Editor's Corner

In last month's issue, we promised to tell you about any "finds" we discovered at last month's gargantuan International Association of Amusement Parks & Attractions convention held in Orlando, Florida. The show was larger than ever this year, with over 27,500 attendees. Basically, if any location-based entertainment or amusement product exists in the world, you will find it at the IAAPA convention. However, we didn't discover anything truly new that caught our attention. Yes, there were new rides, new games, new computer software, and new bounces. But they were basically incremental improvements on equipment and products that have been around.

What we did "find" was a greatly expanded program of education seminars. And they were all top quality. We believe that in the future, the real improvements in the industry won't come from "the next new thing" in terms of products and equipment. Rather, improvements will be the result of better execution of location-based leisure businesses in term of design, management and marketing. IAAPA's seminars were heavily focused on just that.

One underlying theme we found in many seminars was the convergence of entertainment and education. In the zoo- and museum-focused seminars, this was discussed from the standpoint of needing to engage guests with more fun and entertainment to enhance learning. Many entertainment-focused seminars included discussion of the need to provide educational content to attract contemporary consumers.

Two of the most interesting and informative seminars I attended were the What's New Theatre, presented by the Themed Entertainment Association, and What's Next?, that focused on trends on the horizon. We hear that IAAPA is not planning to repeat What's Next? next year, which is unfortunate.

I was privileged to be able to present a seminar titled, "Edutainment: The Next Big Thing," along with Mark Hayward from BRC Imagination Arts of Burbank, California, and Amsterdam, The Netherlands, and Paul Chartier of Felix Mundi Agency in Montreal, Canada. I opened the presentation by explaining IAAPA had given the seminar its name. In my opinion, the seminar should have been titled Edutainment: Today's Big Thing, because edutainment is already a major trend. If you missed the seminar, you can purchase a tape of it, as well as the other seminars from IAAPA. Just click here to go to the order page. I've also made a copy available online of the overview I gave on edutainment in the seminar. You can download it from our Web site as a PDF file. Click here to download it.

In this issue, our feature article is about prime cost - the critical measure of food and beverage profitability. We have also uncovered some interesting new demographic statistics about a trend of both increasing numbers of stay-at-home moms and of higher income families. And if you're feeling a little poor after all the holiday shopping, we give you information in several of our articles on how to obtain a few freebies.

Have a happy and prosperous New Year!

Randy White