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AMOA Show, Fun Expo Results Are Stronger Than Expected

Posted On: 11/1/2008

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LAS VEGAS -- Some 3,905 participants attended the Amusement and Music Operators Association's International Expo, which ran from September 10 to 12 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. According to exhibitors, operators and distributors, this year's AMOA Expo was among the best ever in terms of product innovation and purchasing interest.

Initial AMOA figures show that attendance in the buyer's group was slightly down from last year. W.T. Glasgow Inc., the show's producer, reported 1,703 buyers at this year's trade show, compared with 1,887 in 2007. The number of exhibitors dropped to 120 from 153 the year prior.

Separately, the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry reported total attendance for its Fun Expo, collocated with AMOA Expo, at 1,155, compared with 1,700 last year. IALEI reported 83 exhibitors, 13 of them new, in 129 booths, down from 119 exhibiting firms last year. Buyers -- consisting of family entertainment center operators, developers, designers and architects -- numbered almost 900.

Fun Expo and AMOA exhibits were intermingled, a move that drew positive feedback from exhibitors.

In terms of innovation, 2008's AMOA Expo was a big hit, introducing high-def solutions for today's resourceful operators. JVL Corp. showed a new widescreen touch system with a pay-for-play music-streaming component. Formerly focusing on music and content only, Ecast announced its entry into jukebox manufacturing with the EQ, which features a high-definition 40-in. screen turned on its side. AMI Entertainment and Merit announced a partnership with Tap TV, which will enable operators to integrate new content into their jukeboxes and touchscreen videogames, as well as on plasma screens in locations (see related story on Page 1).

AMOA's annual membership breakfast celebrated the association's 60th anniversary amid business. The trade group introduced its 2008-'09 president, Russ Mawdsley of Russell Hall Inc. (Holyoke, MA), who succeeds Lloyd Williamson of Williamson's Amusement Inc. (Winona, MN). During the meeting, AMOA's Innovator Awards were presented to Ecast for EQ; Incredible Technologies for Golden Tee LIVE 2009; TouchTunes for PlayPorTT; and Triotech Amusement for UFO Stomper.

"Given the less-than-robust business and economic climate right now, I think this year's show was quite upbeat," said AMOA executive vice-president Jack Kelleher, who added that traffic was better than expected.

"We celebrated AMOA's 60th anniversary at Expo this year, and the turnout validated the notion that operators support their show, their industry and their trade association," Kelleher said. "Expo continues to be the premier event for street operators and it was good to see that a large segment of our trade did not buy into all the doom-and-gloom out there.

"AMOA appreciates and values its solid core of Expo attendees and exhibitors, especially those who chose to participate in these challenging times this year," he continued. "We recognize that budgets are stretched and those who came could have decided not to take part."

AMOA's Expo Education Committee organized six seminars for this year's show -- all well attended. Topics included redemption for route operators; staying relevant with changing customer demographics; using leagues to increase location traffic during the era of smoking bans; technical tips for configuring networked equipment; and LCD monitor repair.

AMOA also held a seminar that unveiled its website creation and maintenance service, designed to help member operating companies establish a professional presence on the Internet without engaging in extensive development and incurring substantial costs. The seminar was led by Jim Pietrangelo, a 25-year veteran of the coin-operated amusement industry who served as 2006 AMOA president. He owns Top Draw Enterprises (Winchester, VA), a game operating company, and also runs a Web management and website design firm. Beyond the one-time development fee, the only additional expense associated with the service is a $100 annual renewal/maintenance fee, payable on the anniversary of the subscriber's site going live.

IALEI said registration for its educational program, the Fun Academy, which ran concurrently with Fun Expo, was up by 160 compared with last year. The Rookies & Newcomers program had 51 participants, compared with 39 in 2007. "With so many in attendance, it demonstrates that even in challenging economic times attendees still invested the time and expense to find ways to improve and strengthen their businesses," said Dorothy Lewis, who chairs IALEI's Education Committee. "The rookies program in its new format set the groundwork for a promising number of start-ups as well as some novice business owners."

Next year's AMOA International Expo is scheduled for September 24 to 26 in Las Vegas. The next Fun Expo will be held from March 11 to 13 at Las Vegas Convention Center, colocating for the first time with Amusement Showcase International.