ORLANDO, FL — “Success in Every Direction” is the theme of the 2008 Attractions Expo, sponsored by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The event takes place from November 18 to 21 at the Orange County Convention Center here. IAAPA’s associated educational conference begins a day earlier, on November 17.
IAAPA said in late September that 95% of the 500,000-sq.ft. exhibit space was reserved. The event is expected to draw participation comparable with last year’s show at the same venue, which drew more than 1,100 exhibitors from dozens of nations and some 27,000 visitors from 90 countries.
The 2008 Expo will feature exhibitors from 28 countries, presenting products and services in 133 product categories. Among them will be many manufacturers and suppliers from the amusements industry. IAAPA said 53 arcade and videogame companies and related organizations will exhibit, including the American Amusement Machine Association and manufacturers from A (Andamiro) to nearly Z (Valley-Dynamo).
Another 36 non-game coin-op companies will exhibit equipment, including photobooths, money handling equipment and more. An equally large contingent will cater to FEC design and support; another three-dozen or more redemption prize suppliers will be on hand as well.
More than 100 exhibitors will display participatory play equipment ranging from batting cages to climbing walls. Nearly 200 exhibitors will offer rides, ranging from kiddie rides, go-karts and carousels to dark rides and roller coasters.
The sprawling show, which industry members say features “seven miles of aisles,” is so large that no one can see it all. To help with this, Expo organizers have expanded the Trade Show Floor Tour Program to include five more tours, for a total of eight, each focusing on a supplier of specific products or services.
This year’s tours include Point-of-Sale Suppliers from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and Plush Suppliers from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on November 18; on November 19, they will highlight Water Park Suppliers from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Museum Suppliers from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. and Inflatable Suppliers from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Suppliers will be showcased from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on November 20, along with Food and Beverage Suppliers from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Haunted Attraction Suppliers round out the tour offerings, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on November 21.
During the Trade Show Floor Tours, guides will fast-track participants from booth to booth, where participating exhibitors will demonstrate their products, provide an overview of their terms, pricing and shipping, answer questions and discuss service and finance plans if applicable. This will make it easier to compare the options provided by exhibitors, and participants can learn from each by discussing the available options, too.
Exhibitors interested in participating in a Trade Show Floor Tour should contact program coordinator Eamon Connor at tel. (703) 836-4800 or email@example.com. The can also register online.
Buyers interested in participating in a particular tour must pre-register. Tickets cost between $15 and $25, and are in addition to Expo registration costs. Details are available at iaapa.org.
More than 90 educational programs make up IAAPA’s learning-program menu. Notably, 75 seminars and general sessions are free to association members. From this broad choice of offerings, showgoers can obtain in-depth schooling from multiple-course “tracks” of individual, 90-minute sessions designed for various types of attractions, including family entertainment centers. Participants can mix and match sessions among different tracks.
In the FEC track, seminars include “Stop Looking for Cherries and See the Cherry Trees,” in which consultant and author Scott Brown will discuss how to reach large numbers of potential clients – from youth groups to corporate events.
“Social Media: The Next Really Big Thing” will explain why Facebook and LinkedIn are powerful branding and promotional tools for amusements operations. Peter Shankman, CEO of The Geek Factory, and Jeff Putz, president of POP World Media, headline this session.
“Financial Health” will be addressed by Jerry Merola, CFO, Amusement Entertainment Management, and Court Huish, president of Boondocks Fun Center. The session will focus on methods and secrets that banks and analysts use in evaluating entertainment-based financial reports from simple ratios and percentage tests to strategic planning.
Additional FEC-oriented seminars include sessions on birthday parties, e-commerce, the IAAPA-sponsored First! Insurance Program, inflatables, staff training, games and redemption, and others. Industry speakers in these sessions include Ben Jones, president of RECreation Inc; Karyn Gitler, merchandising director of CEC Entertainment (Chuck E. Cheese’s); Michael Getlan, director of enthusiasm and opportunity at Amusement Consultants; George Smith, merchandising director of CEC Entertainment; George McAuliffe, president of Pinnacle Inc.; Rob Thomas, director of Mulligan Family Fun Centers; Jason Bock, director of marketing for Lazertron; and Dorothy Lewis, principal of Fun Station Associates.
The “Institute for Emerging Leaders” spans two and a half days, and will be moderated by industry veterans Vic Nolting of Coney Island and Tim Ruedy of Nascar Speed Parks. Speakers include experts from The Sims Group, Hershey Entertainment and Disneyland. The fee for this management program is $450 for IAAPA members and $650 for nonmembers. Additional IAAPA in-depth educational “institutes” will cover marketing, media relations and safety.
Expo participants can also take part in several behind-the-scenes tours at some of Orlando’s most famous attractions, ranging from the SeaWorld aquarium to a games and retail tour at Busch Gardens Africa. Tour capacity is limited, and tickets range in price from $50 to $119.
The keynote speaker at IAAPA ‘08 is Nick Varney, CEO of Merlin Entertainments Group, one of the largest entertainment companies in the world. Merlin has nearly 60 attractions on three continents, including London Eye, Legoland and Madame Tussauds, and draws more than 30 million guests annually.
Varney will headline the General Managers and Owners Breakfast on Wednesday, November 19. He is expected to discuss his company’s successful growth strategies and review the benefits of industry consolidation. The breakfast event costs $85 per person; tickets are available at iaapa.org/expos/attractions.
Founded almost 90 years ago, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions. It represents more than 4,300 attraction, supplier and individual members from more than 90 countries.