InPark speaks with Karen Staley, IAAPA Senior Vice President of EMEA Operations
Interview by Martin Palicki
IPM: Can you give us an update on the IAAPA EMEA division, including recent staffing changes in your office?
Karen Staley: IAAPA EMEA and Euro Attractions Show (EAS) both have grown continuously over the years. As an association, we are dedicated to serving the more than 1,300 members in Europe and have expanded to offer services to the Middle East and Africa as well. We have expanded our member event offerings to include a Winter Forum and a Spring Forum as well. At EAS, with more than 500 exhibitors and 12,000 attendees at the trade show, we focus on the quality of our work and even further increase our services to members and exhibitors.
Keeping all these new activities in mind, it was necessary to hire additional staff to support the services and the expanding regional outreach. Jakob Wahl returns to IAAPA EMEA with the experience of having worked at the word-class facility Europa-Park. With him in the IAAPA EMEA office our goal is to continue to expand our services and develop additional benefits for the membership as well as the trade show. We are currently in the early planning stages for introducing more events on a local level.
Where does Europe fit into the global attractions landscape?
Europe is the origin of our wonderful industry and still benefits today from a perfect mix of tradition and innovation. There are still those historic and beautifully maintained parks but at the same time we have some of the most advanced rides and attractions on this continent.
We also have a very impressive supplier industry here in Europe, which has a worldwide reputation of excellent quality. In many aspects, Europe might not follow a “record-breaking” philosophy as elsewhere in the world, but the attractions industry continues to fortify the industry through steady growth, development, quality and innovation
Much attention in the Middle East is focused on Dubai, but what about elsewhere in the region?
Dubai obviously follows a tourism-driven strategy to position itself as a leading tourism hub. It’s great to see that world-class parks and attractions are key factors in this development. Even though other countries in this region might not follow the example with such strong emphasis as we see in Dubai, it still sets an example for neighboring countries and the whole continent. We expect many more projects to follow in this larger market.
What are the current tourism and travel trends impacting the industry in Europe?
What we see in Europe is the trend of staycations. People currently prefer to stay within the continent. More and more parks offer accommodation for short-term holidays and have become a true alternative to “classic” holidays. To my knowledge just about every amusement park/attraction within Europe with an existing lodging offer is thinking about expanding it.
What’s the big picture for Eastern Europe? In recent years, new coasters have been announced in Poland, and new projects in Russia.
There is a huge market for attractions in these countries and we hear that these latest investments are starting to pay off. IAAPA EMEA held its Spring Forum in Poland this year, where more than 100 participants used the opportunity to see some very exciting developments.
Tell us about EAS 2017 in Berlin. What can we expect this year?
Everyone who was at last year’s Euro Attractions Show in Barcelona talked about the energy and the size of this fantastic show and we are very confident that this year’s edition in Berlin will exceed this impression. The numbers indicate that we will see even more exhibitors and attendees than ever before and that it will be once again the most important networking place for this industry in this region of the world.
IAAPA staff and the European committees have been busy over the last months creating a great program. The conference offers several tracks on important subjects such as safety, trends, and revenue. We have also two new Lunch & Learn sessions on human resources and also on some of the most-discussed new attractions across Europe. We bring back the very popular FEC/Indoor Playground Day and the Water Park Forum with a visit to the very unique Tropical Islands (above), and are proud to welcome Christoph Kiessling, owner and CEO of Siam Park, for this year’s edition of the Leadership Breakfast.
Two Edutours will bring guests to the amazing Berlin Zoo with its brand-new, multi-million EUR panda exhibit and to Karls Erlebnis Hof, a unique farm attraction outside of Berlin, reputed one of the best F&B and retail experiences.
Are you planning any post-event tours?
Yes, these events have been in very high demand in the past with long waiting lists. We expect this year will be the same, as we have planned a fantastic tour including visits to Europa-Park, Erlebnispark Tripsdrill, LEGOLAND Germany, and finish with an evening at Oktoberfest Munich. We encourage visitors to book early – these seats will sell out quickly.
In recent years, EAS has been known for some striking and unusual opening receptions. Can you tell us what to expect in Berlin?
The primary networking event of EAS, the opening reception, will take place this year at the beautiful Charlottenburg Palais, (above) built in the beginning of the 18th century. It is an amazing location for an evening that will be filled with good food and opportunities to network with operators, suppliers, colleagues, and friends.
What is IAAPA EMEA focusing on for 2017-2018?
We would like to continue on the path of the last year and further increase what we offer for our members. IAAPA membership means more events, more research, and more education in the coming year. And we will obviously work hard on delivering a great Euro Attractions Show for exhibitors and attendees.
IAAPA presents the 2017 edition of its European Attractions Show (EAS) in Berlin September 24-28. For information on attending, visit www.IAAPA.org/EAS