LAS VEGAS -- At the close of day No. 2 of the 2013 Amusement Expo, some 1,292 buyers had registered for the trade show, compared with 1,384 registered buyers at the end of three days in 2012. It is not yet known if turnout on the third and last day of this year's music and games trade show reversed the 7% decline.
The Amusement Expo was held here at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 20 to 22. Show manager Brian Glasgow of W.T. Glasgow Inc. is expected to release the final number of buyers later this week.
The number of non-buying participants, mainly consisting of exhibitor representatives, was 1,533, compared with 1,535 in 2012. Visitors from the concurrent Pizza Expo and players taking part in a pinball tournament on the show floor were 62 and 18, respectively. Buyers and non-buyers combined for a preliminary grand total of 2,825 at the close of the second day on March 21, compared with 2,926 in 2012, which was the final attendance count for three days.
Amusement Expo's exhibitor figures nudged down. This year, 121 goods and services companies occupied 356 booths, compared with 130 in 376 booths last year. There were 20 first-time exhibiting companies this year, compared with 31 in 2013.
Moderate attendance among buyers and the level number of exhibitors mirror an amusement industry that's on a slow course of improvement. "The economy has not returned to the Pac-Man days," said AAMA chairman John Margold, "but the worst appears to be over. The industry's decline has bottomed out and we're on our way back up."
Margold is senior vice-president of sales at AMI Entertainment, which administers a digital jukebox network that has seen steady revenue improvement over the past year. TouchTunes, which runs the largest network, boasting connections in 58,000 venues, is reporting incremental revenue increases for its music and services on Virtuo jukeboxes, its flagship product. Incredible Technologies' online videogames are making a strong comeback, with the manufacturer reporting a 10% revenue increase for its LIVE platforms hosting Golden Tee, Silver Strike Bowling and PowerPutt. Of the 17,000 online videos administered by IT, Golden Tee Live represents about 70%.
Amusement Expo is the embodiment of the long-running (and separate) coin-op trade shows sponsored by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and American Amusement Machine Association. The first Amusement Expo was held in 2010.
The National Bulk Vendors Association collocated its trade show and convention with the Amusement Expo for a third time. NBVA's 2013 exhibit, which was sited on the Expo show floor, consisted of 18 exhibitors in 42 booths, compared with 23 in 49 booths the year prior. About 244 bulk-vending professionals registered for this year's show, compared with 251 a year ago.
Amusement Expo's management team said it plans to increase its use of social media for next year's show. In addition to using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, the show organizers introduced a TEXTpo service, which sent short messages about seminars, meetings and show events to cell and smart phones. Glasgow said social media is an area he'd like to expand.
LEARN AS IF YOU WERE TO OPERATE FOREVER
By many accounts, the Amusement Expo educational program continues to hold interest. "This year's educational committee in conjunction with Foundations Entertainment University developed a solid program," Glasgow reported. "The 11 sessions, held Wednesday and Thursday morning, were very well attended and initial evaluations gave them great marks."
According to Glasgow, 415 showgoers participated in 11 seminars, which covered self-redemption, cranes, ATMs, FEC design and innovation, social media, service, and financing and capital strategies, along with the third installment of a roundtable series called Survival for Route Operators.
Separately, Foundations Entertainment University held its FEC program on March 18 and 19. FEU hosted its first Amusement Expo adjunct last year. This year, 60 people attended the two-day course designed for family entertainment center operators. FEU also worked with the Amusement Expo in developing FEC-themed seminars as part of the show's business sessions, mentioned above.
AWARDS AND RAVE REVIEWS
Following tradition, AAMA presented its 2012 industry awards during Amusement Expo's opening ceremonies on March 20. For the third consecutive year, AAMA's Distributor of the Year award was bestowed on Betson Enterprises, while the accolade for Manufacturer of the Year went to Stern Pinball. The honor of Supplier of the Year was presented to Suzo-Happ, which won the same award for 2010 in 2011.
AAMA's Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Al Kress, a world-renowned games manufacturer and past chairman of the association. Kress, a former equipment distributor in the Northeast, founded Hypoluxo, FL-based Benchmark Games with Ron Halliburton in 1993. Benchmark's hit games, known for their longevity and high earnings, include Drill-O-Matic, Wheel-Deal, Big Rig Truckin' and Slam-A-Winner, along with location utilities like Ticket Station, an automated redemption center.
PHOTO: Al Kress (r.) receives Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by AAMA chairman John Margold during Amusement Expo opening ceremonies on March 20.
New this year were two awards recognizing family entertainment centers. Funplex (Mount Laurel, NJ, and East Hanover, NJ) won Best Renovated FEC and Edison's Entertainment Complex (Edwardsville, IL) took home the prize for Best Overall FEC.
During its membership breakfast on March 21, AMOA presented its coveted Innovator Awards. This program recognizes products and technology that make meaningful contributions to locations and operators, and convert investments into long-term profits. The winner was Canada's Adrenaline Amusements for Black Out, a skill-based videogame merchandiser that uses a transparent touch LCD. Since its inception 13 years ago, AMOA typically presented three Innovator Awards. After awards committee chairman Larry Elbert, Camden Amusement (Cedar Rapids, IA), announced that this year's judges selected only one winner amid a field of 18 entries, Adrenaline made AMOA history.
AMOA presented leadership awards to Gaines Butler of Metro Distributors (Norcross, GA), Phil Juckem of All Brands Vending (Tampa, FL) and Tony Paszkiewicz of Columbia Amusements (Baltimore). Lloyd Williamson of Williamson’s Amusements (Winona, MN) was honored for his service on the association's board of directors. As AMOA president in 2007, Williamson spearheaded the initiative to merge the two amusement shows, working closely with Valley-Dynamo's Dave Courington, who was AAMA's chairman at the time.
The 2014 Amusement Expo will be held March 26-28 (Wednesday-Friday) at the Las Vegas Convention Center in North Hall 4. Once again, the NBVA will continue its collocation agreement and the Las Vegas Hotel, adjacent to the convention center, will serve as the official lodging host. Visit amusementexpo.org for updates.