The 2016 Amusement Expo International finished strong on March 17 as organizers reported a continued pattern of growth in attendance with 2,785 people attending. The combined AMOA/AAMA event is co-located with the National Bulk Vending Association and laser tag conventions.
Highlights from the Expo were numerous. Things began on a positive note with organizers reporting a huge increase in the number of participants in their day of education, which preceded the two-day trade show. Todd Louthain and Emily Dunn organized the two-track popular education series covering both FEC and route operations. The seminar chronicling Dave and Buster’s transformation from paper tickets to electronic tickets, conducted by the company’s Kevin Bachus, was the most popular of the 11 seminars with 173 participants.
On the show floor, there were numerous new products that garnered a lot of attention. The AMOA had a tough time deciding who would win their prestigious Innovator Awards this year with 14 companies and 24 entries to choose from. PayRange won two of these (one for its dynamic pricing and the other for its BluKey Smart Box…read more below), Rocket Games’ Crazy Claw video crane game won another as did Apple Industries for its product fulfillment program (also look below for more Apple news).
“New products create excitement, but there is a big difference between something new and something truly innovative,” said Russ Minter, the AMOA board member who presented the awards. “This year we had some of the closest scoring ever, it was tough to narrow down.”
AAMA began releasing details of the efforts of their very productive FEC committee, co-chaired by George Smith and Joe Camarota. Looking to provide services for AAMA’s existing FEC members, while encouraging more to join, the association will work with Client Services to get members exclusive deals on food and beverage, cleaning supplies, paper goods and other everyday items FECs need. There will also be a strong focus on education tailored to the FEC crowd.
AAMA also announced the formation of the J. Richard Oltmann Memorial Scholarship Fund, which in conjunction with the American Amusement Machine Charitable Foundation (AAMCF) will award $5,000 annually to a student sponsored by an AAMA member that exhibits Rich’s vision, leadership and dedication. The first scholarship is expected to be awarded in May of 2017, with applications opening in January 2017.
“This is a new venture for us and we’re excited to learn how to do this and make in an annual activity,” said David Cohen, AAMCF president. “We’re very fortunate that Rich thought education was so important. The goal of our charitable board is to match his donation, and we are looking into the possibility of offering two scholarships in the coming years.”
The show ended with AMOA’s long-running Wayne E. Hesch raffle, which supports a similar industry-based scholarship program. This year, the fund awarded 51 grants of $1,000 each to deserving college students.
Looking forward, Expo will be held in Dallas next year March 14-16. The host lodging will be the Sheraton Dallas Hotel. Organizers are hoping to draw a new crowd from Mexico and South America, and will be offering free attendance to operators and exhibitors from that area. By the way, the Expo will return to Las Vegas in 2018 and 2019.
We join in wishing Play Meter’s Bonnie Theard a happy retirement. We’ve shared many trade events, photos and tidbits with her through the years and will miss seeing her at future industry functions.
Also, it’s clear that trade show maven Bill Glasgow Sr., who passed away last year, left a lasting legacy. His sons have learned very well what it takes to run a magnificent event as evidenced by this year’s Amusement Expo.
Stay tuned to Instant RePlay for more Expo news. The April print edition will have our early report; May will be show-packed with booth pictures, a new product catalog and more.