(Topic ID: 142405)

Pinball Expo 2015 recommendations for change


By mikepin

4 years ago



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    #1 4 years ago

    Ok now that I have sorta recovered from EXPO and the head bashing LOL Lets ask about your thoughts on changes . YES over the years I have asked and yes we have made some changes. I do understand the idea of keeping Vendor hall open saturday night . Once again mentioning that there was a Translite stolen from FullThrottle and a lamp shade some time saturday night If those are not returned there will be no over night hours again for vendor hall ever.. So lets hear your thoughts.. mike pacak

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    #2 4 years ago

    Website could use to be updated. Lots of outdated information on there.

    #3 4 years ago

    I can only imagine what some pervert was doing with that lamp.

    #5 4 years ago

    Should be no reason to keep the vendor hall open at all into the late evening, let alone over night. The vendors need time off from manning the booths and to be able to rest easy knowing the vendor area is locked up for the night. Of course the games need the rest as well.

    The expo flipout tourney needs to move from its present location due to the glare and the pinch it creates in the hotel aisle way. Could locate it in the vendor hall or in its own room like the Pinbrawl events were in the years they were run.

    #6 4 years ago

    I can't stand fucking thieves!

    Probably somebody reading this thread too!

    #7 4 years ago

    yes website is real bad Rob and I are not computor people I still record 8 track tapes realy I have a 70 Chevelle that uses them will work on getting someone to update it . unfortunatly dont think there is anyplace else to move tournament too really cant fit into either hall and it has different hours

    #8 4 years ago

    Game selection was awesome last year in the game hall and this year was extremely limited. Hoping for more games.

    #9 4 years ago

    Not sure if this is the lampshade in question, but I found this guy passed out in the lobby bathroom of the Westin at 1:00am,

    lampshade1.jpg

    #10 4 years ago

    Would be nice to have more newer sterns in the free play room. Last year Walking Dead was in there but this year the game of thrones were all in the vendor area. Im surprised stern didn't provide some of their other newer games that are still in prduction.

    19
    #11 4 years ago

    I have a few suggestions for future Pinball Expos. I've been attending Expo since 2004, only missing one year. For full disclosure, my main interests at Expo are the vendor hall, free play area, and Expo Brawl. I thought last year was the best year since I've been attending, but I was pretty disappointed with this year's Expo. I don't intend for any of the suggestions to come off as a personal attack (people always preface with this statement when they're about to say something terrible), but I don't want to avoid the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

    1. The free play room needs to improve the number of quality games that are brought. The Chicago area has to have one of the largest concentrations of pinball machines per capita in the world, it should be a slam dunk that the free play room is stuffed. However, a lot of people just don't like Mike; they have been alienated, jerked around for receiving their rewards, and just generally unappreciated. I would suggest hiring someone to manage the free play room, start to finish, including rewards, advertising, moving equipment, repair, etc. Let a new person be a fresh face for the free play room at Expo. (A big thanks to those that do bring games to Expo; I know hauling a game to a show is a lot of work and generally pain in the ass).

    2. Does Expo have to feel like a huge cash grab? I don't mind paying a daily $25 entrance fee. However, $60 just to listen to seminars? Really??? $50 for a school bus ride to the Stern Factory? I could get a Taxi ride cheaper. If people want to attend the banquet, I'm ok with the extra fee as there is a meal involved. However, daily entrance should at a minimum cover seminars. I don't mind supporting the show, but just be reasonable.

    #12 4 years ago

    I think the website is the biggest issue for me. When I told my brother who isn't a pinball person to check out what time it started and how much it cost, he had a real problem finding that basic information.

    For a long shot suggestion that I understand may not get implemented, I would suggest moving somewhere else. The hotel doesn't seem suited for what you want to do and the space seems limited. There seems to be a lot of options for convention centers in Chicago, surely there's one that would be a better fit. I hate comparing shows but ReplayFX's location looked amazing.

    15
    #13 4 years ago

    personally i am not a fan of the schedule at all. 6pm opening of the vendor hall on friday? closing the vendor hall at 5pm on saturday (yeah, i know it opens back up at 11pm but i am already in bed by then) that is just crazy. if people want to go to the seminars, banquets, tournaments, whatever, that is their choice, but to "funnel" people there by closing down other parts of the of the convention is wrong.

    I had two different clients meet me at expo (one on friday, and one on saturday).

    The client that met me there on friday was disappointed that he drove down and couldn't get in until 6pm for the vendors (yes, he knew the schedule, but he really though there would be more to do). He also left saturday morning and his words were "what is there to stay for? i did the vendor hall last night, i played all the games i wanted to in the free play area, and i don't care about the seminars/banquet."

    The client that came down from northern wisconsin on saturday came in around 10am, walked the vendor hall, played in the free play area, and then left around 4pm. again, his responses were about the same.

    Personally, i have no desire to go to the banquet, but i feel that i have no other real option (although, i did not go).

    I know that the show started out as the "expo" for people in the pinball industry, but times have changed. The industry has shifted. i do not know the numbers (and i would be curious if anyone had them), but i would believe that there are more collectors than operators at this show. The collectors might enjoy the seminars, but the vendor hall is where most of them are (and the tournaments). This is where all the of the "new" games are located. I would suggest having the vendor hall open friday and saturday from 10am-8pm and sunday from 9am-4pm. how many people came back to the vendor hall at 11pm (or whenever)? i talked with a couple of the vendors and they really didn't like stopping at 5pm, just to come back at 11pm.

