After a week in the not-so-sunny Sunshine State, I wanted to share some of my thoughts and learnings from the IAAPA Expo 2023. The show manages to impress every time we attend, and this year was no exception. From the pinball-themed entrance to the impressive stands and displays from across the amusement industry, there is always some inspiration found here to bring back to our colleagues in Clearhill. So, what were my main takeaways from the expo this year?
The Use of Digital Screens
Kiddie rides, claw machines and vending machines are all becoming increasingly interactive with the addition of digital screens enhancing the visual displays, whether image, video or game and the user interface through touch screens.
What Does This Mean for Clearhill?
Digital screens have already been installed in some of our claw machines to display posters, ads, and key messages about our FunHub and Hey Candy brands, allowing us to be more sustainable by eliminating the need for posters that must be disposed of or recycled (depending on the material used) once they are outdated or damaged. Under our lean principles, as well as disposing of physical waste and the need for a poster inventory at HQ, we can improve our engineers’ installation process, as they will now have to upload a file from a flash drive rather than struggle with brackets to remove a poster, exchange it and clip it back in.
Keeping Their Attention
In addition to the display benefits, more interactive rides will help keep children’s attention slightly longer. The modern child is so well versed in the use of screens, whether phone or tablet, that when they sit on a kiddie ride with a screen or approach a vending machine with a touch screen, they instantly know how to use it. Most children could probably show us a thing or two about using this technology! As a result, it’s becoming increasingly noticeable that, at least for the slightly older children in our target market, unless they can interact with the ride, they lose interest.
One of the products that stood out to me when visiting the show was an interactive game that dispensed a physical prize in the form of a capsule with a character from the game inside. It would draw the attention of the more tech-savvy children, but it’s not ready for use in the mall space yet, as they’d be more suited to an arcade environment. Food for thought for the future!
The Importance of Presentation
If you ask our Marketing Department, they’ll confirm how we present ourselves in the market is hugely important. Presentation is always at the forefront of my mind when looking for new kiddie rides, claw prizes, candy cart designs or projects within the company. IAAPA drove this point home to me this year with beautifully presented rides and claw machines featuring attention-grabbing neon lights, eye-catching designs, and on-trend prizes.
Seeing this well-presented equipment gave me pause to reflect on what we are already doing well in Clearhill and how the team are striving to ensure every piece of equipment that leaves our warehouse is in the best condition it can be and stays that way. Each ride, claw machine, candy cart or gift card kiosk is inspected, repaired, and cleaned before dispatch from our warehouse. An example of this work was recently posted on our LinkedIn and Facebook pages when our Marketing Team went behind the scenes with Giles, who was getting Santa ready for his annual excursion to shopping centres across the land.
In summary, I found this year’s IAAPA trip fruitful. Not only has it inspired me to look at future developments in a different (neon) light, but I have been able to pause and look at where we are and how far we’ve come. There are projects underway within the business to help Clearhill improve its presentation within the market, some occurring beyond our equipment. The team is also working towards a better digital interface with improvements to our FunHub app, marketing, and a selection of new kiddie rides.