The AAMA-sponsored Amusement Showcase International (ASI) happened last week, March 11-13, at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Enco Systems was in attendance, along with Mr. Jukebox Joel Friedman.
The things that were most interesting at ASI weren’t taking place at ASI — they were in the hall next door. The Pizza Expo was jammed with exhibitors and visitors. Kudos to the AAMA for making the date change to run the ASI concurrently with the Pizza Expo. Replay Magazine reported that the pizza show brought in over 500 additional official visitors to ASI, and probably more who snuck around the back curtain. A lot of us went over to their show too for some delicioso free eats.
The rehash of the numbers on the decline in attendance and the decline in exhibitor booth space has been all over the trade press. The point is that this used to be two shows — ASI and Fun Expo — that used to occupy two separate halls. This time it was combined, and the attendance number was still down over 25%. The number of exhibitors was down almost 30%. And the amount of booth space was down over 40%. (Again, I’m getting these numbers from Replay’s report.) You could have fit this show into a ballroom at most hotels.
Barry Zweeben (left) and Ingrid Adlum Milkes of Replay with Joel and Chris at ASI
This goes beyond the abysmal state of the global economy. Operators, the guys who make this industry hum, don’t want to go to all these shows. There was an operator cocktail reception at the Flamingo and there were very few operators in attendance. The unofficial buzz around the show floor was that people are planning to skip AMOA in September, due to its proximity on the calendar to the IAAPA show (also in Vegas) in November.
If I may, allow me to add to the drumbeat for some show consolidation. Clearly, there is a need to at least combine ASI and AMOA. I know that’s difficult since these shows are how the two trade associations fund their operations. But I am simply echoing the chorus that is being sung in unison by virtually everyone in this industry.
I would go a step further and combine the two shows with the spring NAMA Expo. NAMA usually has their spring show in April — in Las Vegas. Wouldn’t it be nice if AMOA, AAMA and NAMA could finally form a mutually-beneficial friendship? A spring mega-expo in Las Vegas could get a critical mass of exhibitors and visitors going, and give operators a reason to stick around for three days. We could all appreciate a show of coin-op strength at this critical juncture for our industries.