Ever wish you could meet up with other party rental business owners from around the country to network, learn, and talk shop?
Wouldn’t be nice if you could actually meet face to face with your website provider or favorite manufacturers?
How about walking through thousands of square feet of the newest inflatables and checking them out in person?
If any of that sounds like pure awesomeness then you need to go to IAAPA! Even if you are just starting out with your inflatable rentals business, going to IAAPA is a worthwhile investment. At the same time, it’s gonna be a lot of fun…
Read on to get the lowdown on the biggest trade show in the entertainment and attractions industry!
What Is IAAPA??
IAAPA is the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions. The IAAPA Expo Is the largest trade show for the attractions industry.
IAAPA has an indoor and an outdoor section but it’s much larger than just party rentals. You’ll find vendors for theme parks, zoos, FEC’s, food vendors, and much more.
The coolest part of IAAPA for party rental operators is the Inflatable Pavilion and Family Entertainment Center (FEC) Pavilion.
There, you’ll find the latest and greatest from inflatable manufacturers, service providers, and new attractions you can add to your inventory.
But as cool as that is, it doesn’t compare to meeting and networking with tons of other party rental business owners from all over the world. They do exactly what you do, so there is so much in common! You can bounce around ideas and learn a ton from them.
- Where is IAAPA?
The IAAPA Expo is held in the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando Florida.
- When is IAAPA?
IAAPA Expo is usually held every November the week before Thanksgiving. For 2023, the IAAPA Expo will be from Tuesday 11/14 to Friday 11/17/2023. Monday 11/13 is open for exhibitors only and Friday is usually a short day.
The show floor is open from 10am to 6pm Tue-Thur and 10am to 4pm on Friday.
- Should I also attend the IAAPA Education Conference?
The Education Conference will be concurrently held from Monday 11/13 to Thursday 11/16. It has an additional $429 cost.
The conference is mainly focused on larger attractions like Water Parks, Zoos, Aquariums etc. So it is not exactly relevant for party rental business owners. But if you are curious, you can take a look at its schedule here.
What Is There To Do At IAAPA?
There’s so much to do! After the trade show, there are parties and networking events during the evenings after the expo doors have closed. And there’s so much to do in Orlando that you’ll have to make a list of things to see when you come back next year! So plan in advance what you want to do at IAAPA and Orlando.
Here’s what you absolutely must do:
- Explore the trade show floor
First you should look through the IAAPA Floor Map to see which vendors will be there and make a list of stops you want to make.
You can use the search bar in the upper left to search for keywords like “inflatables” or “marketing”.
If you are looking to expand your inventory, this is your chance to talk directly with inflatable manufacturers. You can also examine the quality of their inflatables. For instance, you can see the vinyl, stitching and zippers used. You can ask questions and get a sense of what inflatables are in demand. All major manufacturers like HEC, Titan, Leisure and EZ will be there.
This is also a great opportunity to talk to booking rental software providers such as Inflatable Office.
Many vendors offer their best deals of the year at the show. You can even pick up floor models for extra savings (be sure to get there early Tuesday (11/14) because they go quick!).
There will be insurance companies and legal consultants as well. In short, you will have everything you need for your inflatables business!
So evaluate what you need for your business. Plan well in advance, and make the most of this opportunity!
- Network & Learn
Perhaps the most valuable part of the IAAPA experience is meeting other party rental business owners from around the country (even the world!).
After about 6 months of delivering and cleaning water slides, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and beat in this business. But you’ll feel instantly recharged when you walk amongst hundreds if not thousands of other party rental business owners who share your struggle.
You’ll hear horror stories that will make you feel like you’ve got it all together, and you’ll hear success stories that will motivate you to make your next season one for the books!
By just meeting others, you will get a ton of ideas to streamline and grow your business. You won’t find those ideas on Youtube or Facebook groups, you gotta be there at IAAPA!
- Attend The Parties!
There are after hour events sponsored by various vendors in the industry each night the week of IAAPA (after the show). It’s a great opportunity to meet other operators and vendors/manufacturers.
Other things to do in Orlando
Although the trade show is awesome, you really don’t need to go all 4 days. Plan to spend 1 or 2 days at the Expo. Rest of the time, consider visiting one of the many iconic sites nearby like Disney World or Universal Studios. If you are only going to the show for a couple of days, there are a variety of things you can do in the area.
- Disney Springs: It’s not as big as Disney World but you can stop here for a few hours for great photo ops and an all around great atmosphere.
- Universal Studios: This is our family favorite and features epic rides for all ages.
- Orlando Starflyer: Ride with double-seat swings, offering views from 450 feet up in the sky!
- Fun Spot America Theme Parks: Roller coasters, kiddie rides, go carts, and arcade games.
- ICON Park: Sizable destination with an observation wheel, aquarium & wax museum, plus shops & restaurants.
- Ripley’s Believe It or Not!: Museum with kitschy oddities on display, including shrunken human heads & rare animal skeletons.
- SeaWorld Orlando
- Dinner Shows
- Water Parks
- and the list goes on!
Where Should I Stay And Should I Bring My Family To IAAPA?
- Should kids go to IAAPA? Do I have to buy tickets for them?
YES! You will be like a kid in a candy store and so will your kids! You and your family can spend an entire day at the expo and not get bored.
The Family Entertainment Center (FEC) Pavilion has lots of fun rides and activities that are kids friendly. However, be aware that they might get tired from all the walking. So make sure they wear light, comfortable clothing and good shoes.
As for the tickets, if you have a pass, you can get kids registered for free! So you don’t have to pay extra for them.
Most of the after hour events hosted by vendors allow kids. There are designated areas in the events where kids can play.
In short, do not hesitate to bring your kids. They will have a lot of fun!
- Where to stay during IAAPA
Orlando offers a variety of options ranging from hotels, condos, Airbnb, and even timeshares. Some suggestions are:
- Cabana Bay
- Vista Cay
- Tru by Hilton
- Rosen Hotel
IAAPA has partnered with onPeak to secure discounted rates at a selection of Orlando Hotels, you can check that out here.
Make sure wherever you stay is fairly close or you could be stuck in traffic trying to get to and from places for what seems like FOREVER!
How Do I Get Tickets To IAAPA?
Tickets for IAAPA are not free but you can get guest passes so you can still get in for free. These guest passes are usually offered by vendors who will be exhibiting at the show.
Ask one of the inflatable manufacturers or service providers you’ve done business with if they can give you guest passes. Since these vendors see you as a potential repeat customer, they are happy to give you a pass. So do not hesitate to reach out to them.
You can also contact us and we can point you in the right direction.
So should you go to IAAPA?
The answer is a resounding YES!!! This trade show will inspire you like nothing else will. No YouTube video or Facebook Group can compare to what you’ll learn at IAAPA. You’ll see amazing things, you’ll meet incredible people who do what you do all over the world, and you’ll have conversations that will change the way you do business forever!