    From what i could see attendance was down. When i came in Saturday morning there were A LOT of open parking spots in the parking lot. We can all agree that pinball is having a resurgence, and shows like replay fx, texas pinball fest, midwest gaming, and others are having record crowds. what is the difference in chicago (where this should be the largest show)? From what i was hearing, Mike P, was the issue. I do not have any personal experience with mike, but i did see him around the show. He never was really smiling. he just seemed pissed off at the world. I do know Dan from midwest gaming, and while he may be stressed out during the show, he is having a good time. Ed from The Texas Pinball Festival is another one that i have seen around the show and he is approachable and smiling. Mike seems to be (one of) the issues. Maybe it is time to get someone else to take over some of the responsibilities of this show.

    Other shows seem to be outgrowing their space, while Expo seems to have too much (there were lots of open spaces in the free play area and in the vendor hall). Also, having the tournament right in the front hall seems to be an area of congestion. Is there no other place to do that? I attended a couple of seminars and none of them were even close to being full. Couldn't the tournaments be moved into one of those rooms?

    Mike, you asked for suggestions and this is what i have. I do not know you personally, but i every now and then you have to sit back and look at the show from a different point of view. The last thing that really bothered me was when i got home and saw the Rob Anthony thread about not being able to come back. I do not know the details about what happened (and will leave the discussion for the other thread), but if any of that is true the i can tell you for a fact that i would never want to be a vendor with you. It takes a lot of energy to be a vendor at a show. You are on your feet for 10-12 hours a day, dealing with people that are fanatical about pinball. While i love the enthusiasm, it is sometime stressful. If after all of that i was told by an event organizer that i that i was not allowed back, i wouldn't even fight about it. Expo is the show that i always went to as a spectator and not as a vendor. Personally i am going to find another show to be a spectator at as i feel there is too much resentment from the hotel and the organizers (mike) to really have a good time.

    These are my personal feelings on this matter. I do not expect everyone to agree with them, but this is how i feel. You asked for thoughts and possible changes, and i feel that is what i have given you.

    #14 4 years ago

    I'd consider posting pin-etiquette rules of one game per turn, etc.

    #15 4 years ago
    Quoted from Rick432:

    I'd consider posting pin-etiquette rules of one game per turn, etc.

    It was alarming how many folks didn't follow these rules. By far the most irritating is leaving a game unfinished. You have to drain the balls and when someone else comes up and you are starting a new game, it appears that you are violating the "one game per turn" rule.

    I think etiquette was far worse this year, but I also think that was a function of far fewer games to play.

    #16 4 years ago
    Quoted from robotron911:

    By far the most irritating is leaving a game unfinished

    People do this because game they started has an issue & they just say f it, and walk away.

    #17 4 years ago

    Change the Banquet to a brunch on Thursday, make sure you bring Rob Anthony back next year. Try to take a couple deep breathes and calm yourself before barking at people. Work on getting more games to the free play hall.... maybe change your policy of if you are bringing a game for free play but have it listed for sale that you don't get a free entry pass for each day it's there. What if the machine doesn't sell? That person still brought it to expo but didn't get in for free? Or if that really isn't policy then update your website.

    #18 4 years ago

    I posted idea in the other threads. Please read them there. Summary:

    Vendor hours need to be changed. Locking down the vendor hall during prime time is probably the reason that that stuff got stolen. There was more valuable stuff there besides a translite and lamp shade, so probably just a normal person pissed they couldn't get in after paying.

    Promotion is obviously bad and not capitalizing on the popularity of barcades.

    Incentives for people to bring more games.

    -c

    #19 4 years ago
    Quoted from Jetzxi:

    Change the Banquet to a brunch on Thursday, make sure you bring Rob Anthony back next year. Try to take a couple deep breathes and calm yourself before barking at people. Work on getting more games to the free play hall.... maybe change your policy of if you are bringing a game for free play but have it listed for sale that you don't get a free entry pass for each day it's there. What if the machine doesn't sell? That person still brought it to expo but didn't get in for free? Or if that really isn't policy then update your website.

    Maybe don't give out wrist bands for games. Give out 1 day vouchers. Each day the games need to be registered and cards collected once the game leaves? The bad side of this is that it's another reason for people to not bring games.

    All games are really for sale for the right price posted or not.

    #20 4 years ago
    Quoted from mikepin:

    yes website is real bad Rob and I are not computor people I still record 8 track tapes realy I have a 70 Chevelle that uses them will work on getting someone to update it . unfortunatly dont think there is anyplace else to move tournament too really cant fit into either hall and it has different hours

    How about offering someone tickets/ merchandise / something in exchange for helping you update your website? I'm sure there's some talented Web folks on pinside...

    #21 4 years ago

    The organizers of Expo need to determine what type of show it is they want. To post a thread like this is a waste of time until the goal of the show is set. Is it to be a show based on vednors and seminars? Is it to be soley to make money? Is it to make it the best damn pinball show on the planet?

    Honestly, this $hit isn't hard although all of the melodrama sure seems like it is. Let's be honest, it isn't like you're curing cancer or sending someone to Mars. Think of what you what show you want to have, set some goals and then ask for input. I don't think I"ve ever seen what the purpose of Expo is stated.

    #22 4 years ago

    Closer to PA. I know it's not possible, but I wish.

    #23 4 years ago
    Quoted from tslayer71:

    How about offering someone tickets/ merchandise / something in exchange for helping you update your website? I'm sure there's some talented Web folks on pinside...

    Exactly. I believe if the showrunners wanted enthusiastic and willing helpers, organize with local pinball leagues. Maybe look into some kind of partnership with barcades for advertising and bringing games to Expo. The pinball scene is so rich around Chicago and the neighboring states that it makes sense to utilize that resource.

    #24 4 years ago

    The vendor hall hours on Saturday closing at 5pm and opening at 11pm just doesn't work for me. The suggestion in this thread for Fri and Sat to be open from 10am to 8pm would work best for this show.

