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IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012: Global Perspective

Global Perspective

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012 brings you to the world—and makes the world smaller for you

by Jeremy Schoolfield

IAAPA Attractions Expo is our industry’s largest annual event, and the numbers associated with the annual conference and trade show tell the story:

  • 25,000 attendees from 100 countries …
  • 1,100 exhibiting companies spread across nearly a half-million net square feet of trade show floor …
  • 80-plus education seminars, along with multiple off-site behind-the-scenes tours …
  • The largest networking events in the industry, drawing crowds, at times, of a thousand people or more …

“There is so much to look at and people to network with that a week will fly by and you will not have covered ­everything,” says Gregg Borman, senior vice president of Palace Entertainment’s family entertainment center (FEC) division.

But that doesn’t mean Expo has to be overwhelming—either for a first-timer or a veteran attendee. For, as large as it is, Expo carves out spaces for attendees to feel at home with regard to both where they come from and what part of the industry they work in.

Take, for example, the conference’s opening day, where specific education tracks are lined up for FECs, zoos and aquariums, and museums. Or there’s Wednesday night, which offers specific receptions for European and Latin American attendees, as well as those representing FECs, water parks, and carnivals; these are followed by receptions for members from Canada and the Asia-Pacific region Thursday morning of the Expo. And if that trade show floor just looks too daunting with all its bells, whistles, lights, and smells, there is a bevy of special vendor tours that will help you attack the floor in a more manageable way.

Veteran attendees say the conference and trade show provides a mix of both the familiar and the new; it’s this combination that keeps them coming back year after year.

“I value the opportunity to meet and renew relationships with suppliers as well as attendees from other attractions around the world,” says Paul Pei, executive director of sales and marketing for Ocean Park Hong Kong. “It is always amazing that many parks and attractions share the same concerns and thus we are able to review together various solutions that can be adapted at each of our parks. The world is a big place made smaller by IAAPA Attractions Expo.”

When it comes to making the most of a week at Expo, the team from Denver, Colorado’s Hyland Hills Water World uses a “divide and conquer” technique. “We try to attend as many events as possible so we can continue to meet new people and catch up with old friends,” says the water park’s assistant manager, Andy Maurek, also chair of the IAAPA Water Park Committee. “I always like to try to walk through Expo with other industry friends and get their take on new products and vendors they have tried or new products they are thinking about. Nothing beats a working testimonial.”

Borman has been in the industry for more than 30 years. One thing he stresses is how important it is to bring “up and comers” within your company: “Challenge them to come back with five new revenue-generating ideas and five new cost-saving ideas that will cover the cost of their trip.”

The best place to find all the information about IAAPA Attractions Expo 2012 is online at www.IAAPA.org/AttractionsExpo. What follows here is merely a taste of what’s happening during that exciting week!

Senior Editor Jeremy Schoolfield is going to try and see and do as much as he can that week and still manage to get a few hours’ sleep. Contact him at jschoolfield@IAAPA.org.

The Wanda Group Presents The IAAPA Theatre on Trade Show Floor

For the first time in the 93-year history of IAAPA Attractions Expo, several of the event's high-profile functions will occur on the trade show floor.

New this year is the IAAPA Theatre, presented by the Wanda Group, located in the northwest corner of the Orange County Convention Center exhibit hall. This large new space will allow attendees to never leave the heart of the Expo action, as they can go from a special event right out onto the trade show floor.

Events hosted at the IAAPA Theatre include the Kickoff Event and Opening Reception on Tuesday, Nov. 13; and the GM & Owners' Breakfast and Brass Ring Awards on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

For a full schedule of events, visit www. IAAPA.org/AttractionsExpo.