You joined the Clarion Gaming team seven months ago to manage a massive event like ICE London 2023, which will break all-time records for visitors’ numbers and exhibition space. How would you describe this recent intense period in your working life?
When you move from one sector to another, it obviously entails a period of readjustment and acclimatising to the culture of a new industry. It’s a steep learning curve, and I’ve been helped massively by the team and structure that’s in place at Clarion. I’m surrounded by really talented people which has proved invaluable. The industry is full of inspiring, energetic, super-talented professionals who seem to share the same compelling ‘can do attitude’. Working on ICE is the event industry’s equivalent of signing for Real Madrid/Barcelona/Chelsea and PSG, all rolled into one, and I can’t wait for the doors to open at ExCeL and to make my ICE debut!
With multiple and attractive proposals, ICE London combines commercial, social and academic approaches, both for land-based and online gaming. How have you put together this edition so that each focus is relevant and stakeholders can actively participate in each of these areas without feeling like something was missing or that a segment was neglected?
Our job is to curate an experience which reflects the totality of the gaming and gambling industry. We steadfastly avoid a silo approach in favour of ensuring ICE provides a holistic and comprehensive representation of all the gambling sectors. ICE attendees -who in 2020 travelled to London from over 100 nations- come to our show for a variety of reasons. The most common reason is commercial and to see the very latest products and services which will improve their businesses, but visitors also come to network and to learn. We need to ensure that we are on top of everything and that we continuously ask our customers what they would like to experience at show, and then to plug any gaps. In a fast-moving, rapidly changing world which is driven by technology, we have to be agile, responsive and open to new ideas and suggestions.
In the last months, you have talked with different representatives of the gaming industry. Where do you see the industry is heading right now in terms of trends and technologies?
Talking with the industry and, most importantly, listening to the industry is something that we do throughout the year. It’s very much a continuous dialogue that we undertake across all of the gambling sectors that we serve. In terms of trends and technologies, we spoke about this with our ICE Ambassador group of industry thought leaders, who provide their insight and advice to us in an honorary capacity. The consensus from that group was that advances in safer gambling and consumer protection would be high on the agenda, as would the interface between regulation and technology, the use of technology to reduce staffing on a casino floor, web3, payment processing via the blockchain, as well as equality, diversity and inclusion in the gaming space. Whatever the hot topics, I’m absolutely certain they will be manifest on the ICE London show floor, debated at ICE VOX, and be the subject of discussion throughout the event.
In your opinion and based on your experience, what are the 5 keys that every organiser of large events must take into account for a show to be successful?
I’m not sure if it can be distilled into five, but, overall, I would say it’s about always consulting with your customers, understanding what your customers want, wherever possible delivering what the industry needs in order to be successful, never becoming complacent, being creative and courageous, having the support of a phenomenal team, and always thinking why not? rather than why? These are all principles that Clarion Gaming embraces every single step of the way!
Let’s do an anticipation exercise: we are on Sunday, February 12th, 2023, and both fairs (ICE London and iGB Affiliate London) have finished. How do you imagine yourself for that moment: a) exhausted and with sore feet; b) satisfied and happy; c) thinking about adjusting a few things for the 2024 edition, or d) all of the above?
Inevitably, it’s going to be a blend of all of the above. In your capacity as a journalist, you will know getting around exhibitions of this size and meeting with as many exhibitors as possible is a physically daunting and exhausting task. I hope the experience for everyone is overwhelmingly positive. The team has certainly given absolutely everything it can to make both shows a success. Putting on live events, particularly live events of this scale occupying the entirety of ExCeL London, means that there will always be things which didn’t go exactly the way they were intended, so we are always exploring opportunities to finesse or fine tune the ways in which we deliver the show experience. Part of the reason why ICE London and iGB Affiliate London remain so successful is that Clarion Gaming subscribes to a philosophy of continuous improvement which means always challenging ourselves to see how we can do better as a team, and never to become complacent. After all, you are only as good as your last event!