    Sunday seems like the show is closed down as I have noticed being their on Sunday and from most people on pinside telling people NOT to attend on Sunday. Please consider removing Sunday from the program and list it as a tear down day for the show instead.

    Free Play room had a poor showing of pins for this year. Find a way to encourage people to bring their pins by having more prizes($) for pins in multiple different categories that are judged for best condition and played well. Keep free play hours open as long as possible Thurs, Fri and Sat. Eliminate the bring a pin get in for free and put money toward more prizes($) to encourage people to bring their best quality games or more pins to increase their opportunity to earn a prize.

    #25 4 years ago

    I have a suggestion.

    Stop trying to do it all yourself. Incorporate others to help. Many hands make light work.

    Get people to volunteer.
    Everyone wants more games there.

    Get a volunteer to put the call out to local pinheads to bring their games.

    If you are having trouble with the hotel, start looking for a new venue. Money talks.
    If the Westin does not want all the money expo brings then I'm sure there are many Chicago area hotels that would love to have have expo and all the money it brings. Just some ideas.

    #26 4 years ago
    Quoted from CraigC:

    All games are really for sale for the right price posted or not.

    Not true!! I have had offers on several of my games, but they are not for sale...

    Phoebe

    24
    #27 4 years ago

    LONG post incoming. Mike, please do read it all. I really want Expo to continue to be a success

    Three bits of background that are important:

    1) Due to life, I haven't been able to get down to Expo for the past two or three years. I blame my kids and my job changing (I used to work 20 minutes away from Expo). Take this with an appropriate grain of salt.

    2) I have been attending Expo more on than off since 2001.

    3) I am one of the main organizers of the Midwest Gaming Classic, so while I don't have experience running Expo, I do know some stuff about shows.

    With that all said...

    First, I would know that no suggestion that you get is going to be perfect. You run an industry show, and you're asking for opinions on a hobby site. That isn't a bad thing, but Expo's uniqueness comes from the fact that it is THE industry show, not just another show. If Mike handed the reins of Expo to me right now, the first thing that I would do is to play up the things that Expo does that other shows simply can't do because of that industry tie. (For the record, he isn't giving me the reins nor do I want them, just speaking hypothetically...). Make it REALLY clear that the main goal of the show is to be an industry show, and that the hobby side of it is accepted and welcomed, but it isn't the main goal.

    Let's face it - Expo is where announcements happen. The last two years, we had news of the Medieval Madness remake and huge Big Lebowski stuff come out of Expo. Stern carts in their first ever created LE machines for the first time to let people play them like GOT this year. That stuff is amazing, and *does not* happen at any other show. The "new games" showcase stuff is ridiculously awesome. The MGC can't compete with that stuff at all, nor would I even try.

    Along with that, the seminars and stuff like that are amazing. I wish I had a job that would allow me to just go and listen to people for the majority of the days. While some of those aren't overly well attended, the fact is that Expo is THE place to go for seminars. Again, if I had the reins, I would try to increase these even further.

    Next, I would talk with the vendors and ask them what they think their best hours are. Take it as a poll, give them some options, and then see what they say. Having a spot on the Expo floor should be a prestigious thing for a vendor - a real "I made it!" sort of moment. Along with that, perhaps allow vendors to use the Pinball Expo name in their own promotional materials - "My Pinball Company - A Pinball Expo Vendor 2015". Do something like that, and they now have the chance to show off their products to the people who are covering the announcements and seminars media-wise for more promotion.

    The game hall, I wouldn't change too much. I know there were less games, but I think that with a bit of different promotion (I'll get to that in a moment), what it is isn't the end of the world. If you don't already though, track the hours that people are in there.

    Finally, and this is the big one - promotion. Stop promoting Expo as the biggest or the best. Expo is a GREAT show, but depending on what measurement you use, it is no longer the biggest or best in a variety of ways. And I think that a lot of people that go have an expectation because they went to a different show first - be it Texas, the VFW show, Allentown, the MGC or whatever - and because every show is wildly different, and the way that promotion is done is that Pinball Expo is the biggest and best, it leaves a lot of room for disappointment.

    Instead, promote Pinball Expo as the Industry Show that allows hobbyists to come in and meet so many people involved in the industry, see the workings of it, and so on. Advertise that you "even include" a game hall, NOT that it is the number one feature, and that it is open basically all the time. Let people who have never been be pleasantly surprised by what it is, and not disappointed by what it isn't.

    Continuing with that thought, make sure to change how things are presented on the site. What is left on Sunday is not much, and anyone showing up on the Sunday would be sorely disappointed in the show. Say that it ends on Saturday night. But don't let people think that Sunday is going to be something awesome when it isn't.

    If you do this, those who show up next year to see Pat's big JJP announcement (which I'm ultra excited for ALREADY), to meet the people in the industry (which has always been my favorite part of the show) and to see the new stuff won't have preconceived notions that you're going to have 1000 games there or something.

    Along with the above, I also urge you to not make too drastic of a change. Some people seem to think that Expo is broken. It's not - it just is now in the weird world of a lot of hobbyist shows that have gone in other directions and grew in different ways. If you start making drastic changes to the show, it will greatly impact what the show is, and alienate the people (and potentially the industry) that already come to the show and make it what it is. You are in a spot where you can't take major steps because something major potentially ends with you spending tons of money and having even less to show for it.

