I'm offering some thoughts below - not particularly criticisms, but rather thoughts (some of which I have raised before) about barriers that might impact on people attending.
I'm not quite sure that Autographica/Showmasters fully appreciate the economic conditions at the moment. People are losing their jobs, everything is increasing in price, those who have jobs are seeing hours/wages cut. People are being squeezed. Events like these are luxuries. When you're being squeezed the luxuries are the first to go. People can't support every event when the market is incredibly crowded.
I was made redundant six weeks ago, though various other things this year (such as the threat or being sacked, spiralling personal debt and cuts in wages) have meant I have had to cut down on the number of events I go to - and when I do be very selective about what I spend my limited money on. There have been a number of occasions this year when I cannot justify spending the money on autographs from people attending the shows, because they just haven't been worth it.
Just because a guest is "rare" or a "first timer" doesn't mean they are worth the Â£15 which they often charge. For people who are effectively background artistes in franchises such as Bond or Star Wars to be charging Â£15+ is, in my opinion (and the opinion of many others I attend the shows with) silly. I know you have to pay for their accommodation, time, travel etc - but time and time again the costs seem excessive. This puts people off attending, and - if they do attend - may result in them spending their money in the dealers room rather than on the guests. I've known that happen countless times - not just with me, but with my friends who also attend.
Added to this, there is barely a weekend without some sort of autograph event somewhere in the coutry. There are a limited number of people doing this hobby. Given the choice, people do have to make decisions about what else is happening, and it may just be that other events offer people what they want, over and above what Showmasters/Autographica offer. I've said this before, too - I think that the events are spead too thinly. Autographica and Collectormania used to stand alone in the schedule (along with other key biannual events run by others). But now they're crowded out, not only by events run by others, but by Showmasters' other events. Regardless of whether Autographica is a "high point" in the calendar, if it is scheduled close to another event which people may go to, then there may be choices involved.
Focusing, it seems, solely on London and the South East is also a problem for many people. I know that Autographica splits its events between London and Birmingham, and there are events in Scotland, but even travelling to Birmingham is a big commitment to many. For those of us in the north of England, attending these events often means a 200 or 400 mile round trip. It can often cost c.Â£100 before we have even got into the event. This may act as a barrier to even attempting to get to the event.