(Exclusive interview).- ICE London kicks off tomorrow, and Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming, organiser of ICE London, talked with Focus Gaming News about this year’s edition.
ICE London has proved year after year that it is the most important event of the gaming industry, not only because it hosts the best companies in the world, but also because it reports the largest number of attendees every year.
This year’s event kicks off tomorrow at the ExCel London, and Kate Chambers, Managing Director at Clarion Gaming, organiser of the event, talked with Focus Gaming News about this year’s programme, as well as some key points that Clarion takes into consideration to pull off a successful event every year.
Every year, ICE London surprises all visitors by coming up with new initiatives. This year, Clarion announced a partnership with Ecobooth in order to collect the most common event stand waste materials. What prompted you to come up with this innovation for the 2019 edition of ICE London?
The issue of single-use plastics and their impact on the environment is one which is close to my heart and which chimes with everyone at Clarion Gaming. After discussing some ideas with Ecobooth, which is the world’s first genuinely zero waste events production company, they are going to collect the most common event stand waste materials from the show floor, which will then be recycled into a sheet material and used to make an array of outdoor furniture and used in communal spaces surrounding ExCeL London.
Clarion Gaming is invested in the industry and the various verticals that it serves.
Exhibitors who choose to invest in the project will not only be driving the future of events, they will also receive an ICE Graphics Amnesty certification to display as part of their stand during the show. We were also recognising the most committed exhibitors taking part in the initiative courtesy of the #icegraphicsamnesty19 social media campaign and through our marketing and promotional channels during and after the event. It would be fantastic if everyone who engages with the ICE brand takes the single-use plastics message back to their place of work. This is a small step, but an important one – and I’m delighted that ICE London is the first event to partner with Ecobooth in this way.
Last year you reported 33,536 attendees, an 11% increase on 2017 and the seventh consecutive year of growth for ICE. While it is clear that the expansion of sports betting and iGaming across the world has driven the 2019 growth, how do you respond so quickly to developments in the market to apply those differences on your expo floor?
Clarion Gaming is invested in the industry and the various verticals that it serves. What this means in practice is that we behave differently than most event or exhibition organisers and we have a closer relationship with our stakeholders. Philosophically, our mind-set is to question why not, rather than why? We have what some people might describe as a ‘can do’ attitude and we are not afraid of working hard and working to tight deadlines. When all of this comes together, the result is a formidable team that delivers on behalf of its stakeholders – which, as the Managing Director of Clarion Gaming, I am extremely proud to have.
This year’s event has been confirmed as the biggest on record, comprising 47,500 sqm of net floor space. As each year the space continues to grow, do you expect a change of venues for future editions?
We have experienced a consistent period of growth since 2012, when the exhibition was half the size. The ExCeL London venue allows us to grow, which we have done. However, we are not following an aggressive growth strategy. It’s very important for us to manage the physical growth of the exhibition in parallel with growing the visitor base. Last year, we were able to increase the density of visitors per exhibitor and that approach takes you on a path of consistent-but-incremental expansion as opposed to uncontrolled growth.
The 2019 edition of ICE VOX will comprise five branded areas that offer different and distinct ways of learning. Can you give us more details about this year’s programme? What can we expect to be different from last year?
This year, we knew we wanted to bring something fresh to ICE VOX while still delivering what I believe to be the most comprehensive learning programme in gaming. In 2019, ICE VOX will feature 120 high profile, tier-one thought leaders delivering 40+ hours of business-centric learning, but we’ve ripped up the rule book with a completely reformatted conference approach.
The fact that ICE VOX takes place alongside the world’s most influential gaming technology event means delegates can learn about the latest trends and then speak directly with the innovators whose genius products and services have the potential to change the way in which the industry does business.
We are using four branded areas that offer distinct ways of learning, ranging from the direct, information-based ‘Elevator’, through to the ‘Hive’, where delegates will be able to meet with regulators, operators and policy makers in a series of roundtable networking sessions. ‘Counsel’ will feature Oxford Union style debates and motions all facilitated by a professional debate team, while ‘Boardroom’ invites inspirational thought leaders from outside the gaming universe to provide their insight. Finally, the Speaker Clinic delivers a one-to-one feedback Masterclass, as delegates can make presentations to our professional speakers and receive an exclusive critique and guidance. The updates we have introduced aim to deliver a new kind of immersive learning experience. The fact that ICE VOX takes place alongside the world’s most influential gaming technology event means delegates can learn about the latest trends and then speak directly with the innovators whose genius products and services have the potential to change the way in which the industry does business.
The latest independently audited visitor data shows that European countries lead the list of largest represented territories at ICE London. Do you have any strategies in mind in order to boost presence of companies from other continents in future editions?
I think it’s inevitable that the majority of attendees will come from countries closest to the hosts. This argument also applies to exhibitors. But the fact remains that, in 2018, ICE London attracted visitors from 153 nations – it’s an amazing statistic when you think about and consider what that means in practical terms. We invest heavily in our marketing and we are always looking at ways in which we can increase the number of visitors coming to ICE London, particularly those from key territories. Last year, we experienced an increase from growth regions, notably North America (+33 percent), Africa (+23 percent) and South East Asia (+18 percent). ICE London has succeeded in making the world a much smaller place and one of the highlights for me is simply walking the show and listening to the array of languages that have come together to do business in London. It still fills me with wonderment!