    The Midwest Gaming Classic that I run about an hour and a half north of you is why I say this. This past year, we drew 10,000 people. We're in a situation where we have to do a lot of weird stuff to find anywhere that has space for us, and every year I have a lot of people who complain that we're doing it wrong because we have too many people there, or we attached a tent to the building instead of finding a bigger space (for the record, of the two bigger spaces, they want about a quarter of a million to run our electrical, which is impossible), and so on. We grew as a hobbyist trade show, where individuals and small groups involved with the hobby set up a lot of displays in our rooms. In our case, if we fling open our doors on Saturday and no one shows up, we will lose tens of thousands of dollars. We're completely reliant on a huge attendance turn out to be able to keep our show in motion, and we're also to an extent reliant on show organizers and volunteers that are absolutely okay with not making much, if any money. In 15 years of running our show, we've barely turned a profit because we tend to dump all the money we make one year into the following year.

    If you take the MGC business plan, just for instance, and say "all right, Expo is becoming this next year", Expo will be dead. It doesn't matter if you have 500 games show up or 15, shows are made and grow in certain ways for a reason. I'd suggest next year focusing on the promotion and getting the vendors to be really happy about the hours, whatever they may be, and then continue to make incremental steps each year to change it. Don't lose your identity and do something crazy like next year, but chart out a plan for a few years and do a step or two each year. It's what we've continued to do with the MGC, and it's worked so far to not *quite* bankrupt us.

    Finally (for real), remember that the *industry* side of things, while better than it has been, is VERY well represented at Expo still and probably won't get too much bigger. Perhaps see if you can do something like get Stern to bring out a few more of their more recent games (I don't know what was there, but it would be cool for instance to have one of each model currently in production on the show floor - probably really good for sales too, whether it's an operator there or a collector!), and doing the same with JJP, Spooky, and whomever else has a game in hand to show off. You can only get those groups to do so much, but they are big.

    You might, at the end of it, want to do a thing where people vote each day on which company or vendor had the best booth. Hand out "Best New Vendor," "Best Company Display," etc type awards and even send plaques to the companies. Imagine how motivating it might be for Jersey Jack if he finds out Stern won best display this year, etc. Work with PinGame Journal or the new GameRoom Magazine to publish and promote those winners as a special thing. I'd love, even if I can't attend again next year thanks to what will be a 6 and 1 year old at home, to be able to read and see a bunch of pictures about the great Stern booth, or the new booth for Color DMD, or whatever that really looked great. And some of those looked AMAZING.

    You have something very special to promote that I can NEVER compete with because of your history. Promote the hell out of it, and keep helping get new pinball stuff out there. You don't have to be the best to every collector (no one is!), so long as you are the best in the industry world, you have a niche that no one else can ever take away from you.

    I truly hope to see you at the MGC this year You may not remember this, but my last trip down to Expo three or four years ago you spent like 10 minutes Wednesday night talking to me when you heard I was in charge of MGC and I introduced myself, and you were great. You gave me some great ideas to think about with the MGC in that 10 minutes, and actually helped me figure some stuff out. Because of the nature of our conversation, there really wasn't anything for me to add (we were mostly talking location, my situation and yours are vastly different), and I wished I could return the favor. I hope the above does in some way.

    #28 4 years ago

    Anyone have cliff notes on goat dans post?

    #29 4 years ago
    Quoted from centerflank:

    Anyone have cliff notes on goat dans post?

    I like Expo. Tweak how you promote it. Play up industry and vendors more. No one else can like you. Don't go crazy with changes and lose the identity of the show.

    ...but with actual details and whatnot.

    #30 4 years ago
    Quoted from goatdan:

    I like Expo. Tweak how you promote it. Play up industry and vendors more. No one else can like you. Don't go crazy with changes and lose the identity of the show.
    ...but with actual details and whatnot.

    Thank you!

    #31 4 years ago
    Quoted from Butterflygirl24:

    Not true!! I have had offers on several of my games, but they are not for sale...
    Phoebe

    There's a number where you would sell it. It may not be a reasonable number, I've turned down some crazy cash for restored games, but there's always a magic number where I would have said yes.

    #32 4 years ago
    Quoted from flyhigh:

    Please consider removing Sunday from the program and list it as a tear down day for the show instead.

    I agree that Sunday should not be a show day. There is nothing left by 10AM and everyone is packing up and leaving. Maybe have a closing party for the people that bring games after load out.

    #33 4 years ago

    Mike,

    A lot of people seemed to be down on the game turnout in the free play area this year, though the number of overall games at the show for play was pretty solid. The perception of the small number of games was due to two factors:

    (1) The free play room space grew last year when the games were moved from the rear of the vendor hall to the former seminar area. This year, the number of games were down to former levels and made the larger space feel empty.

    (2) The number of games for free play in the vendor hall has grown significantly over the last few years, with expanded booths by all the game vendors (Stern, Jersey Jack, Heighway, CGC/Planetary, Dutch Pinball, and Multimorphic). Then add in the project games for P-ROC and FAST, your and Rob's games, and the games we brought in for our booth this year. It's grown to the point where the vendor hall competes with the dedicated free-play area.

    Some other shows like Texas combine the space and the perception is one of a more unified show with a larger number of free games to play. That's lost when the space is divided into two distinct functional areas. My suggestion to Rob at the show was that you consider trying to reallocate the space to better merge the vendor and free-play areas. This could still be done in two rooms but with a mix of vendors and free-play games in both areas. The key would be to have highlight attractions in both rooms.

    I realize this creates new challenges for dealing with the banquet and the Pinbrawl tournament, but it might be worth some brainstorming to see if it can be made to work. I think the end result could be a more cohesive show where attendees see the show more in it's totality than broken down into individual parts.

