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Key Takeaways and Insights from IAAPA Expo Asia

Key Takeaways and Insights from IAAPA Expo Asia

Attending IAAPA Expo Asia at the Queen Sirikit National Convention Center in Bangkok, Thailand was an amazing experience for the ROLLER team. The exhibition halls were packed with 352 companies showing off the latest trends and innovations. 

In this article, we’ll uncover the highlights from the event and share key insights that will help attraction venues to thrive. 

About IAAPA 

The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAAPA) is the leading trade association representing the dynamic and evolving attractions industry. For over a century, IAAPA has been connecting companies of all sizes and professionals at all levels to facilitate the creation of meaningful guest experiences globally. 

IAAPA Expo Asia is a key annual event, with attendees from all around the world showing up to connect and share knowledge. 

The background

As an exhibitor, connecting with 3,187 buyers from 2,480 companies was a fantastic opportunity to make new business connections and catch up with familiar faces. Our booth was a happening place, giving us a chance to talk to current customers, meet potential clients, and reconnect with industry friends.

ROLLER at IAAPA Asia 2024.
The ROLLER team at IAAPA Expo Asia 2024. 


"IAAPA Expo Asia 2024 delivered a solid and respectable show," said Jakob Wahl, IAAPA's President and CEO, and I couldn't agree more. Being there in person to share ideas and see the future of our industry was really rewarding. 

Bangkok was a perfect host city, and Jack Chan, IAAPA’s VP for Asia and Pacific, nailed it when he said everyone's support was key to the event's success. 

IAAPA Expo Asia education session insights 

The education sessions were a big hit! They covered everything from animal interaction trends to water park roundtables and improving guest services in theme parks. They offered practical insights that we’re excited to share: 

Insights on zoo and aquarium trends from IAAPA Expo Asia 

  • Sustainability influence: Travelers are increasingly prioritizing sustainability and ethical practices. A significant portion of travelers, especially from Southeast Asia, are committed to these values.
  • Engagement vs. welfare: There’s a growing challenge in balancing the creation of engaging animal experiences with ensuring animal welfare. Naturalistic settings for animals are preferred, but there’s also a demand for “Instagrammable” moments.
  • Educational interaction: Despite a trend towards more “hands-off” interactions, well-managed animal encounters remain crucial for fostering connections between guests and wildlife. These interactions don’t necessarily require physical contact but can include innovative and safe engagement methods.
  • Learn more. 

Team building insights from Shanghai Disney Resort

  • Engaging recruitment: Sarah Hu, Director of Talent Acquisition and Cast Experience at Shanghai Disney Resort, explained how they created an immersive recruitment experience by simulating the Disney working environment. This approach helped potential employees understand the culture and expectations, making the recruitment process more engaging and effective.
  • Employee-value proposition (EVP): A strong EVP is essential for creating a positive work environment. Shanghai Disney’s EVP focuses on inspiring and growing employees.
  • Learn more. 

Water park best practices for those testing the waters

  • Brand development: Building a strong brand identity is crucial for a new water park. This involves creating a brand guide, designing mascots, park jingles, logos, and securing social media handles. A well-defined brand helps in marketing and creates a cohesive experience for guests.
  • Technology and sustainability: Deciding on the level of technology integration is also important. Modern water parks should consider “forward digital” solutions that enhance the guest experience, such as systems to avoid long queues for ticketing and entry. Additionally, adopting sustainable practices, such as eliminating single-use plastics, can appeal to environmentally conscious visitors and improve the park’s overall image.
  • Learn more. 

Tips on finding success

  • Unique identity: Greg Yong, CEO of Coast Entertainment (parent company of Dreamworld, WhiteWater World, and more), stresses the importance of attractions developing their own unique brand identity rather than relying heavily on external intellectual properties (IPs). By focusing on their organic assets, such as Dreamworld’s long-standing mascots, Kenny and Belinda, they were able to resonate deeply with their local market and create a distinct hometown favorite vibe.
  • Continuous improvement: Under Yong’s leadership, Dreamworld has focused on refreshing and upgrading its infrastructure and aesthetics. This includes painting older attractions, replacing gravel with pavement, and adding new rides. These improvements convey to guests that the park is clean, safe, and continuously evolving, which helps in maintaining and increasing visitor satisfaction. 
  • Learn more. 

Here’s to next year in Shanghai

As the event wrapped up, everyone was already looking forward to next year’s IAAPA Expo Asia in Shanghai from July 1-3, 2025. With 168 companies already signed up for 4,986 square meters of exhibit space, it’s going to be another awesome event for our industry.

Book a demo for more information on how ROLLER can help attractions thrive.