Pinball Expo 2018 Reboot (Wheeling, IL)

(Topic ID: 214253)

Pinball Expo 2018 Reboot (Wheeling, IL)


By RobCraig

8 months ago



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  • 1,641 posts
  • 270 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 10 days ago by LTG
  • Topic is favorited by 71 Pinsiders

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    Topic poll

    “For those that have attended the Expo Banquet before, what would you change?”

    • Nothing 15 votes
      6%
    • Skip the fancy food, make it Burgers and Fries at a cheaper cost. 45 votes
      18%
    • Shorten the event, make it super cheap or free, and have no meal at all. 19 votes
      7%
    • I don't care about the banquet. 175 votes
      69%

    (254 votes)

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    There are 1641 posts in this topic. You are on page 1 of 33.
    16
    #1 8 months ago

    Good evening Pinside!
    The purpose of this new thread is to keep the information flowing about the new Pinball Expo 2018 Rebooted show. I ask that participants try to keep this thread positive and helpful as we try to move this event forward.

    I'm excited to mention that I have partnered with Rob Berk and David Fix to help reboot Pinball Expo in 2018! My role is to communicate on social media to get the word out, promote and recruit the freeplay games area, assist David Fix in recruiting vendors, assist both Rob and Dave in planning the show, and several other things. I'm excited about this opportunity and I hope you are too.

    If you've been into pinball since 2012 or so, you might not know me at all. And if you have been into pinball all along, you still might not know me. Here's a little about me, so you know my heart behind my willingness to help with the Expo reboot. I've been a collector and restorer since 1998. I made 3 DVD's called Life After Death about pinball restoration with the last one about warehouse finds. I co-hosted the Silverball Podcast with the late Steve Rothschild for years. Both of us along with a couple of others ran The Heartland Pinball & Arcade Supershow from 2004 through 2009 in Southern Illinois (not as many shows besides Expo going on then). I was a monthly columnist for GameRoom Magazine during the Kevin Steele years and for a while during the early ownership from The Pinball Co. I have spoken at Expo 3 times on various topics.

    Pinball Expo has always been a special event for me. I started going in 2001 and have been about every other year (on average) since. I have also been to several other shows (Allentown, Dallas, Louisville, & Nashville) but there has always been something special about Pinball Expo. Like many of you, I have seen some changes over the years and they have not always been something I liked. I'm joining in to help make things better.

    There has been some buzz about the recent split and about changes in scheduling the show. I have heard a lot of encouraging words from friends both new and old, and I've heard people say they don't care at all. My response is simply this - all of us (Rob, Dave, myself, and many others) want to make this year's Expo the best ever and we will pour a lot of time and energy in making that happen. Sure, there's a lot of shows you can go to in 2018. But if you've been to several different pinball shows, you know that there is only one Pinball Expo with its direct connection to the history of pinball and both past and current pinball people. There will be more to come from my keyboard, but for now - thank you for reading. Before I go, I want to include a release from Rob Berk on the upcoming Pinball Expo 2018 show.
    Sincerely - Rob Craig

    Dear Friends of Pinball Expo,
    At the conclusion of last year’s 33 rd annual Pinball Expo, and with great
    consideration, I made the decision to dissolve my partnership with Mike Pacak. I felt the energy and vision that I had for the show was waning and that a change was needed for the survival of Pinball Expo. It took several months to work through the details, but I am happy to announce that in March I acquired full ownership, which means we are on schedule for the 34 th annual Pinball Expo, to be held at the Westin in Wheeling, IL, from October 17-21, 2018.

    In the process of planning for a spectacular event, I have secured Dave Fix as the Vendor Hall Chairman, and Rob Craig who will manage our social media plus help us secure games for the free play area. Both have a passion for pinball and will be great additions to our staff!

    My mission now is to fill the Vendor Hall and Game Hall to their capacity. I want the energy and excitement for pinball to be at an all-time high! I am committed to giving each attendee, vendor, and speaker my time and effort so that Pinball Expo will be fun for everyone. I welcome your comments.
    I look forward to seeing friends, old and new, this October!

    Rob Berk, Chairman and Founder

    #2 8 months ago

    Free beer!

    #3 8 months ago

    Free good beer !

    #4 8 months ago

    The banquet the way it is (was) terrible. It has the bad stigma of being a means to keep you held hostage until the hall opens up again watching everyone pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves just to get to the part to watch industry insiders get fleeced for the charity auction is tiring. Now, the auction itself is a great thing and I'm not trying to slight those efforts, and the charity angle in the least. But the whole thing has a stuffy furniture doily approach to it that needs updating.