    Randy

    20
    #34 4 years ago

    After coming to the show for a number of years, it was a down year Mike. I sincerely appreciate your efforts and passion to keep Expo going. Some suggestions I sincerely hope you consider:

    1. Hire Jay to bring the Pinball Olympics to Expo. Seriously consider this. I would dedicate a section of the free play area for it. Let them charge a few bucks extra like a miniature golf course - and keep the profits or donate to whomever they want. And I would pay movers to help them. Jay, Scott and gang have some truly tremendous ideas and they are fun, fun, fun. Fun is what is needed at Expo. This should be top of your list for next year.

    2. The difference between PBL and Expo as many people talked about - PBL party was fun with music, drinks, lasers, smoke machine, Lionman!!!, Son of Svengoolie and ray guns that picked you up and shook you like a dog (ok, I went too far on that last one). PBL felt like a party and Expo felt like an old mans convention. The only party feel at Expo was thanks to Stern. Have the banquet for tradition if you must, but you should throw a real party with DJ, pinball, and an open or cash bar instead of just waiting for Stern's 2 hour launch party (which is nice btw). Expo should be a party especially with people coming in from all over the world to share in the joy of pinball. A banquet doesn't cut it. Every night should be a small party, with Saturday night being the big bang farewell party.

    3. The website as mentioned before needs help. Many talented people on pinside - offer something and they'll do it on the cheap. You have some amazing products in your booth each year - barter it out.

    4. Survey your vendors and figure out best vendor hall hours based on their past years sales. I'm honestly surprised the hours open is still in question after all these years.

    5. Seminars are boring. Seems like same topics every year. Only interesting ones are Spooky, JJP, Stern, Heighway, Dutch etc as people hope to learn of an announcement or see a sneak peak. Ask people what seminars they want. I would also set up a panel with reps from top companies and discuss controversial trending topics. Every industry does this - not sure why we don't have this at a pinball show. Designer panel, artist panel - they do this at comicon even. Spice it up a bit.

    6. Lanyards. No offense but I think its crap that GEX and Mezel mods (who are kind of enough to print pinside name lanyards) are doing this on the side and not Expo. First, it's awesome to see the name of someone on pinside or RGP and walk up to them and strike a conversation because we've chatted online. I missed many people this year I would have liked to say hi in person to because I had no clue who they were without a name tag. Many of us in the hallways said the single best thing about Expo - even if it was a disappointment this year - is the best show for meeting up with people in the hobby from all over the world. People come back to reacquaint with long time friends and new ones made online. See party mention above. Lanyards with real names, online handles, avatar and home state make so much sense.

    7. The free play hall the MGC and Texas show guys have shared so many great suggestions in previous threads you've asked for ideas and unfortunately it seems to be ignored. From hiring movers to help local collectors get their games to the hall, to private party for only those who bring a game, to better incentives. You have the suggestions - you just have to be willing to implement a few of them. It may cut into your profit, but overall your show will improve.

    #35 4 years ago
    Quoted from badbilly27:

    1. Hire Jay to bring the Pinball Olympics to Expo. Seriously consider this. I would dedicate a section of the free play area for it.

    TRUTH!

    Edit----Id donate time to help Banger transport his magical contraptions.

    #36 4 years ago
    Quoted from badbilly27:

    6. Lanyards. No offense but I think its crap that GEX and Mezel mods (who are kind of enough to print pinside name lanyards) are doing this on the side and not Expo. First, it's awesome to see the name of someone on pinside or RGP and walk up to them and strike a conversation because we've chatted online. I missed many people this year I would have liked to say hi in person to because I had no clue who they were without a name tag. Many of us in the hallways said the single best thing about Expo - even if it was a disappointment this year - is the best show for meeting up with people in the hobby from all over the world. People come back to reacquaint with long time friends and new ones made online. See party mention above. Lanyards with real names, online handles, Avatar and home state make so much sense.

    Folks who pre-register get lanyards, also, if you ask the registration desk they have some blanks you can fill out.

    Andrew

    #37 4 years ago
    Quoted from Dmod:

    My suggestion to Rob at the show was that you consider trying to reallocate the space to better merge the vendor and free-play areas.

    Trouble is, this would cause us to close the free play space when the hall closes... One of the cool things about expo and unlike most other shows is the free play room is available 24/7 from Friday afternoon until Sunday at pack up.

    Now if a vendor wanted to put games in the free play space... We have a few vendors who already do it.

    Andrew

    #38 4 years ago
    Quoted from goatdan:

    LONG post incoming. Mike, please do read it all. I really want Expo to continue to be a success
    Three bits of background that are important:
    1) Due to life, I haven't been able to get down to Expo for the past two or three years. I blame my kids and my job changing (I used to work 20 minutes away from Expo). Take this with an appropriate grain of salt.
    2) I have been attending Expo more on than off since 2001.

    I truly hope to see you at the MGC this year You may not remember this, but my last trip down to Expo three or four years ago you spent like 10 minutes Wednesday night talking to me when you heard I was in charge of MGC and I introduced myself, and you were great. You gave me some great ideas to think about with the MGC in that 10 minutes, and actually helped me figure some stuff out. Because of the nature of our conversation, there really wasn't anything for me to add (we were mostly talking location, my situation and yours are vastly different), and I wished I could return the favor. I hope the above does in some way.

    Hopefully you will make it to expo again soon!

    Andrew

    -2
    #39 4 years ago

    Hate to say this guys but using Expo as the place to make a big announcement is pointless now. Why spend the money, resources, time getting there when you could just get ahead of the show with some awesome content reveal. You'd be the talk of the show without even being there.

    That being said expo can survive and get better and the suggestions people have made are all spot on.

    One point I'll add is this: I was at pinball expo, woke up Friday morning to play and had to wait until noon to play anything.

    I agree that the show tries to do 10 things at once. What they should do is take a page from the autoshows and make all announcement / reveals happen on the same day. Should be Thursday. Then the rest of the show is spent letting fans see / play the news.

