Lance Fensterman logged 230,000 air miles in 2013, “finding new markets and new geeks that we can build really cool events for all over the world.” As global vice president of ReedPop, Fensterman, 38, is passionate about continuing to grow the pop culture division of event and trade show organizer Reed Exhibitions, which he launched in 2008.
What began as an anomaly within the traditional Reed business model has posted double-digit growth every year and produces nine events in the United States and six in Australia (with more in the pipeline). New York Comic Con attracted more than 130,000 people in 2013, and ReedPop’s Penny Arcade Expos (PAX) in Boston and Seattle more than doubled their attendance over 2012. Fensterman says the success is tied to ReedPop’s ability to understand its fans.
“We see virtual as untapped opportunities to build killer events for people.”
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“It’s about uncovering passionate communities of fans and giving them what they want,” he says. “It’s not that complicated. If you want to go one step up the line, it’s identifying concepts and communities that are passionate enough that they want to have that physical gathering and that unique experience that we provide.”
That strategy has led ReedPop to create two new events this year: BookCon, which Fensterman describes as “where books and pop culture collide,” and Special Edition: NYC, “a pure, old-school classic comic show.” Another new event will be announced soon and next January the company will launch PAX in San Antonio. Fensterman predicts continuous growth on the horizon for ReedPop, particularly in markets around the world and—interestingly—driven by the growth of online engagement. “Technology is creating new communities in the virtual world that we will build physical communities for. So they can come once a year, twice a year and hang out together,” he says. “We see virtual as untapped opportunities to build killer events for people.”