Expo Press Conferences Change Way New Products and Services Connect

Parks and suppliers team up to announce new additions, expansions, and innovations on the trade show floor

Show Daily 2017 Press Conferences

In 2016, SeaWorld Parks and Resorts premiered the ride car for "InvadR" during a press conference.

By Scott Fais

Announcing new products at IAAPA Attractions Expo is quickly turning into a spectacle to behold. Exhibitors and their attraction partners are using curtain drops, costumes, and other splashy techniques during Expo press conferences to reveal what’s next for the industry. “Years ago that felt very revolutionary for an operator to share floor space with a ride partner,” said Brian Morrow, vice president of theme park development with SeaWorld Entertainment’s Deep Blue Creative. It’s fitting that SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment will again lead a week of announcements at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday. Back in 2012, SeaWorld Orlando was the first park in the modern Expo era to partner with a ride manufacturer to make news on the trade show floor.
“We changed the relationship of ‘You can never talk about us and you have to work in secrecy,’” Morrow said of the relationship between SeaWorld and its vendors. “We broke that door down with a curtain drop and said, ‘Let’s work together. How much more interesting is this for the industry?’”
During that 2012 presser, SeaWorld shared new details of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at the booth of their ride partner, Oceaneering. An elaborate curtain drop and actors seated in the Antarctica vehicle set the stage for all other events to follow. It also changed the culture, Morrow believes, for how a park and manufacturer can collaborate in sharing their project with the world: “I think that was the moment when the doors opened and the secret veil sort of dropped between the relationships of the IAAPA floor and all the owners, operators and buyers.” This year, SeaWorld will host a press conference with its ride partner, Intamin, at 10:15 a.m. Tuesday at Booth #3428 across from IAAPA Central. Visitors will then move to the Intamin both (#3424) for a first look at the new vehicle for “Infinity Falls,” a custom-designed river-raft adventure now under construction at SeaWorld Orlando.  Reinforcing SeaWorld’s new “Park to Planet” message, several animal ambassadors will also
greet attendees at the Intamin booth. Also debuting a ride vehicle this week is Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. “Time Traveler” from Mack Rides will in 2018 become the world’s fastest, steepest, and tallest spinning roller coaster. “Superlatives aside, the press conference reveal will, I promise, WOW!” teased Lisa Rau with Silver Dollar City.
The special roller coaster vehicle on Time Traveler will continuously rotate 360 degrees while navigating two launch zones and three inversions.  It will be a first for the United States and IAAPA Attractions Expo.
"We want to showcase this next step of innovation,” Rau said of Tuesday’s event, which takes place at the Mack Rides booth (#2269) at 11 a.m. “The Expo is a terrific opportunity to connect with the industry. We really are a family of amusements, and we know we all watch what others create, concoct and design.”
This year, no fewer than 35 press conferences are scheduled Tuesday-Friday. The press events drive traffic and can inspire buyers to take a fresh look at new products.
“Having a press conference generally brings the accredited press to your booth, so depending on the actual news merit, the coverage is worthwhile,” said Christian Martin, V.P. of marketing for TrioTech.
In 2016, TrioTech founder Ernest Yale created buzz when he dashed off stage in the middle of a press conference, only to return moments later dressed in costume as a Ghostbuster to coincide with TrioTech opening “Ghostbusters 5D—The Ultimate Ghost Hunt” at Heide Park Resort in Soltau, Germany. TrioTech hired actors to accompany Yale on stage in 2016, along with renting fog machines and theatrical lighting. Martin said the effort was well worth the expense. The company will host another presser at its booth (#954), on Wednesday from 1:15-1:45 p.m. 
“For us, it always brings in interest from potential buyers that see this news,” said Martin. “They then come to our booth or follow up with us later on.”
Buyers are welcome to join members of the media at each press conference. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when joining the working press:
* Arrive early to guarantee a good vantage point. Yet keep in mind, camera crews may arrive after you with equipment.
* Be courteous if you are asked to share space with members of the press.
* Grab a map and plan ahead. Maps of the Expo floor (available in the OCCC concourses) will help you navigate to each booth holding a press conference; you can also find floor maps and other information about the show by downloading the IAAPA Expos mobile app.
* If a product or service from a supplier interests you, talk to the exhibitor but use patience.  After the press conference, the media will traditionally conduct interviews with key players before moving on.
A complete listing of scheduled press conferences is available online.