    #40 4 years ago

    My biggest suggestion is to REMOVE THE FREE PLAY HALL FROM YOUR AUTHORITY.

    This is the harsh reality in 2 parts ... Many people do not like supporting someone that has yelled at them and their friends in the past or recently. Many people are not interested in bring ing games to free play area because really all they are doing is helping increase profit for the promoters whom they do not like (because they yell at people and treat them like children).

    You have started down this already but I suggest the next step. You obviously have too much on your hand to make everything better so focus where you are good, the vendor hall and seminars with industry.

    Second reason to split off the free play area is it allows that group to cater to the people that now come to "the BEST industry show" with a main reason of playing games.

    My suggestion is 100% removal of free play from your business model.
    Step 1: find someone willing to take this area over
    Step 2: let them do all the PR and relations with the collector community
    Step 3: Set a REASONABLE price for the free play room and charge the person running it that amount. By reasonable, I mean exactly what the hotel charges you for that space. You still provide all the infrastructure like you have up till now (electric, etc...) You should remove the idea of straight line profit from the freeplay area. Freeplay area is a COST for your business model and OK to be a loss leader as its goal for you should be to bring in wallets
    Step 4: they sell their own wristbands and provide their own security at the door
    Step 5: They do what they want to make it a success. This includes setting their own hours, working with brawl on timing, their own incentive structure for games, etc...

    My suggestion for whomever takes on the task of running the free play area is make all costs transparent and give ALL profits to charity (minus a small payment for you as token of your thanks and help). Get the community behind you!

    I can assure you that if you make the freeplay area under the control of someone else and they run it for charity rather than for profit, then you will personally make even more money in coming years! (or atleast you will have the chance to make more money and even more people will come for the freeplay hall and likely pay for the vendor hall and seminars). Game count and quality can go up which will results in more heads for freeplay, and hence more bleed over of people that will also pay for the rest of the expo experience.

    Also, whomever does the free play area... GET the OLYMPICS onsite!!!

    #41 4 years ago
    Quoted from goatdan:

    LONG post incoming. Mike, please do read it all. I really want Expo to continue to be a success
    Three bits of background that are important:
    1) Due to life, I haven't been able to get down to Expo for the past two or three years. I blame my kids and my job changing (I used to work 20 minutes away from Expo). Take this with an appropriate grain of salt.
    2) I have been attending Expo more on than off since 2001.
    3) I am one of the main organizers of the Midwest Gaming Classic, so while I don't have experience running Expo, I do know some stuff about shows.
    With that all said...
    First, I would know that no suggestion that you get is going to be perfect. You run an industry show, and you're asking for opinions on a hobby site. That isn't a bad thing, but Expo's uniqueness comes from the fact that it is THE industry show, not just another show. If Mike handed the reins of Expo to me right now, the first thing that I would do is to play up the things that Expo does that other shows simply can't do because of that industry tie. (For the record, he isn't giving me the reins nor do I want them, just speaking hypothetically...). Make it REALLY clear that the main goal of the show is to be an industry show, and that the hobby side of it is accepted and welcomed, but it isn't the main goal.
    Let's face it - Expo is where announcements happen. The last two years, we had news of the Medieval Madness remake and huge Big Lebowski stuff come out of Expo. Stern carts in their first ever created LE machines for the first time to let people play them like GOT this year. That stuff is amazing, and *does not* happen at any other show. The "new games" showcase stuff is ridiculously awesome. The MGC can't compete with that stuff at all, nor would I even try.
    Along with that, the seminars and stuff like that are amazing. I wish I had a job that would allow me to just go and listen to people for the majority of the days. While some of those aren't overly well attended, the fact is that Expo is THE place to go for seminars. Again, if I had the reins, I would try to increase these even further.
    Next, I would talk with the vendors and ask them what they think their best hours are. Take it as a poll, give them some options, and then see what they say. Having a spot on the Expo floor should be a prestigious thing for a vendor - a real "I made it!" sort of moment. Along with that, perhaps allow vendors to use the Pinball Expo name in their own promotional materials - "My Pinball Company - A Pinball Expo Vendor 2015". Do something like that, and they now have the chance to show off their products to the people who are covering the announcements and seminars media-wise for more promotion.
    The game hall, I wouldn't change too much. I know there were less games, but I think that with a bit of different promotion (I'll get to that in a moment), what it is isn't the end of the world. If you don't already though, track the hours that people are in there.
    Finally, and this is the big one - promotion. Stop promoting Expo as the biggest or the best. Expo is a GREAT show, but depending on what measurement you use, it is no longer the biggest or best in a variety of ways. And I think that a lot of people that go have an expectation because they went to a different show first - be it Texas, the VFW show, Allentown, the MGC or whatever - and because every show is wildly different, and the way that promotion is done is that Pinball Expo is the biggest and best, it leaves a lot of room for disappointment.
    Instead, promote Pinball Expo as the Industry Show that allows hobbyists to come in and meet so many people involved in the industry, see the workings of it, and so on. Advertise that you "even include" a game hall, NOT that it is the number one feature, and that it is open basically all the time. Let people who have never been be pleasantly surprised by what it is, and not disappointed by what it isn't.
    Continuing with that thought, make sure to change how things are presented on the site. What is left on Sunday is not much, and anyone showing up on the Sunday would be sorely disappointed in the show. Say that it ends on Saturday night. But don't let people think that Sunday is going to be something awesome when it isn't.
    If you do this, those who show up next year to see Pat's big JJP announcement (which I'm ultra excited for ALREADY), to meet the people in the industry (which has always been my favorite part of the show) and to see the new stuff won't have preconceived notions that you're going to have 1000 games there or something.
    Along with the above, I also urge you to not make too drastic of a change. Some people seem to think that Expo is broken. It's not - it just is now in the weird world of a lot of hobbyist shows that have gone in other directions and grew in different ways. If you start making drastic changes to the show, it will greatly impact what the show is, and alienate the people (and potentially the industry) that already come to the show and make it what it is. You are in a spot where you can't take major steps because something major potentially ends with you spending tons of money and having even less to show for it.
    The Midwest Gaming Classic that I run about an hour and a half north of you is why I say this. This past year, we drew 10,000 people. We're in a situation where we have to do a lot of weird stuff to find anywhere that has space for us, and every year I have a lot of people who complain that we're doing it wrong because we have too many people there, or we attached a tent to the building instead of finding a bigger space (for the record, of the two bigger spaces, they want about a quarter of a million to run our electrical, which is impossible), and so on. We grew as a hobbyist trade show, where individuals and small groups involved with the hobby set up a lot of displays in our rooms. In our case, if we fling open our doors on Saturday and no one shows up, we will lose tens of thousands of dollars. We're completely reliant on a huge attendance turn out to be able to keep our show in motion, and we're also to an extent reliant on show organizers and volunteers that are absolutely okay with not making much, if any money. In 15 years of running our show, we've barely turned a profit because we tend to dump all the money we make one year into the following year.
    If you take the MGC business plan, just for instance, and say "all right, Expo is becoming this next year", Expo will be dead. It doesn't matter if you have 500 games show up or 15, shows are made and grow in certain ways for a reason. I'd suggest next year focusing on the promotion and getting the vendors to be really happy about the hours, whatever they may be, and then continue to make incremental steps each year to change it. Don't lose your identity and do something crazy like next year, but chart out a plan for a few years and do a step or two each year. It's what we've continued to do with the MGC, and it's worked so far to not *quite* bankrupt us.
    Finally (for real), remember that the *industry* side of things, while better than it has been, is VERY well represented at Expo still and probably won't get too much bigger. Perhaps see if you can do something like get Stern to bring out a few more of their more recent games (I don't know what was there, but it would be cool for instance to have one of each model currently in production on the show floor - probably really good for sales too, whether it's an operator there or a collector!), and doing the same with JJP, Spooky, and whomever else has a game in hand to show off. You can only get those groups to do so much, but they are big.
    You might, at the end of it, want to do a thing where people vote each day on which company or vendor had the best booth. Hand out "Best New Vendor," "Best Company Display," etc type awards and even send plaques to the companies. Imagine how motivating it might be for Jersey Jack if he finds out Stern won best display this year, etc. Work with PinGame Journal or the new GameRoom Magazine to publish and promote those winners as a special thing. I'd love, even if I can't attend again next year thanks to what will be a 6 and 1 year old at home, to be able to read and see a bunch of pictures about the great Stern booth, or the new booth for Color DMD, or whatever that really looked great. And some of those looked AMAZING.
    You have something very special to promote that I can NEVER compete with because of your history. Promote the hell out of it, and keep helping get new pinball stuff out there. You don't have to be the best to every collector (no one is!), so long as you are the best in the industry world, you have a niche that no one else can ever take away from you.
    I truly hope to see you at the MGC this year You may not remember this, but my last trip down to Expo three or four years ago you spent like 10 minutes Wednesday night talking to me when you heard I was in charge of MGC and I introduced myself, and you were great. You gave me some great ideas to think about with the MGC in that 10 minutes, and actually helped me figure some stuff out. Because of the nature of our conversation, there really wasn't anything for me to add (we were mostly talking location, my situation and yours are vastly different), and I wished I could return the favor. I hope the above does in some way.

