HANDS-ON: Move-in for Attractions Expo can take up to a week. Safety inspectors come on site to ensure rides and other working attractions are safe, since attendees will be experiencing them first- hand on the show floor.
have a good year. If you have a bad show, then it might mean it’s not going to be a good year. Fifty percent ofmypotential sales over the next two-year period originated at IAAPA.”
One City, One Contract A major component of IAAPA’s plan for the show’s success is the recent move to Orlando. In 2010, IAAPA signed a 10- year contract with theOCCCand with Orlando as its host city —a rarity in an industry in which many large shows rotate from destination to destination. IAAPA credits Orlando with helping attract more buyers and exhibitors for reasons having to do with affordability and ease of access, among other draws. “Our attendees and our exhibitors really like Orlando, first and foremost,” said David Mandt, vice president of commu- nications for IAAPA. “Orlando is the unofficial theme-park capital of the world, so not only do attendees participate in the show, they visit the local attractions and what’s new and interesting in the Orlando market.” Integrating the destination’s wealth of theme parks, water
parks, FECs, and other leisure diversions into Attractions Expo, IAAPA has pushed its show experience outside of the OCCC’s walls. More than 156 events were held in conjunction with the show—from behind-the-scenes DisneyWorld tours to a golf tournament benefiting the association’s official charity, the Orlando-based Give Kids theWorld. “We’re trying to be more park- and facility-driven in how we structure our events,” Par-
sons said. “Our attendees like to go out to the attractions to see what people are doing with rides, food-and-beverage, etc. That hands-on experience is definitely important.” But IAAPAhas to maintain a delicate balance between using
the destination to positively supplement Attractions Expo and letting the destination overshadow the show. It’s something at least some attendees say they have experienced before. “One would thinkthat Las Vegas would be a natural fit, but I’m not the biggest proponent of Las Vegas,” Magrath said. “From an exhibitor standpoint, Las Vegas distracts buyers very easily.” Beyond the obvious asset of being in a theme-park-centric city,
IAAPA also chose Orlando for logistical reasons—namely, the OCCC.The second-largest convention center in the country, the OCCC’s specially designed, one-floor exhibit hall and roll-up, hangar-style doors are large enough to accommodate aircraft. And the fact that Florida is a right-to-work state helps keep exhibitors’ costs down. “Orlando and Orange County is the epi- center of the attractions world, so it is only fitting that we host the largest convention for this industry in the world,” said Kathie Canning, the OCCC’s deputy general manager. Planning and move-in for Attractions Expo, Canning said, takes longer than for most shows—up to a week— and cranes are used to move in certain rides. Safety inspectors also come on site to ensure rides and other working attractions are safe, since attendees often expe- rience them on the show floor. “This is a show that was made for Orlando,” said Tammi
“Five years ago, we decided that as a marketplace and as an educational conference we were kind of at a standstill.We were very successful, but we weren’t attracting new attendees or new markets.We shifted toward vertical marketing to go outside of the scope of our core membership and attract zoos, aquariums, and museums.”