The fourth quarter is a very exciting time for our industry with Halloween (now the official close of the summer/fall extended seasons in the U.S.), IAAPA (the big year-end trade show), Thanksgiving (the start of the winter season), and then the Christmas holidays and New Year’s (two full weeks of celebrations and super peak revenues). Somewhere in there we also have a national election. At the time of this writing, the third quarter just closed. Here are the August-September highlights:
The International Association of Trampoline Parks (IATP) 4th Annual Conference & Trade Show, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 13-15
We report this event as “The best hotel trade show we’ve attended in the past 30 years!” Now that is what we call “buzz.”
Trends: People have always liked the participatory aspect of attractions within the FEC industry: bowling, skating, climbing, zip lines-action. “Jumping” is now the “in thing” activity and it is universal and worldwide.
Trampoline Parks are by far the fastest growing sector of our industry with new parks openings for 2017 projected at the rate of 2 per week and could get to 3 per week! (China, India, and Latin America are just starting.) There are currently about 600 tramp parks in the U.S. and 220 internationally which could grow to 300 by the end of this year. IATP started just a few years ago and currently has 432 members including 45 international members.
This year’s Conference and Trade Show attracted 500+ attendees and 80 exhibiting companies (a hotel show sell-out). As a joke, Scott and I were offering late walk-in companies their own stall in the bathrooms. They laughed, but in all seriousness, they could have done business if those stalls were actually available. Note that the bathrooms are the highest trafficked areas of any trade show including repeat visitation. Ha Ha.
What was even more amazing is that it appeared all of the 500 attendees attended the 22 seminars/panels that were presented in blocks of 3 (some seminars had 140 attendees). This confirms that the tramp industry is made up of young, enthusiastic, active, hard-working entrepreneurs and staffers who have an exceptional thirst for knowledge. Exhibiting hours were shortened but the exhibit hall rooms were open all day and there was a lot of activity (“buzz” we call it) from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
Buzz Boyz Outlook
Smart entertainment facility operators have a cross section of activities that attract whole families comprised of different age groups – in other words, something for everyone. Trampoline parks are now expanding their attraction components in order not only to keep their customers longer and spending additional dollars but also to expand their target market. Food service is a critical service and in today’s environment, diverse food and beverage choices are warranted. We are seeing more and more upgrading of food. Food is also a driving point. Bowling is adding more beer taps and wine choices and upscale food. Another new trend is beer and wine in tramp parks. A friendly environment encourages parents to stay and also to look forward to bringing their kids back. Looking into trampoline park financials, general trend shows revenue decreases from Year 1 forward. This is just the opposite of the Family Entertainment Center Industry. Obviously, tramp parks are taking notice and the clever ones are reacting.
“Smart entertainment facility operators have a cross section of activities that attract whole families comprised of different age groups – in other words, something for everyone. Trampoline parks are now expanding their attraction components in order not only to keep their customers longer and spending additional dollars, but also to expand their target market.”
Scott Borowsky: YouTube Interview at IATP
Scott pointed out that, “Families want safe and secure places to take their kids to or drop them off at. The ‘go out and play’ days are over. The FEC industry and trampoline parks offer this safe environment. That is the tagline that needs to be out there.”
(To view video of Buzz Boy Frank interviewing Buzz Boy Scott, visit the Industry News section of the Tourist Attractions & Parks magazine website www.tapmag.com)
AAMA Annual Meeting & Gala, St. Charles, Ill., Sept. 12-16
This industry event took place at the same time as IATP. Therefore, many of the traditional game manufacturers’ key personnel and press could not be in two places at the same time. AAMA Board continues to work on the extremely difficult task of defining fair practices guidelines for the operation of skill cranes and merchandisers. The next step is to send it over to the AMOA Board so all 50 state regulations can be addressed. The vast majority of game manufacturers decided to show their new games developed over the past several months at IAAPA Expo.
AMOA Mid-Year Board Meeting – Ashville, N.C., Sept. 16-19
Frank (AMOA President 1999-2000) attended many of the committee meetings, Board Meeting, and was the first speaker at the retirement roast of Jack Kelleher who served as Executive Director/President for the past 17 years.
Director Michael Martinez, N2 Entertainment, Brea, Calif., summed up the Mid-Year: “The states are engaged and there is excitement and passion once again in the industry.” One of the major topics is addressing the new “Operation Chokepoint,” an initiative by the Department of Justice to stop certain types of cash businesses that are involved in fraud and money laundering. Sounds like a good thing, but maybe not according to AMOA’s Government Relations Committee Chair, Emily Dunn (Tom’s Amusement, Blue Ridge, Ga.): “Some types of businesses they are targeting are payment processors, payday lenders, and others, which has resulted in legitimate ATM operators as an unintended consequence. Across the nation, there have been many operators whose long-term banking relationships have been terminated without reason or explanation. …It has been concluded that the ATM industry has been targeted.”
Basically, the banks do not want to deal with companies that deposit coins/bills or need bills, for example, to fill their route of ATM machines. AMOA is a part of a coalition of other businesses such as car washes and coin laundries that are experiencing the same problems.
John Russell, Principal at Dentons (multi-national law firm), who serves as the AMOA and AAMA lobbyist, addressed the group and offered a plan to aggressively deal with this issue that involves intense direct meetings with Senators and Congressmen and, of course, members of the Senate Banking Committee. AMOA has long been a strong association when it comes to working with its state associations on grass roots issues, both on an individual state basis as well as on a national level. That is a major reason why the AMOA State Meeting is one of the most important industry meetings of the year and FECs need to know this, as the issues are basically the same.
Souvenir and Gift Trade Shows All had Large Attendance this September
The Las Vegas Souvenir & Resort Gift Show on Sept. 18-21 (lvsouvenirshow.com) and Surf Expo – Watersports & Beach Lifestyle Show in Orlando, Fla., Sept 10.
An economic indicator for this sector of the industry is the increased merchandise orders placed and the re-order time frame. 2016 will close out as an excellent year for this sector.
The IAAPA Attractions Expo 2016, The Big One, Nov. 14-18, Orlando Convention Center
At the IAAPA Attractions Expo, there will be 350 companies and 115,000 square feet to cover. For information, visit iaapa.org.
The big news is that IAAPA Headquarters is moving to Orlando and Orlando will be the venue of the Expo through 2030. Orlando is the center of the amusement park industry. The city is the best place to test new park attractions and concepts.
The food industry has for a long time introduced prototype fast food and dining concepts in Orlando.
Expect to see a lot of new games at IAAPA. One of them will be the video redemption crane ‘Crazy Claw Jr.’ (Rocket Amusements) that will be shown in a smaller and newly designed one player model. Crazy Claw was a winner of the AMOA Innovator Award 2016.