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U-Profit Cancels Under Pressure From IAAPA

Posted On: 10/23/2008

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ORLANDO, FL -- The U-Profit Amusement and Entertainment Business Success 2008 educational conference has been cancelled to avoid conflict with the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions' annual convention and trade show. Owned and organized by Bill Carlson of Bill Carlson Cos., U-Profit was scheduled for November 16-17 at the Holiday Inn Universal here. IAAPA's Attractions Expo is set for November 17-20 at the Orange County Convention Center.

(The U-Profit conference was the subject of a story published in VT's October issue, mailing now.)

On October 17, several IAAPA exhibitors planning to sponsor U-Profit received letters advising that their contracts forbid them from participating in any "piggyback" events overlapping the Attractions Expo. The letters noted that while no action would be taken against those that broke the rule this year, sanctions could apply if it were broken again next year.

To defuse any conflict, Carlson decided on October 18 to cancel the U-Profit event. Approximately half of U-Profit's 50 sponsor companies plan to exhibit at this year's IAAPA, he said. Carlson refunded participation fees to some sponsors, but said most applied their payments to securing a spot at the U-Profit event set for next spring.

"On the whole, responses from U-Profit sponsors to our decision to cancel have been very supportive," he reported. "We are taking a loss on this decision, but we didn't want our sponsors to feel jeopardized in any way." The FEC consultant added that in 2009 there will be a standalone U-Profit event in the fall that will not be associated with IAAPA.

IAAPA spokesman David Mandt said: "Several years ago, and for the protection of the exhibitors and attendees who make an investment to participate in the Attractions Expo, IAAPA adopted a standard trade show industry policy that precludes exhibitors from participating in 'outboarding events' designed to draw people away from the primary conference and trade show. We sincerely appreciate the support of the IAAPA exhibitors in upholding this important policy, and also appreciate Mr. Carlson scheduling his event at a different time."

Original plans had U-Profit set for the IAAPA event's host hotel, the Rosen, on November 17 and 18. Under strong pressure from the trade association, Carlson arranged for the new off-premise locale and modified the event dates. He said IAAPA staff initially approved these changes. He also said they did not consult him further before issuing the warning letters to U-Profit sponsors planning to exhibit at the amusements exposition.

"I am a member of IAAPA and I support the association," said Carlson. "I fully understand their motive in issuing these letters was to protect what they believe to be the best interests of the IAAPA show, despite the fact that our prospect list was primarily not composed of IAAPA members and many U-Profit attendees would have joined the association. Personally, I don't think that in the age of the Internet you can have a closed or exclusive market, but that's a philosophical disagreement that honorable people can have. And, while I think this entire situation was not handled with the greatest of professionalism by IAAPA, U-Profit will go forward next year and we expect it to be bigger and better than ever."