The Amusement and Music Operators Association's International Expo takes place Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 24-26, at the Las Vegas Convention Center in North Hall 4, with additional convention activities at the adjacent Hilton headquarters hotel. For AMOA, the show promises to be a turning point for several reasons.
For the first time in a decade, the event will not be paired with Fun Expo. That FEC-oriented show, 50% owned by the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry, moved to a spring slot last March, collocating for the first time with the Amusement Showcase International. American Amusement Machine Association owns ASI, and AMOA and AAMA each own 25% of Fun Expo.
As a result, AMOA is on its own next month while staging its first show since the U.S. economic meltdown that began to intensify last September. The AMOA show takes place amid an economy that continues to shed 20,000 jobs a day and see shaky banks, tight credit, widespread business closures in many industries and record housing foreclosures.
Another first-time factor is that the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions will hold its Attractions Expo, also known as the "Parks Show," for the first time in Las Vegas from Nov. 16 to 20, less than two months after AMOA Expo. One reason IALEI decided to move Fun Expo to a spring slot this year was fear that the close proximity between this fall's AMOA and subsequent IAAPA shows could hurt attendance if Fun Expo had remained in the fall.
In mid-July, AMOA executive vice-president Jack Kelleher commented: "It's a grind out there right now ... virtually all trade shows and the markets they serve are feeling the pinch of a weak economy. Unfortunately, the AMOA Expo and coin-op business are no exception."
At the same time, Kelleher promised that the event "will deliver the new product, networking and knowledge that make it a worthwhile experience." He assured potential exhibitors that the show would deliver a high-quality buying audience.
Last year, AMOA Expo drew 120 exhibitors and 3,905 participants to the same Las Vegas venue. The association made no official predictions for its 2009 show results. Kelleher simply noted that as the summer wore on, many exhibitors (and no doubt many potential showgoers) were "working through" their decisions about whether and how to attend and support the show.
Speaking for AMOA, Kelleher urged industry members to support this seminal event on the industry's annual calendar. "As the 2009 Expo approaches," he said, "our industry is again in great need of a unifying event. Instead of waving the white flag to colleagues, customers and competitors by not being there, let's show our resolve, resiliency and resourcefulness by turning out for our industry's showcase and idea place -- this year's Expo."
Show-related activities begin Wednesday, Sept. 23, with AMOA's 7th Annual Coin-Op Cares Expo Golf Classic, followed the next day with the opening of the exhibit floor and a solid seminar program.
Sept. 24 sees the first of three successive Wayne E. Hesch Educational Scholarship Program Raffle Drawings on the show floor at 3 p.m., followed after the exhibits close that day by the annual Industry Gala, held poolside at the Las Vegas Hilton from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
The party's theme celebrates the 120th anniversary of the jukebox, taking note of the fact that the world's first pay-for-play musical entertainment device was launched to the public back in 1889. Entertainment will be provided by Sonny Turner, former lead singer of the Platters, who has wowed industry audiences at a couple of TouchTunes events in past years.
On Friday, Sept. 25, AMOA will hold its annual breakfast and membership meeting, where new officers will be presented to the rank and file. Outgoing president Russ Mawdsley Jr. of Russell Hall (Holyoke, MA) will introduce his successor, Gray Brewer of Brewer Amusement (McMinnville, TN), who officially begins his term at the close of the show on Saturday.
Exhibit floor hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday.
This year's AMOA Expo includes the show's traditional free seminar program. At presstime, the lineup included the following sessions, with the schedule subject to change:
Thursday begins with an 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. seminar on ATM operation led by Rob Lowe of ATM Express; Jason Kuhn of WRG Services Inc.; John Newberry of Venco Business Systems; and Mike Guthrie of Cypress Advantage.
From 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., a session on self-contained prize machines will be presented by Jim Dupree of Smart Industries and David Katz of Bonita Marie. From 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., operator and manufacturer Jim Chapman of Family Fun Cos. will lead a redemption presentation.
Friday's seminars run from 8 a.m. to noon, with a presentation on LCD monitor and power supply repair, taught by Ray Holdren of Kokopelli Consulting, followed by the second half that afternoon. From 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., Firestone Financial president David Cohen will explain how operators can use financial tools to improve their businesses. Employee management is the topic from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.; the presenter is Kara McClure of PeopleWorks.
One seminar is offered on Saturday, from 10:30 a.m. to 11:45 a.m., and will address place-based advertising. Panelists include Teresa Van Sprange of TAP.tv, an AMI company; Rick Sebok of SportsScape; Scott Walker of Ecast; and Dan Clarton of Barfly, a TouchTunes unit.
Rounding out the social program, and combining fun with fundraising, AMOA is staging its 7th Annual Coin-Op Cares Golf Outing on Wednesday Sept. 23, the day before the show opening, at the Las Vegas Paiute Golf Resort's Snow Mountain Course, with a 12:30 p.m. shotgun start. The cost to participate is $165.
Convention room rates at the Las Vegas Hilton begin at $129 a night. For details, visit amoashow.com or call AMOA at (800) 937-2662.