People go to conventions to connect with other fans, to participate in activities not readily available in daily lives and to escape reality. Another very significant reason that people go to conventions is for the celebrities. Many conventions, most conventions, have celebrity or “special” guests. Some conventions might have just one or two special guests and others have many. Typically, these celebrities interact with the fans in a variety of ways, including participating in panels or question and answer sessions in which fans can ask questions, holding autographs sessions in which fans can get an autograph and/or holding a photo opps session in which fans can get pictures with the celebrity(s) of choice.
In my experience, people do seem to like going to conventions to meet and see celebrities. At the Wizard World convention I went to in Chicago, in August, a lot of people I talk with came to meet one or two of the celebrity guests. Some people came back year after year to see the same celebrity. Sometimes, the bigger name celebrities had very long lines to get autographs and pictures. The lesser known celebrities still had people who were interested in getting pictures or even just an opportunity to exchange a few words. Yet, it did seem that anyone interested in a particular celebrity could get to that celebrity eventually, especially if the fan had the time and the money for one of these extras. Of course, many of these celebrity focused activities have specific times. For example, if you wanted a picture of person X, you had to get it done between 1 and 2 pm. Thus, people scheduled their convention activities even around the celebrities.
I wonder how important these celebrity appearances are to the fans attending a convention. Do they get people in the door? Do they get people to pay the money for a ticket? Would people go if there is just one celebrity or one celebrity who people really cared about? Is it the fact that there might be many celebrities at a convention that you like? Does it matter which type of fan activity is possible–meaning that getting an autograph might be more important to some than a question and answer session or vice versa? In many cases, autographs and photos are extras. They do not come with the ticket. You pay for each autograph and each picture. In some cases, you might pay to attend a panel. Would those additional costs matter? Would it matter how MUCH those extras were?
Seriously, I would love to know. Would you be more likely to go to a convention if there was a celebrity you liked? What about many celebrities? Would you want panels/Q&A sessions, autograph sessions and/or photo sessions with the celebrities? Would you be willing to pay extra for those sessions? How much for a celebrity you love, love, love (like a member of Duran Duran!)? How much for a celebrity you like a lot? Would you go to a convention if there weren’t celebrities there?