RePlay's Monthly Chat with AMOA President John Pascaretti
RePlay: What was your assessment of the Vegas show? Are you concerned that attendance appears to have reached a plateau?
John Pascaretti: Overall, I thought it was a very solid show. The traffic was strong. Our education programs were well attended. Total attendance and booth space were off, and nobody is happy about that. But we had some challenges with conflicting events like the big toy show going at the same time and spring break.
We are challenged generally in that we don’t have a lot of new people in the business so it’s tough to grow a show like ours. But we have a core of people who will show up no matter where or when the event is held. Those are the people who get it and who are crucial to moving our business forward.
Our challenge, and we are working hard on it, is to figure out how to bring additional people to the show. We have seen the positive effects of the continued bulk vending show co-location, and I think we are looking for more partnerships like that one.
Tell us about the feedback generally and about response to the change in hours more specifically?
We surveyed attendees and we really didn’t hear any negative feedback. Everybody said they planned to come back next year.
We asked about the change in hours in our post-show survey. Everybody agreed that closing up early on the last day was a good idea. We got some feedback that the opening time on Friday at 9 a.m., might be too early so we might look at exhibit hours from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
We are always wringing our hands about being back in Vegas, but our exhibitors seem pleased with the site.
The other big thing is the possibility of a two-day show. That came up with a number of people, as it has in the past, and that’s definitely on the table for discussion. Going to a two-day show changes the dynamic of the convention, and there are a lot of issues that need to be considered going forward. The bottom line is that everybody is trying to do the best they can with their allotted budget of time and money.
A lot of people would like to do two days, but others also say that it would be difficult to get everything done in two days. We have heard it enough that we have to look at it, and if we can’t do it we need to let people know why not. Part of the problem is that right now we are committed to three days for the next two years. There could be financial ramifications in changing the schedule.
Is this the first year that AMOA has only awarded one Innovator Award? Did that reflect the association’s desire to focus the award on currently available product?
That Innovator Award is overseen by a great group of people. I’ve been on the committee myself. There is no directive about how many awards will be given out each year. It really depends on the product that is shown. We emphasize innovation, and we work hard to get people to bring innovative product to the show.
I wouldn’t read too much into just giving out one award. One of the criteria is that the equipment needs to be ready for sale at the show, but I don’t know if that eliminated some of the prospects this year or not. There is no predetermined number of winners so it may have just been an anomaly.
Do you discern any big product trends coming out of the show? Do you see the industry moving away from its dependence on the box or cabinet and more focused on becoming providers of location media services?
It’s very interesting that we are in the coin-op business, but maybe we are in the phone-op business. This is a good trend. People are really engaged with their smart mobile devices… both AMI and TouchTunes are tapping into that. Plus they are looking at other revenue streams. I don’t know if it’s revolutionary as much as evolutionary. The bottom line is to bring entertainment to these venues that people are willing to play and pay for.
If you talk to other operators, they are a little concerned about the way the business is changing, moving away from being a cash business to one dominated by sweep accounts and the like. It’s going to be interesting to see how the industry embraces this trend.
What are your main priorities as president as you embark on the one-year term?
The theme I’ve chosen is ensuring the future of coin-op by leveraging our collective strengths. That can encompass so many aspects of our business. When an issue comes up, we try to engage everybody and arrive at a solution that makes the most sense for the entire industry. This is AMOA’s 65th anniversary. We are an association that has been around a long time. We want to focus on convincing operators to join in the association and enjoy the fruits of the same collective strengths. There is so much invaluable information and sharing that goes along with being a part of AMOA.
Is AMOA engaged in any way in the ongoing legislative stories in Florida and other states that will alter the redemption landscape?
We are engaged to the extent that we are tracking the redemption laws in various states. We do have directors in those states. They are keeping track of what’s going on, and that’s important because it’s changing all the time. That’s why it’s so important to have a state association. We have also consulted with SNR Denton, which is always a resource that we can draw upon.
When you read about this law in Florida, it looks like it’s targeting sweepstakes, but it can leave you open to arbitrary enforcement. Maybe this will be the catalyst for something to move forward in Florida by way of jumpstarting a state association there. Other states also need to keep on eye on issues like this because something that happens in one state can get copied in another.
Anything else to add this month?
I am starting to plan my travel plans for various events around the country. In a few weeks I will attend Team Dart, which will be my first official trip. I am looking forward to getting out there and meeting people and espousing the benefits of the AMOA. In terms of reaching non-members, I would really like to do a webinar or some other type of forum that would seek feedback from members and non-members and give us a chance to talk to non-members about the value of being a part of AMOA. We plan to leave very few stones unturned in looking for new members.
John Pascaretti is a Michigan coin-op distributor who has been in the industry since the mid 1970s. He began helping a cousin run a route, eventually running his own, and has since moved into distribution, beginning with Rowe and eventually opening up his own Pascaretti Enterprises in Warren and Grand Rapids.
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