Thursday, April 14, 2011

IAAPA Attractions Expo 2011 Space Allocation: Day 1—Afternoon Session

7:40 p.m.: All right, whew, the committee's called it quits after the longest day I've spent with this bunch in four years of doing this. As of now there are 461 booths on the floor covering 292,000 net square feet.  About 380 booths were assigned today.

Space Allocation will begin bright and early tomorrow at 8 a.m. EDT (an hour earlier than originally scheduled). First booth assigned will be No. 457, Barron Games International.

Like I said, today was a major-record day for traffic on the blog, so thanks for following along and hopefully this was helpful. Good night!

7:20 p.m.: SHOUT OUT to Kees Albers of Unlimited Snow-Tape My Day, who e-mailed me today from the Netherlands to say he was staying up WWAAAAAYYYYY late to watch for his booth assignment, even though there was no guarantee he'd make today's cut. Well, congratulations, my friend, your sleep deprivation paid off! At No. 447 you're gonna be one of the last booths assigned today. Thanks for staying up with us.

6:53 p.m.: Today IAAPA's new president and CEO, Chip Cleary, has watched Space Allocation from the sidelines, soaking up the process. He listened a lot and talked to committee members when he could catch them away from their monitors (which hasn't been often on this hectic, strenuous day!). I asked him for a quick comment about what he's observed today, and here's what he said:

"When you come to IAAPA Attractions Expo this November you might wonder how this all comes together. In my many years of involvement with IAAPA I had never seen the Space Allocation Committee in action. Twenty-five computers, 16 big monitors, 15 committee members, eight IAAPA team members, six contractor team members, and lots of coffee and commitment. The floor slowly appears on the big screen but the commitment of our volunteer committee members and the IAAPA team members is inspiring to see."  

The last booth placed was Soundtube Entertainment, No. 416. Really making up some ground now.

6:44 p.m.: Just hit No. 400! Milspec Industries is on the floor.

6:20 p.m.: The committee assigned its 300th booth a few minutes ago. We're more than halfway home now, and the second half always goes quicker because the booths are typically smaller and options on the floor start to lock in a bit more.

Last booth placed, Midway Stainless Fabricators, No. 387.

6:09 p.m.: So while I'm communicating on the busiest day in this blog's history, I figure what better time to talk about something I'm quite proud of: The cover story of this month's Funworld magazine. A couple months ago I was invited to Six Flags' corporate headquarters in Arlington, Texas, to interview the company's new CEO, Jim Reid-Anderson. He was good sport enough to don a hard hat for our cover photo, and then talked to me about basically every aspect of his plan for helping Six Flags' continued recovery from bankruptcy.

It was a great discussion, one I was privileged to have, and I think all of you out there could get something out of it. You can read it via Funworld's digital edition by clicking here.

BTW, the last booth placed was Trendy—LLC, No. 375.

5:51 p.m.: The committee decided to extend today's meeting an extra hour to approximately 7:30 p.m. EDT. The last booth placed was No. 357, Randolph Rose Collection.

5:11 p.m.: SHOUT OUT to my peeps at Mini Melts Inc.! They e-mailed me today to say they've been following along to see when/where they were placed with seniority No. 336. Welcome to this year's show, guys!

5:06 p.m.: Right on time … back and placing once more. Just added True Food Service Equipment at 331.

4:56 p.m.: The committee's taking a 10-minute break. Hardly any of these today as the members have been working relentlessly to get these booths assigned and catch up on the goal for Day 1. Just did Aerophile at No. 327.

4:53 p.m.: Just hit No. 325, International Cordage Inc. I don't want to jinx anything, but the committee's hitting a stride of late. Pace returning to normal over the past hour or so.

4:37 p.m.: There we go! Booth No. 300 is on the floor now that Magnet World Inc. has been assigned.

4:28 p.m.: I was trying to wait for an update at a big ol' round number, but it's been too long since my last post so I'll just go with No. 291, Leisure Craft, which was the last booth assigned. Pushin' on to 300 …

3:44 p.m.: We've already set a one-day record for traffic on the blog, so thanks to all of you who are following along. I hope it's helpful to you. E-mail me at if there's anything I can help you with.

Toy Factory, No. 268, was just assigned.

3:10 p.m.: Committee's restarting now. Assigning International Laser Tag Association, No. 242.

2:53 p.m.: Short break as we address a couple redraws on the floor plan. Keep an eye on that interactive website.

2:48 p.m.: Sorry this post disappeared momentarily, folks. The committee's been moving pretty well this afternoon. Last booth that was assigned was Ninja Jump, No. 241.

2:17 p.m.: This is my fourth Space Allocation live blog and I just had something happen for the first time: A blackout!

OK, not really. But as you may have seen in the pics I posted this morning, we have quite a bit of equipment in this meeting room, and out of nowhere half the room's computers and extended paraphernalia lost power. Cool thing was, because the new assignment system is entirely web-based we were able to keep the meeting going without missing a beat thanks to laptops and Wi-Fi.

I don't know exactly what happened, and everything got back up and running pretty quickly, but it was an interesting 30 seconds of … "Huh?" What did we ever do before laptops, wireless Internet, and web-based interactive software programs. Really.

1:42 p.m.: Just placed booth No. 200! MedTech Wristbands just went on the floor. What a difference some food makes, huh? Committee's picked up the pace after lunch nicely.

1:36 p.m.: I spoke with Committee Chairman Jack Mendes briefly during the brief lunch break. He said part of what has the committee a little behind this year is learning a new computer system for assigning booths. He thinks it's just taking everyone—both the committee members and those running the system—a little time to get up to speed, but that will come with time.

This is our second consecutive year in Orlando for Expo (the second of a 10-year run, as we announced last year), but that doesn't mean the show is the exact same every year. Different companies come in and out of the show, he said, and those who are in change their sizes and sometimes their locations, which means it's like starting fresh every year. So what makes the show so exciting year in and year out also makes it challenging to plot out.

"We're trying to make sure the floor flows nicely and we don't create any dead-ends," Mendes said.

The committee is getting back to assignments now, starting with No. 181, NAARSO. They also have a couple booth moves to handle, as well.

To this point, 180 exhibitors are on the floor, covering a total of 124,000 net square feet.

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