    image.png

    #42 4 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    My biggest suggestion is to REMOVE THE FREE PLAY HALL FROM YOUR AUTHORITY.
    This is the harsh reality in 2 parts ... Many people do not like supporting someone that has yelled at them and their friends in the past or recently. Many people are not interested in bring ing games to free play area because really all they are doing is helping increase profit for the promoters whom they do not like (because they yell at people and treat them like children).
    You have started down this already but I suggest the next step. You obviously have too much on your hand to make everything better so focus where you are good, the vendor hall and seminars with industry.
    Second reason to split off the free play area is it allows that group to cater to the people that now come to "the BEST industry show" with a main reason of playing games.
    My suggestion is 100% removal of free play from your business model.
    Step 1: find someone willing to take this area over
    Step 2: let them do all the PR and relations with the collector community
    Step 3: Set a REASONABLE price for the free play room and charge the person running it that amount. By reasonable, I mean exactly what the hotel charges you for that space. You still provide all the infrastructure like you have up till now (electric, etc...) You should remove the idea of straight line profit from the freeplay area. Freeplay area is a COST for your business model and OK to be a loss leader as its goal for you should be to bring in wallets
    Step 4: they sell their own wristbands and provide their own security at the door
    Step 5: They do what they want to make it a success. This includes setting their own hours, working with brawl on timing, their own incentive structure for games, etc...
    My suggestion for whomever takes on the task of running the free play area is make all costs transparent and give ALL profits to charity (minus a small payment for you as token of your thanks and help). Get the community behind you!
    I can assure you that if you make the freeplay area under the control of someone else and they run it for charity rather than for profit, then you will personally make even more money in coming years! (or atleast you will have the chance to make more money and even more people will come for the freeplay hall and likely pay for the vendor hall and seminars). Game count and quality can go up which will results in more heads for freeplay, and hence more bleed over of people that will also pay for the rest of the expo experience.
    Also, whomever does the free play area... GET the OLYMPICS onsite!!!

    So what your suggestion is to make the FreePlay area another paid attraction to expo?

