An Industry in Focus: Operating in the Positive

October 18, 2017 No Comments

By Scott Borowsky and Frank Seninsky

“Positive’ is the operative word. BPAA had a great show this year and exhibit space for IAAPA November sold out earlier than in recent years. One reason: IAAPA has been pushing to build up the food exhibitors’ space. This is an indicator that food is becoming a larger focus in the family entertainment center (FEC) sector.

The Trend
Every sector is actively adding attractions. Standing still is no longer an option. Mall owners are realizing that they need a FEC as an anchor. It is obvious, or should be, that Mom may go to a mall more often and purchase more if she could do so in a relaxed manner. Having the rest of the family being entertained at an FEC could provide such freedom.  Malls are now willing to make deals on rent and tenant improvements to bring in an entertainment center. This represents a significant change in retail environment thinking.  The Buzz Boyz are old enough to remember when malls did not want arcades or anything to do with games and attractions for that matter.  So, we have come full circle.

Examples of Outward Expansion
Sesame Place Park, Langhorne Pa.,  is putting in a second roller coaster.  Bowling centers now have craft beer sections. Retail stores are showing a positive attitude toward coin-op.  The Las Vegas Souvenir & Gift Show is now a big show in its own right rather than a co-located event.

Foundations Entertainment University (FEU) Announces 2.0 Deluxe Package for 2018 and Beyond
2018 will be the 16th year for FEU, a premier industry educational seminar program. With more than 1,300 graduates and more than 250 FECs that got their start with Foundations, the new 2.0 Deluxe Foundations University is for newbies, FEC industry veterans and service providers who want to learn how to be a part of the number three growth industry in the United States.

FEU 2.0 features more topics, more networking, guest speakers, social media marketing, more “What Works and What Doesn’t,” webinars, an interactive website, and so much more. The 2018 Foundations Schedule will be announced in November. Hint: Class #44 may indeed once again precede the Amusement Expo in Las Vegas and take place on Sunday-Monday, February 25-26, 2018.

The IATP founding board, from left to right: Wayne Pierce, Pierce Law Firm; Jeff Platt, Sky Zone; David Schaeffer, House of Air; Jerry Raymond, Sky High Sports; Ed Reed, Jump Street; and Phil Slaggert, Slaggert Risk Management.

A Jump in Interest
The IATP 5th Annual Conference & Trade Show exhibit hall sold out.

There are currently 600 trampoline parks in the United States and another 400 internationally for a total of 1,000 worldwide.  The Buzz Boyz estimate that there is room for another 400 in the United States and perhaps another 1,600 internationally before saturation is reached.  The better ‘buzz’ is that many of the current trampoline parks can be expanded to add food, beverage, games and FEC attractions and many current FECs can easily add small footprint trampoline attractions. We believe that this dynamic duo of ‘Tramp-FEC’ or FEC-Tramp’ may just be the fastest growing segment of our industry over the next five years.

In other trampoline park news, Jeff Platt received the IATP Person of the Year Award 2017. Platt is the IATP founding chairman and CEO of Sky Zone.

The AAMA Fair Play Pledge Will Begin Enforcement September 2018
AAMA has released its four-page Fair Play Pledge (FFP) whereby all AAMA members will sign a pledge that states that all games, redemption and merchandiser, they manufacturer, distribute, sell directly or operate in the United States “allows a fair chance of winning with every game played.”

This is a good step for our industry as it puts the responsibility on the manufacturers and distributors, including the manufacturers and distributors that operate games, to produce games that comply with the FFP. Besides potential issues with the binding results of the independent testing laboratory and the appeal process, the Buzz Boyz believe that the FFP will be signed by a huge majority of our game manufacturers and distributors.  Frank also believes that with a few tweaks to the current language per suggestions from AMOA, that the FFP will garner the support of AMOA, and the entire industry will support the initiative.

AMOA Plays a Huge Role:  Department of Justice Announces End to Operation Choke Point Program
Hats off to AMOA, Lori Schneider, AMOA’s executive vice president, Emily Dunn, chair of the AMOA Government Relation Committee, and our industry’s lobbyist, Dentons, for their advocacy efforts and 18 months of hard work in playing a huge role in the coalition against Operation Choke Point. Choke Point involved cash-based businesses such as ATM, carnival, mini-golf, coin-op games, car washes, laundries and others.

The Department of Justice announced: “All of the department’s bank investigations conducted as part of Operation Choke Point are now over, the initiative is no longer in effect, and it will not be undertaken again.”

AMOA and its members are now calling upon bank regulators across the country to heed the department’s guidance and work with legitimate cash businesses to ensure access to banking services.

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