Affluent Trek Fans Fuel Convention Circuit

By Michelle
August 16, 2005 - 10:23 PM

4000 Star Trek and science fiction fans spent nearly $5.5 million on room, board, entertainment and souvenirs at Creation's fourth annual Star Trek Las Vegas Convention last weekend, based on the Las Vegas Convention & Visitors Authority's preliminary estimate.

The Las Vegas Business Press noted that convention-goers occupied 846 of the Las Vegas Hilton's 3,174 rooms and paid up to $489 for the convention's top seating package, plus autographs and photo sessions with Star Trek captains William Shatner and Patrick Stewart plus other guests. By the standards of the San Diego Comic Con, which attracted 96,300 patrons this year, this is a small crowd, but Comic Con is primarily targeted at vendors and merchandising professionals whereas the Star Trek conventions focus on the fans. Reports focused on fans' high levels of affluence and education.

"For years and years, it was a struggle to get the studios to recognize that their fans were a valuable resource, both monetarily but probably more importantly from a marketing perspective," said Creation co-CEO Gary Berman (no relation to Rick). He said that while news reports tend to focus on stereotypical overweight, absurdly dressed convention-goers and overlook the large numbers of urban professionals.

"We get doctors and lawyers and extremely well-read people who are some of the key fans of the show," agreed Deep Space Nine star Chase Masterson (Leeta). "The guys in the uniform and the ears are actually in the minority [and] there's worse things people could be spending their time and energy on."

Creation's Adam Malin spoke of the difficulty of arranging the enormous concert that was a centerpiece of the convention, involving 45 members of the Las Vegas Philharmonic with a sung set by Nana Visitor (Kira). Malin, a music major from SUNY Stony Brooksaid that the concert required two years of planning, from getting the rights to the TV themes to building a stage to accomodate the orchestra.

Berman said that as Paramount has restricted its licensing agreements, Creation has increased its merchandising. "It's not like you can go to the mall and buy Star Trek stuff anymore," he observed. He felt that Enterprise star Scott Bakula hurt his show's appeal among fans by refusing to do conventions, noting that ABC had contacted Creation about possible Lost conventions when the show began to take off, and that the studio and production company for Xena had worked closely with the company to build an affinity with the fans. Some properties, like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, have not taken off because the fans were younger and less affluent.

"The Star Trek audience is, obviously, an aging audience," admitted Berman. "We're hopeful that Paramount will come up with something new." But he observed as well that Star Trek conventions emerged at a time when no Star Trek was on the air.

The full article is in the Las Vegas Business Press.

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