Westgate Surveys the Scene
AMOA President Shares Views from Industry Travels
In Sam Westgate’s year as AMOA’s president, despite Covid still being a fixture of daily life, he’s found that the industry is back on track. While there are plenty of issues to parse through, business was certainly up over 2020 and even over 2019 in many areas.
“It’s been an interesting year with Covid, of course, and it’s different all over the country, but overall I think the outlook has been good,” he said.
Westgate noted that many are struggling with employment issues and attendance at state association meetings he attends was perhaps lighter than usual. “It’s hard to go to a state meeting when you’re short staffed,” he explained. “Everybody’s struggling with that.”
Operators in different service areas are often facing very different problems. While staffing and supply chain issues have become universal, Covid mandates that mainly impact urban areas continue to affect operators, as well as their locations.
Westgate cited the recent vaccine mandate in Chicago to get inside of a bar, restaurant or similar business as one such example. New York City, Los Angeles and San Francisco are among cities in the U.S. that have comparable requirements.
“As I go to trade shows and travel around the country, there’s been different mask mandates, recommendations, etc.,” he said, alluding to various Covid restrictions that remain in place. Some bars and restaurants, in general,å have had to close their doors due to staffing issues, and these restrictions are another burden on the locations and the operators that serve them.
Despite all the challenges, the key highlight of Westgate’s presidency has been “the industry coming back strong.” Again, some areas have struggled more than others to return to the semblance of normalcy so desperately sought after. However, Westgate is optimistic that such a day is nearing.
“Overall, I think the industry’s going to come out OK,” he said. “There’s a lot of things going on out there and the industry’s coming back really strong.”
Aside from hearing that feedback from operators, Amusement Expo also indicates this with new equipment and the earning potential they bring. The show is back to its usual March dates in Vegas for the first time since 2019.
“There wasn’t a lot of new equipment at last year’s Amusement Expo, but I think there’s going to be a lot available this year,” Westgate noted. Last year’s show, of course, was postponed to summer and the 2020 show went great but Covid brought on a whole lot of cancelled orders made at that event.