Exhibitors at the recent EAG and VAE expos have reported a high level of satisfaction with the calibre of visitors and business opportunities delivered by the two shows. For many EAG exhibitors, the new VAE brought additional business, whilst those showing at VAE appreciated the additional traffic created by the longer established neighbour.
EAG Chairman Martin Burlin was positive about the shows’ performance, saying “The 2015 show has been something of a milestone in the amusement and leisure industry calendar, with EAG and VAE showcasing a dazzling range of products from both new and established manufacturers. There was a palpable sense of enthusiasm in the air; something that our industry has been lacking in recent years. In comparison with last year, the overall number of visitors dropped slightly by 180 over the three days but there has been nothing but praise for the calibre of visitor. Overseas visitors remained constant at around 25% but there is evidence that these are travelling from further afield, with Africa, Russia and North America featuring well.
“There is no doubt in my mind that where exhibitors have the right products, these shows will deliver,” confirmed Martin. Speaking about the very first Visitor Attraction Expo, BALPPA Chief Executive Paul Kelly revealed, “BALPPA are already focusing on next year’s VAE, with a number of exhibitors keen to build on this year’s success. More seminars covering more industry topics are planned and a greater variety of exhibitors as VAE becomes the key national exhibition in the attractions calendar going forward.”
New for 2015, the ‘Veterans Lunch’ organised by Coin-Op Community’s Steph Norbury was a resounding success. The lunch, held in memory of Eddie Moss, lent a real sense of occasion, and plans are afoot to make it an annual event. A well-attended seminar programme and numerous gatherings and networking events led many to comment that they felt that EAG International had ‘come of age.’
Many exhibitors commented on the advantage of having the two shows co-located. UDC’s Michael Green commented, “EAG has really benefitted from the addition of the Visitor Attraction Expo. Team Play’s Fish Bowl Frenzy redemption game has been a star piece for us, following on from great sales at IAAPA. We’ve also had a fantastic response to the Sweet Amanda’s candy vendor which has exceeded all expectations,” explained Michael.
Over at the VAE, Innovative Leisure’s Phil Pickersgill was also happy with the inaugural show; “We were pleased with the number of visitors who came to examine our climbing walls in detail, including traditional BALPPA members, operators from the indoor play sector and in particular, visitors from the EAG show floor. “The level of enquiries was significantly above those received when we exhibited at EAG prior to its partnership with the Visitor Attraction Expo,” confirmed Phil.
New products from both established and new exhibitors were very much in evidence. Sega Amusements Europe reported a strong show, with the company’s Justin Burke saying, “ICE’s Skill Wall proved to be a destination in itself and Showdown totally wowed our visitors. In all, a very successful show.” Sound Leisure’s Chris Black was also pleased with the response to new products: “Our newly-released HD video jukebox was extremely well received, as was the soundjack phone app. The new novelty vending machine, Little Ted, is off to a good start with confirmation of a roll-out from a major retailer,” revealed Chris.
As with previous years, Bandai Namco Amusements Europe had a huge presence at EAG: “Star Wars Battle Pod made its European debut and exceeded all expectations. We have containers ‘on the water’ and will be installing in February. Time Crisis 5 absolutely swept the board and our new partners Adrenaline Amusements had an excellent show with Flying Tickets and Candy Crush Saga redemption games. There was huge interest in the eagerly-awaited Jurassic Park Arcade and Jennison Entertainment Technologies’ Ocean Pearl enjoyed an excellent reception,” reported Commercial Director John Brennan.
Also with a strong presence was Whitehouse Leisure, occupying no less than three separate stands. Business Development Executive Ian Whittingham was very happy with the company’s performance at EAG: “A great deal of hard work is paying off with good business being written at the show. The response to our new Frozen and Minions ranges has been fantastic and we’re really excited about our new ranges hitting the market,” informed Ian.
First time exhibitors also reported a buoyant show. Brother’s Robert and Steven Bruck made the journey from New York to showcase their spectacular candy vending concept: “As a first-time exhibitor we were overwhelmed by the quality of attendees and the level of excitement in the air. EAG international has been the perfect place to introduce Sweet Amanda’s to the European market place,” confirmed Robert.
Astra Games’ Alan Rogers also noticed the positive atmosphere at this year’s show, though was less convinced about the earlier dates: “We would like to congratulate the organisers of EAG International Expo on yet another brilliantly presented show at ExCel. In general, we experienced a highly positive response to our full product range and engaged in some interesting conversations with key industry personnel over three days of trading. “The ambience of EAG has clearly improved and the Astra team came away from the show with a feel-good factor that has not been so prevalent in recent years due to the challenging nature of the business.
“It’s important, however, to balance out those positives with one minor criticism regarding the timing of the show. I think we’re not alone in expressing the opinion that it came just a touch too close to the Christmas break.”
The quality of response to new products was a recurring theme when speaking to exhibitors. Electrocoin’s Kevin Weir commented, “We were very busy with new and existing customers. It was heart-warming to feel the customer response to Bar X in its many new formats.”
In the words of Syndicate UK’s Jim Dunne, “We operate in a niche market but we’ve seen the right people-they’re serious and they make decisions,” informed Jim. Over at Heighway Pinball, Andrew Heighway was also pleased: “We’ve taken orders for our first game, Full Throttle and received amazing feedback on the new licensed Aliens pinball,” revealed Andrew.
Formula K also had a productive show with Graham Liddle saying, “We had a great response to our new mini compact cars. Needing only four metres of track width, they’re perfect for indoor play centres.” VAE’s exhibitors showcased a wide range of products and services appealing to every facet of the leisure sector. For many, a true evaluation of the new show will only be made in the coming months.
Some exhibitors, however, were already happy with the new event. Play Bus’s Design and Development Director Steve Plimmer commented, “We’ve had serious enquiries from a wide variety of locations, including Russia and Africa. Play Bus has really opened their eyes to the possibilities for indoor play.” At interactive technology-based attractions developer Veqtor UK, Jonathan Plache was delighted with the show, saying, “A great show and a worthwhile investment!”
Reflecting on the company’s appearance at VAE, Regency Purchasing’s Ben Hoskins confirmed, “It’s been good to meet up with many of our existing customers and we’ve also experienced a lot of interest from start-up businesses within the leisure sector.” Leading simulation attractions developer Simworks were also happy with the show, with Sales and Marketing Manager Matt Clarkson revealing, “It’s been a good show with a lot of interest in our immersive attractions.”
And what of the prospects for co-joined shows for 2016? Organiser Karen Cooke has confirmed that this will absolutely be the case: “We now have much work to do, listening to industry groups, exhibitors, and visitors to gather feedback about the format and organisation of both shows. “EAG International and VAE are put on by their respective industry sectors for the benefit of those within the sectors and that’s why these views are so important,” assured Karen. EAG International 2016 and the Visitor Attraction Expo2016 will take place at ExCel London on 12th-14th January 2016.