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IAAPA Expo 2023 Breaks Records for Attendance and Engagement

Maddy Ryley, Managing Editor
IAAPA Expo 2023 Breaks Records for Attendance and Engagement

ORLANDO —IAAPA Expo 2023, which took place Nov. 13-17, achieved notable records for event engagement and attendance. IAAPA, The Global Association for the Attractions Industry, reported the week-long event attracted more than 36,000 attendees and featured 1,147 exhibiting companies.

Spanning more than 550,000 nsf at the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC), IAAPA Expo brought 26,453 qualified buyers representing more than 18,000 companies to the trade show floor. When compared to the 2022 show, this year’s expo grew more than 30,000 nsf and brought in 70 more exhibiting companies.

“At IAAPA, we use a fully integrated marketing approach to attract the best buyers to our show floor,” said Michael Shelton, ICAE, Executive Director and Vice President at IAAPA North America. “This begins with a messaging campaign that is leveraged worldwide to members and nonmembers alike. We use Expos to help us grow our share of the audience. We work to build relationships with attractions large and small to make them aware of the opportunities they’ll find during Expo week. We also partner with our exhibiting companies to promote their participation in IAAPA Expo. Our exhibitor guest program helps to draw a substantial number of buyers to the show each year, and that number has increased each year as well.”

With exhibitors filling the North and South exhibit halls and the North and South parking lots, the IAAPA Expo team is looking to expand the square footage of exhibiting space to accommodate more show exhibitors.

“We can attribute some of the resurging demand to the full reopening of travel for our international industry professionals. Even in 2022, travel from many parts of Asia was extremely difficult, if not impossible with a lack of flights and remaining COVID-19 protocols,” Shelton said. “The relaxation of these has made it possible for some members to travel to Orlando for the first time since 2019. For all of our Expos this year, we’ve begun a new Hosted Buyer program to attract buyers that might not otherwise have awareness of what we offer. This program has been beneficial to our exhibitors in bringing new entrants to the industry.”

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The IAAPA team created innovative and interactive experiences at the show, reflecting what IAAPA members do at their own facilities. There were two immersive entrance units to the show floor, one being a larger-than-life pinball machine and another sponsored by Rovio’s Angry Birds. Attendees were able to solve a mystery on the show floor in the format of Hasbro’s popular game Clue. This gamification opportunity drove foot traffic to all corners of the floor.

Another added item for IAAPA Expo 2023 was a program developed for Brazilian attendees. IAAPA Explores: Expo program offered unique experiences conducted primarily in Portuguese, and included assistance with making appointments with exhibitors, a tour through Universal Studios Orlando and a networking breakfast among other opportunities.

This year, attendees could participate in EDUTours, which brought visitors to many attractions and destinations local to Orlando to gain knowledge about the creative processes and operations of world-famous attractions, including Walt Disney World, Fun Spot America and Universal Orlando Resort. IAAPA estimates the show contributed more than $100 million in economic impact to the Orlando region.

“One of the wonderful things about hosting IAAPA Expo in the city of Orlando is the proximity to world-class amusement parks and attractions,” Shelton said. “Our off-site events cover more than just EDUTours however, we host constituency experiences in the local area as well. Our team and the volunteer committees we serve work together to create unique learning and networking events for zoos, aquariums, science centers, museums, and family entertainment centers (FECs). IAAPA Expo has something for attractions of all types, regardless of size and focus.”

IAAPA Expo 2024 will take place Nov. 18-22 in Orlando, Fla., with education beginning on Nov. 18 and the show floor opening on Nov. 19. Approximately 400 companies have booked 235,600 square feet of exhibit space at the 2024 show already.

Reach Michael Shelton at

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