IAAPA Expo Midweek Report

For an industry that makes its living entertaining people, there is precious little use of new media during the IAAPA Attractions Expo. A search on Technorati reveals just a handful of posts about the event and none from an official event blog. Usually Edelman, IAAPA’s PR firm, does a better job than this with new media. I guess if they can’t post anything official, I’m just going to have to make it up on my own.

Just Kidding. Here are some additional trends I’ve noticed from the "What’s New" show and while walking the Expo floor.

  • First, the US Hospitality industry is lacking some serious vision when it comes to inspiring design. You look at the other resorts that are being built around the globe and are positively amazed by what they’re doing. In the US all we seem to get are the cookie-cutter hotels (excepting Las Vegas where they have more money than they know what to do with).
  • Obviously, water parks, large and small, free-standing or attached to a hotel, mall, or even campground, are big this year. The Nickelodeon hotel didn’t just start a trend, it kick-started a revolution. One of the neater technologies is a full-body dryer. Useful if you’re swimming in a water park attached to a mall or restaurant and want to shop or dine right after eating without going back up to the room. I wonder if this trend will last longer than the water-park bubble of the mid-80s.
  • I’m seeing a ton of insurance companies that specialize in policies for theme and amusement facilities. Some of the booths are a little more obvious about what can go wrong that others, which makes for some amusing graphics.
  • There are also a small group of booths featuring Chinese manufacturers with knock-off rides. Most of these are exact clones of other attractions just a few rows away. Must make those manufacturers angry, but I think most theme park owners know you get what you pay for and the theming on those knock-offs is substandard which makes you wonder about the safety and maintenance issues too.
  • The newest thing in food stuffs is, well, nothing. A lot of the same stuff you see every year and every where. But if you want to serve food, you need to buy this stuff. I feel a little sorry for Dippin’ Dots with all the competitors that have sprung up.

Today I was finally able to make it to one of the sessions I wanted to attend. I was really excited about the "New Media Strategies" session, not just because it would help me tremendously in my day job, but because it is unusual for presenters from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, Todd Heiden and Cindy Gordon respectively, to be on the same stage, let along talking about their marketing strategies. Chad Emerson of the great blog Theme Law moderated and the promise of revealed inner workings loomed. Then I found out that the presentations and Q&A were "off the record", meaning I can’t share with you about what they said.

It turned out the presentations weren’t that juicy, just evidence of two major companies and their staffs having a good handle on "New Media" as they continue to explore its expanding frontiers. I’m still glad I attended and hope to see more new media efforts not just from Disney and Universal but from all the other players in IAAPA. I am happy to answer any questions you have about new media strategies for your entertainment facility. Really. Drop me a line.

For more on the IAAPA Attraction Expo 2007 check out the Orlando Sentinel coverage, including a speech by WDW’s Meg Crofton..

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