Nice event acts as ‘warm up’ for Munich
It was nice to be in Nice. Once IAAPA announced it was to stage a second Euro Attractions Show (EAS) in Munich later in the year, some wondered if the planned January event on French Riveria would be worth bothering with at all. Happily, reports Owen Ralph, it wasn’t a waste of time.
Taking place from Wednesday to Friday, January 23 to 25, at the Acropolis Palace of Congress and Expositions in Nice, the venue was a little bit shabby, and the outdoor exhibits (mainly inflatables) slightly out of the way, located as they were across the road from the main hall.
Most visitors probably thought they were heading to the larger half of the Acropolis, as pictured in the event’s publicity material, but in the event this was only used for the EAS Welcome Reception on Wednesday evening, another successful and well-attended (1,300) social gathering, as this particular fixture always is.
There were mixed reports on Thursday night’s EAS Gala in the millionaires’ playground of Monte Carlo. Tickets were priced to match at an over-inflated €168 each, for which you would exhibit really first class food and drink. By all accounts, it wasn’t bad, though the “Cirque” style entertainment was better. As for the venue, the Fairmont Hotel, one attendee told us: “Once you were inside it could have been any room, anywhere.” However good or bad the party, over 600 did attend, but IAAPA really needs to rethink its elitist pricing policy for these events unless it wants to create some sort of amusement industry apartheid.
Back in Nice, value for money was offered by the EAS education programme, with a full series of seminars running throughout the show, plus various private gatherings and receptions including a well-supported Thursday morning members’ meeting of SNELAC, the French trade association. On Friday morning a behind the scenes tour was offered of Marineland in the neighbouring resort of Antibes.
The Côte d’Azur setting suited many visitors to the exhibition, particularly those from Northern Europe, who were able to enjoy mild and sunny weather for the time of year. As such several stayed on after the show and made a weekend of it.
Opening hours were relaxed; with an 11am start the first two days and a 3pm finish on the last. More than 5,000 people visited over the three days, over 2,000 down on last year’s record-breaker in Seville, but still a respectable figure considering it’s not the only EAS this year.
“Everybody is looking forward now to Munich, and most of the exhibitors took Nice as a warm up for Munich,” remarked EAS board member Wieland Schwarzkopf.
Although there was a handful of big names missing in Nice – B&M, Bertazzon and Gerstlauer for example – the 247 companies participating represented only a slight dip from Seville. What several exhibitors did do was scale down their presentations to leave some money left for Munich. In total exhibits covered 7,800 net square metres of space.
Ulla Harrison, general manager of French park Walibi Rhône-Alpes, and also chair of the EAS education advisory committee, told Park World: “This year’s’ show floor is the best I have seen at EAS, we have finally reached the professional standard of IAAPA in the US. It’s smaller than before, but the big brands are here, as well as many smaller vendors, especially in the theming sector.”
Indeed, one company making a big splash was Spanish-based design specialist TAA Industries, with its animatronic dinosaur and eye-catching stand at the foot of the steps into the main exhibit area. “This is one of the few shows we make an effort for,” reported the company’s Udo Weisenburger. “We are surprised by how many came, we have seen some big clients and got some very good contacts.”
“I can’t speak for others, but we have been busy and had people on our stand all the way through,” reported Theo van Zwieten of Mondial. “The show is good, the location is good and you can get around easily.”
“The show has been good for me,” concurred Lino Feretti of Preston & Barbieri. “We have seen a variety of professionals, not just curious visitors. They came mainly from Europe, only a few from the Middle East, but the we expected that.”
“I can’t complain,” said Terry Monkton of Simworx. “We’re the only company here with a 4D theatre and it’s working in our favour. We’ve already secured several meetings.”
Like several other companies, the Fabbri Group only decided to confirm at the last minute. Salesman Edward Cromheecke was just about glad they made the switch. “The first day was not good, but the second was a lot better,” he told us. “It’s been mainly showmen though, not parks, and the show still comes too late in the winter to make business for next season.”
There was obvious frustration from several exhibitors about being asked to do to two EAS events in one year. “I don’t see the logic behind it,” said Giancarlo Belotti of Italian bumper car specialist C&S. “Everything will cost so much in Munich because of Oktoberfest.”
“Not everyone understands the amount of pre-show organisation required as an exhibitor,” added Alberto Brandestini of ABC Rides, “but for IAAPA it’s about business and two shows means more money. What we brought here is smaller than last year in Seville; a half booth would have been enough.”
“As we transition to the new fall schedule, it was important for us to not overlook the 2008 buying season,” explained IAAPA president and CEO, Charlie Bray, in justifying the decision to stage two exhibitions. “The show here in Nice has been a success and we’ve laid a tremendous foundation for a great, great show in Munich.”
In reality, had IAAPA had scrapped the Nice event, or waited until next year to do Munich, few people people – visitors or exhibitors – would have been that bothered they had to wait 18 months until the next EAS (the keen ones all do IAAPA in the States anyway). As it was, most of those that took part this time seemed happy, if not ecstatic. While there may not have been much new to look for the visitors, it hopefully provided a welcome winter retreat.
The Euro Attractions Show moves to what should become its regular autumn/fall timeframe (Amsterdam is rumoured for 2009) when it takes place in Munich, Germany, from September 30 to October 2, preceded by the confusingly-named IAAPA Summer Meeting from September 27 to 29. These dates are, of course, slap bang in the middle of Oktoberfest, meaning the social side should be good. Indeed, IAAPA has already reserved space in one of the beer tents, which are always notoriously difficult to get into. But a word or warning: Book your flights and accommodation now – or pay through the nose. Otherwise there’s always Interschau in Stuttgart one month later…