Industry Trade Shows and Training Seminars – Making a Solid Choice for Life-Long Learning

During challenging economic times there are usually more opportunities to make money by creating a niche market or by just simply increasing your market share. The reasons are quite simple to understand, most people are afraid of change or are just plain lazy and complacent—even while they are witnessing first hand their business revenues decreasing. Instead of taking action, they seem to get some sort of sick pleasure out of “complaining” and “blaming” it on something other than themselves. There are still some in our industry that have long necks and believe in sticking their heads in the sand and playing “isolationism” because they truly believe that they know everything about this industry. The fact is that there are new things to learn about our industry every hour of every day. On the bright side, the majority of those in our industry are cautiously optimistic for 2011.

I (Frank) have spent two months recently assisting in the openings of eight new or expanded FECs. Each of the owners has taken the risk, and the results have been spectacular. The support from the local communities has been overwhelming. In each case, the revenues have exceeded the projections. In each case, these new or expanded FECs are instantly capturing market share from their complacent competitors. It is like “taking candy from a baby.” Our games and attractions in FECs had the best two Christmas-New Year’s weeks, and revenues in the following weeks have continued to remain high. This is also a good indicator. Of course, it is the new games that are attracting most of the revenues and probably providing our centers with increased market share.

Entertainment Retailing

This is an exciting concept that is moving to the forefront of the retail industry. Retailers have had a difficult time and are now realizing that adding “fun” to shopping helps increase per capita retail spending. Heck, we are the entertainment component. What we all should be considering is: Are we going to be a part of this emerging market or let it pass us by? Right now the retail industry is trying to learn all it can about the amusement entertainment industry. How much effort are we taking to learn all we can about the retail industry? The smart operators are asking: How can we use our operating efficiencies and expertise to help the retail industry and open the door to place some of our games and small footprint attractions in high-trafficked retail stores?

2011 is Off to a Good Start

“The industry is picking up” is what we hear from game operators and FEC owners. Consumer spending is slightly up. This may have been tied to Congress deciding not to raise taxes in 2011, and people are relieved about that. Souvenirs, Gifts & Novelties magazine advertising is up, and this is directly tied into the retail sector. Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine is continuing to cover as many industry sectors as possible so its readers can always see the big picture. Some of the new sectors may include restaurants, retail stores, spray pads/parks, fitness centers, children’s museums, children’s day care centers, church recreation centers and country clubs.

Tis the Season to Get Educated

As much as you may think that trade shows are dead, they are not. They are alive and well for those that attend them.
The industry has recently been taking the lead and scheduling trade shows that overlap with other related industry shows. The Amusement Expo (March 1-3) overlaps with another show. The ASD is also in Las Vegas and opens on Sunday, Feb 27, just prior to the Amusement Expo. The ASD is where you will see a lot of great redemption merchandise and very low prices. How many of you have planned to get to Las Vegas early to attend the ASD, even if only for a couple of hours? You can bet that every major plush supplier will be there to buy up the top merchandise and look for additional sourcing contacts from China.

Some additional shows and sessions to consider learning more about and attending either this year or next year:

  • The National Independent Concessionaires Association (NICA), Embassy Suites, Tampa, Fla., is a food show that would be of high interest to FEC owners that see a significant portion of their revenue related to food service;
  • Gibsonton, February 8-9, Gibsonton, Fla, a carnival concessionaire show;
  • American Rental Association, The Rental Show, Feb. 22-March 2, Las Vegas, Nev.;
  • The Special Event Show, scheduled for late January in 2011, in Phoenix, Ariz., covered special events and birthday party ideas;
  • Randy Fromm and Frank ‘The Crank’ Video – Redemption – Crane Repair Class, scheduled for January in Orlando, Fla. this year. There were 36 attendees from all around the United States, including Alaska;
  • EAG London was scheduled for late January this year
  • EAAPA, Moscow, February 16-18;
  • Foundations Entertainment University, April 26-28, Dallas, Texas, July 19-21, Chicago, Ill., and September 20-22, Kansas City, Mo.;
  • AOU Amusement Expo, Mahuhari Messe, Chiba City, Japan – February 18-19;
  • AMOA/AAMA Amusement Expo, Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nev., March 1-3. Co-located with the National Bulk Vendors Association;
  • Transworld’s Halloween, Costume & Party Show, March 10-13, 2011, in St. Louis, Mo.;
  • The Russian Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (RAAPA), March 23-25, Moscow, Russia;
  • The Dubai Entertainment Amusement & Leisure Show (DEAL), Dubai World Trade Center, UAE, April 4-6;
  • NAMA One Show, McCormick Place North, Chicago, Ill., April 27-29.

Invest your travel time and education budget in trade shows, and you will be quickly repaid with new knowledge and a refreshed perspective of the industry.

(Scott C. Borowsky is president and executive editor of Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine. Frank Seninsky is president and CEO of Amusement Entertainment Management.)

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