Vegas Delivers Success, Business Booms at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009

IAAPA News
Nov. 24, 2009
(Updated 11/8/10)

Vegas Delivers Success, Business Booms at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009
Optimism Fills Aisles at Expo’s First Event in Las Vegas

Las Vegas, Nevada (United States) – Approximately 23,800 people, including approximately 14,600 buyers, from 100 nations participated in IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 in Las Vegas Nov. 16-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The buyer figure represents an increase of 19 percent compared to the number of buyers who participated in IAAPA Attractions Expo 2008 in Orlando, Florida.

IAAPA Attractions Expo is the world’s largest conference and trade show for the $24 billion attractions industry. It is owned and produced by the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) and serves as the marketplace for amusement parks and attractions industry leaders, decision makers, and visionaries who gather to network, view the latest innovations, and plan for the future. 

This is the first time the 91-year-old Expo has been in Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau estimated the five-day event had a $40 million economic impact on the city.

“We had some concerns about the economic conditions of the past year, but Vegas delivered the buyers as we anticipated it would,” said Charles Bray, president and CEO of IAAPA. 

Buyers Attracted to the Bright Lights and Big Show in Vegas
Buyers represented amusement parks, waterparks, zoos, aquariums, museums, resorts, independent attractions, and casinos from around the world. An initial analysis shows significant increases over the 2008 Expo in the number of senior-level management buyers (23 percent increase), and buyers from small parks (28 percent), family entertainment centers (20 percent), waterparks (24 percent), carnivals (63 percent), and casinos (138 percent). There was also a 53 percent increase in the number of buyers from outside the United States, including marked increases from Canada (42 percent), Europe (63 percent), Middle East/India (40 percent), Asia (114 percent), and Australia (366 percent).

Participants attended more than 100 education programs on industry trends and hot topics, participated in a number of networking events and behind-the-scenes tours around Las Vegas, and shopped for new products on the trade show floor. The South Halls of the Las Vegas Convention Center were packed with exhibits from 1,074 companies that displayed their innovative new products and services on 405,000 net square feet of space on the trade show floor.

Event Exceeds Expectations and Optimism Abounds
Andreas Kornprobst, art and media producer, 5D Interactive in Austria, said, “The show was excellent. We did not think there would be so much traffic. The American and Asian markets were very good. We’re very positive and looking forward to next year. Vegas was a lot better than I expected. The economy is not back on track yet, but it’s going better, and we can all feel that. The worst is behind us, and this [show] pushes the industry forward.”

Keith James, president, Jack Rouse Associates, in Cincinnati, Ohio, feels having the show in Las Vegas played a key role in the strong buyer turnout. “We were as busy as we’ve ever been. Tuesday and Wednesday were absolutely packed. The attitudes have certainly changed.” 

“We’ve had tremendous numbers of clients coming through. Everybody’s seemed very serious about purchasing, so we think it’s been a great show,” said Deborah Eicher, vice president, North America, Picsolve.

Jim Howell, president and COO of Perky’s Pizza in Oldsmar, Florida, said the show exceeded his expectations. ”The quality [of buyers] has been off-the-charts terrific. People are in a hurry, they are making a decision, and there’s some optimism in the family entertainment center industry right now. And there’s a direct line between this show and sales for next year.”

Rich Cobb, Ideal Systems, Inc. said, “The quality of the traffic is easily as good and maybe even better than last year. I have a great love for Orlando, but Vegas is great, too. There’s a lot to do here. People are still looking to invest in their businesses and get products to help them do that.”

Phil Lindsey, vice president exhibits and business development, The Health Museum in Houston, Texas, commented, “I felt an energy on the show floor I haven’t felt in several years. Everything I’ve heard has been really positive; everyone’s had a great time, and we’re all exhausted.”

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009 By the Numbers

  • Attendance at the education program sessions was 7,865 participants
  • 130 golfers helped raise $45,000 for Give Kids The World (www.gktw.org) in the IAAPA International Charity Golf Tournament
  • 40 people exercised for a good cause in the IAAPA 5K Fun Run and 1K Walk for Give Kids The World
  • 1,000 Expo participants attended the Opening Reception
  • 340 industry leaders learned how Blue Man Group intersects with the attractions industry from cofounder Matt Goldman at the General Managers and Owners’ Breakfast
  • 500 enjoyed the IAAPA Bright Lights Party at LAX Nightclub
  • 150 young professionals attended a reception at Margaritaville

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2010 will take place at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida, United States, Nov. 15-19. Information about exhibiting or attending is available at www.IAAPA.org/IAAPAAttractionsExpo.

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About IAAPA
IAAPA is the premier trade association for the attractions industry worldwide. Founded more than 90 years ago, IAAPA is the largest international trade association for permanently situated amusement facilities and attractions, and is dedicated to the preservation and prosperity of the attractions industry. IAAPA represents more than 4,000 member facilities from 90 countries throughout the world.

Awards Presented at IAAPA Attractions Expo 2009
Best New Product Awards
Big E Awards (Entertainment)
Brass Ring Awards (Marketing)
Exhibitor Awards
IAAPA Hall of Fame Awards (Worldwide Industry Leaders)
IAAPA Service Awards
Must-See Waterpark Awards (Waterparks)
Souvenir Awards (Merchandise)
Spirit of Excellence Awards (Human Resources)
Top FECs of the World Awards Awards (Family Entertainment Center)

Additional Quotes from the Expo
“It’s better than we expected,” said Jack Mendes, Bob’s Space Racers. “The buyer traffic has been very good in both quality and quantity. It might be a situation where this is when we’re going to start our way back out [of the recession]. Everybody’s focused on the economy, but they’re in a position to move forward. If they’re going to continue to grow their business, they have to go out and do something and not continue to just hold and hold.”

“(The show) has been fantastic,” said Mark Iles, CEO, Centaman Systems, Australia. “This is the exact target audience for us. The people here, they’re serious buyers; they know what they’re looking for. It’s been quite promising.”

Contact Information
Press Office: +1 703/299-5127
Marion Hixon: mhixon@IAAPA.org
David Mandt: dmandt@IAAPA.org
Colleen Mangone: cmangone@IAAPA.org
Nicholas Wolaver: nicholas.wolaver@edelman.com