From seasoned veterans to rising rookies, we Funovators all agreed the talent at this year’s International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Expo was extraordinary. To watch a space transform so quickly and drastically—in the span of only three short days—was nothing short of amazing. Should we chalk it up to the inherent magic of our industry, the caliber of the show, the force of so many brilliant imaginations, or the perfect amalgam of all three? Whatever it was, this year’s show certainly left a lasting impression. So, in honor of our 7th IAAPA appearance, we felt now was as good a time as any to reflect on how far we’ve come, share some of our trade show achievements, and touch upon some of the amusement trends we picked up on for 2014:
1) Personal relationships still reign supreme (in our eyes, our customers’ eyes, and really everyone’s eyes):
“Personal relationships still matter very much. Obviously having a good product is key but a company’s (and its employees’) ability to connect with customers and industry partners on a personal level still holds a lot of weight in this digital age and goes a long way to sustaining relationships, getting positive word of mouth, and building wealth for all.” – Katie Fuller, Funovation COO
“To no great surprise, people like good customer service. One of our 5 goals is to partner with our customers for mutual success. Great customer support is a key component in meeting that goal. Brian, a technician at one of our customer’s 4 maze locations, stopped by our booth to tell other people how little he has to do to keep the maze working, how quickly we resolve issues for him, and how much players love it. It makes everyone at Funovation feel great to known our goal is being reflected throughout our processes, and it is nice to hear such kind words from our customers. Yes, we sell Laser Mazes, but really we are in the people business.” – John Bonvallet, Funovation CEO
“The amusement industry is strong with brilliant, creative, and fun people. The companies I see thriving are those that continue to grow their brands and collaborate with peers to offer their guests exceptional experiences. It’s an honor to work beside so many people who have an insatiable desire to multiply their fun potential. With partners like these, the ripple effect has only begun!” – Heather Nyberg, Funovation Sales Representative
2) Minus all the show stopping bells and whistles, your product and company has to be able to stand on its own:
“While we did not have an iconic booth locator (like we did in the past with the Delorean), our existing and potential customers recognized our product as the true icon of what we make and made comments on how much better the booth was. I still believe that height is good and we achieved that with our projector, but this year we streamlined our exhibit and focused simply on making the best maze example possible and showing what we can achieve with our system. (I guess I can stop looking for the Space shuttle for JB…).” –Ted Ziemkowski, Funovation CTO
“Technology is definitely driving our industry. From innovative ticketing systems to integrated social media campaigns, owners are realizing they must invest in technology to stay relevant. We’ve truly separated ourselves from the competition by our relentless pursuit of not only innovative, but patented technology.” – Erick Mueller, Funovation Chairman of the Board
“Looking back at all the countless hours we all spent pining over every detail, word, and possible scenario, and then have things not go entirely as planned, but perhaps better, because above all the noise and exhaustion- our product and staff shone. It was a testament to the time put in not just leading up to IAAPA, but over the course of seven years.” – Eileen Stack, Funovation Project and Marketing Coordinator
“Our team’s constant innovations have separated us from the pack. This year, we introduced and highlighted big things like Video Capture- which enables players to share videos of their maze experience while simultaneously providing our customers a platform to market themselves; Oculas 3™- the only playable moving laser in the industry (that also aligns itself!); and Guided Mode- which teaches new players how to play the game using voice over commands. We also featured some small things like the Covert Objective- which adds a level of discovery and re-playability to the maze and packs kids in line as they try to figure out what it does; and our new interior “L” wall design- which adds more playable space, and creates more tough choices to make inside the maze.” – Devon Clark, Funovation Design Technician and Installer
3) The industry is on the up and up! Judging from this year’s IAAPA attendance, to the volume of leads generated, and number of repeat customers we’ve garnered… The future’s looking bright:
“The industry as a whole is noticeably improving, with this year’s IAAPA show breaking records for attendance and exhibitors. It was a joy to see and speak with so many companies looking to open new locations, make capital improvements, and purchase equipment and additional attractions for the years to come!” – Nic Hanzelik, Funovation Sales Representative
IAAPA officials said this was their biggest show yet. So in summation, what did we learn this year? Some tried and true truisms:
- New, shiny things will always be powerful because they attract immediate attention.
- Products created for the right reasons (they address the needs of the customer base first and foremost) and by the right people (those who understand the importance of cultivating relationships with customers) are what harness real staying power.
- That seeing and catching up with our customers in person really brings home how truly awesome, savvy, and unique they are!
Original Post Date: December 14, 2013