    I envision something a little more free form, more of like an after party, with a quick to the point news session and game/both of the show announcements are presented. Perhaps roll the stern party into it and make it good quality time with new games and the designers engineers companies that made them possible . This should also be the part where people who went out of their way to support the show by vending and bringing games are thanked (They should get free tickets).

    The auction should be a separate event with more attendance to generate more excitement, like the auction used to be long ago.

    Just some quick thoughts.

    #5 8 months ago

    That will pull in lots of people even non pinball ones.

    #6 8 months ago
    Quoted from CraigC:

    The banquet the way it is (was) terrible. It has the bad stigma of being a means to keep you held hostage until the hall opens up again watching everyone pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves just to get to the part to watch industry insiders get fleeced for the charity auction is tiring. Now, the auction itself is a great thing and I'm not trying to slight those efforts in the least. But the whole thing has a stuffy furniture doily approach to it that needs updating.
    I envision something a little more free form, more of like an after party, with a quick to the point news session and game of the show announcements are presented. Perhaps roll the stern party into it and make it good quality time with new games and the designers engineers companies that made them possible . This should also be the part where people who went out of their way to support the show by vending and bringing games are thanked (They should get free tickets).
    The auction should be a separate event with more attendance to generate more excitement, like the auction used to be long ago.
    Just some quick thoughts.

    Have the Auction Sunday morning to generate more excitement for that day.

    #7 8 months ago

    By Auction, we are talking aboot the Make A Wish (of Northern Illinois) Charity auction where maybe a dozen items are auctioned off such as translights, a business card or desk trinket from the desk of a Bally, Williams or Gottlieb employee that is no longer with us (who was Chicago Coin or Game Plan?), a bottom arch autographed by Centerflank & Rotordave, Backglasses, a restored pin or video game donated by Rob Berk and, until this year, a set of Mike Pacek's Pinball Flyer reference books.

    I don't think having this rather small auction moved and attended by guests who just come to play pins on Saturday morning will help with the donations.

    Remember, the Free Play room has been open during the banquet the past few years. That was Mike's doing by popular demand as Rob wanted to drive up attendance at the Banquet at $80 a head for those that didn't buy the full Expo package.

    #8 8 months ago

    I think it is important for the banquet to be vendor-neutral so that any deserving person can be honored or be the after-dinner speaker without regard to what the banquet sponsor might think.
    .................David Marston

    #9 8 months ago

    Ideally it should be all vendor inclusive but not vendor sponsored. Spooky, JJP, stern, American, ccp, etc. I know that's a bit kumbayah, but all in one place is better than everyone fracturing off into their own after parties. Make it fun, get along, throw out more things from Steve kordek's desk at Williams. No "pinball is going to die and you're all going to hell with me" speeches.

    This isn't "the warriors" It's not that cool.

    #10 8 months ago

    Rob, thanks for this and future updates. I have attended every Expo except one. I guess that's 32 Expo's and I agree with your comments. It have been sad seeing Expo go down hill the last few years. A change needed to be made and I think what resulted is the best possible outcome. I hope you review every aspect of the show. From the tournament, to the banquet, to the arrangement of the rooms, to the logo and art work used, to the charity auction, everything. Ask for input from past attendee's. Learn from other shows. Ask the vendors what would help them put on a great show and increase their revenue. Ask every vendor that has ever been to expo to return or continue to participate. I guess I'm saying, think outside the box. Well I have said a mouth full. But if you can't figure out my opinion on the changes and future shows, I'm 100% in and will do what I can to assist in bringing Pinball Expo back to it's former glory. And to the Pinside members can I humbly say this. Be positive about the show. Like you are about the Texas show. Give the new leadership a chance. If you didn't like something about past Expo's suggest as solution. Be part of the solution not part of the problem.

    My best to everyone out there in pinland. Don Bosworth attendee Pinball Expo 2018.

    #11 8 months ago

    Thanks all for the responses so far. Ask others to join in. I'll be visiting and discussing this thread during every call - so ALL POSTS are read by me. Know that ALL aspects of the show are being analyzed and scrutinized and your input is absolutely mixed into the discussion. I appreciate your thoughts on the banquet. The banquet's appeal has changed from the earlier years when pinball industry personnel were rarely seen. Things have changed and clearly Expo is changing too. Thank you fingersport for repeating one of my mantras, "Be part of the solution not part of the problem." It takes less time to complain, but more time to suggest a solution to a problem. Whichever you decide, I'll be listening.

