Welcome to the IMA - International trade fair for amusement and vending machines
The initiator of the IMA is the German Industry Association for coin-operated Amusement and Vending Machines e.V. (VDAI). The fair is organised by Reed Exhibitions Deutschland GmbH.
The exhibitors of IMA are suppliers and service providers of the following sectors including entertainment and gambling machines, sports machines, service machines and vending machines. But this does not cover the whole portfolio of IMA.
Service providers and manufacturers of sectors like like coffee, billiard, bowling and online web pages as well as miscellaneous equipment, accessories, casino equipment, electronic data processing, consulting and marketing will also be represented and complete the portfolio of IMA.
Visitors are traditionally operators, arcade owners, owners of bowling centres, restaurant owners, and owners of billiard cafés - just to name a few.
On this website you'll find all important information about the IMA. Since 1978 this trade fair is one of the most important get-togethers of the amusement and vending machine industry.
IMA can look back on extremely successful years since its inception. Very few really trusted the success of this trade fair. The first years were marked by too many ups and downs.
In Berlin the DAT-IMA (Deutscher-Automaten-Tag-IMA) had made quite a good name for itself in the Seventies but that was under different conditions. In those days the IMA was more an informal meeting point for the industry, on the periphery of which coin-operated machines were set up in hotel halls. The centre point was quite clearly the grand ball.
Development of new games
Nolan Bushnell, who later found ATARI, had hit the bull's eye with his "Ping-Pong". The manufacturers of traditional games such as pinball were at first really lost in the face of the new competition. At the same time the first professional amusement arcades and their branches turned up in this country.
The whole world of gaming machines and thus also the world of the IMA was turned upside-down. Old values and attitudes were thrown overboard in no time. Off to new fields was the motto and that meant a new IMA as well. At the time the IMA was rather more a mirror image than a motor of a reviving and constantly moving market.
Frankfurt Exhibition Centre
At the end of the Seventies Hans Rosenzweig and some of his colleagues in the VDAI (German Industry Association of Coinoperated Amusement and Vending Machines) stood up for a new type of trade fair. So it was they too who wanted to enthuse the even then already large Frankfurt Messegesellschaft (trade fair company) to undertake a commitment.
At that time the IMA project did not attract much love from the Frankfurter Messe. The IMA could drum up only a few thousand visitors was thus hardly attractive. The VDAI people were sent to Wiesbaden to talk to Heckmann, Messen und Ausstellungen. This local trade fair organizer had already put on fairs for gastronomists, for bakers and hairdressers which clearly shows the standing of the amusement machine industry in Germany in those days. The market amounted to about 25 per cent of its present volume.
At Heckmann which was later bought out by Blenheim who at the end of 1996 merged with Miller Freeman they quickly recognized the opportunities behind this trade fair project and were brave enough to take on the risks. Co-operation with the VDAI worked right from day one and has continued to do so for almost 20 years.
The commitment on both sides was soon to pay off. The very first IMA in Frankfurt rang up almost 6,000 visitors a good one hundred per cent increase. The trade press was overjoyed "IMA '80 The Super Show", they wrote.
The trade fair philosophy worked out together by the VDAI and the Heckmann GmbH turned out to be just right. It was based on the realization that the markets would reorganize completely, that Japan would become a major supplier of electronic games and that Europe would develop into one of the most important markets. In these changing markets the IMA was to find its position and importance more and more clearly from year to year.
The organizer's approach was two-track but nonetheless quite clear. On the one hand IMA was to be turned into a central "market place" in Europe and the world, at the same time the quality of the fair was to be used to achieve an unequivocal and superior image. At the time the effect was meant to be primarily inward that is, in the industry itself. Only with the strengthening of the German company and the growing export orientation was the IMA able to use this image on the international level as well.
For the trade visitors the IMA was obviously just the right thing. Visitor number grew rapidly from year to year. Just 5,880 in the fist year, in the second year 7,162 visitors came to Frankfurt and in the third year the trade visitors already numbered 11,085. In terms of visitors IMA reached its climax in 1998 with a total of 15,100. The market was booming. New-style amusement arcades were shooting out of the ground just everywhere. Although public criticism was already loud, the market was unaffected because the government was not yet reacting strongly with restrictions.
But this was soon to change. From 1990 thousands of gaming machines had to be dismantled because of changes in national legislation. Amusement arcades were reduced to 10 machines per franchise and at least 150 square metres were needed to realize a successful concept. To this was added the fact that the companies were increasingly burdened with value added tax and entertainment tax. The market was necessarily affected by this. Two major manufacturers went bankrupt and five of the eight biggest amusement arcade branches had to give up.
The IMA visitors figures fell to just under 12,000, yet a rise of a good five per cent was recorded among the international visitors. The decline in visitor numbers was an expression of deep insecurity and excessive stress in the coin-operated machine industry.
In May 1994 Germany's value added tax ruling which ultimately charged amusement machine operators 2.5 times as much value added tax was declared unlawful by the European Court of Justice, so the industry as well as the IMA could hope for improvement. In addition the government showed some understanding and in 1992 had already raised the amusement machine stake to 40 pfennig per game. That created new motivation.
This development was accompanied by the fact that the IMA was ever more changing from a mirror of the market into a motor and trendsetter. The 40-pfennig game made its breakthrough at the 1992 IMA. When the amusement-machine operators saw the trend would definitely be going in that direction and thanks to the European court of Justice the companies had money again, then the ice was truly broken.
