By any of the conventional metrics applied in the exhibition and events industry, ICE Totally Gaming is one of the most successful, not just in gaming but of any business-to-business event held in the UK.
[dropcap]P[/dropcap]utting the fact that ICE 2016 attracted an independently audited attendance of 28,487 unique visitors who travelled to London from 150 nations, to one side for a moment, the 2016 edition of ICE was ranked in the top three UK exhibitions for customer satisfaction.
And outside observers don’t have to go by the word of the ICE marketing team for validation. Phil Redwood, a director at Fusion, the exhibition research specialists, confirmed: “Clearly, the take out for our 2016 ICE research was the Net Promoter Score (the widely accepted measure by which brands such as Apple, Amazon and eBay evaluate their performance) for exhibitors of +53 and +39 for visitors. These eclipsed all but two other events that we have researched across a diverse range of business sectors over the preceding 12 months and are way ahead of the event industry average.”
When you talk to anyone of the organising team responsible for putting ICE together, the two words you are guaranteed to hear are ‘customer’ and ‘experience.’ In fact, the ‘customer experience’ is at the very heart of what ICE is all about – the thinking being, if you deliver a great experience then, by definition, you will have delivered a great event.
Kate Chambers, the architect responsible for creating and implementing most things ‘ICE’, explained: “The research programme that we undertake after each edition of ICE is not an exercise in vanity. I am interested in learning about aspects of the customer experience which failed to live up to the exacting standards that we set ourselves, purely in order to put them right.
“We have in place a policy of continuous improvement, which means identifying every area in which we can make even a marginal difference.”
Listening to and acting upon the requests of what ICE refer to as being their customers as opposed to simply visitors or attendees, extends even to the seemingly straightforward issue of registration.
Acting on responses to the 2016 post show research, the ICE team has introduced auto-population email invites, which make the process significantly quicker for anyone who previously registered in either 2016 or 2015.
Answering stakeholder requests to be able to use social media, customers also have the ability to register via LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter and for those visiting icetotallygaming online, the number of mandatory fields has been reduced and contained within a simplified three tier process.
“The customer journey actually begins at the point of registration” stated Kate Chambers. “This year’s programme of customer research highlighted the understandable desire to further streamline registration, and to enable customers to register earlier. I am delighted to confirm that we have responded to both of these requests.”
The importance of engaging with customers in a creative and exciting way is another characteristic of the Kate Chambers communications style and her approach to marketing.
“I have never grasped why b2b marketing has to always be the poor relation to b2c” she stated. “Of course there’s the difference in budgets but when you examine how campaigns are transferring from mainstream media to social, as an example, it’s the creative that is the driver, not the budget.”
She added: “When the ICE team won the Association of Exhibition Organisers Excellence in Marketing Award, they did so by beating some big hitting consumer events. That wasn’t because they had a bigger budget, it was because they were smarter and more creative in their approach.”
“In 2016 we attracted nearly 28,500 gaming professionals to London in February and that doesn’t simply happen by accident. It’s the result of hard work, professionalism and creativity.
“The creative for ICE 2017 combines William Shakespeare with Banksy under the title, ‘The World Theatre of Gaming’ – I think it’s our most creative yet.”