Tuesday, May 21, 2024

IAAPA Expo Asia

A look at IAAPA and industry growth in the Asia Pacific region interviews

by Martin Palicki



Conversation with June Ko – InPark connected with June Ko, executive director and VP, APAC region operations for IAAPA, to discuss growth in the region and the association, how IAAPA serves the Asia Pacific sector and what to expect at the Expo.

IAAPA now has two offices in Asia: Hong Kong and now Shanghai. Why was it the right time for an additional office?
June Ko

IAAPA is the global association for the attractions industry and it is important for us to have offices in the regions where members – and potential members – operate. Asia Pacific is the fastest growing region for the attractions industry, and we knew it was time to open an office in China to help support and serve that growth.

Establishing a presence in both Hong Kong and Shanghai ensures we can continue to serve global industry professionals and the overall growth of the industry itself. Our teams help facilitate new connections through networking and educational events around the region and continue to strengthen safety harmonization through international standards.

The new Shanghai office also helps us better communicate with industry professionals in China. For instance, we now have an IAAPA WeChat channel, which is exclusive to China, and is in Chinese. This tool is the right way for us to better reach and serve industry professionals around the country.

You have new staff on your APAC team. Who will be meeting with attendees during the June expo?

Our team is:

• June Ko – Executive Director and VP – APAC Region Operations

• Chris Lo – Director Exhibitions, Conferences and Sales

• Cyrus Cheung – Sales Representative, Expo

• Coby Liu – Manager, Education and Events

• Zenia Choy – Senior Manager, Expo Operations

• Ceylon Chan – Membership Executive

• Joey Zhang – Manager, China Office

The IAAPA team in the Asia Pacific region (APAC) continues to grow. Our dedicated team, located across two offices, continues to learn and understand the unique needs of members and the industry — not only here in Asia Pacific — but also the trends and issues facing the entire global industry. We look forward to seeing everyone at IAAPA Asia Expo in Shanghai and continuing to serve members throughout the region.

You’ve been creating a series of regional events for members. What are you planning and how has it been going?

Throughout the year, our team conducts webinars and online courses focused on the region and in the time zone. Our networking events represent the many sectors and constituencies in the industry, including family entertainment centers (FECs), water parks, and more. IAAPA is dedicated to supporting and growing with the needs of the industry, and the APAC team continues to develop additional ways to meet those needs.

IAAPA remains focused on serving the industry around the world while supporting it at the local level. Regional, in-person events are a key part of this strategy, bringing people together to share best practices, learn trends, and understand issues facing our industry. We remain focused on supporting international safety standards harmonization and adoption and will continue to meet in person with key representatives in China, South Korea, Australia, Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand, and more.

Some 2019 events to note:

• Meet IAAPA – 9 May, Shanghai

• IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers – 14-18 July, Manila, Philippines

• Asia Pacific Summit – 15-17 October in Hainan

• Meet IAAPA – 31 October, Hong Kong SAR

• IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers – December, Singapore

What sort of education tracks can people expect at these year’s show?

The Education program at IAAPA Asia Expo is our strongest ever. Each program has been selected and sourced from the Asia Pacific Education Subcommittee, who are industry professionals focused on the continued education and growth of the industry.

In collaboration with the IAAPA Asia Pacific team, Shaun McKeough leads the Asia Pacific Education Subcommittee; together they will provide sessions on everything from storytelling and marketing to media and market trends to safety and operations. The committee will also host and moderate the Human Resources Learning Lab on 13 June from 4-5 p.m.

In addition to the education sessions, exclusive EDUTours include site tours to several of Shanghai’s most popular destinations.

Are there new markets of opportunity in the Asia Pacific region?

The Asia Pacific region is extremely diverse and is growing and expanding in every business category. IAAPA’s Annual Global Outlook Reports projects attendance at attractions facilities in Asia-Pacific will grow 4.8% over the next five years and spending will increase by 7.1%.

China will continue to be the primary driver of this growth, with the attractions industry in South Korea, Singapore, and the Philippines continuing to expand.

Tell us some highlights of IAAPA Expo Asia in Shanghai.

We are excited IAAPA Expo Asia is returning to Shanghai this year. We have added more networking opportunities and education sessions, and new opportunities for students and young professionals to learn about the industry, in addition to the IAAPA Institute for Attractions Managers, and the IAAPA Safety Institute. This reflects that IAAPA Expo Asia has become the must-attend event for the attractions industry in Asia, with attendees from more than 60 countries.

