to all who participated in the 2011 Oklacon Survey we sent out a while back.

We have discussed the great feedback you gave us and are actively working to add great new ideas submitted, toss out things that aren't working, and fine tune that which could be better -- which is just about everything. :) I will be providing a few graphs to summarize our 53 survey results for those interested in this kind of data. This can be useful so you know what your fellow attendees think, and often this helps us make decisions a lot better than a few notably vocal individuals who say "Well everyone wants..." -- here's the actual data, so you can see for yourself what we're using to help making Oklacon 2012 the best outdoor convention, ten years running!

For part one, we will explore general demographics of the convention. Some of this we have from a wider population of all attendees, such as the average age (mean 28 with a standard deviation of 9.2 -- which means roughly 68% of all attendees are 28 +/- 9.2 years). That kind of data is great, but dates of birth and addresses don't tell us what we need to know about what people think about the venue, scheduling and logistics, or event programming content. We design our surveys to tackle these more qualitative questions, and with about 1 in 6 attendees responding to our survey, we feel we have a pretty good representation for the data we received.

First up, the makeup of who actually responded to our survey is heavily dominated by older folks. 46% of attendees over 50 respond, where as only 14% of attendees 21-25 respond. This is important to note, as the feedback we receive about events may have an age bias built into them. While we neither specifically weight survey feedback to normalize it for our population demographics nor discount any data simply because it isn't in line with our "average attendee", we do generally consider that if we get a few folks who say "Predator and Prey is too much running" or express no interest in DJ'ed Dances, then that feedback may be more strongly expressed in the survey results than by the actual attendee population. But I digress -- let's see some pretty charts! ;)


Next up, as expected, a higher percentage of younger attendees are attending Oklacon for the first time. We do try to build programming around this notion to introduce brand new attendees to the outdoor convention concept. 32% of survey respondants attended Oklacon for the first time in 2011, and that represented 100% of 16-17 year old and 71% of 18-20 year old respondants.


A curious thing to note is the percentage of respondants by age group continues to decrease for older and oldger ages, until we get to the 41-45. We've seen this blip before on some other charting we do, which shows that we have a piqued interest in the 40+ crowd where we see new attendees from this group even though we don't specifically market to them. In previous studies, we've seen most folks from this age group are also not within 200 miles of the convention. That will definitely be a topic we hope to learn more about in our 2012 survey! :)


The graph above shows the number of respondants who came to how many Oklacons for the past 9 years, inclusive of 2011. As you can see, many people are attending Oklacon for the very first time in 2011 (and previous data suggest we always have a roughly 50% percentage of first time Oklaconers), with fewer folks having attended more total conventions. This too is in line with previous analysis we've done, which suggests that for those that first attend Oklacon, they have a lifetime of 2-3 years before they stop attending. We've also found the retention rate is lower the younger the attendee is. Anecdotally, we've noted a number of cases where once folks graduate high school, they are much more likely to move further away from the convention venue, and once they move, they are much less likely to return. While that makes intrinsic sense, we do actively work to change up our panel programming each year and think of ways of keeping the convention fresh for those that desire something new each time, without messing up established programming like Predator & Prey, etc. that others come specifically to experience again with new and old friends. It's a tough balance!


Unsurprisingly, based on survey responses Oklacon has the most appeal to furs closer to the convention that have to travel less to get to Watonga. We have noticed our natural geographic distribution shrinking even as our attendance swells, which I would suggest may be caused by the surge of new regional programming offerings, such as Furry Fiesta and Rocky Mountain Fur Con, which like many other new offerings coming into the fandom, serve their local regions, but also reduce the demand for folks from those regions to attend our regionally-appealing convention. Quite honestly, we're comfortable with that and quite happy to have neighbors like FF, RMFC, and F3 create new and compelling offerings, since we don't even see our programming as similar (hotel conventions vs our outdoor format). We have, however, worked to increase our geographic appeal by doing some cross-marketing via forum posting, convention book ad-swaps, and group newcomer programs. We don't really care to compete for attendees from other areas, but rather just ensure Oklacon is visible and known to newcomers to the fandom who are looking to choose their first convention experiences.

Also, we've noted it is far more likely for younger attendees to travel further for a convention. For that reason, we've reduced our reliance on conbook adswaps or fliers at other conventions as a marketing tool, because that channel doesn't connect as well with younger attendees who are less likely to have ever attended a convention before and who are more likely to travel the distance. So, if you ever wondered how and why we market, it's very data driven, partially from these surveys! :)

In our next posting, we'll post some satisfaction data and explain how we plan to tweak Oklacon 2012 to directly address that feedback!


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