DALLAS -- The only remaining American trade show dedicated to the modern music and games industry with coin machine roots, this year's Amusement Expo International finished a three-day run this week at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center here. The show opened on Tuesday, March 14, with an educational conference -- the same day an historic late-season snowfall hit the East Coast, prompting the cancellation of 9,000 flights. The resulting absence of many East Coast industry members was evident.
Registration in the "buyer" category dropped 18% to 1,010 from 1,234 in 2016, according to data provided by Brian Glasgow of show producer W.T. Glasgow Inc. The number of registered "nonbuyers," which includes exhibitors, was 1,356, compared with 1,350 at last year's show in Las Vegas.
Cosponsored by the Amusement and Music Operators Association and the American Amusement Machine Association, the conference and exposition included participation by the National Bulk Vendors Association and the Laser Tag Convention. Both organizations collocate their annual membership education programs and trade shows with the exposition. This year marked the sixth collocation with the NBVA, which brought 15 exhibitors occupying 30 booths, compared with 16 exhibitors in 35 booths last year.
While fewer buyers walked the trade show aisles, sales taking place during the two-day product exhibition on March 15 and 16 were reportedly vigorous. Dozens of exhibitors, from machine manufacturers to payment system providers, told Vending Times that orders were gratifyingly higher than in recent years' past. "Operators took out their credit cards and bought stuff," one exhibitor said.
The total number of exhibiting companies was 157, compared with 151 in 2016. Some 471 booths were sold, compared with 409 last year, Glasgow reported. There were 37 new exhibitors, rising over last year's 29 newcomers.
During Amusement Expo's opening ceremony, AAMA presented its 2016 industry awards. The association bestowed its "best of year" accolades on Apple Industries, AVS Cos. and Suzo-Happ, which won, respectively, in the manufacturer, distributor and supplier categories. AAMA's Lifetime Achievement Award went to Firestone's David Cohen. | SEE STORY
Also at the opening ceremony, Play Meter, a New Orleans-based trade magazine, conferred its Operator of the Year award to Michael Martinez of N2 Industries Inc. (Brea, CA).
The AMOA Innovator Awards were presented to two redemption game-makers. LAI Games won two awards for Hypershoot and Let's Bounce, and Team Play for Launch Code. Nine companies submitted 13 entries for consideration during this year's Innovator Award competition, which is judged by an AMOA committee, comprised mostly of game operators.
"The 2017 Educational Committee once again developed an exceptional lineup of offerings," Glasgow said. The program ran in two concurrent tracks, one tailored for street operators and the other focused on FECs. About 250 expo-goers attended the 11 sessions, kicked off with a keynote address by "sales master" Tony Leone of Sales Funnel.
Next year's Amusement Expo International returns to the Las Vegas Convention Center from February 27 to March 1. The Westgate Las Vegas will serve as the show's hotel headquarters. NBVA and the Laser Tag Convention will continue their partnership in 2018.
DALLAS SHOWTIME: Amusement Expo International registrants get ready to enter Hall D at the Dallas Convention Center on March 15.