    #12 8 months ago

    Did someone say free beer?I think some of the success of the TPF is free breakfast and the happy hours at the Embassy.At the very least have cold beer vendors on the floor and lunch trucks outside.
    Anyway good luck Rob, my first pinball show was your last Supershow in Herron Illinois

    10
    #13 8 months ago

    One thing I'd like to see is a much more artistic show shirt design, rather than the crappy block logo with just the year changed. Shirts are a cool souvenir for the show and some shows do a great job of making something cool and unique each year. It'd be nice if Expo did that too.

    #14 8 months ago

    Completely agree. I own 2 TPF shirts but have never been. It's a great way to advertise and make money at the same time.

    #15 8 months ago
    Quoted from romulusx:

    At the very least have cold beer vendors on the floor and lunch trucks outside.

    I'm guessing food trucks would be difficult if not impossible due to all the restaurants in the hotel and adjoining parking lot.

    As much as I love the idea of food trucks, that one-niche industry is oversaturated. Quality has suffered now that every schmuck has a truck. Brewery tap rooms around the Chicago 'burbs often have them on site; nothing to write home about. All the truck food I tried at TPF ranged from mediocre to ice cold.

    #16 8 months ago

    Things I would focus on for next year:

    1. Get commitment for lots of good quality games for the free play area and ensure/incentive enough to make sure they stay through Sunday (past few years have been severely lacking in quality aside form the 2-3 main groups/people that bring lots of high quality stuff and sounds like you have lost many of them already).

    2. Fix the website

    3. Make a reasonable one time fee for the whole show. Your current competition is $40-60 bucks for a whole experience of games/seminars/meeting people.

    4. Make the show welcoming to all and ensure you proactively try and get some of the recently absent vendors back in the show. If you can do this than others will follow.

    5. Ensure you have at least one big announcement if not more as people like this sort of thing.

    6. Figure out a way to Get Pinball Olympics stuff at your show

    7. Partner with PBLife to work together and support them/their efforts. Without them many people would not go to Expo.

    #17 8 months ago

    I agree with most of these suggestions.....I will say the thing I love about Expo over some other shows is the laid back atmosphere. The free play room is separate and usually has the lights off which is just more fun to me....less convention like and more arcade like. Plus you can walk around and drink freely while playing pinball until 4am with a bunch of friends.

    #18 8 months ago

    I’ve noticed a lot more families the last couple years. Including mine. Maybe offer a family package. Sadly I noticed a family of six come and leave at the door because of the expense. Maybe base the family package on four admissions (2+2) and anything above that is free. We need the families, they are literally our future owners and operators. Maybe a kids only room? Not a big one, one the size of the little rooms off the mains.

    #19 8 months ago

    I have done the banquet twice. The first time to hear Nolan Bushnell speak. I really enjoyed his talk. But when Rob Berk's young son got an award, I swore I would never attend another one.

    The next year, David Thiel was getting an award, so I once again attended. I have skipped that last two banquets.

    #20 8 months ago
    Quoted from 85Txaggie:

    But when Rob Berk's young son got an award, I swore I would never attend another one

    I'm curious as to what the award was for.

    #21 8 months ago

    The prices needs to be re-evaluated. Not sure what other shows go for but the MGC is a lot less than Expo.

    #22 8 months ago

    Vendors need to pack the hall and really feel like they are being taken care of. No pens. No chocolate pretzels... Have that stuff somewhere else. You will need to fluff these guys to make it worth their while. GAP should be there every year , fix the P3 row relationship, where is Rob Z?, Put bangerjay in a kissing booth, get creative. So many people make great things, get them to the show.

    Shorten the vendor hall hours, or have a separate section for boutique games from the guys (and gals) who bring palettes of wares who are tired of sitting in a booth with no relief for hours on end and just want to grab something to eat. At TPF security will camp in your both if you need a break or want to step
    away. This is a great idea.

    FFS advertise! Beer mats cost nothing. get them to the barcades with rad art on them. Sell them and shirts/posters/stickers (worth owning) at the shown this is where a real artist needs to be paid. Rob Craig had someone awesome at the super show, steal these ideas!
    Vendors get free shit! They're really not making out like everyone thinks they are.

