Record-Breaking 2019 Amusement Expo Encapsulates Industry's Vibrancy

Posted On: 4/1/2019

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SHOW TIME! Welcoming Amusement Expo International 2019 showgoers during opening ceremony and awards presentation, from left, are Laser Tag Museum curator Erik Guthrie; National Bulk Vendors Association president Scott Ausmus, National Entertainment Network (Broomfield, CO); American Amusement Machine Association president Holly Hampton; Amusement and Music Operators Association president Jim Marsh of Hart Novelty (Bellingham, WA); AMOA executive vice-president Lori Schneider; and AAMA executive vice-president Pete Gustafson.
LAS VEGAS – The 2019 Amusement Expo International show floor was abuzz with record numbers of showgoers and exhibitors surpassing all figures since its kickoff in 2010, when the Amusement and Music Operators Association and American Amusement Machine Association joined forces to present the single annual coin-op event.

Themed “Redefining Entertainment – Don't Try This at Home!” the conference and trade show was held at the Westgate Resort & Casino and adjacent Las Vegas Convention Center from March 26 through March 28.
Co-sponsored by AMOA and AAMA, the conference and exposition once again included participation by the National Bulk Vendors Association and the Laser Tag Convention. Both organizations co-locate their annual membership education programs and tradeshows with the exposition.

The sold-out show floor had 179 exhibitors in 2019, compared with 169 in 2018; 50 were new this year, up from 42 a year ago.  Buyers numbers this year climbed to 1,773 from 1,710 in 2018. The total number of registered visitors (buyers and non-buyers) grew to a record 3,490 from last year's 3,104.

AMOA opened its trade show doors this year to Digital Sign Expo attendees. That show was held concurrently to Amusement Expo in the adjacent hall, and 262 professionals attending it walked through the AMOA show floor.

NBVA also reported an uptick in participation, drawing 227 showgoers. Its dedicated pavilion on the show floor hosted 20 exhibitors, up from 17 last year, occupying 39 booths, compared with 31 last year. This was the eighth year that NBVA co-located its annual convention with Amusement Expo.

The rapidly emerging virtual-reality marketplace continued to be a focal point at this year's show. Last year, for the first time, manufacturers of virtual-reality games and companies supplying equipment and services for VR attractions exhibited in a dedicated pavilion on the show floor. This year, eight VR companies exhibited in 31 booths and the education program included 14 sessions devoted to the up-and-coming amusement category.

The Laser Tag Convention brought 15 exhibitors, up from 12 last year, occupying 25 booths, an increase over last year's 15. 2019 was the fifth year that the Amusement Expo accommodated the Laser Tag Convention, which is organized by the Laser Tag Museum (Louisville, KY) for laser tag facility operators and developers.

The 2019 Amusement Expo kicked off with an educational program, followed by two full days of exhibits at the convention center. Some 2,000 showgoers packed the educational sessions.

The day of education began with communications expert, speaker and Author Kindra Hall's keynote address, titled "The Irresistible Power of Storytelling." She shared her blueprint for effective storytelling, which is designed to equip operators to close more sales, build better relationships and “blow up their brands” by leveraging the power of their stories.

Hall's keynote was followed by an unprecedented 32 sessions covering on-street and site-based operations, bulk vending and laser tag. Topics ranged from integrating cashless systems into small-footprint locations, optimizing connectivity and attracting the best customers, to the incremental business opportunity bulk vending and ATMs present to amusement operators.

Location-based entertainment veteran Bob Cooney once again hosted the 14-session track devoted exclusively to keeping amusement operators up to date on the fast-growing virtual-reality space.

During the Amusement Expo opening ceremony, AAMA executive vice-president Pete Gustafson and president Holly Hampton presented AAMA's 2019 industry awards. The association bestowed its "best-of-year" awards on Crane Payment Innovations; Shaffer Distributing and Bay Tek Entertainment, which won in the supplier, distributor and manufacturer categories, respectively. AAMA's Lifetime Achievement Award went to the late Ralph Coppola, former AAMA Board member and founder of Innovative Concepts in Entertainment Inc. He died in January.

The association honored Xtreme Action Park (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) with its FEC of the Year Award.

Outgoing AMOA president Jim Marsh of Hart Novelty (Bellingham, WA) welcomed showgoers to the event.  President-elect Emily Dunn, Tom's Amusement (Blue Ridge, GA), took the reins as AMOA president at the conclusion of the 2019 Amusement Expo.

Wrapping up the opening ceremony, NBVA president Scott Ausmus and Erik Guthrie of the Laser Tag Museum expressed their enthusiasm for the innovation and opportunity displayed by their respective industry segments.

AMOA presented Innovator Awards to two manufacturers: Bay Tek Games for its Connect 4 Hoops basketball; and TouchTunes for its new Fusion digital downloading jukebox system. Receiving the prestigious awards are Bay Tek Entertainment for its Connect 4 Hoops basketball redemption game and TouchTunes' Fusion Music System digital downloading jukebox, which gives operators the ability to design and create custom enclosures around the 19.5” touchscreen.

The winners were selected from 20 companies (with 30 entries) nominated for the awards this year.

AMOA's Best Booth Award winners were Astrosystems, Heartland Micropayments and Touchtunes.

The 2020 Amusement Expo International will be held at the New Orleans Hilton and Earnest N. Morial Convention Center in New Orleans, LA. The dates will shift to earlier in the month and earlier in the week than usual. The education program will take place on March 9 (Monday) and the trade show will be held on March 10 and 11 (Tuesday and Wednesday).

Amusement Expo will continue its collocations with NBVA and the Laser Tag Convention through 2021.

In 2021, Amusement Expo will return to the Westgate Las Vegas Resort and Casino and revert to its Tuesday through Wednesday format, March 16 through 18. The expo's 2022 run will return to the same venue, March 15 through 17.