    #43 4 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    My suggestion for whomever takes on the task of running the free play area is make all costs transparent and give ALL profits to charity (minus a small payment for you as token of your thanks and help). Get the community behind you!

    Why are you so hellbent against Mike making any money? This personal hatred for Mike (and it can be nothing else because you harp on it SO MUCH) makes you look very petty. "Stripping Mike of any potential profit" is not how to make Expo bigger or better. Give it a rest; this is like the fourth variation of "I can't stand the fact Mike profits from Expo" post you've made since the show. Broken record.

    #44 4 years ago
    Quoted from TomGWI:

    So what your suggestion is to make the FreePlay area another paid attraction to expo?

    It already is from what I can tell. Distinct subgroup of people coming mainly to play in freeplay hall. That is also the largest growing and incoming group to the hobby (Chicagoland has 5? barcades now). It is not hard to make free play separate like the seminars already are.

    #45 4 years ago

    Despite many negative comments, kudos to you for taking time to get feedback in a very public way.

    A few brief observations from the feedback.

    1. Price too high for what the show provides.
    2. Not enough games.
    3. Less than optimal hours on some areas. This point is repeated again and again only to be answered by you as "no that's wrong"
    4. Some general bad blood / poor communication issues over many years has resulted in a segment of the local community not supporting the show / host Mike.
    5. Strong desire from the community to have someone other than Mike be the floor manager. I.E. A more organized volunteer staff.

    #46 4 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    It already is from what I can tell. Distinct subgroup of people coming mainly to play in freeplay hall. That is also the largest growing and incoming group to the hobby (Chicagoland has 5? barcades now). It is not hard to make free play separate like the seminars already are.

    So now you'll have to pay for a freeplay area that can't fill the room.

    Great Idea!

    #47 4 years ago
    Quoted from metallik:

    Why are you so hellbent against Mike making any money? This personal hatred for Mike (and it can be nothing else because you harp on it SO MUCH) makes you look very petty. "Stripping Mike of any potential profit" is not how to make Expo bigger or better. Give it a rest; this is like the fourth variation of "I can't stand the fact Mike profits from Expo" post you've made since the show. Broken record.

    You are being extremely shortsighted and fully ignoring the point I made because of your hatred for me. Ironic actually!

    What I am suggesting is a way to make MORE money for Mike, not less. Primary goal is to make free play amazing again. Latent effect is more cash for Mike from other sales.

    This is the reality as I see it:
    -A good free play area brings in people
    -The free play area at this time is largely done on the backs of a few people or small groups that love to help out. Remove Phoebe and Chris and the free play room from this year would have been vastly different. That is a risk and very scary if this is a business for you.
    -Chicagoland has likely the highest density of great playing games in amazing collections in the world. These games not coming in to freeplay should be a HUGE wake up call for missed opportunity.
    -#1 complaint of this years expo was the decrease in # and quality of free play. If you dont get in front of this then the WHOLE business model is in trouble.
    -What is the best way to get more games to expo? (Keep in mind more games = more people = more money spent = Mike gets rich. Yeah Mike!) The best way IME is to do it for charity and get the community behind you in full and crazy support!

    #48 4 years ago
    Quoted from TomGWI:

    So now you'll have to pay for a freeplay area that can't fill the room.
    Great Idea!

    well obviously my suggestion is based on rectifying the empty room first. I can gaurentee that you would happily pay $10-15 per day to go in a jammed packed freeplay hall with great playing games. You do it every year for MGC, so I can only guess that you would also do it if expo freeplay was similar in quality.

    granted the pricing needs to still make sense. What was cost now $25 for game and vendor hall 1day? I would suggest $15 for just free play, $15 for just vendor, or $25 for a combined pass.

    If you have an awesome free play room (with proper PR and promotion) I can promise you that you will sell WAY more passes for the vendor hall!

    #49 4 years ago
    Quoted from Whysnow:

    well obviously my suggestion is based on rectifying the empty room first. I can gaurentee that you would happily pay $10-15 per day to go in a jammed packed freeplay hall with great playing games. You do it every year for MGC, so I can only guess that you would also do it if expo freeplay was similar in quality.
    granted the pricing needs to still make sense. What was cost now $25 for game and vendor hall 1day? I would suggest $15 for just free play, $15 for just vendor, or $25 for a combined pass.
    If you have an awesome free play room (with proper PR and promotion) I can promise you that you will sell WAY more passes for the vendor hall!

    I don't think anything will change with game bringers. Too many guys have gotten burned in the past from what it sounds like.
    I think you suggestion is good in principle but might turn some more people away if you have separate fees for everything.
    Next the organizers will tell game bringers they can have a wristband for the freeplay area but have to pay to get into the vendor hall.

    #50 4 years ago
    Quoted from metallik:

    Why are you so hellbent against Mike making any money? This personal hatred for Mike (and it can be nothing else because you harp on it SO MUCH) makes you look very petty. "Stripping Mike of any potential profit" is not how to make Expo bigger or better. Give it a rest; this is like the fourth variation of "I can't stand the fact Mike profits from Expo" post you've made since the show. Broken record.

    I have no issue with Mike making money but I think Whysnow's idea of turning the freeplay area over to someone other than Mike is brilliant. EVERY year I go to Expo I end up talking to someone who felt they got screwed by Mike in the past when they brought a game to be shared. EVERY year this happens.

    My favorite are the ones from years ago where Mike made you pay for your admission, then reimbursed you on Sunday for the games you brought. Sadly, Mike was difficult, if not impossible, to find on Sunday and many people left without ever getting compensated for bringing their games.

    As others have said, Mike needs to do less and turn more aspects of the show over to others, and this can be done without Mike losing any money. Putting Andrew Barney in charge of the freeplay area was a great start.

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