    Use the loading dock on the back side of the hotel right_ by the hall! Man, loading in games sucks. I would say make it not rain every time also, you know if you can call in favors.

    #23 8 months ago

    Cut down on the vendor hours and/or close the vendor area for a dinner period each day so they can also have a little fun. All work and no play ....

    Expo-Brawl is a fun event, hope it continues.

    Get with local restaurants to set up an expo attendee card or discounts.

    If holding seminars have someone at the door checking for paid attendees.

    #24 8 months ago

    Make the vendor hall bigger, I never understood why the banquest room is bigger than the freeplay hall, needs to be opposite

    Pricing for vendors. I understand you have to charge, and i have no problem with that. But if you get one booth, you get two passes, but if you pay double for two spaces, you only get three passes, why? It makes no sense

    Vendor hours suck, but if you want to sell, you need time, yes it gets long, but we just had friends watch our booth while we walked around, so that should be on the vendors and not an issue with the show organizers

    Incentives on games, Look at MGC with the show bucks, that would be a good model to follow. There is no incentive for people to bring multiple games

    Reward the vendors: There is no way to make everyone happy, so dont try. But maybe when you do the banquet, order a ton of pizzas and drop one off at every vendor booth

    Keep the non pinball gameroom vendors in a separate area, The person selling ink pins had a prime spot compared to other pin related vendors. Maybe have them in rooms down the hall by Rob Anthonys room.

    #25 8 months ago

    There's a catch-22 with Expo:

    The vendor hall has the best games so that's where guests want to be for the after hours stuff. BUT this requires the vendors (already dog-tired from driving there/setting up) to also stay there late watching their booths. That's why they bug out ASAP on Sunday morning, they're beat.

    #26 8 months ago

    The boutique games can be in the small partition section of the room. Late night this can be closed down so everyone, including vendors, can play. If a vendor wants to be up all night they can get booth space there, if not they can do booth space in the big section. This is also where the tricky door that never closes is....

    #27 8 months ago
    Quoted from yancy:

    I'm guessing food trucks would be difficult if not impossible due to all the restaurants in the hotel and adjoining parking lot.
    As much as I love the idea of food trucks, that one-niche industry is oversaturated. Quality has suffered now that every schmuck has a truck. Brewery tap rooms around the Chicago 'burbs often have them on site; nothing to write home about. All the truck food I tried at TPF ranged from mediocre to ice cold.

    We were at TPF in 2015 and the food trucks we used were really good and the bottled beer was ice cold on the floor

    #28 8 months ago

    So many great suggestions of which I agree having visited for 17ish years. Hate to volunteer them without asking but why not pull in some of the New era talent Many now Pinball enthusiasts now follow in the digital age of YouTube etc like the #SDTM guys! Have them do a Live Show unplugged with a live audience! Many including myself find them both informative and funny. Possibly commission them to run an end of year TWIPY type awards ceremony of sorts. That project they created turned into a hit for many and followed by huge numbers. Just suggesting pinball as a whole has a new youth again, we should embrace it and see where it takes the hobby!

    #29 8 months ago

    My companies and I have supported Expo in the past. Last year we decided to take a break away from EXPO, but with this new turn TILT GRAPHICS INC. is considering returning to EXPO.

    4 weeks later
    #30 7 months ago

    To be clear the contract at the Westin was NOT a contractual obligation of Berk. In fact all along he wanted nothing to do with the Westin and I was given the right to do my own show and did not cash his check for the first of there payments until after he announced his new location and dates.. I was going to have show at WESTIN per the contract which had my name on it and pinball expo BUT he Stated to me in writing quotes you can do a show at the westin but I am not BUT then he informed Westin after I cashed check that he was claiming the contract.. he was not stuck with it at all period and I would not have agreed to buyout without me having THE Westin period....His lawyer also in writing stated that BERK had no intention of doing a show at WESTIN lots of curve balls here .. more to come

    25
    #31 7 months ago

    I'd ask you to rewrite that in English, but quite frankly, I don't care at this point.

