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ASI And Fun Expo Experience Declines Amid Faltering Economy

Posted On: 3/18/2009

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Amusement Showcase International, Fun Expo, Coin-Op, Coin-Operated, Vending, Vending Machine, Amusements, Jukebox, Pinball, Videogame

LAS VEGAS -- The just-concluded Amusement Showcase International and collocated Fun Expo posted visitor declines in the face of a faltering global economy and travel restrictions by companies in all segments of the industry.

With preliminary registration numbers of 1,982, total ASI participation declined about 26% compared with 2008's trade show, which attracted 2,674 industry members. Organizers of the annual spring event said the decision by many exhibiting companies to bring fewer staff members contributed significantly to the downturn. The number of registered buyers dropped to 602 from 1,062 last year, or 43%.

This year's ASI, which is sponsored by the American Amusement Machine Association, was collocated for the first time with Fun Expo, which last ran with the Amusement and Music Operators Association's International Expo in September. The combined event was produced by William T. Glasgow Inc. and took place at the Las Vegas Convention Center from March 10 to 13.

ASI's show floor hosted 96 exhibiting firms, compared with 133 at last year's, a 28% decline. Those exhibitors occupied 250 booths, down 181 from a year ago, or 41%. AAMA show committee spokesman Frank Cosentino, Namco America, admitted that the organizers were facing "petrifying" preregistration numbers. Show organizers underscored how the wavering economy has impacted the coin-op industry, and noted that every visiting operator "came to buy."

Across most industries, exhibitors at trade shows are becoming increasingly focused on visitor quality and buying power, in particular, as they plan to exhibit at fewer shows this year. ASI organizers emphasized that the purchasing influence and buying power of this year's attendees remained strong.

Several operators at the show told VT they were pleased with the new products they saw, and that despite the down economy, the trade show floor was where they needed to be to keep in touch with their industry segments.

Fun Expo is sponsored by the International Association for the Leisure and Entertainment Industry, which reported a total of 1,115 participants, compared with the 1,283 who attended its September show, a decline of 13%. It consisted of 82 exhibiting companies, which were commingled with ASI's, down by only one from the previous show. Those exhibitors, which included 13 first-timers, displayed their products in 140 booths compared with 142 in 2008.

The number of registered buyers for Fun Expo, which markets to the family entertainment industry, was 594, compared with 780 in the fall, a 24% decrease. IALEI officials said the depressed global economy contributed to the drop.

ASI and Fun Expo welcomed at least 500 additional visitors from the International Pizza Expo, which was held at the convention center from March 10 to 12. Last year, organizers of all three shows negotiated a cross-promotional agreement that included badge reciprocity. The pizza event attracted more than 4,000 visitors.

Education was a vital component of both ASI and Fun Expo. ASI's five seminar programs focused on redemption, email marketing and birthday party management for FECs, along with customer loyalty-building strategies, specialty merchandising and facility safety.

IALEI's Fun Academy again ran in conjunction with Fun Expo. This year's educational program offered 24 sessions, allowing participants to assemble a curriculum that addressed their specific interests. The best-attended workshops were "Group Sales," "How Social Is Your Marketing," "Daytime Promotions," "Growing Your Sales-Not Your Prices" and "Engaging Your Customers With Your FEC Website." The association said 109 people registered for this year's academy, compared with 165 in 2008.

ASI and Fun Expo will again collocate in 2010, with a show scheduled for March 10-12, in Las Vegas.