The same sort of thing happened with the market introduction of the darts machine from an American manufacturer. When these electronic machines first appeared on the market hardly anyone thought they had a chance. On the contrary, they were laughed at. It was the IMA and of course the German importer's good marketing strategy which helped the darts machine to its breakthrough. When the operators at the IMA saw in close up, as it were, what this machine can do, they jumped at the opportunity in large numbers.
Equally decisive was the fact that they also heard from colleagues at IMA, their major meeting point, how successful working with this machine can be. At the IMA innovations and market trends do the rounds very quickly. Darts, Billiards and Sports Games became more and more important at IMA and even got in 1996 for the first time their own name: bsi Billiards and Sports Games Innovations.
It was the same years later with the introduction of the Fun Games. These are mainly English games systems which are, however, operated in Germany without any payout, purely for fun. This games version was also viewed sceptically at first. It was admitted that these machines, with features which are prohibited in German amusement machines, are in fact more dynamic and richer in experience. But they couldn't really make a breakthrough.
Until the IMA '96. Some 60 different games systems were on display. The Dutch had introduced them, but now the German and English companies had also become active. The breakthrough took a matter of days the four IMA days, to be precise.
Opening up of east of Germany brought a boom
The IMA is a reflection of the market in automatic vending and service machines as well. The opening up of east of Germany brought a boom to this branch of the industry. The whole of the former East Germany had to be fitted out with vending machines for beverages, foods and other goods not to mention cigarette machines.
Tough levies due to environmental protection
Today this industry is plagued more by the tough levies due to environmental protection. For every plastic cup of coffee sold an environmental tax of sometimes up to 50 pfennig must be paid. The effects of this reach right into the IMA. It has not been possible to raise the number of automatic vending and service machine exhibitors on the contrary; there has been a slight decline.
The suppliers of smaller coffee and beverage machines for offices, amusement arcades, cafés and other establishments have recognized the trend of the times and are now rushing to the IMA. Ever more foreign firms are trying to conquer this sector of the German market with inexpensive and good products. This year's partner country, Italy, was the pioneer in this field.
2007 the show moved from Nuremberg to Düsseldorf. A key factor behind the decision to change from Nuremberg to Düsseldorf was the machine owners' desire to hold the IMA in North Rhine-Westphalia in the future. With its 17 million inhabitants, North Rhine-Westphalia is the most populous state and, above all, it is the region with the highest density of amusement and vending machine companies. The result was decided by the VDAI general meeting on the basis of an industry survey.
Additionally to the geographical position near by the adjoining Benelux-neighbours the exhibition centre in Düsseldorf offers an ultramodern hall 8 which is currently the best in the international exhibition market.
With the Düsseldorf event a reversal of the trend was achieved. IMA will again pick up speed towards becoming more international. Clear signs for such a development could already be seen this year. With its generally good transport links, the North Rhine-Westphalia metropolis offers a European platform for the coin-operated game industry, including customers from eastern, central and southern Europe.
Changing over to EDP
There is also a clear upward trend in the EDP and safety installation sector. As the German gaming machine is more or less a glass case into which the tax authorities can see via screenable data, more and more companies are changing over to EDP because there is no other way to control the flood of data. As the government is always demanding ever higher safety standards for amusement arcades, the present suppliers in this field have good market prospects. Here again there are many international companies among the suppliers with great experience from very different parts of the world.
bowling world closed a major gap in the trade fair calendar of the German and international bowling sector. Since 2009 there exists a bowling exhibition of substance in central Europe which offers a professional event in a central geographical location.
Perfect synergies - Bowling and amusement machines are a perfect match. A glance in any bowling centre, in any country, is sufficient to confirm this. A mixture of amusement possibilities including pool, darts, air hockey or simulators is essential for bowling centre operators if they are to keep pace with the multi-entertainment trend. IMA offers manufacturers from the bowling sector the ideal showcase to get in contact with new investors from the amusement machine industry and will therefore turn the exhibition into the perfect platform for manufacturers of bowling alleys, bowling service providers, pro-shop companies and, of course, the full range of food and beverage providers.
For the very first time in 2011 another special segment - the coffee world at IMA - was established. At the coffee world producers, traders and service providers have the chance to present their products and services. The coffee world is targets especially on vending machines, coffee/espresso as well as accessories which all enlarges the segment vending at IMA.
Service Solution Village
To complete the portfolio of IMA, another new segment has been established in 2011. In the Service Solution Village various service providers present their services. What's remarkable here is that the range of services is not tailored to one particular segment but rather overlapping for all segments. In the Service Solution Village suppliers of facility management, promotional products, maintenance service as well as car rentals and credit reports participate.
30. anniversary of IMA
In 2011 IMA has celebrated its 30. birthday which of course was celebrated duly during the trade fair. Loads of give-aways such as Rittersport chocolate, peppermint sweets, refreshing tissues, lip balm and chocolate gold coins, which were all decorated with the 30-year-logo, were handed out to all visitors. Furthermore, all exhibitors, who have exhibited at IMA 1978 and IMA 2011, have been awarded:
- adp Gauselmann GmbH
- Bally Wulff Entertainment GmbH
- Deutscher Automaten-Großhandels-Verband e.V.
- Games and Business GmbH & Co. KG
- hdg Tresore
- Johannes Geiger GmbH & Co. KG
- Kiesewetter KG
- Leonhart Betriebs GmbH
- Money Controls GmbH
- NGZ Geldzählmaschinengesellschaft mbH & Co. KG
- NSM-LÖWEN ENTERTAINMENT GmbH
- Sigert Verlag GmbH/AutomatenMarkt
- Sortronic Georg Jahn Apparatebau
- Verband der Deutschen Automatenindustrie e.V.