    -2
    #32 7 months ago

    Sounds like the show is no more. Bring on Texas

    10
    #33 7 months ago
    Quoted from mikepin:

    To be clear the contract at the Westin was NOT a contractual obligation of Berk. In fact all along he wanted nothing to do with the Westin and I was given the right to do my own show and did not cash his check for the first of there payments until after he announced his new location and dates.. I was going to have show at WESTIN per the contract which had my name on it and pinball expo BUT he Stated to me in writing quotes you can do a show at the westin but I am not BUT then he informed Westin after I cashed check that he was claiming the contract.. he was not stuck with it at all period and I would not have agreed to buyout without me having THE Westin period....His lawyer also in writing stated that BERK had no intention of doing a show at WESTIN lots of curve balls here .. more to come

    I'm not sure too many people care about the personal squabbles between you and Rob. I want to attend an Expo with lots of vendors and a good selection of games in the free play area. It has become clear over the years that many previous supporters of Pinball Expo have a beef with you and stopped their support. If Rob can deliver a good Pinball Expo at the Westin, more power to him. Let your lawyers continue to battle this out and neither of you will have anything to show for it.

    For what it's worth, you mention that Rob's lawyer stated he had no intention to run a show at the Westin. Well, people's intentions change. Unless the contract agreement was specifically written that Rob could not run a pinball show at Westin, I think you're screwed.

    1 week later
    #34 6 months ago

    I have text from ROB quotes YOU can do a show at the westin your self I am not.....

    #35 6 months ago

    I was all go for MGC south. I'm torn now.

    Pinfest sure was a great show this year!

    -c

    1 week later
    #36 6 months ago

    Craig, no need to be torn my man. Let's get the Mafia involved! PM me!

    #37 6 months ago

    I noticed the website got a reboot finally! Pinballexpo.net
    Looks like it is ON for October 17-20

    #38 6 months ago
    Quoted from luvthatapex2:

    I noticed the website got a reboot finally! Pinballexpo.net
    Looks like it is ON for October 17-20

    appears no more overnight game room

    #39 6 months ago

    But they are adding arcades this year, rob has wanted a combined show for awhile. Could boost attendance significantly if well promoted. Also admission is 30, I could be wrong, but is that less?

    #40 6 months ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    appears no more overnight game room

    Yeah, but 2:00 AM ain't bad.

    #41 6 months ago
    Quoted from Phat_Jay:

    But they are adding arcades this year, rob has wanted a combined show for awhile. Could boost attendance significantly if well promoted.

    Seems like that is the wrong direction, imo. Niches work. Trying to be all things to all people as a way to boost attendance seems like throwing stuff at the wall, instead of retooling to make the Chicago Pinball Expo the most important pinball show in the world.

    #42 6 months ago

    Ya that call is above my pay grade. Time will tell.

    #43 6 months ago
    Quoted from Bryan_Kelly:

    Yeah, but 2:00 AM ain't bad.

    very true and better than nothing. I just know a few guys that went for the fun factor of playing all night.

    Lets be honest, all that really matters is IF expo can figure out how to become modern age to give paying customers what they want while also enticing the collectors to bring in the good quality and diverse selection of games (since that is a big part of what the community wants).

    Given the potential profitablity and the sheer number of growing and great pinball shows, I hope we start to see even better incentives for bringing games, keeping them running, and keeping them on the floor for specific times.

    #44 6 months ago
    Quoted from Phat_Jay:

    But they are adding arcades this year, rob has wanted a combined show for awhile. Could boost attendance significantly if well promoted. Also admission is 30, I could be wrong, but is that less?

    Not less

    #46 6 months ago

    Interesting. They aren't even trying to pretend like there's any show on Sunday this time. Wonder if the main tourney finals will still be Sunday.

    #47 6 months ago

    No banquet either!!

    #48 6 months ago

    Gotta say, game room closing at 2am really blows. Personally, the biggest redeeming factor Expo had was that the game room was open all night so you could drink and hang with friends. No other expo had this that I was aware of. Not sure I even need the room I booked now.

    #49 6 months ago

    Seminars (/reveals?) would only be Friday and Saturday?

    12
    #50 6 months ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    Lets be honest, all that really matters is IF expo can figure out how to become modern age to give paying customers what they want while also enticing the collectors to bring in the good quality and diverse selection of games (since that is a big part of what the community wants).

    I couldn't agree more. For me, at least, Expo became stale. So much so, I quit going 3 or 4 years ago. The fact that so many of my friends were no longer going, didn't help either. The show just got old. People can blame whoever they want to blame, Mike....Rob....makes no difference. I feel they're both to blame. It was THEIR show.

    I may go back again, but not until I see what becomes of the show. Instead, my wife and I will drive 6 hours to the Pinball Life open house, spend the day there Saturday, then drive 6 hours home on Sunday. And we do this because Terry and Margaret know how to throw a party and that's where all our friends will be.

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