A few key events:

• The Operators’ Reception will engage key buyers in the industry (13 June, 6:00-8:00 pm)

• IAAPA Career Slam, free for university students, provides the opportunity to network and learn from industry leaders and veterans

• Exhibitor Awards will celebrate outstanding booth design and displays.

• The Education program has been extended to four days

• The Leadership Breakfast featuring Joe Schott, President and General Manager, Shanghai Disney Resort will also be a highlight.

• The Opening Night Reception at Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park (see below) should not be missed. • • •

Counterprogramming in Shanghai: Taylor Jeffs talks about Haichang Ocean Park

PHOTOS courtesy Legacy Entertainment

The 2019 IAAPA Asia Expo opening night reception takes place at Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park (SHOP). Since its opening in November 2018, the park has brought its theme of “Love as a Happy Ocean Journey” to thousands of guests. We asked Taylor Jeffs, president and chief creative officer at Legacy Entertainment to tell us more about the park. Legacy was responsible for concept design, master planning and schematic design.

Theme park competition in Shanghai is pretty intense; how did your firm design to win the bid?

China’s theme park landscape completely transforms every few years, and nowhere is this more pronounced than in Shanghai. Not only is Shanghai Haichang Ocean Park the nearest competition (geographically) to Shanghai Disneyland, China’s highest-profile theme park, but it also had to be realized for about 15% of Disney’s budget. Because of this, working with our partners at Haichang we made a concentrated effort to counterprogram Disney’s offerings, with a robust attraction mix that balances family attractions and thrill rides with the signature marine life exhibits.

How has this project built on other parks/attractions the company has designed?

This project allowed us to combine and make the most of two of our core skillsets – theme parks and aquariums – within a single property. Beginning with the Georgia Aquarium in 2005, we have been very fortunate to collaborate on some of the world’s top marine life projects, including the Kingdom of Poseidon in Harbin and Chimelong’s Marine Life Science Center opening later this year. This is an industry in a particularly dramatic state of change, and we feel a responsibility to help steer it in the right direction. How is SHOP differentiated from other marine themed parks?

In many ways, first generation marine parks are often saddled with infrastructure dating back to the 1970s and ‘80s, which can take years or decades to phase out or upgrade. In Shanghai, we had the luxury of building from the ground up, meaning we could take advantage of all the latest and most exciting trends in animal husbandry. This is represented in the front of house with fantastical acrylic displays, as well as in the back of house with state-of-the-art life support systems. In particular, the Penguin and Otter displays are top-of-the-line.

That roller coaster! It covers a lot of ground and is very prominent. Why did you opt to integrate that ride into the park that way?

Integration is something our team at Legacy really prides itself on. We think it’s extremely important to take a design approach that integrates the park with its attractions, just as you would integrate the soundtrack of a movie. Attractions such as Intamin’s Steel Dolphin coaster, and WhiteWater’s Fire Falls rapids ride tie in seamlessly with their environments, and as such they bring a substantial level of energy and life to their respective areas of the park.

What story is the park telling?

The park has two main zones, both ‘polar opposites’ of one another. One is a high-tech tropical paradise home to the park’s warm water creatures, while on the opposite side of the park is an ancient European-style sea port home to the cold water residents. We strove to achieve an organization of attractions and exhibits that was both intuitive and methodical.

What would you most recommend to your industry colleagues who will be visiting the park for the first time during IAAPA Expo Asia?

There are too many to name, but if I had to narrow it down I would start with the Cable Car aerial skyway, which offers spectacular panoramic bird’s-eye views of the entire park, and has also developed into a great focal point for the park’s social media presence. Second is the Fire Falls rapids ride, – which we understand to be the world’s longest, as well as the first ever to incorporate waterslide-style elements such as the Manta curve. We’re also extremely proud of the park’s indoor Dolphin Theater and think it ranks among the best anywhere. And we hope that our colleagues will make a point of visiting the Jellyfish & Coral pavilion, only because it’s really cool. •

Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki
Martin Palicki owns and publishes InPark Magazine. Started in 2004, InPark Magazine provides owners and operators the perspective from "in"side the "park." Martin has also written for publications like Sound & Communications, Lighting & Sound America, Attractions Management and others. Martin has been featured in Time Magazine, CNN.com and Folio. Martin lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA.

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