ICE managing director Kate Chambers previews what many industry watchers believe is the greatest gaming show on the planet.
I think it’s true to say the move east to ExCeL wasn’t universally embraced by visitors more accustomed to the amenities offered by west London, but four years on what is your assessment of the new ICE home?
I think ExCeL has ticked all of the boxes that we hoped it would. It is a modern, purpose-built venue and from an operational perspective, build-up and break-down are as smooth as you can expect with an event the size of ICE. The transport and hospitality infrastructure is continuously improving and the venue is 35 minutes from Green Park and the luxury quarter of Mayfair. It takes some time for people to get accustomed to a new venue and I believe that process is now unfolding.
From the brand’s perspective it has allowed us to provide modern business facilities to a professional, international audience of buyers and influencers in a way that previously was not possible. It enables us to provide the type of exhibition space and the environment which allows companies to present themselves professionally and to be true to their brand values. Lastly, it provides us with the space and opportunity to grow the brand in a controlled and measured way. By anyone’s standards, ICE is a very substantial annual event and ExCeL is the biggest exhibition space in London – it’s a great, winning combination.
The response to ICE 2015 was hugely positive – what is the secret ingredient in this recipe of success?
Exhibition organisers, as a rule, try to avoid descriptives such as ‘biggest’ and ‘best’ but when it comes to ICE that’s exactly how our stakeholders describe their experience of the event. Clearly ICE is a big show which means that it has momentum and has become a meeting place for the international gaming community. It’s unique because it brings together both the online and the offline gaming worlds in a way that no other event does. It’s also the most international gaming business event on the calendar with 133 nations represented at the 2015 edition, 60 on the show floor as exhibitors.
We have the support of what will be close to 30 international trade associations and representative bodies, all of whom participate fully in the event. ICE Conferences is arguably the best learning programme in gaming and it is supported by the free to enter ICE Seminars. However, whatever way you care to look at the event, the ultimate reason for attending is the quality of the exhibitors – and we have the very best in the world!
You probably put more resource into marketing than any other gaming event – can you give some background to The Gaming Technopolis?
You are right, we work extremely hard to create a new marketing theme for each edition of ICE. We believe that business to business marketing should have the same creative credentials as consumer marketing and I was delighted to see that approach vindicated in June when we accepted the Association of Exhibition Organisers Excellence Award for Marketing Campaign of the year in support of ICE 2015.
The campaign creative, which is set in a surreal gaming city of the future, invites industry professionals wanting to see the very latest innovations and solutions to ‘Enter The Gaming Technopolis’ – a pop-up gaming city where connections are made, where ideas flourish and where conversations are all about the future.
We know from the visitor research that we conduct after each edition of ICE that the single most important reason that thousands and thousands of industry professionals travel vast distances to be in London each year, is the opportunity that ICE delivers to see the very latest innovations and advances in gaming technology. In fact, many of our 500+ exhibitors timetable product launches around the dates for ICE. Our campaign for ICE 2015 asked attendees to Discover the World of Gaming and for 2016 our invitation is to Enter The Gaming Technopolis. The message that we are sending to our international community of stakeholders is that the journey they make to Gaming’s Technopolis will be their most productive and successful of the year.
How important is the Conference programme at ICE?
ICE is unique within the gaming sector in that it delivers invaluable commercial/product exchange opportunities for our 25,000 visitors, as well as the opportunity to participate in high level information or knowledge exchange at ICE Conferences. We know from our customer research, that our visitors value the opportunity to learn about the key contemporary issues impacting gaming via ICE Conferences and then be able to meet with the industry in action on the show floor. We think it’s the biggest learning and knowledge-exchange event in world gaming with over 64 hours of learning opportunities, delivered by 140 thought leaders drawn from both within and outside the international gaming community.
The subject matter has been curated to help prepare international business for the technological, regulatory and social challenges and opportunities which lie ahead and the eight strong programme for 2016 opens with the International Casino Conference (ICC) on Monday 1st February. Organised in partnership with the European Casino Association (ECA), the ICC is being held at the award winning Hippodrome, which is the UK’s busiest and most popular casino, and is located in Leicester Square, central London.
The ICC is followed by Modernising Lotteries: Retail & Digital; Data Insight & Business Intelligence and a programme dedicated to Cross-Platform & Multi-Channel Gaming (all Tuesday 2nd February). Wednesday 3rd February, the final full day of ICE Conferences, will feature Game Design & Development; World Regulatory Briefing (organised in partnership with IAGA); Betmarkets (organised in partnership with SBCNews) and Cybercrime, Security & Regulatory Compliance (organised in partnership with GAMSHIELD). The threat of Cybercrime and the importance of combatting it, is reflected in the decision to include an add-on workshop led by the specialist Organised Crime Command based at New Scotland Yard. The workshop will run from 10 – 12.00 on Thursday 4th February.
By any standards, ICE is an event-packed three days – what’s the best way to keep informed of what’s going on?
In addition to the web site, we also have the dedicated ICE app which is available for free on Android and iOS devices. The app allows visitors to access the full event schedule, browse the latest product launches, receive information on all of the speakers taking part in the ICE Conference and Seminar programme, as well as develop a personal event planner to remind them of appointments, business meetings, and other events. It also features a detailed interactive floor-plan to help attendees navigate the Gaming Technopolis. The app was hugely popular last year with nearly 40,000 visits. It’s free from the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store.